Mark Neumayer

author of the Valda & the Valkyries series

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 2)

Teaser revealed – Vinyl Stickers for sale

teaserThis is what I have sitting on my analog workspace right now. Vinyl stickers made from my original designs. I’ve started adding these to my Etsy shop. The raven is 4″ wide and the hammer is 4″ tall but I will be developing other sizes as I go along. Check them out and if there is something in particular that you are looking for, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.

Scareflake – DIY version

I made a simplified version of my skull scareflake that you can make for yourself with a printer, paper and some scissors. Basically you will fold up a printed sheet and cut along the gray lines. You need to be close to the lines but don’t worry about being totally exact. Ready? Let’s go!

That is not a blank space up there! I used light gray lines so that they won’t show through the back of your finished paper. This first file is the one you need to print out. Download it to your computer and then print it at full size onto a piece of letter sized paper.

Get your printout and scissors ready.


Fold your paper in half the long way. Make sure your edges meet evenly and that the gray lines are on the outside of the paper.


Now fold the paper in half vertically. Again, make sure the gray lines are on the outside of the folded paper.


Here’s the last fold. Fold the bottom short edge so that it meets the longer side edge at a 45 degree angle. The picture shows this better than I can explain it.


Start cutting along the printed gray lines.


…and cutting…


..and cutting…


Cut out the eye-hole last. Just cut straight along the gray line and work your way around the circular part.


Unfold the finished piece.


Almost there…


You did it! Now make some more.

Scareflake: Skull Edition

scareflakes_skullsFollowing on yesterday’s post, here is another version of what I am calling my scareflakes. This one has an Incan vibe to it and I’m pretty happy with the way it came out.

Digital Weaves invades The Hive

The Hive in downtown Gastonia is now selling copies of Digital Weaves, my coloring book for adults. I am really happy to be partnering with such a cool store. They sell lots of local products: tons of stationary; art supplies; and all kinds of cool gifts. You can even pick up some bars of my wife’s soap there, too.

Cancel My Account Please

CancelPleaseYou know what, I was writing this great big post about this supremely annoying phone call I went through to cancel my internet cable connection. But I got a lot of it out of my system just writing the rough draft and I don’t want to inflict all that insanity on all of you. So I will just throw out a few tidbits about the phone call.


Total time of the phone call: 1 hour, 21 minutes

Number of times I asked to cancel the service: 22

Number of times the “retention department” person told me they were just doing their job: 2

Number of times I was put on hold: 7

Total time on hold: 18 minutes

One part that had me just shocked by the gall was when I was told they wanted to keep me as a “valued customer.” I think my reply was one of the key takeaways from this whole mess. Unfortunately, I doubt any corporations are listening.

If you valued me, you wouldn’t make me jump through hoops to carry out a simple business transaction.



Vikings and Archery

Uller by W. Heine, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes I think of writing something and my research turns up someone who has already done a great job on the subject. Check out this web page for an article on the use of archery among the Norse by Judson Roberts. Nicely researched and annotated.

No Posts This Week

Hi folks, unfortunately I received the sad news that my brother died in a car accident this past weekend and I need to deal with that. I’ll be back to posting some time next week.

Fast Facts About the Jotun

Giants are often thought of as monsters. We have them serving the role of villain in folk tales and myths from around the world. The Norse myths are no exception with Thor, the defender of man, defeating numerous giants throughout his adventures. But if you think of the Jotun as nothing more than cardboard cutout bad guys then you’re making a big mistake.

The First Creatures
The first creature who was not a god was a giant. Ymir’s body arose out of the region where the cold of Niflheim met the fire of Muspelheim, although we are also told that Elivigar, the rivers that existed in Ginungagap, cast forth drops of venom and these formed the body of Ymir. Either way “all giants (come) from Ymir.”

It Does a Giant’s Body Good
If he was born before the world was formed, what exactly did Ymir survive on? Luckily for him, after the drops of vapor condensed to form his body they also produced a cow named Audhumla. Ymir survived on the milk that came from the cow.

They Were Useful
The sons of Bor (Vee, Vili and Odin) killed Ymir. We aren’t told the specific reason for them doing this although earlier in the saga it is mentioned that Frost-giants are inherently wicked. The three brothers then used Ymir’s blood to create the seas and all the waters, his flesh became the land, his bones became the mountains and his skull was used to form the sky.
A giant built the walls of Asgard. Granted, he was in disguise at the time, and he had the help of a magical horse that could pull tremendous loads of stone, and Thor killed him when his deception was uncovered, but he built the walls.

They Were Worthy Foes
During Balder’s funeral the gods can not move the laden funeral-ship because it is too heavy. The gods had to summon a giantess to move it for them so we know the giants could be stronger than the gods.
When Odin wanted to test the extent of his knowledge he traveled to see the giant Vafþrúðnir and entered into a battle of wits. Odin won, but only with the final question whereby he asked something that only he could know the answer to.
Giants were also behind the defeat of of Thor and Loki in the hall of Utgard-Loki. Loki lost an easting contest when his opponent ate not just the food but the plates and table the meal was set on. Thor lost both a drinking contest and a wrestling match. They were tricked and only discovered this when Utgard-Loki volunteered the information after they had left his hall.

 They Could Be Beautiful
Yes, the giantess Angrboda gave birth to the Midgard Serpent, the Fenrir Wolf, and Hela, so Jotun had the capacity to be monstrous with a capital “M.” But we also have several instances of gods falling in love with giants. The most notable one is probably Frey who fell head over heels in love with the giantess Gerd and eventually married her. In addition to Loki (who fathered those three children with Angrboda) Thor and Odin also had their dalliances on the giant side of the street.

So the story of the Jotun, like many parts of Norse myth, is a lot more nuanced and varied than popular culture would lead you to believe. It’s definitely worth your time to do some further digging on your own.

Fast Facts About Nifllheim

misty-mountains-coldLast week I wrote about Muspellheim, the land of fire. This week we’ll be heading in the opposite direction, to Niflheim, the land of ice and mist. I started with these two since the Eddas tell us that they were the first two lands formed “many ages before the earth was made.” Let’s see what we can learn about the icy land of Niflheim.

What’s In A Name?
We have two parts to the name. Nifl has been translated as “dark” and “misty.” Heim means “home” or “land” depending on the source you’re checking. So Niflheim is the dark-land or the mist-home. If you do an internet search “Abode of Mists” seems to be the more popular interpretation. However, the index of my copy of the Eddas says it means “Nebulous-Home.” The takeaway from all of this is that Niflheim is a cold, dark, misty place – the opposite of Muspellheim’s bright, hot. dryness.

It Takes Two
Niflheim was one half of the equation that created the first being. When it’s icy cold encountered the raging heat of  Muspell, the two combined and created Ymir, the father of the race of Frost Giants.  Odin and his brother Ve and Villi would later kill Ymir and use the parts of his body to create the world.

A Helish Place
You can find various arguments stating either that Helheim, or simply Hel, is located inside of Niflheim or right next to it. Hel is listed as one of the Nine Worlds so I am more inclined to believe the latter. There are some instances that say just the gates to Hel are located inside of Niflheim so it is more likely to me that they are separate worlds and you must travel through Niflheim to get to Hel.

It Has Roots
One of them at least, for we are told that one of the three roots of the World Tree Yggdrasil stands over Niflheim. The root is constantly gnawed on by Nidhoggr, the great serpent or dragon who lives there.
Underneath this root we also find the spring called Hvergelmir (roaring cauldron) which, being a hot spring, must be the only source of warmth in this dismal land. Hvergelmir is also the source of twelve different rivers, one of which is Gjoll, the river nearest the gate to Hel.

Come back next week as we visit another of the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology.

A Knotty Question

gotlandCan any of you pass along some good references for Norse knot-work? I have a great book on drawing Celtic style knot-work but was wondering if there are any good instructional books for the Norse version. I suspect they might be more popular in the Scandinavian countries. My local librarian did help turn me on to THE INDUSTRIAL ARTS OF SCANDINAVIA in the Pagan Time by Hans Hildebrand. I’ve only leafed through it so far but it looks promising. However, I’d love to see more.


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