Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Wells

Norns at the Wyrd Well by L. B. Hansen
Wells, springs, fountains, sources -- places where water comes bubbling up from the depths into the upper world to support human life have been identified as holy places from time immemorial.*  This is true of the Norse sources we have been drawing as well.  In the Marvel diagram of the Nine Worlds I linked a few days back, three wells are shown: Urðarbrunnr, Mímisbrunnr, and Hvergelmir.  These wells or springs have suggestive, even mysterious places in Norse mythology that we only have a very partial knowledge of today.  But they provide a powerful mythic image -- conveniently appropriate to the letter of the day! -- for us to continue our exercise in world-building.  Keeping the original names is probably a little much for my preferences, so I would bring them over something like this:

Wyrd's Well (Urðarbrunnr) Running between the Home of Heroes and the Home of the Dead, attended by the three Norns, though named for some reason after only one of them, Wyrd.  This well is connected to the fate of all who are born and die in the Nine Worlds.  I'd hate to think what a sip from or a dip in this well might do...but it might be a likely preparation for a descent to the dead.  This raises the questions of who the three norns are, and the relation of other fey water women (nymphs, nixies, swanmays) to this trio, Bygone, Necessity, and Wyrd.

Mimir's Well (Mímisbrunnr) At the farthest roots of the World Tree, reaching down to depths no one knows (into the chaos of the void?).  This well demands a significant sacrifice for access to its wisdom.  This sounds like the perfect magnet for a magic-user who wants to lay it all on the line for access to a secret or great power.  If you keep the association with Mimir's head, wouldn't you like to see the well bubbling forth from his mouth?  Further inspirational images would be of the great stone heads in Angkor Wat and Mesoamerica that are entwined in tree roots, as Mimir's head would be in the roots of Yggdrasil.

Mimir by Trishkell

Boiling Springs (Hvergelmir) Between the Plane of Fire and the Plane of Water, it is the source of the clouds and mists over the Plane of Water.  Doesn't sound inviting, does it?  Perhaps it is simply the passage between the two planes and the armies of fire and water elementals flinging themselves into combat and dying create the boiling spring.

Such mythic locations as these wells could be the object of a quest, the gate to a quest, guarded by terrible guardians or a dungeon, or a location in a megadungeon; in any of these, a nexus between the elements of the setting and the characters' plot-lines promising an unforgettable gaming experience if utilized to their potential.

The Norns by J. L. Lund


*For Jungians, these are symbols of the Unconscious itself, welling up into Consciousness.

1 comment:

  1. an interesting an informative post! sure gives me a lot of ideas for a story.thanks for sharing.
    Great meeting you through the A-Z!

    nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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