Sunday, 26 January 2014

An Ancient Norse view on our fatality and immortality...

It is interesting to study Norse mythology and history, and perhaps to see how it applies or might apply to your own life.

In reading Kevin Crossley-Holland’s The Penguin Book of Norse Myths, which I initially thought would be lacking in substance, I have found many interesting insights and references. Although I felt that not all areas and godfolk were covered as they should be and disagreed with some observations, other areas caught my attention and intrigued me.

With regards to how we live our lives and the import of our reputation succeeding us after we have left this particular plain of existence, I recognised many things which perhaps explain my own attitudes and actions to a degree.

The Hávamál is quoted as saying: ‘Cattle die, kinsmen die, I myself shall die, but there is one thing I know never dies: the reputation we leave behind at our deaths.’

Since men who become embittered never win respect or admiration, those who sought fame did not rail at the undoubted hardship of their lives and the inevitability of death. Rather, they endured it or, even better, laughed at it.” (Kevin Crossley-Holland)

Endure and laugh rather than give in and weep.

A quote from H.R. Ellis Davidson regards the ancient ‘Norse attitudes toward an awareness of fate which is reflected in Norse Mythology:

…but they would fight on as long as they could, since life was well worth while. Men knew that the gods whom they served could not give them freedom from danger and calamity, and they did not demand that they should. We find in the myths no sense of bitterness at the harshness and unfairness of life, but rather a spirit of heroic resignation: humanity is born to trouble, but courage, adventure, and the wonders of life are great matters for thankfulness, to be enjoyed while life is still granted to us. The great gifts of the gods were readiness to face the world as it was, the luck that sustains men in tight places, and the opportunity to win that glory which alone can outlive death.

None of us can ever know until we die if there is an afterlife. Even then, would we be aware of our former existence? I think to a degree many people crave ‘immortality’ and to leave a memory of ourselves which will transcend our leaving this plain of existence.

I think most people who strive for recognition and have this burning desire to leave a mark on this ‘world’ wish to leave a mark which those left behind and those in the future recognise and will remember.

I believe this is very true in my case. I want to be remembered for my achievements, my actions, my individuality and my life’s tale. Be it my writing, the things I have created, who I am. I do not want to be forgotten, not only by those I know and love, but by the wider world. I strive to leave a permanent mark for those left behind and those in future generations. Perhaps some achievements will be anonymous, as in the designs we create for The Silver Bough now possessed by our customers but I am still there with them.

We make our marks as we will. Many of us want to be remembered…most of us want to be remembered well.

One day all that will be left is that memory for present and future generations, that recognition and perhaps the person’s name behind those memories. That is the stuff of stories for the future and for those inspired by us perhaps, long after we have left.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Silver Bough's Summer Solstice Deal

To celebrate the Summer Solstice, The Silver Bough is pleased to announce that from now until August 31st we are offering free postage on all silver items anywhere in the World.

In addition, 
from now until Midnight on August 31st (UK time), every purchase of a silver item from The Silver Bough's online shop will entitle the buyer to one entry in our Summer Solstice prize draw. 

On September 1st we will draw the winner at random from a list of all customers who have been entered into the draw. The prize draw winner will be announced on 2 September 2012 (this accommodates international friends).

The first name drawn out will win a small "Sól" rune made from fine silver, hung with a leather cord and presented in a velvet display box.

Sól signifies Sun, A rune of light, fire and happiness, symbolizing power, joy and success.

The image below shows the actual prize that the lucky winner will receive.

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Silver Bough launches... A Silver Bough

Silver Bough Pendant
Silver Bough Pendant

We are pleased to introduce our new Silver Bough pendant. Our namesake and trademark. The first Silver Bough we created from a branch I found and which I painstakingly coated slowly again and again with silver to build up a 'shell'. This of course means the piece is hollow and because the wood fires very hot involves much work to get it perfect. Unfortunately when you use this technique, although the ‘branch’ is preserved forever in its silver coat, it cannot be replicated. This first Silver Bough I wear as I should.

However the second Silver Bough was moulded from another branch and is solid fine silver. It is very beautiful. The ring at the back was added afterwards and again hand crafted in order to flow with the actual branch. This involved a great deal of work but was worth it. As with every pendant we design, we create each piece individually and it will be unique. These pieces are entirely hand crafted and finished by hand so there are no electric tools involved. This is a long, slow process requiring a great deal of patience. Thankfully we are patient (with our work at least).

Silver Bough
Silver Bough

The Silver Bough - History

The poets (fili) were part of the caste of the druid class (scholars, priests, judges, etc). These fili were closely in touch with the Otherworld. The chief symbol or regalia of their office was the musical bough which they carried in their possession.

The highest order of this class, the Ollamh, was entitled to a golden bough, the Anruth (second highest) a silver bough and finally the lower classes, a bronze bough. These branches were hung with bells which rang when they rode or entered a hall, disposing listeners to attend to their songs, stories and mystical revelations.

The most famous of the Anruth was the Welsh Taliesan. Although according to legend he was made the Chief Ollamh and head of the Council by his foster grandfather/father Gwynudd, he did not carry the golden bough but preferred the silver bough.

Thus through the symbolism of the Silver Bough, its attending cycles of song, poetry, story and mysticism, our company The Silver Bough adopted its name.

Silver Bough

For Writers, Poets, Musicians And Those Who Know And Love These Unique And Wonderful Souls

This symbol is perfect for poets, story tellers and musicians or simply those who love and appreciate Celtic/Welsh myths/history.

May you carry or wear a Silver Bough and for those of you who qualify (at least in your hearts, souls and minds) for the above and have the gift of a silver tongue, may you enrich this world.

Best luck, a good dose of Magik and maintain an ancient tradition.

The Silver Bough

Saturday, 12 May 2012

New Designs from The Silver Bough

The Silver Bough is happy to soon be introducing new pendant designs in fine silver.

We’ve been working hard to come up with new thoughts and ideas to offer to our wonderful public.

Currently we have put a silver Troll Cross up in our shop which is beautiful and has been receiving excellent reviews. Troll Crosses were originally ancient Norse amulets made in iron to protect against Trolls and Elves (as if we’d want to). Iron is traditionally abhorrent and dangerous to the faerie folk – not your usual traditional pretty little winged creatures but a race of peoples who do not follow the laws and morals of us mortals but adhere to their own laws which often has included some which can be defensive against the folk (us).

Our Troll Crosses are made of silver which means we cannot guarantee that any Trolls or Elves will be repelled but still they are beautiful.

Silver Troll Cross
Silver Troll Cross

Our second completed design is a stylised silver serpent. It is very fluid and loosely based on an actual artefact.  This serpent has a concealed ‘D’ ring behind his head which hangs beautifully on a cord (which we supply).

Silver Serpent Pendant
Silver Serpent Pendant

We have also made models for a new original design of a serpent. This delicate, smooth, flowing creature will be perfect as either a small pendant or a pair of earrings.

The second model is a simple Mjolnir (again based on an artefact) which will hang again with a concealed ‘D’ ring. This will reflect the Silver Bough's use of simplicity and fluidity creating a pendant which is tactile, simple and stylistic in nature.

The final model we have created was inspired by myself going mad at an odd hour of the night. Inspiration or a kick from my ‘muse’. Think I know who he is in this case.

Based again on my interpretation of Norse and Celtic wolf designs, we’ve created a rather complicated Fenris Wolf head, son of Loki and Angraboda of Norse Mythology. He is mean and meant to look that way which is reflected in the hours of sculpting and modelling. We hope to offer this pendant soon in silver. Any requests are welcome.

All of our new designs are inspired by artefacts and designs from the past and mythology.

And we’ve worked on our Silver Boughs. One made from layering silver on a tiny wooden bough – a one off. One moulded from again a natural tiny bough, which unlike the first is solid fine silver. Again, these are made with concealed hanging rings at the back.

More to follow.

Everything we make is in its way unique. There will be no two designs which are the same.

We hope you will like them.

Many thanks to Joanne Harris for friendship and inspiration, Karl Seigfried for support and interesting articles, of course to the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda for much of our inspiration and to all the love of Celtic and Norse mythology and history which we have the pleasure of offering to a wider scope of understanding and mutual lovers of our wonderful past.

Aesk Rune Pendant
Aesk Rune Pendant

Norse Dragon Pendant
Norse Dragon Pendant

Algiz Rune Pendant
Algiz Rune Pendant

Jera Rune Pendant
Jera Rune Pendant

Yggdrasil Card
Yggdrasil Card

Thurisaz Rune Pendant
Thurisaz Rune Pendant

Kaen Rune Pendant
Kaen Rune Pendant

Sol Rune Pendant
Sol Rune Pendant

Thursday, 1 March 2012

One of Loki's Best Gigs

'Loki' B Mara 2012

An inspiration from my favourite Norse ‘God’ who apparently inspired and motivated me. One of my favourite Norse Myths:

 Norse Myth (and Loki) enthusiasts and never to ignore those followers of Joanne Harris’ Runemarks and Runelight, the following is one of my favourite tales:


According to Bragi:

Odin, Loki and Hoenir once travelled from home (Asgard). They crossed the mountains and deserts beyond. They found very little food and were hungry.

They came to a field of oxen and killing one, they cooked it. Although they continually broke open the cooking pit the oxen never seemed to properly cook and the meat was raw. After discussing the cause, they heard a voice coming from a nearby oak tree. A large eagle perched there.

The eagle said: “If you will give me my fill of the meat, it will cook.”

It was agreed and the eagle ate more than its fill.

However Loki took exception to this and picking up a large stick, with all of his strength, he struck the Eagle.

Unfortunately for Loki, the stick stuck firmly in the eagle’s body and it bore him away. Terrified, Loki’s feet hung at times hundreds of feet over the ground but worse, brushed the ground, the rocks and the sharp stumps and branches of trees. Loki held on but realised this was certainly not a good position to be in. He feared his arms would be pulled from their sockets or he would be torn apart by the rocks and trees… He dared not let go of the stick.

Loki finally cried out to the eagle and begged for mercy. The eagle in reply said that Loki would face an unfortunate situation or death unless he gave an oath that he would deliver the goddess Idun, out of Asgard, with her apples of youth, to the eagle.

An oath was unbreakable. The consequences would be extreme if an oath was broken.

Loki was set free and returned to his companions, but kept his secret.

Shortly after he enticed Idun into leaving Asgard and going into the forests in order, as he said, to procure apples rarer and more worthy then the apples of youth she collected. He cajoled Idun into following him.

The eagle returned immediately in the form of Thjazi (a Jotun or giant) who seized Idun and bore her away.

When Idun was seen as missing, and obvious culprit was Loki, (as always right or wrong) the gods seized Loki. They attacked Loki and threatened him with torture, dismemberment and death. Idun’s presence was cherished. not only as a beloved goddess but also as the one who kept the gods from old age with her apples. was invaluable.

Loki knew that this was no bluff and had no desire for the consequences the Gods promised him. He therefore took a falcon shape (being a shape shifter, and in some versions having borrowed Freya's falcon cloak) and flew into the Giant’s (Jotunheim) land. The Jotun, Thjazi was away at sea and Loki was able to find Idun and transform her into a nut, and therefore within his talons, Loki bore Idun back to Asgard.

Upon returning Thjazi immediately noted the disappearance of Idun. In fury, he transformed once again into an eagle and flew to Asgard.

The Aesir, knowing Loki’s success in saving Idun, saw Thjazi in his guise of an eagle and had prepared. Wood shavings lined the walls of the fortress and were lit. The eagle, Thjazi, dived and could not stop before he met with the flames which ignited his falcon feathers. Therefore, although there was great peril for the Aesir, Thjazi was consumed by the flames and died.

Of course Thjazi’s daughter Skadi was overwhelmed with grief and vengeance, and donned her mail. She approached the Aesir and demanded an apology and compensation. The Aesir offered Skadi reconciliation and compensation. They told her to choose from amongst the Aesir a husband. Skadi’s fault, despite being a warrior and a hunter, was that like most women, she desired Baldr – son of Frigg, Odin’s wife. Baldr was considered the fairest of men. Skadi faced the line up. Nothing but the feet of the men was exposed. Skadi thought Baldr MUST have the fairest feet of all.

Skadi was mistaken. Njord (or Noatun), god of the sea, an old man, had the fairest of feet from his continual walking in the salt water and sand. Thus she chose Njord without knowing and thus was her fate. She was married to Njord - a union which did not survive.

As a concession, the Aesir took Thjazi's eyes and threw them into the heavens thus creating two new stars in the firmament.

The second condition was that the Aesir must make Skadi laugh.

Skadi? Laugh? Skadi was stern. She did not laugh.

Of course Loki was put into play. Loki was charming, Loki was clever, Loki didn’t worry much about the opinion of others (particularly if he was proving a point – he already knew that no matter what he did or said to benefit the gods, their opinion of him would remain the same). So Loki took the situation into his own hands. He felt a bit of humour at his own personal expense would certainly fix the situation.

Loki found a goat. He tied a cord to the goat’s beard. The other end, he tied to his own testicles. (Give him credit for this!) Thus, ensued a sort of ‘tug of war’. Of course the goat protested and Loki squealed. Eventually the cord loosened and Loki fell into Skadi’s lap. How couldn’t she laugh? Though distressed, Loki looked up and started to (albeit painfully) laugh and thus Skadi also began to laugh.

Thus the conditions were sealed.

Though Skadi and Njord’s marriage failed (another story) she lived amongst the Vanir and the Aesir in relative peace.

Loki? Well…he still managed to father children and brushed the whole affair off…

Though I believe he must have limped for a long time.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Eleanor Ford - November Winner of Joanne Harris' Runelight Competition

The Silver Bough wanted to write a Blog Interview/Article profiling the winners of Joanne Harris’ competition for her recently launched book Runelight.

The first and November winner of this competition is Eleanor Ford who created a video for the Runelight Competition, second in the series following the very popular, much loved and evocative Runemarks.

Thank you Eleanor for emailing us with your profile.

We hope we hear from the December winner (Kaitlin) and January winner (Anna) in order to also include them in our Blog articles.

All three videos submitted are wonderful and all very different. The time, skill and thought which accompany these videos are truly amazing and show a great deal of love, inspiration and hard work.


Eleanor chose ‘Aesk’ (Maddy’s rune from Runemarks) as the rune appearing on her silver pendant. This was the first ‘Aesk’ that The Silver Bough created so very special indeed.

Eleanor is 28 years old and lives in Shropshire (West Midlands in England) where she grew up. In her spare time she loves to read, reading almost 150 books last year! She has been reading since she can remember.

Eleanor: My favourite books always had a mystical twist to them somewhere, but somehow I ended up reading horror fiction as I got into my teens, at the time Stephen King was my favourite author. As I got older I started to like science fiction and fantasy novels more and more but the market for older readers always seemed to be aimed at men. I’d read the Harry Potter books a few years earlier, but hadn’t ventured into books for children or young adults since then, somehow I stumbled into reading Anthony Trollope! In early 2007 one of my friends got me back into reading fantasy fiction by suggesting that I would love to read the Eragon by Christopher Paolini, since then I’ve never looked back! Most of the books I’ve read since have been young adult science fiction/fantasy novels.

Eleanor: As it was over 4 years ago I don’t clearly remember how I discovered Runemarks, I do remember that I bought the book soon after it came out (and I also managed to win myself a signed copy through signing up for the newsletter on the official website!) It was the first fiction I’d read that was based on Norse mythology, in fact I can’t remember reading anything based on it since then either! Runemarks captured my imagination and I was fascinated by the Gods and the meanings of the runes, which is why when the video competition for Runelight was announced I was very excited to produce something to enter. The subject of the books is very inspiring and I found it very easy to produce the artwork I made for the video just from reading descriptions of the Gods.

Eleanor states that she has not yet read her copy of Runelight, but emphasises that this will be rectified soon.

Eleanor: I’m sure it will be as thrilling and fantastic as Runemarks is!

The Silver Bough: Eleanor, we assure you it is!

Eleanor we hope you will continue loving the books. We all look forward to the next in the series - be it a sequel or a prequel and of course thank Joanne for bringing the 'Gods' to life with her own touches. Long may the saga continue!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Winners - Runelight Competition Winner for November and New Designs

The Silver Bough are thrilled with the rune pendant ‘Aesk’ (Maddy’s rune from Runemarks and Runelight) which we created for competition winner Ellie. We were very pleased as when we posted the pendant to Joanne Harris she too loved it. Congratulations Ellie on a wonderful video!

The Silver Bough has officially added new designs to our shop: A bas relief large oval pendant (the same size as our large rune pendants) based on a stylised ancient Norse ‘dragon’ (a similar authentic design can be seen at the British Museum) and runic earrings (which are quite light and will not pull on the ear lobe). Although we love the more ‘antique’ oxidised finish of both the dragon pendant and the earrings, we will offer these in either an oxidised finish or a polished finish depending on our customers’ preference. The dragon pendant will have the actual bas relief dragon polished if desired.

In the case of the earrings if the oxidised finish is preferred we can also oxidise the earring wires (pierced) and will be soon offering the option for non pierced ears. As with our rune pendants, the choice of runes is dependent on our customers. If a customer prefers two different runes, that is also possible.

We will soon be working in bronze and copper – very beautiful metals and the cost will be lower than with 99.9% silver although we will always adhere to our top standards of hand craftsmanship and hand finishing.

We have completed and posted our first pendant to Australia. This has brought us around the world. Our sales have been UK based, North American based, Mauritian based and now Australian based. We are proud that each order has been loved by the people who have bought them.

The Silver Bough has also added to Joanne’s interpretations of ‘The old Script’ rune (which Joanne has drawn on from ancient Norse and Old English sources) from Runemarks and Runelight, along with her interpretation of ‘New Script’ runes. Readers of Joanne’s books now can have the rune pendants which coincide with her books. We happily await further sequels (and a prequel).

Of course I am so honoured and proud to be acknowledged in Runelight. Thank you Joanne! A very special book to me as she knows..And the characters are friends to me.

Our original photograph cards will soon be available and more will follow. Although these are not necessarily related to Norse or Celtic history/mythology (some of ancient sites are of course and some have that certain ‘flavour’) all photographs are beautiful. The cards are top quality and provided with an envelope and in a plastic sleeve to protect them.

If handmade rune cards (aside from our Yggdragsil cards) are desired these can be created as an individual rune or as a ‘Sigil’ which is a combination of runes. Any subject is explained on the back of the card.

We hope soon to be working in glass as I studied stained glass and we plan to launch votive lights (free standing and hanging), ‘sun catchers’ and sun catching mobiles in various themes.

The year is winding down. We will soon have ‘Christmas’ posting guidelines on our site.

All of our best.