By I. M. Knosp
In the middle of winter a woman sat by the window and embroidered. The land was covered in snow and her embroidery frame was of ebony. Just then she pricked her finger and 3 drops of blood fell from her onto the snow. She saw how beautiful and crimson it was upon the snow and said to herself “Would I had a child as red as blood, white as snow, and black as the ebony frame.” Then from the blood rose a young maiden as beautiful as her mother had described, her lips red as blood, her skin white as snow, and her hair black as the ebony of the frame. She named her Winter and the cold serene beauty of her namesake followed her wherever she went.
It so happened that as summer and fall had begun their slumber and winter approached that Idunn saw her beautiful orchards and the fruit rotting and frostbit on the ground and she wept tears of great rage. “This is Winter’s doing!”, she cried. When nothing was left but winter apples she felt she had had enough and went to the hunter deep in the woods. She exclaimed loudly and with such passion at the thievery and ruin of her labor never before seen as a result of Winter. The Hunter took pity on Idunn and she asked of him to bring her the heart of Winter in a small box so that she knew she had truly perished. She presented the box before him carved elegantly from part of one of the trees that had fallen to Winter’s chill.
The Hunter quickly found and cornered Winter telling her that her thievery of Idunn’s orchard had come to an end. She began to cry and beg for her life.
The hunter looked at her and found he could not bring himself to kill her. She was the most beautiful maiden he had ever seen. Her hair black as the night in which he stalked, her skin white as the snow of a good hunt, her lips red as the blood of his prey. Finally Winter exclaimed “Let me leave, I will go far away to another land!” The Hunter motioned for her to leave and head to another land far away. She ran through the forest out of sight upon the snow covered land. Just then a young boar ran across his field of vision the hunter loosed an arrow sailing past the leafless trees for a quick kill. He took out his knife and carved out the boars heart and placed it in Idunn’s box. Then presented it to her a smile on her face. Idunn hoping that such an action would bring her beautiful orchard back to her.
Winter fled, she fled until she came across a cottage, she was tired and half starved. So she entered and found it had seven chairs at the table with seven plates of supper and seven cups of wine. She ate a bit of bread and veg from each plate and a drop of wine from each cup so as not to take too much from any one individual. Then she saw seven beds and lay down to sleep trying each til she found the seventh to be just right. Then when night fell the masters of the house came home. Seven dwarves who spent their days mining for gold and jewels among the mountains. They lit their seven candles and found the house not as they had left it.
The First one exclaimed “Who has been sitting in my little chair?”
The Second one exclaimed “Who has eaten from my little plate?”
The Third one exclaimed “Who has eaten of my little bread?”
The Fourth one Exclaimed “Who has eaten of my little vegetables?”
The Fifth one exclaimed “Who has used my little fork?”
The Sixth one exclaimed “Who has cut with my little knife?”
The Seventh one Exclaimed “Who has drunken of my little cup?”
Then the first dwarf looked around and saw through the hollow in his bed frame and said “Who has been sleeping in my bed?” All seven of the dwarves crowded around the sleeping Winter the fire of their little candles casting light upon her great beauty. “By god, by the lord” They said never had they seen a beauty such as her. The dwarves took great joy in her and to avoid waking her the first slept in the beds of his comrades taking turns in each til the sun came up.
When Winter awoke and saw the seven hairy dwarves before her she was quite frightened, but they calmed her and were very friendly. They asked her name and where she had come from.
She told them her name and how the wrath of Idunn had forced her to flee. They told her “If you will keep our house a home, cook and wash, knit and sew, we shall gladly allow you to stay here. Dinner must be ready for when we arrive back from working all day in the mines for we shall be very hungry.” Winter agreed for all these were things she excelled at.
Now Idunn had hoped her orchard would regrow with winter dead but no blossoms had arisen from the branches of her trees. The snow had not let up upon the ground and her store of apples dwindled. Not sure of what actions to take she took the box containing her enemy’s heart and left for the three sisters’ well. Roots covered it and the waters of the well reflected in the light as if it were a mirror. “I have come to ask a question of you”, Idunn said her voice cracking from her pain. Just then a woman rose from beneath the surface of the water. She was young and plain her face stoic and serene. The next one of matronly sophistication with slight wrinkles at the edge of her eyes and purpose glittered in her stare. The third rose, her face was crone like, a long nose adorned her visage and thin pale hair fell behind and her eyes were near blind. “Then ask” said the three Norns their heads floating just above the water. “Is the heart in this box the heart of Winter”, Idunn said holding the box aloft. The two elder heads fell below as the maiden stayed aloft. “No, the hunter has placed the heart of a young boar inside in its place” said Urdr. Idunn’s face glowed red as an apple in rage. “And where is winter now!”, she demanded.
The maidens head fell below and the matron floated above. “She has gone away to a land of dwarves, where she stays in the cottage of seven miners”, said Verdani. “I shall find her then” exclaimed Idunn. “Then take her life as she has taken my orchards” The matron fell below as the crone floated above a slight smile upon her face “And you shall succeed that much I have seen”, said Skuld right as she fell back below the water the smile never leaving her face as all three sank back to their work in the well.
Idunn went back to her home and quickly disguised herself placing old ash on her face and branches and twigs to mess her hair.
Appearing as an old peddler woman she went to the cottage and knocked at the door “Fine wares for sale” she exclaimed in a hoarse croaking voice. Winter peered through the window “The masters of the house are away come back later” she said. “Oh but such a beautiful lass deserves beautiful lace”, said Idunn. She reached into a basket and pulled out beautiful lacework brightly colored and intricately stitched. Winter couldn’t help herself and thought that the old woman was merely a nice old lady, and the lace was so beautiful. She let the old peddler woman in and they sat down to talk and Winter inquired after the lace. Idunn took it out and offered to put the lace on for her. “Now you shall be laced properly my dear”, she said and laced Winter so quickly and tightly that she fell over as if she had died. Cackling Idunn sped away back to her orchard, waiting for the first blossom to come back to her.
As night fell the dwarves came home and finding Winter on the ground as if dead went to her and cut the lace and Winter sprang back to life. The dwarves then warned her to be careful to not let anyone in as the old woman had been Idunn and she could not risk another attempt on her life. Idunn saw that her orchard had not returned and reasoned that her attempt had failed. She disguised herself again this time slightly different and took a piece of pear wood normally set aside for her husband and carved it into a comb of magnificent quality. She then poisoned it so as its use would cause Winter’s death.
She knocked on the door of the cottage “Fine wares for sale” said Idunn. Winter looked through the window “I was told not to let anybody in”, she said. “But I have such lovely items for sale”, said Idunn as she pulled a comb out of a bag beautifully carved with ornate designs. Winter longed for that comb and thought to herself that this was clearly a different woman than before and could not be Idunn. She opened the door and bought the comb but barely had she put the comb in her hair that she fell over as if dead. Idunn cackled and fled back to her orchard waiting for the flowers to bloom on her trees. The dwarves arrived and after checking her lace they searched and found the comb in her hair and tossed it away. Winter arose and was chastised for disobeying and allowing herself to nearly be killed yet again.
Idunn found her orchard barren yet again. Enraged and out of patience she went to her storeroom and got one of her few remaining apples from the harvest. She took it and using magic she turned the apple to poison creating a pale white apple with a rosy red blush on one end. She disguised herself yet again and went again to the cottage. “Lovely apples for sale”, she called inside. Winter looked through the window. “I cannot allow anyone inside nor open the door for anybody”, said Winter. “But I have such lovely apples”, said Idunn holding out the beautiful pale apple. Winter was mesmerized, for she had never had an apple especially one of such beauty. “Are you worried of poison?”, said Idunn “Here I shall take this white half, you have the beautiful rosy half” Idunn cut the apple in half and bit into the white part. For her magic had been so clever as to put all the poison in the rosy side. Winter could not hold herself back. She took a bite of her half and quickly fell over as if dead. Idunn fled back to her orchard as the Dwarves arrived soon after. Seeing Winter on the ground they checked her lace and her hair they looked all over for what had been used against their maiden. But finding nothing they resigned themselves with tears in their eyes to her fate.
They could not bring themselves to bury or burn her so cut a tree and carved a beautiful altar for her to lay on. With runes of luck carved on to the side they placed her and as she lay there as if dead she did not age nor fade but was as beautiful as if alive. The orchard bloomed again and Idunn was overjoyed in her success. The thief of her efforts was gone and she could reap the rewards of her hard labor. But as Winter had been gone a long time her brother Jack Frost had gone about looking for her. He flew to his sisters’. He stayed briefly with Spring, then Summer shooed him along, til he came to Autumn who spoke of Winter’s feud with Idunn and how she had sworn revenge. Thinking she knew of what had become of Winter, Frost flew to Idunn who was not happy to see him. He stood there and asked “Where has Winter gone?”. “Gone?”, said Idunn “She has gone nowhere, for that is where she is. Look around, no more is Winter here nor will she ever come back”. Frost knew Idunn knew where Winter was and worried dearly for his beloved sister. He decided to play a ruse on Idunn in hopes of learning where Winter had gone. “Good riddance”, said Frost. Idunn looked surprised yet pleased. “She was never well liked by me or our sisters. If I were to see her again I would cast my spittle upon her”. Idunn laughed at this “If that is what you wish to do then I say go to the land of dwarves you will find her at a cottage of seven miners”, a smirk creeping across her face.
Frost flew off then. To find Winter he came to the cottage and told the dwarves he was looking for his sister Winter. The dwarves all looked sorrowful and pointed him towards the altar they had laid her on.He went to her and Frost overwhelmed with grief upon seeing the corpse of his sister Winter, lain out in loving respect inside the heart of a fallen tree and held her cold hand within his own and gently kissed her upon the brow. Frost patterns cascaded down her hands and her face. Finding their way into her mouth they froze the apple til it shifted and fell out of her mouth of its own accord, hard as stone. Winter rose her face glowing in the shiny frost of her brother. He was overjoyed and snow began to fall in beautiful downy patterns around them.
Idunn found her trees one again wilting and being nipped by ice as both Winter woke and Frost returned freezing her crop with frostbite. Idunn shook her fist and screamed “I will find her again as many times as it takes”. And Frost called back chuckling as he said it “And I will find my sister again as many times as it takes for that is our way”.
Grimm Remything Project
This was the second finished myth of a larger project concerning the mythology hidden in the folklore. As Christianity spread across the land many of our gods and myths were hidden in our folk tales. Behind saints, faeries, spirits, devils, and so on. The goal of this project is to show what could be hidden in the fairy tales we all know and love. While we do our best to see what could be hidden, we do not claim these to be the original versions – far from it. Our goal is to show what lies just beneath the page in the fairy tales we all know and love.
It was fairly obvious that this was a seasonal myth, though this draft is over a year old and better gods than Idunn such as Holda or Perchta would probably do better in place of Idunn, though than again perhaps not.
Jack Frost is a fairly common spirit/god and the decision to use him was based on him fitting the theme best, as always the Remything is designed to show what could be beneath not to show exactly what it once was before Christianization.
If you Enjoy the Original Art at the end you can check it out here at Arca’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bloodcoven_art/