With the sub plot nicely under way and my two spies decided upon, I can pay more attention to what type of creature of the night Willow the Vampire and her friends might have to do battle with in the series of novels I’m writing.
Dragons are always a favourite with me – there are so many different interpretations of their origins and their purpose. Humans were not around when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, so how come we have so many variations of dragon, Lindwurm and Niðhöggr in our legends and folkore stories?
The Nidhogg or Niðhöggr is the malice striker that gnaws at the roots of our World Tree. Interestingly, this serpent-come-dragon from the Norse mythology is particularly keen to unsettle Niflheim, one of nine Norse worlds. Niflheim is the place where those live who can die of old age and sickness…in other words, humans. Could the Niðhöggr be a symbol for nature itself?
Early humans must have cursed and feared powerful nature every day of their lives. It takes so little to put our lives in peril. Cold, thirst, hunger – having no shelter, food and drink will soon wear us down and kill us. Malice on the other hand is not a concept that nature subscribes to; it is a purely human trait of character. Although it must have felt to early human dwellers, those hunter gatherers turned farmers that nature had it in for them, when their first attempt at harvesting crops failed thanks to either lack of rain or far too much rain coming at the wrong time of the year.
The Nidhogg or serpent lives in Hel, right underneath the World Tree Yggdrasil. When the world falters and Ragnarök unleashes all the nasty critters, monsters and hellish creations from the underworld, Willow the Vampire and her friends will have their hands full finding weapons that can defeat such powerful foes.
The World Tree’s roots were believed to hover over Niflheim to protect it and the Malice Striker nibbles at this root from below. Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda interestingly also refers to the Niðhöggr as being a sword. Could the serpent or dragon in this case be a two-sided sword, one that doesn’t necessarily act out of malice, but chooses to punish where punishment is due?
As we have seen in this series on creatures of the night, many animals have been accused and maligned unjustly. Humans might have felt that nature was something to be feared and battled with, a powerful foe that strikes when least expected to unsettle our world and put us in jeopardy. Is our relationship with nature as ambiguous as our relationship with dragons, I wonder?
Given the state our planet is in, it is more plausible that we are the serpent gnawing away at the roots of our world. The creature of the night who is our worst enemy is clearly not the serpent, the dragon, the Nidhogg – it is mankind itself.
Oh boy, Willow the Vampire really will be busy creating a better world!