Author Archives: Shirl Sazynski

Poetry, Essay & Art published in Rogue Particles and Eternal Haunted Summer

rogue particlesTwo of my poems came out this month:

The brand new literary magazine Rogue Particles includes my poetic essay about living and traveling along both coasts “Two Bay Shores” in its debut issue.

I’m published alongside New York times’ best-selling writer Darynda Jones (First Grave on the Right) and a host of other excellent authors.

eternal_haunted_summer_coverOr, head on over to Eternal Haunted Summer for the Spring Equinox issue, which features my illustrated poem weaving Slavic and Norse myth, “Northern Pastoral“.

EHS is an established quarterly packed with excellent short stories, poems, essays, interviews and reviews of books and media drawn from world mythology.


Six (Pagan) Views of New York City in the Spring

This poetic essay originally appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer Magazine 2011.

Re-posted, with travel photos at Pagan Square.


The restaurant — hole-in-the-wall with age-darkened brick wallpaper, old-lady peony-pink damask table cloths, the color my Chicago adopted grandmother used to like in homemade church blouses, eyelet white lace curtains festooned with paper ribbons in the ceiling, entwined with silk flower vines, glitter easter-eggs, feather butterflies in “old-lady chic” the guidebook calls it, ribbons hanging from the trophy animals, dusty green-red pheasant I can’t see his tail, two deer heads with gold mardi gras beads wrapped ’round dead necks and antlers, soft orange carrot salad a feast of hunter’s stew between potato pancakes plump meat chunks tucked in a surprise the old man with Andy Warhol hair arguing cheerfully with the middle-aged waiter reading a conservative fantasy novel, this food is better than your mother’s he says with a straight face, expecting the rejoinder as my husband checks out, tart herbaceous currant juice, the color of crushed berries — it tastes like secrets –

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Eir: Best of Doctors

Norse Goddess Eir Best of Doctors- Shirl Sazynski

Lineart illustration for an essay I wrote, appearing in Idunna Magazine this spring.

Eir is the Norse Goddess of medicine, physicians and healing, associated with a magic hill or mountain. She has a number of Goddess friends who hang out together, according the wonderful courting poem Svipdagsmal (seriously, it’s one of the cutest myths ever. A hero goes on an “impossible” quest, gets lots of help first from his wise dead mom, trades questions and wisdom with a giant– who gives him impossible tasks, of course… and it turns out he doesn’t have to smite, conquer or hurt a damn thing to win his True Love, who lives on the Mountain of Healing, Lyfjaberg. It’s awesome.).

I dressed Eir in a lab coat to emphasize that she’s a physician, not just a “healer”, with all the respect, years of training, and vast knowledge that carries. Doctor’s offices are so often cold these days that I wanted something warm, homey and healing for her.

The standing stones are for a barrow door (like a hobbit house), because in Svipdagsmal, Lyfjaberg is in the Underworld. A huge tree with healing fruit is associated with the hill, which I echoed in the design of the table.

The hanging herbs are mint, mugwort, red clover, lavender and yarrow, very useful powerful for healing still used in medicine today.

Final art will be in watercolor. Eir’s not going to be blond.

Frey: Spring Awakening the Land – Commissioned image

Frey awakening the land in spring.

My latest commissioned illustration will be appearing in the Spring issue of Witches and Pagans magazine. (Go read it when it comes out!) While the magazine uses lineart, the final work will be a watercolor painting.

Several motifs from the story I was called to illustrate– deer bones, antlers, the land reawakening and an earth spirit who heals the ground by walking barefoot over it– all reminded me of Norse myth. Frey is a wandering Scandinavian God of both agriculture and the underworld, the son of the Earth and the Sea, akin to the Slavic Jarilo, who walks across the earth with his white stallion (or as the horse), bringing life to the fields each spring. According to Snorri Sturleson’s Edda, during the cataclysmic battle of Ragnarok, Freyr fights an earth-scorching fire giant with only an antler.

In another myth, Freyr’s father, Njordh, has the most beautiful feet from being washed by the waves. His wife, Skadhi, chose him from a blind lineup based on his feet, after demanding a battle for vengeance at her father’s death. Instead of a fight, she got awarded a husband compensation! (It’s a pretty awesome myth, you should read it.)

I figure the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Heimdall and Loki Duel for Brisingamen

Heimdall and Loki Duel

In Norse myth, the Gods Heimdall and Loki brutally duel as two seals over the Goddess Freyja’s necklace, Brisingamen, which Loki stole and Heimdall won back.

Large sketch for a watercolor painting, part of a longer sequence that’s part of an illustrated book.

Odin / Lugh as the Yule King painting

Odin as the Yule King by Shirl SazynskiGouache on paper.

I painted this image of the Norse God Odhin during Yule, based on a vision I’d had over a year ago. It’s a companion to my other painting of Ingvi-Freyr as the Yule King, and is the man the youth became.

In Heathenry / Asatru, Odhin is both a god of joy and sacrifice. He is the gift-giver and wish-bringer of the Yule season, but also a god of war, ecstasy, knowledge, death, fatherhood, poetry, storytelling and magic.

While his traditional horse, Sleipnir (“Slipper”), can ride through both the lands of the living and the dead, it’s Freyr’s horse, Bloody Hooves, who seemed far more appropriate to be striding across his bronze breastplate.

The tree behind him is the ash, Yggdrasil (“Odhin’s Horse”)– as the World Tree of Norse myth, from which Odhin hung nine days pierced by a spear (presumedly his own lance, Gungnir “The Swaying One”) in search of knowledge, thus winning the runes, keys to both written language and magic. His role as the leader of The Wild Hunt is often associated with the night time during the late fall– and thus, the full moon.

Yule is the time of the Winter Solstice– its first day, the 21st, is the shortest day of the year– and it’s a time for joyfully welcoming the returning sunlight as the days lengthen. So I painted the golden sun whirling through the blue sky on the boss of his gorget, which is Celtic styled. Golden collars were worn by chieftains and given out to their retainers and warriors in both Norse and Celtic societies (the torque may have helped you run faster in battle, which is why some baseball players wear them now; the collars themselves are obviously signs of rank).

The bronze armor and lance references the sun again (and the bronze age, which I love artifacts from).

The Celtic God Lugh Llamfada (The “Long Armed”) shares many remarkably similar traits and myths with Odin. He’s a solar God, also armed with a sacred spear– a young king, bard, warrior and skilled craftsman in many fields.

The holly crown is simply for Yule.

You can find the story of what inspired this painting on my blog at PaganSquare, One-Eyed Cat, here.

Exhibitions at Metropolis Comic Art Gallery

I’m in the current show at Metropolis Comic Art Gallery in Albuquerque (1102 Mountain Rd. NW Suite 202– look for the huge sign on the railings) which hangs through the holidays, with a two-page adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince” available for $250.

everyones a kid showArt in the show by Charles Wilson III (The Stuff of Legend)– go ahead and like them on Facebook by clicking the photo. There’s also art for sale on their website.
Metropolis Art Gallery_Happy Prince_SazynskiMy artwork hanging in the show. Pen and Ink on Bristol board.
Warriors_Madness_The Art of ThorThe first show at Metropolis I was in, last month for the Thor II: The Dark World movie release. You can still see some of the awesome work in the side room.
Loki_Albuquerque Drink and Draw_2013My Loki drawing from the October Drink ‘n Draw at Tractor Brewing Company in Nob Hill, which hung in the Thor show, along with Frigg and Odin. Watercolor and pen on acid free paper, still available at the gallery for $175.


Kaleidocast Podcast Logo illustration

Kaleidocast logo shirl sazynski
My latest commission: a logo for the soon-to-be-launched science fiction, fantasy and horror genre podcast from Brooklyn Speculative Science Fiction Writers:

I had a blast creating this design, inspired by cuttlefish, Viking burial boats, the dragon of their current logo, and a steampunk pegasus figurehead for poetry, myth and flights of fantasy.

Love & (male) vulnerability in Norse myth: Freyr and the wooing of Gerda in Skirnismal

This essay was recently published, and can also be found at my blog on PaganSquare.
Day-spring_finds_Menglöd- Svipdagsmal_Collingwood“Power to me is displayed by the peacemaker.

I understand there is a level of excitement in those stories of being held by a man’s man for a moment, but that is a rickety banister to hold on to as you step onto the stairway of romantic bliss. There is another whole level of connection and white-out passion when you realize you are with someone who has opened up their heart so fully that you can feel the circle of blood through their arteries and veins almost as if it is your own…”

–from “An Unapologetic Look at Romance” by Dominique Jones

This is one of the wisest essays I have read, on love or anything else (click on it, please), and it drives home several points about Freyr:

We stereotype the peoples of Northern Europe as aggressive, looting, sea-faring warriors, hauling back pillaged booty or trade goods from abroad. We stereotype Odin (blame Wagner and his Victorian romanticism for this) as the stern, grim king: father of war. Thor as big-hearted, lustily drinking smiter of evil. While attitudes have recently begun changing, portraying the Vikings’ “softer side“, that aggressive image sticks– both inside and outside of Heathenry.

It ignores that there is a third strong image of masculinity, from a triad of Gods honored at the ancient temple of Upsala, Sweden: Odin, Thor and Freyr.

Freyr is not just the God of “Fertility” and “Farming”, but the Lord of peace. And a very wise God and king at that. He’s also a God of love, courtship and marriage. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering that his dynamic sister, Freya, is a mistress of sexuality who ardently appreciates love songs. Continue reading

Yule King: Odin sketch

Odin Yule King Sketch_Shirl Sazynski Odin as the Yule King. Sketch for a painting in progress.