Category Archives: Enlightenment

What You Need Right Now Might Just Be an Icelandic Rock

After a long time between languages, it’s time to go down to the shore.

 

And pick up magic rocks and hold them in. your hand.

And put them down.

And leave them there to talk to the sun in their nonhuman tongues.

And walk back up through the library of the birch forest.

And the lair of dragons.

Give one last glance to the lake.

And go back to the skáldverk in silence.

And begin again.

The Four-Directional Icelandic Cross

Following the Old Norse prototypes that long ago divided Iceland into the quadrants of a compass (Still used by the Icelandic Government’s tourism promotion board to label the country as West, North, East and, South Iceland [and don’t you dare travel around the country in the other direction; it only works poorly]), the Icelandic Cross is not divided into two axes, the vertical Heaven axis and the horizontal Earth axis, meeting at the heart, or Christ, but into four quadrants, blending the living and the dead with the action of the mind. It’s why Lazarus is so popular as a figure on Icelandic altars (Christ raised him from the dead, maggots and all), and why the Valþfjófstaðurkirkja looks like this, drawing its graveyard deep into thought.

The pre-Christian rowan trees of the graveyard are welcome as well.

The Place to Go in Iceland, If You Dare

You can be of two minds, at once. They are not in conflict. A forest full of quick life to take you there, through the web of your thoughts?

Or a forest of slow, enduring life, the cliff of ghosts that awaits and towers above you, your body given face as memory?

At Botnstjörn, the windless pond sheltered by birches  deep in Ásbyrgi, you can be both at once. They are not in conflict.

Surrender, and feel yourself lose all weight.

Preparation is All

Everything catches your eye. The world is not what we expect but what we answer when it calls to us. The two gestures are the same. Preparation is all, even if you don’t know the preparation you have done. When I first travelled to Iceland, we were given an itinerary and sent on our way, and, being curious and easily wowed, kept stopping the car and being late for dinner.

Now I understand that if we hadn’t wanted to be caught, and if we hadn’t been ready to be caught, we would have driven on, and made dinner. Because we stopped, I saw into the heart of the world, and have written two books and am deep into two other manuscripts. And still that lamb dinner calls!