Magical Djúpalón: Passage Between Worlds

The Deep Pools at Nautastigur are fresh on their surface and salt beneath.

If you follow the Nautastigur trail down to the beach (Djúpalónsandur), you will encounter a couple ogres…

….and around the corner an elvish church, but wait, not so fast. This mountain is alive as well.

Look at it facing you from across the water. A lake that is both salt water and fresh is surely a passage between worlds. And here’s the great thing: if you come on a tour bus, the mountain will hide its secrets.

The Family Dragon is the Best

Iceland is a society of cairns. Cairns are artificial humans made out of stacked-up skulls, which allow the living to find their way in the footsteps of those who came before. Here’s one in the Berserker Lava Fields.


Here’s one in Borg.

And an artful one in Reykjavik.

And back to the Berserker Lava Field, where a modern cairn, a 4×4, moves as the driver anticipates where you are going to be, but you have to show up there to find it. Unlike the others, it isn’t a visual cairn. It’s more like one or the whole body.

Skull training starts young. Here’s a pretty standard kid’s playground, with a build-it-yourself dragon.

The dragon you make yourself is not the one that’s going to hurt you.

Chance Sightings of the Sun

 

If you head East from Þingvellir and reach the height of land, and the turn off to Laugarvatn, why not stop and wait for the sun? This is elf country. They just might show. What you are looking for are rainbows almost invisible as the sun disperses the mist like a breath.

And if they don’t show, waiting is also arrival. It all depends upon which country you arrive in. Care to try? You’ve got nothing to lose!

Country of the Wind

In Langadalur, you can find a country where humans can only exist as the companions of elemental powers. To walk here is to be utterly naked in the universe. To do so with a community of people is no help. You must enter with a community of things, and live within them until you have crossed. What the Icelanders have learned in 1100 years is that when the boat doesn’t come, you had better be good at making a new community of things.

You must halter yourself to the Earth, lest you are blown away. You could say that Gunnar returned to Iceland in 1939 because he loved his land, which is true, that he was romantic, which is also true, that he was afraid, which was reasonable in 1939, and you could say that this fold east of Bifrost is an instance of creativity, which is also true, but those are just words. You pick up the Earth one stone at a time, and move them to create a body that shelters you. It is your companion. It is yourself. From their to haunting is not far.

Iron Age Iceland: An Archaeological Field Trip

Over in Lágkotstangi, iron age ruins are not hard to spot.

Because of recent tree-planting initiatives in the North and East, it is slowly being replaced by a rudimentary Wooden Age.

Because Iceland has been isolated so long, history is coming very quickly now. Even as we speak, both iron and wood are giving way to the Age of Plastic. They’re not going down without a fight, though.

Look at Iron and Wood trying to be useful (and sneaky) still!

Another Reason to Leave Reykjavik: Learning the Language of Water

If you stay in Reykjavik, vodka’s the thing. Drink that stuff and you might forget where you are.

But if you go halfway to the complete opposite end of the country, the water speaks at last, not with a bottle but with the words that grow still on the very bottom edge of the sky:

Lagarfljót, April

Your choice, between a bar full of travellers and the voices of trolls. Flights to Egilstaðir are cheap. Just $120 return. You could drop three times that much, just having dinner and drinks with a friend in town. Off you go.

 

Listen to the Mountain Sing

Here is Gunnar’s corner of Iceland. Snæfell in the distance calls the water out of the air, then sheds it and fills the valley floor with its watery self. The lake is the mountain.

And it is here in the spring, when you stand on the shore, you can hear the mountain talk to you through the ice as it is lifted and set down by the waves lifted and set down by the breath of the mountain. It sounds like a flock of joyous birds. Really. You should go. It’s worth the trip to hear it through the birch trees, to keep walking as it grows louder and louder, and then, well, to be right inside it.