As this rowan in the birch forest at Ásbyrgi shows, it’s about the darkness, and how that is woven with light.
Ewe With Her Lambs, Buðir, Midsummer’s Night 2019
The birch forests of Ásbyrgi are not passable, except slowly and in no direction not directed by the trees.
The words for human bodies come from trees like this: body, belly, bone, arm, branch, and so on. Only after these properties were named were the names applied to humans. Before that, our ancestors saw only the trees. In that sense, we are the hidden people, just as much as we are the boughs, beams, trunks and bodies reaching here.
The old Norse runes are well known.
They were repeated many times and developed shared symbolic meaning, aside from their use as an alphabet suitable for carving in stone.
The more you stare at them, the more they make sense, although each is written one time only, in constant modifications of basic patterns, no two the same.
The pleasure gained from spending a day reading them is no different from that in a gallery on the European continent, in the face of Rembrandt, Vermeer or Van Dyk, or in a vault in Mainz with Gutenberg’s Bible, or in front of Shakespeare’s First Folio in the British Library.
You can’t read them in the pubs of Reykjavik. You are going to have to go north, so far off of Highway 1 that when you learn to read these runes you won’t tell anyone what they say.
The cliff at Ásbyrgi, in the far northeast, is full of ravens, trolls and elves. They’ve been camping out there (if you have eyes to see them) from the beginning of the world. If you don’t have such eyes, they are lovely lava flows cut by a paraglacial flood, with a birch, willow and rowan forest worth a trip across Iceland or around the world.
Now, that’s love for the land! Well done!
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.
Sticking out its tongue and everything.
A troll is what your mind looks like at root level. You can walk through it and tell stories. If you look closely, there are dozens of trolls here, not just the one at the centre left, with two eyes and the broad, down-turned mouth. Look at the white, ghost-image of one at centre right. The stories are consciousness; you are more than that.