Midsummer Night at Buðir, Looking Northwest to Snæfellsjökull
Whether you’re coming or going, it’s still the centre.
The black church at Buðir still has the power to draw people to it, even though its town pretty much vanished long ago.
In other words, here under the volcano (cloaked in fog of its own making), in a lava field blown with dunes of stinging orange sand, the broken bits of old scallop shells, in a wind the volcano sends out to sea like a searchlight, there is power and light that exceed our understanding.
It is good to remember that the living have been given their life by the dead. Even our words, even these words, are the work of ancestral voices meeting the world, often in winds so strong you don’t breathe the air, it breathes you. (I am not writing these words. My ancestors are. That kind of experience. To them, I am a mouth — a door.)
Gunnar wrote a book about some of this, called Vikikvaki, a story of the dead coming to life and dancing on New Year’s Eve.
He meant Iceland.
(The wind has passed now in the mid-day solstice light)
The dead meant life. They meant the wind. It is good to enter these forces. It is also vital to have shelter.
Some people just don’t get it about elves, not to mention trolls and ogres, and think that these creatures have to be empirically present or not exist at all. With that kind of thinking, they just won’t see an elf or look into the other realm. However, if you go to the Buðahraun on Midsummer Night, you will find elves in every collapsed volcanic hollow, in wondrous variety.
Every is a doorway, through which the other world spills. Usually these are dangerous places, but on Midsummer Night they are full of delights, and then the worlds begin to fall out of alignment again.
Here is a social space in Reykjavik that’s not a park, a street, a building or a yard full of old rowan trees and mystery. It’s more mysterious yet. This is what the people of the north of the world call The Sea Room.
Note that the Sea Room has few boundaries. It has a sense of being open, with a free flow out to the open ocean, which it is nonetheless separated from by a sense of space. Compare that to a lagoon in the East.
Nope, a Sea Room is special. You can live there, in a world within the world. So, let’s try it again… Sea Room?
Nope. River mouth. And below, what of it? Sea Room?
Nope, a river flow through a lagoon, with the open Atlantic trying to get in. Now, that’s fun. Ok, what about the view below at Dritvik?
Nope, that’s just the sea. You enter it when you leave the sea room. And below?
Nope, sad to say. That’s a field in Breiðafjörður. This is Iceland. it’s tricky. And below, in Skagafjörður?Yes! You got it! And below, at Buðir?
Atlantic again? Yup. And here’s Dritvik? Is that a Sea Room? No, it’s an ogre and her ogre whale pet in a bay at dusk, in the rain, looking out to sea. But here’s the thing, in Iceland men rowed way out there in little wooden boats and hauled in cod, far from land in storm. They made a room of the sea, a portable one, centred on their boat, just as their island is centred in the sea. That flexibility remains in the country.