Tag Archives: Christian Iceland

Stopping an Ogre in Its Tracks at Landsendi

For four hundred years an ogre threw travellers over the cliff trail between Bakkagerði and Njarðvík. It was awfully steep and in the fog, dark, rain, snow and whatever else the East Fjords undoubtedly threw at them. It was terrifying and very dangerous.

A bit of Christian-Norse magic took care of that, though. The rocks at the cross’s base are funereal stones, left by travellers. The road was fixed up in 2019.

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.

When a State is a Church

Iceland is a church. The church below in Mosfellsbær is, in the Icelandic context, not a place of worship. Not really. It is a bond with ancestors who declared their faith in directing interhuman relationships through a  symbol of death and rebirth: death of individual selves fighting each other as representatives of raw physical power, and rebirth as people coming together to create and then draw from a concentrated form of subtler powers, both human and inhuman. At best, Icelanders used this energy to battle  common foes; at worst, they used it to express raw power relationships between each other. For over 1,000 years, it has remained the state. Notice how few other buildings are involved, and how this church is not in the middle of a settlement but in the middle of nature. One comes to it.

Reykjavik: City of Books

Like Gunnar,


I had to leave the farm  …

snaefells… (It was hard for us both), and go to the city of books …

bookcity2… which, as you can see, centre

… has, like my Canada, adopted a new colonial master. Colonies do that, of course. It’s all they know. Still, in this city where everyone is a poet, some of this poetry is illegal…P1530675


… while some of it, identical to an eye from the farm, is legal…

P1530676 … which is weird. Copyright squabbles can be like that. But, hey, it’s a city, with its own sense of the commons and its own intrusions into it, but even so some, of it is beautiful…cracked … and the horses still have powerful things to say …bike


… there are still meadows full of flowers …



… and I would almost be tempted to say that we writers are guilty of something for which there is no possible absolution, except that even here we are children of God …


Agnes, Child of God

… and he has kept the light on. We may be for sale, and a little hounded by traffic …



… but that’s the book business for you. At any rate …