Tag Archives: darkness

Darkness in Iceland Signifies Warmth and Shelter

You want to stick close to it. What you want to avoid is water and ice.

Southeast

Let the sheep risk that stuff. Such is the knowledge of a people whose origins are in “settlement” and not colonization — a people for whom “land” is a “landing”, a being lifted out of the sea. You don’t forget a thing like that. The darned thing keeps coming back.

North

Svartifoss: River of Blood

Perhaps it’s called Svartifoss (Black Falls) because it shows itself on a black basalt cliff.

Bad Light Helps One See Clearly Here

Perhaps it’s because the red autumn birches turn black with distance, and still the fall flashes.

Autumn Rain Really Brings Out the Light of This Land

In either case, it’s not the cliff that is named but the water.

It seems that when blackness falls it is visible. Of course, that means it’s not black at all…

… or that whiteness is also a blindness, beyond human life. We marvel. Life, it comes from nowhere, flashes with life, and then returns to mystery.

Svartifoss in Its Pool of Birch Blood

~

Svartifoss, Skaftafell National Park, South Iceland

 

Mysterious, Humbling, Inhuman Iceland

Welcome to the Black Falls, Svartifoss.

I really think no words have ever been created for this, but talking around its edges for weeks would be enjoyable. I think the lichen gets it.

I know the raven does.

Don’t expect your tour operator to tell you about this. It’s not a human thing, and it’s their job to be a good host and look after your bodily comforts. Bodily discomforts, well, that’s for you to find out on your own.


It is not a human world.

Seeing in the Dark

One of the great pleasures of Iceland is to walk up a remote canyon, followed by ravens hoping you will slip and break a leg, and to know that they are your thoughts.

These thoughts.

It’s a northern thing. Of course, a country where a bell rope can serve as an improvised noose is a fine place to wander, too.

Darkness is everywhere, but it’s not black. It’s red or something, like blood.

The eye touches the earth as a bodily organ, as much as it does as the hand of the mind.

The mind is as much a heart as it is a muscle. It swims in blood.

Humans can’t see darkness, I read all the time. In Iceland, this illusion just doesn’t wash.

Maybe you can’t see it, but you can touch it, and enter through it the world behind the world.

And what is there?

Why, you are.

This doesn’t work in Reykjavik.

There, under the effect of the outside world, this sense of presence is called art.

One can live there, too. Between worlds.

Trying to catch the attention of passersby. Don’t worry. The world still sees you.

And you still see past it.

The old paths still wait.