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
You want to stick close to it. What you want to avoid is water and ice.
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.
Bad Light Helps One See Clearly Here
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
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.
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.
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.
There, under the effect of the outside world, this sense of presence is called art.
The old paths still wait.