Tag Archives: Nature

Yes, But is it Nature?

The sheep of Iceland, bless them, have eaten the place down to rock.

The Icelandic government pays farmers to plant trees.On farms no-one lives on anymore. Along a river diverted to a hydroelectric dam one valley over. Sturluflöt

This was the old road to the south. That was a farm to the left. Below the stone. It would support the trees growing on the scree in the back, but farmers are farmers the world over.

þorgerðarstaðir

They just don’t trust trees. Or rivers. Sheep, they like sheep. So they herd trees, They put them out to pasture.And that’s nature in Iceland: a project made out of sheep, government subsidy and resistance, often all at once. Oh, and depopulation. Iceland is an urban country. Rather than being nature, the land is a kind of ruin. Brrr.Everyone, time to go home. You can so farm a city, just not on work days.

That nature stuff is for tourists.

Not Elves Exactly

Hey, welcome to Alfaborg, the mystical city of the elves in Borgarfjörðar Estri. The Borg in the west, was the city of men. Here, completely across the country, live the elves, in their own Borg.

East

Except, until the twelfth century, there were no álfar, or elves. That was an idea imported from France, which was laid on folk experience of all the varied people who came to Iceland and made up its founding lines. This would have been home to the bergbúar, the rock dwellers.  East

Not dwarves, exactly. That is a different folk lineage, into which several lines were folded over time, under the effects of European modernization and a half millenium of the consolidation of folk tale into unified stories onto which national narratives could be written. What became known as elves, in a process of consolidation, also originally held the landvættir, or nature spirits. They lived on the land itself. So, this is likely a home of rock dwellers.

East

This too, most likely.East

And this.

East

And here?

South

Why, landvættir. And here. West

And here, a mixed population, perhaps. No doubt, a host of others who tagged along in the heads of people in the long boats. West

No doubt, a lot from Ireland. Experiences of what was later solidified, in the same nationalizing process, as nature. North

Luckily, there is more to history than the history of nationalism, and more to living on earth than the consolidation of diverse encounters and traditions with abstraction and consolidation.

North

We are still bodies on earth.North

We are still the earth dreaming.

Of Humans and Power

Most humans, unfamiliar with the Earth, try to get as close to her power as possible.

Dettifoss

They will find each other, but will be powerless. Iceland is currently financing itself on this illusion, based on a thousand-year-old tradition of hospitality. The land’s hospitality reveals itself when you turn away and walk for, oh, ten minutes into the earth.

Fossunderlendiheiði

There are also ancient traditions of Icelanders reading this mixed landscape of water, volcanoes and wind. Keeping the tradition alive has never been so important or, under the business, so difficult.

Icelandic Fencing Technology: the Spiritual Dimension

What are fences for?In some countries, fences are to separate herds from grain land, or to divide pasture land, for successive grazing over a season, or just to keep the stock off the road. In Iceland, it’s a bit different. It’s something people learned from the land and tried out.

Now to figure out what is being fenced in, or fenced out! Not these reindeer. They just walk over fences.

Not these horses.

No fence required! Not the people below…

That’s not a fence, just posts to keep the people from falling over into the grass. It’s a mystery!

Perhaps it’s the dead? Such as here at Kirkjubærjarklaustur?

Na. They can get out on the other side. I think it’s just a gesture, to show the mind its limits. This too:

So, like, a halter for the human will!

In Iceland, Everything is Hay

It used to have trees, and it is eaten by sheep. A little bit of replanting has been done. Here are some Siberian larches in East iceland, placed in like a quilting block.

One works with what one knows. Everything else is a compromise. Spiritually, as I showed you yesterday, the compromise is between paganism and Christianity. Environmentally, it is between earth before and after settlement. Below is an image of Iceland flowing to sea, which is called the force of wild nature.

Well, yes… wild nature with sheep and shivering humans. Iceland is not an indigenous nation. It is a nation of settlers. Settlement is an ongoing process. It is at the root of the country’s past and future. This is what it looks like.

Baa-aaaa!

It also looks like this:

Reykjavik

And this:

Kirkjubær

The point is, when you live on a sub-arctic island, and keep sheep, everything is hay, as the Icelanders say, meaning that when the hay runs out in the middle of the winter you will feed your sheep anything — anything — to survive. Even this:

Yes, in Reykjavik even John, Paul, George and Ringo are hay. And danish beer is hay, too.

Baaaaaaa.

The Icelanders’ Revenge

Soooooo, the Danes mine your mountains for sulfur, to make matches, to light their cigars, do they, and pay you in tiny twists of tobacco, for way too long, do they? No problem.Just sell it back to their great grandchildren as nature at it’s purest. Canada and its mining wastelands could learn from this trick! As the old Icelandic saying goes, “everything is hay.” More on that tomorrow!