Yesterday, we explored Iceland….a fierce country with a fierce, no-nonsense people who don’t suffer fools and would never sugar coat. I felt our guide was a good example of this, and we spent 8 hours with her, so I had an opportunity to listen and observe her. She was nice enough and amazingly informative, but her wit was sharp and sarcastic. I liked her, though. You knew where you stood with her.
We had a lecture the other day about Viking myths. The lecturer really wanted us to see these myths as not stories, but as a religion. He said most likely, 1000 years from now, our own holy books and beliefs could very well be seen as myths. You could feel people getting quite uncomfortable with that notion, and I think that was the lecturer’s point—respect the myths as they were the religion of a people who held those stories as holy. Odin was real to them…he was the spirit of wisdom. When they prayed “Odin, be with me” they were praying for the spirit of wisdom to enter them so they could make wise choices. Thor wasn’t the god of thunder. Thor was thunder. So you prayed for the spirit of thunder to be within you when in battle. Although not omnipresent, the gods were everywhere…you didn’t go to church to reach them, you went out into nature. And all of nature was alive and had intelligence. A rabbit decided to run from a fox because it wanted to live.
In Iceland, things had names. The geysers we saw all had names. And personalities and genders. Geysers were masculine. The volcanos were feminine. Here’s a fun fact….one of Iceland’s volcanoes erupted and was actually the cause of the French Revolution (according to our guide.) I’m sure it was a major contributor. The ash from the volcano darkened the European skies for 2 years. Crops shriveled. Peasants went hungry. “Let them eat cake.” And that volcano? She’s due to erupt again.
I can’t tell you the names of any of the geysers, volcanoes, waterfalls we saw. They were long and in Old Norse. One waterfall, particularly lovely and powerful and HUGE has a sweet story. Apparently it was thought to be a good idea to harness her power, put up a hydroelectric plant , and the land owner, when approached, said “Absolutely not. He would never do that to his friend.”
Perhaps the Viking religion isn’t all in the past.
Today is another At Sea day. I brought Neil Gaimen’s Norse Mythology along with me. I think I’ll cozy up someplace and read…
I leave you now with random images of Iceland. It was rainy, windy and cold. Iceland, itself, doesn’t suffer fools. Nor does it sugar coat. Enjoy…
Oh…here’s something I didn’t know…Icelandic ponies come in all different colors. And with global warming, there’s a new shipping route that’s opened up…across the arctic circle. Japan and China are quite pleased.
Also…The Rift. There are two continental plates that are pulling apart—the North American and the European. We stopped there as well…walked among the fissures. This Rift is why Iceland is so volcanically active. Fascinating place.
And my pictures aren’t uploading, not even one. Too many people using the internet during an At Sea Day.
Will post when I can.