Try to imagine desolated, barren landscapes with dramatic, heavy swirly clouds surrounding us. Lifeless, hibernal massive lands, dead marshadows and quagmires… though enlightened with colorful shades like shimmering opallus. On the further distance there are luminous blue icebergs on the horizon.
Thus, these barren lands were filled with so many alive myths, folklores, legends and warriors that battled for that land.
They gave a life into that void universe.
This is not how I imagined after hearing many stories and seeing hundreds of lush, beautiful photographs and films for years. I’ve ended being in a small, climatic nordic home with a local Icelander on my side, Snorri of Reykjavik. A true nordic spirit. I cooked some food. I always feel nervous when cooking at someone’s house, using different kitchen, to not fuck up with something. After lunch, we packed our gear, equipment, prepared simple snacks, wore survival pants, put army boots and typical icelandic sweaters. We got prepared for all day exploring through waterfalls and do glacier hiking and all night to stay awake for Northern lights hunting during nasty winds. Winds were quite mean there. Then, we left Reykjavik on a trip….
In midst of godforsaken terrains, I saw a shining, crystallized rainbow bridge statue. It was shattered, like there was broken connection between the earth and the sky. I was looking at it.
“Buddy, look at that rainbow. Valhöll” - my fellow Icelandic comrade said.
“Valhö… what?” - surprisingly I asked, being not familiar with that sound. I knew it’s old norse, because of accenting.
“Valhalla. For you all, from the world beyond ours, know that is world of the dead ones. Most of people translate it incorrectly and whole civilized media, including videogames has totally mishaped it. Especially Ragnarök is so overused. You say it Valhöll, not Valhalla. For us it is more than just a mere chamber of the dead ones… you see, that bridge is the road to Valhöll.”
“So, it feels like I am already in Valhöll” - I thought for a moment, looking at that shattered rainbow bridge. I asked him: “So, since you said people there believe in norse gods and have symbolic connection with them… what is your favourite god?”
“Odin. And his ravens. He symbolizes a “balance” for me” - said.
“… and then, he gets killed by Fenrir at the end?” - I continued.
He smiled. “Why do you believe in Ragnarök? It’s just negative and one of possible endings. Horrible. And we, all Nordics and Icelanders, don’t wanna it happen.”
Then I’ve learned that for Icelanders, nordic legends have such different and deeper meaning for them than… us, who live outside of it. Nordic mythology has been quite popular inspiration in fantasies, movies and games lately… and we often refer to what we have learned there, than what it really means.
The sun has set.
The seagulls have found their nests in giant rocky titan. Titan. I stood on the top of that titan and looked around how the rest of massive landscape is turning into blue, falling in quiet slumber.
Enjoying the breath of magical experience of nature. Iceland may not be alive with fauna, trees and animals but I sensed a lot of life in the form of raw ground and Earth element - mountains, rocky formations and glaciers. We are able to see it’s life of Earth Shell that is never seen really, because richness of trees and living creatures has distracted us.
Finally, it was the time for us to get some sleep outdoors, after tiring day of exploring to regain energy to turn into mysterious hunters. Then at midnight - we go out for Northern Light hunting.
I was shivering. It was quite cold sleep.
Not really pleasant to recover energy to get outside again and chase polar spirits - which in fact, it's many hours commitment. Snorri has explained me that many people never success finding good northern lights and blame for not being lucky, it actually doesn't have to do with luck but a lot of effort and staying awake all night, looking at the sky and analysing. Basically it's a lot of work.
I was moving a lot. My Icelandic sweater isn’t helping me nor the cover. I tried to seek for source of warmth. I’ve learned on expeditions that the best way to stay warm - is another person. It’s the same rule that polar sled dogs are using, they sleep outside, in extreme cases, they cuddle together, even worst enemies, to regain warmth.
I thought to get closer to him, then I stopped. Felt too awkward. I was struggling in my thoughts if I should get physically close to him or not… probably for entire night just to feel warm and comfortable. I can ignore that “moral behaviour aspect” or privacy but wasn’t if it was alright for another person. What if he won’t like it? What if...? We are just comrades…
…But no! I am too proud, maverick woman! I don’t need any help from a man! Cuddling is clearly a sign of weakness!
My thoughts were swinging forth and back between “hey let’s try and no”. I crawled in blankets deeper. I don’t need anyone’s help.
Dogs are so easy...
Not fun to get up from blankets after cold sleep. Stretched, pulled out equipment and wore parka. He guided me through absolute darkness, through hills and I saw… flares showing up. Woooah… so those are Northern Lights. Finally seeing them…
I felt silent emotional turmoil, it was so overwhelming for me to see them dancing, so special that I totally froze and got lost in my mind… and lost my comrade for a moment.
I prayed for her. In Valhalla.
Felt close to her.
On that day was anniversary of her death. That tragic night, between 14 and 15th April, I knew she is going to cross through Rainbow Bridge at the dawn.
5 am. After hunting, at the dawn: