Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy New Year

Ever since I was a wee lass, I have quite merrily and contrarily loathed New Years Eve.  I tell anyone who asks about the inanity of celebrating this one random day that really signifies nothing in the grand scheme of things.  In typical crotchety fashion, I stay home every December 31st.  I sit with my dogs, usually by myself, and watch bad movies.  My parents are generally the only ones who bother to call and brave my usually foul mood to wish me a Happy New Year.

Well well, silly Kate, Little Witch.  In typically late fashion, I finally figured out exactly why I have such a peculiar aversion to the socially traditional New Years (Eve).

Because it's not my New Years (Eve).

Samhain is New Years Eve for us witches- Samhain, Halloween, this most delicious of days and sweetest of nights is the beginning of the year-cycle for us old souls.  It is this moment in time when the natural calendar resets itself and we are given a chance to reset ourselves in very real, very profound way.  This New Years is about shoring up before the dark season and having one lovely celebration of the passing of time, life, and night.

So it all makes sense now, right?  This is the time of my rebirth- the rebirth of my beliefs, my year, my time and my Self.   This is the time of intention-setting and making resolves; this is the time of giving thanks for all the experiences that we have had and looking forward to all the experiences yet to come.  

I know that I often get a bit silly about this stuff, and I often get a bit out of hand when it comes to what, who, and how I believe.  And there are so many reasons for my silliness and my out-of-handedness.  The wildness within me drives most of my nonsense.  But New Years (Eve)?  Well, sorted- we finally have the answer to my crankiness and forever grumpiness on December 31.  Done and Done.  Explained.  

I wish you all, then, a Very Happy New Year; a Very Happy Halloween; a Very Very Soulful Joyful Samhain.  

Until next time, my Pretties!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes

When (if he did indeed) Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, he allowed for a trio of unusually sinister women to make their appearances as witches.  Witches!

And so witches continue their place in history as slightly off-center, slightly evil, creatures existing within both the natural and supernatural worlds.

I just want to pause, gather myself, and then yell at everyone who dares categorize witches with the same antiquated 'evil' ideas of yesteryear.  Off-center and evil?!?  No.  Duality of natural and supernatural?... okay, well...  Yes.

Sorry to be a pain about this- but I am a witch.  And I am constantly in a state of preponderance as to whether or not people actually understand what that means.

Let this stand as a sort of micromanifesto- a wee pre-Samhain synopsis of what exactly I am (or am not for that matter):

I am a witch.

I am not Wicca.

I am not Pagan.

I do not run around worshipping dark lords or setting spells against people.

I do run around outside pausing frequently to thank nature for existing, for fighting against modern infringement of society.

I choose to be responsible for myself and my practice.

I choose to be aware of both myself and my practice with discretion, distinction, and graciousness.

Something wicked does NOT this way come- something wild does.  Something wild, ancient, and ever-evolving.  For that is the nature of the witch and witchcraft.  We evolve, we grow, we create new traditions, new meanings, and new circles of knowledge.

So get over it.  I'm not going to sacrifice a goat in front of you and yours.  In fact, goats kind of creep me out and the less I have to do with them... probably the better.

Until next time, dearhearts...

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I am staring at the blinking cursor on this stupid screen and have been for about 20 minutes now, unsure of what to say.  These are my final moments in Iceland and speechlessness has descended on my already muted ability to describe my experiences here.  I sit and drink a coffee, listen to the conversations happening around me (judge the people having them :)) and wonder how to relate what has become not a trip, not an adventure, but a Moment.  A moment out of time and space- contained only by the boundaries of this island nation.

It is not easy.

Of all of the impossible expectations I have created throughout my life- of all of the romantic fantasies I have concocted- this is one of the few to not just live up to but exceed it's very idea (that sentence is impossibly grammatically disastrous- go with it).  That in itself seems like a cosmic impossibility- but it happened.  Somehow this experience became more than my desire for it.  Somehow I made it through without fading into the fantasy.  People keep asking  me what my favorite part of the trip has been... and there is only one thing I can tell them.


On this note, I return to the States, hoping against all hope that I can translate this world into that one.  I know I cannot do it fully, but I can certainly try to parlay some part of the Moment into the Constant.

Until a wee bit later, my darlings my dears my tethers...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Page From My Journal*

*I wrote this today, after having time to fully digest last night's events.  It's pretty personal so bear with  me and try not to judge too harshly my obsessed madness.  All punctuation and emphasis remains exactly as it appears hand-written in my Iceland-2012 Diary.

-- A Note on the Northern Lights --

I am interrupting the day-to-day flow of the constant travel journey in order to pay some serious attention to the Aurora Borealis.

Last night I accomplished a task on my "Must Do Before I Die" List.

I saw the Northern Lights.  I saw them.

I looked up in the sky and was overwhelmed by their gentle, undulating beauty.  Their graceful presence appeared and covered me like a blanket on a cold night.

What I saw... white lights in the dome of the sky.  No huge colors (that normally only happens on film anyway).  No screaming greens, no violent violets.  Just lovely, easy, silent white.  White caps in the sea of the sky.


And while everyone else scurried to snap photos and set their shutter speeds, I stood and looked.  I stared and thanked whatever force beyond knowing allowed me to have this one moment in time.

Because to me they were more than the Northern Lights- the Aurora Borealis.  They were ether.  They are ether(eal).

They were, they are, the physical representation of that unknown substance which connects us all in the witchy world and the ultra-universe.

The light are wisdom- consciousness- collected but uncontrolled unity of forces.

And they dance. 

My god- they dance in the sky like sprites and then erupt into volcanic brilliance.  They are everything- They. Are. Ether. 

Thank you, again, whoever-whatever-however is out there.  I am eternally yours.  

I have seen the Northern Lights

And They Do Dance. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

In the Valley of the Sagas

When I was much younger, and still believed in the kind of love that 'conquers' and 'overcomes' all, I read a piece of Icelandic literature called The Saga of the Volsungs.  I can pinpoint the beginning of my obsession with Iceland to one line in that translation (the cheap-o Penguin version if you are wondering):

Something else is closer to the truth.  I love you more than myself.  

The hero says that to the tragic heroine after she makes some wild confession of ill-done deeds and moans that he must hate her.  

That line.  Those words.  

To my young mind there was nothing more romantic, more chivalrous, more perfectly earth-shattering than that moment in that saga.  I was done for.  All I could think was 'I must go to a place that produces words like that; characters like those.'  And from there my desire to journey to Iceland only grew.  It swelled into an often unmanageable beast running around my insides and causing me to gaze longingly at photos of the Northern Lights and Ice-Capped mountains for uncountable minutes.  Of course that beastly desire ebbed and flowed with the tides of my individual growth.  Sometimes it was Iceland, other times New Zealand or Argentina; Italy or Turkey.  You name it and could (can) give you a reason for needing to be in that culture or country or whatever.  

But today.. today it all paid off.  As I drove through Western Iceland I found myself near the Laxardalshals region, on the Laxa River.  It means nothing to most.  It means everything to me.  It is the Valley of the Sagas- the home of so many characters I have bled for and torn my hair over.  I clawed through translations, devouring passionate stories of love, pain, murder, magic.  And there I was today, in the heart of it all.  

Have you ever had a moment when you completely forget to breathe?  When nothing seems real because nothing real is so perfect as that moment?

That was my today- all day.  

Until next time... 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Necro...Wait, What?!?

Tomorrow you can have poignant.  Today you get the completely absurd.

Let's begin at the beginning... The reason that I grit my teeth and rented a car at an astronomical fee and trekked (through rain and gravel mind you) all the way out into Iceland's version of the Land that Time Forgot was to see a wee little museum in a wee little town.  The Icelandic Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery is located in Holmavik- on the western side of the Westfjords.  It is a deliciously backward place where people still use buildings as directional markers.  For example- "turn right at the tiny house with the fence."  (Those exact words were actually spoken to me today).

Nevertheless, I have been itching to see this place since finding out about the museum.  We all know that I am a witch (literally, figuratively, etc. etc.)  And well, it struck my fancy, I followed my gut, and boy did it pay off.

Ladies and gentlemen-brace yourselves for I give you the infamous Only in Iceland Will You Find This Specimen....... Necropants.

Squinting will not change the image.
Yeah.  You read it.

Necropants.  Necro.  Pants.

Right now you are thinking... 'am I imagining this blog?'

Nope, I assure you, this is really happening.

Necropants are exactly what they sound like.  Pants made out of the bottom half of a recently deceased man who gave his previous permission to be posthumously dug-up and skinned from the waist-down.  Scrotum included.

Said skin-skivvies where then put on by the sorcerer who originally attained the aforementioned permission and essentially became a good-luck pair of bottoms.  Especially if that sorcerer remembered to shove a coin into the included scrotum- He would then have wealth and power for as long as he lived.

Still, I assure you, this is really happening.  It took an act of truly un-Kate-like discipline to keep from laughing hysterically when reading the translations of all of this.  Which was just shy of embarrassing as I was the only visitor in the Museum at the time.  In fact the curator took me through himself and answered all of my questions- oh so many that they were.

I adore this place.  I adore every last square inch of this country.

Until next time (I promise to step it up a smidge)... Enjoy the view.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Photo Blog: Akureyri So Far

Your facebook wish is my command: a blog of photos, with some hopefully well-versed captions to guide the way.... 

I keep walking through the streets of
Iceland thinking 'this place can only
mean this much to me.'  Then I think 'but
it must be just as special to everyone else'
who has ever been here.  It has to be.'             
All over Akureyri, there are hearts.  Tiny red hearts literally painted onto buildings, widows, walls.  They are perfectly delightful- just another wonderful example of the public art you find throughout Iceland.  But hearts?  I asked young Kristjan at the desk of my hostel what the deal was... he explained that people in Akureyri wanted to see joy as well as feel it.  Then he directed me to the stoplights- where- if you look closely enough- there are hearts on red.
         This is what I imagine when
         Mom finishes yoga and says
         'Namaste Bitches' (or, as she
         would pronounce it...
         'No-ma-stay Bitches')

A note on that public art I mentioned before?  This gal is a coat rack- in the public library... which just happens to be the second largest in the nation. 

Yes, I am in fact pulling out the big guns.  Akureryi sits on the western side of a northern fjord called Eyjafjordur.  This is the view looking back toward the country from a bridge over the above mentioned fjord.  Yeah.

Just because it struck me as a hilarious reminder of the States vs. the Rest of the World... look closely at the label for the donuts in the bakery down the street... yes it does indeed read U.S.A.  As in 'that's right, these donuts are styled after those lusciously ludicrous donuts you find those cholesterol and heart disease ridden Americans eating all the time.  Tasty.

The first full day here, I took a marginally illicit tour of the botanical gardens and several things hit me head-on, like a battering ram attached to a bull.  And I was wearing red. 

First of all, here I am in the fall in the north of a northern island- and there is still all of the velvety rich color surrounding me.   Whether it is the pinks, blues, and purples of pretty little ground flowers or the blazing reds, golds and browns of the leaves turning- there is just so much vibrancy here.  It's almost painful to look at sometimes.  And even harder to capture on film.  

Secondly, as I wandered through the gardens, then through the town itself; over the days through the museums and public spaces, private spaces; navigating people and places as best as I could... Secondly I realized that the word I will use for Iceland is impossible.

This place is, quite literally, impossible.  An impossible (and impossibly perfect) duality of man and earth; the natural and the supernatural; the whimsically fantastical and the stoically rational.  Iceland, and the people in it, have claimed a part of my heart that I am happy to give them.  I have been struggling to describe all of this.. even at only halfway through my trip, I have unabashedly, embarrassingly, completely fallen head over heels with this country (the actual land), it's people, it's brilliant culture.  

It is Impossible.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Perils of Hostelling, Part Two:

Walking in on conversations such as this:


"What are you afraid I'm going to take you into the woods and kill you?  Hahahaha?"

Girl that Guy clearly just met (who's first language is definitely not English):

...awkward smile/grimace.

Yeah, that was all the response he got.  I mean come on?!?!

The Perils of Hostelling

So, I know that by some rule of human decency and morality, blah blah blah, that murder is wrong.

However.  When your bunkmate at the hostel has an alarm on his phone that he refuses to a) awake to or b) turn off... well, murder becomes another story.  I'm sorry, let me clarify- when your bunkmate at the hostel has an alarm that plays 70s jazz music that would not pass for 80s elevator music that he refuses to a) awake to or b) turn off... I think we can reexamine this illegality/immorality issue.

Ah yes, the magic could not last forever.

Cheers!  And here's to a blessed night of sleep... sans alarms. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

This Whole Place is a Holy Place

As I left Reykjavik today for the first time, I found myself thinking that there is no other city on earth that has made me feel so at home in so little time.  I am by no means a city mouse so for me to admit something like that is a pretty big deal, eh?  It is, so far, a transformative place.  It astounds me, this city.    From the public art to the history... I fear that when I leave it for real, I will be somewhat troubled and long to come back to it.

For example- my flight today left from Reykjavik Domestic Airport.  I walked there.  And here is the last view I had before I entered the airport to check in:
This is not normal for a major national capitol, you know?  At least it's not in my experience.  I know the photo is similar to others I have posted but seriously... This is the view, standing outside of the airport that took me half an hour to walk to- from the other side of town.  Yeah.  It is that kind of awesome.

For now, however, I begin the second leg of my journey- in Akureyri.  A town far to the north, I have not yet been here long enough to get an impression other than cold, clean air and Wow- This is What Fjord Country Looks Like.

I suppose I will have more for you soon, Dears.

Until Then... 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Upward Falling Rain

In case you are wondering, the Weather Gods live in Iceland- and apparently are frequently at odds with each other.  This leads to some preposterous forecasts as well as spur of the moment meteorological insanity.

Both the Sun and the Wind were out in full force today- a day of sweet sweet opposites.  I was so warm, but so cold, and literally had to walk at an angle to remain upright.  I could not bear to stay inside with such perfect bright gold fall Sun... it is the sunniest day we have had so far.  But after being whipped up and down streets, into and out of traffic, and across a lake by the mistress Wind, I had to submit.

I wandered into a museum (one that will be detailed later in an already planned Iceland Top Ten list) and struck up a conversation with the front desk attendant- Kjartan- who agreed that it was indeed somewhat windy out.  Then, with a lovely smile and a sweet gleam in his brown Icelandic eye, revealed that sometimes the Wind blows so hard that if it is raining, it is raining up.

It literally rains up here.

Where do the Weather Gods live?  Here, In Heaven.

Until next time, Cheers Dears.