“Then, when it was least expected, Gisli turned around and ran from the ridge up onto the crag known as Einhamar. There he faced them and defended himself. Everyone in Eyjolf’s party was badly wounded, and Gisli died with so many great wounds that it was an amazement to all. They say he never once backed off, and as far as anyone could see, his last blow was no weaker than the first.”
Gisli Sursson’s Saga
Me peeking out of an Icelandic Turf Hut
Our last thing to do has been done today. We visited “Viking World” near the Keflavik airport. Though the name sounds like some rip-off carnival, it was an absolutely fascinating museum in which I learned a lot about the epic history of the Vikings.
The Blessi Pool.
Here I recount the tale as I remember it of my encounter with the Wyrm of Blessi pool. I was wandering within the Hell-warmed area around the Great Geysir when I came upon a hole known as Blessi pool. The tunnel went down into the earth for an undeterminable depth, but just inches below the sulfuric water was a wealth of coins. The dragon who was said to live in the cave is very fond of coins, as all dragons are, and I thought that as long as I returned the pieces into the watery trove, the coins I took out would bring no ill will with them.
Norse Cosmology– The Worlds of Yggdrasil
This is a very poor drawing that I worked very hard on, my version of the ancient Norse cosmology: Muspell, world of fire giants, Alfheim, world of light elves, Asgard, world of the gods, Utgard, world of the giants, Midgard, world of man, Dvergard, world of dark elves, and Niflheim, world of ice and darkness, land of the dead.
After our excursion down to Reykjavik’s harbour, and after eating all the whale meat we could afford (Jonathan had the lobster soup), Ashleigh led the way into a jewelry shop in which I immediately became extremely bored. The store owner struck up a conversation with us right away in near perfect English, and we discovered she had connections in Winnipeg, Canada! (she’s related to the owner of the Round Table restaurant and knows some professors in the University of Winnipeg).
Bifröst, the bridge to Asgard.
These are the words from the journal of Nathanael Weirson:
“Bifröst seems to be everywhere. In every new place we visit in Iceland, Bifröst is already there, a glowing arch on the horizon. In the old legends it is said that Bifröst is composed of burning fire, the golden colour of the sun, growing grass, and running water. Scandinavians, once believers of the Norse religion, knew what we call a “rainbow” was really a bridge to the world of the gods.”
These are words from the journal of Ashleigh of Westphalia:
“Today I felt tested and rewarded, physically and spiritually. Nathanael and I hiked roughly 17 kilometres around the mountains of Skaftafell, bordered by the largest glaciers in Europe. It was a huge endeavour, but the views are so worth it. Svartifoss was truly a wonder.
Spiritually, I felt rewarded by the kindness of people. Even something as simple as helping someone cook their dinner can renew my faith in God and the people he has created.
Today was a wonderful day.”
Stone figures made to represent the hidden people.
These are the words from the journal of Nathanael Weirson:
“There is a story we learned about how the elves of Iceland came to be:
“When the human world was just beginning, Adam and Eve existed. They had many children together, so many that they were hard to count. God one day asked Eve if He could meet all of her children personally. Eve brought her children before Him, all, that is, but for a handful who hadn’t washed for a while and were very dirty. Eve was ashamed to show them to God at the time, and hid them while He met the others. God, knowing of her folly, proclaimed from that day forth these ‘dirty’ children shall forever be the ‘hidden people’ and be invisible to all eyes”
We were talking to an Icelandic woman named Saedi, however, and she was saying the hidden people and the elves are not the same. elves are tiny people, but the hidden people are of normal size and live on another plane of existence.
I find the Christian story mixed with Icelandic mythology very interesting. More and more I see evidence of how the ancient Norse people’s religion was influenced by Christianity, mixing mythologies.”
The Great Geysir, smouldering away…
These are the words from the journal of Nathanael Weirson,
“It was halfway through our trip when we arrived at the geyser. “Geysir” is the oldest, largest, and the mother of all geysers, from which all are named. The massive gusher is dead, or very nearly, and has been so for many decades. So it was to our surprise when she churned and boiled, as if upset, when we passed by. Some growling force bubbled beneath the earth; steam and hot water fled from dozens of vents spread out like worshippers around The Great Geysir.”
“With bloody brand on-striding
My bird of bane hath followed;
My hurtling spear hath sounded
In the swift Vikings’ charge.
Raged wrathfully our battle,
Ran fire o’er foemen’s rooftrees;
Sound sleepeth many a warrior
Slain in the city gate.”
Old Icelandic Parliament, Thingvellir.
Egill Skallagrímsson was a peculiar character in the history of Iceland. Egill’s brash and daring personality is shown through the stories and accounts written about is adventures. At one time in his life, the warrior-poet was rewarded two chests of silver from the English King Æthelstan for his deeds in war. Egill had the odd idea of dumping the silver at Allthing, the Icelandic Parliament, and watching the chieftain’s battle each other for the money. Apparently he was dissuaded from the plan, but one must wonder about his reasoning… maybe he’s the kinda guy who just likes violence? His history was indeed full of violence, but since the age of six he was the author of many poems and stories, showing him to be a very dynamic character.
“One with eight I battled
Eleven faced I twice,
Made for wolf a meal,
Myself the bane of all.
Shields shook by sword-strokes
Smitten fast and furious;
Angry fire forth-flashing
Flew my ashen spear.”
Oh, and what happened to Egill’s chests of silver? Apparently he hid it near his farm, which is a site somewhere on the Mosfell-hill, only a 15 minute car ride from Reykjavik. Treasure hunters are still looking for it today.
At the chamber’s entrance
These are the words from the journal of Jon the Weir:
“I, Jon the Weir, descended into a crack in the earth. I climbed precariously for many fathoms in the evening heat when suddenly I came upon a chamber and the temperature suddenly dropped. Beyond a still pool of ice filled water, there lay a portal of darkness. Four feet high, two feet across, filled with a void of black as dark as the heart of Death. A soft and quiet wave of the coldest breath reached out to me from the doorway, beckoning me to venture further down its throat. But I, being unequipped, stowed my pride and returned to the sun, as the beats of my heart echoed downward forever into the void and to whatever was there to hear them.”
These are words taken from the journal of Nathanael Weirson:
“We’ve learned that here, within this GODFORSAKEN island, is the entrance to Hel, a devil’s gate. There are only two known devil’s gates in this world; one in Sicily, Italy within Mount Etna, and the second is inside the crater of Mount Hekla, Iceland. The gate lies about 30 kilometers northeast of Hella, past the glaciers of Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull. This is truly a magnificent discovery and we WILL NOT pass up an exploration of it.”