A celebration of the darkness on the shortest day

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My portrait of Hel, or Hela, the ruler of the underworld in Norse mythology, and a bit more for those of us not constricted to the åsatru versions.

As readers know, I do love Christmas, or Yule as it’s called where I’m from (spelled Jul nowadays).  The food, the candles, the more or less gaudy representations of nisser, the constant sugar-rush and high flying emotions. Love it. 

But none of these things are for me meant to ‘drive away the darkness’ as the popular phrase goes. I carve out a tiny little den, slightly less dark than the enormous darkness of the long night, and curl up and rest. Without darkness, sleep would be made quite difficult. And sleep is the most wonderful thing. Also, quite a lot of animals prefer the darkness for their activities.

Darkness has a really bad reputation in most current cultures. It is still associated with basically all the stuff humans don’t like, a sort of umbrella term for anything unpleasant or unwanted. Even by those who know intellectually that this isn’t true, and that darkness is as necessary for life as light is, the darkness has a tendency to be pushed aside into, well, the dark.

Without darkness, there would be no renewal. It’s not an opposite, but a prerequisite. Without darkness, life would be a single, unending, hectic rush towards a messy end, probably good for capitalist production values, but an absolute horror for anything else. Without darkness, humans forget that they do not own the planet or has any prior claim to it, no right to mess about with its ecosystems in an attempt of adjusting or ‘fixing’ nature. Without darkness, you will never really experience awe for nature.

For those who pay a bit of attention to the current world, it’s not the darkness that poses the biggest threat to a living earth, but the light. Or to be precise, artificial light made by humans to drive away the darkness. Electric lights, along with pesticides and other weapons you use against nature being nature, is a key factor in the ongoing insect apocalypse, the decimation of insects on earth. And without insects, most known life will struggle to exist.

The aggressive attitude towards darkness, wielded mainly by those who count themselves as ‘good’ is a reminder of the ongoing war against nature that humans have believed themselves to be fighting for some time now. Perhaps they should stop and realize that they’re only fighting themselves, and making everything else suffer in the process. A good place to start is to contemplate and celebrate the vast and important, soothing and covering, darkness.

Lighting a candle makes the darkness easier to see, It doesn’t drive it away, but brings it closer to mind.

So light a candle, or a lovely fire, tonight in praise of the darkness, who will let you go to bed early with a book and a mug of mulled wine without feeling the least bit of fomo or guilt.

Sweet dreams.

Reflections at the end of the year

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soon I will be going into a short hibernation to return stranger and stronger in the new year

It has been pretty much exactly a year since I seriously started on the drawings and purchases for my house and on the way I have made a few new discoveries about myself and the place I currently reside.

  • I have not had any allergies, flu or colds since I started living in my house on wheels. I had thought that not having a long hot shower every day would worsen my problems with constant throat infections, but quite the contrary. I have so far been a lot healthier than when I lived in conventional houses with modern conveniences. I think it has a lot to do with building materials and indoor climate.
  • I have slept well, undisturbed by the constant hum of electricity that conventional houses are plagued with.
  • My wagon is perhaps the first house I have lived in, and I have lived quite a few different places, where I haven’t had the need to seek refuge from the walls in a screen or other form of vista-reducing device.
  • I was worried that my chronic fatigue syndrome brought on by a parasite in the tap water in Bergen some years ago would make it impossible to live a lifestyle that requires more activity, and while it did slow down the building, I have had a lot more energy lately.
  • I have worried far too much about everything, from weight to prices to accidents and the weather. A lot of this I think has to do with the importance of being a ‘smart consumer’ here in Norway, something that sneaks into your brain from constant washing by social media and commercialisation of the public space and which is impossible to combine with doing something really different.
  • There are laws and regulations about everything here that you hardly notice before you start to move beyond the borders of everyday life. The rewards for following these are non-existent and the repercussions ridiculously high. One of the results of this is that it is de facto illegal to be poor here, since following all the laws and regulations requires spending a lot of money or spending your entire life in a squalid flat watching tv and eating plastic.
  • There is a lot of hostility towards gypsies here. No-one will say so because being racist is against the dogma of the global, superhappy consumer, but the amount of seething, underlying hatred you meet as a traveler is staggering. Of course, most people think it quaint and amusing that I have built a little ‘dolls house’ until they realize that this is my proper residence and not just a folly. Then they either still think it interesting and perhaps a bit scary or they glaze over in a sort of primate grin before mounting some sort of poorly disguised verbal attack. We’re still only on the verbal stage though.
  • It is easy to say that you shouldn’t care about what people say, but what your surroundings think of you can make a huge difference in how easy or difficult your life will be. Also, you get really anxious from being watched constantly by people who are waiting for you to trip up.

Summa summarum, living in a house on wheels has been wonderful for my personal health and well-being, absolute disaster for my personal economy and social standing. I will, of course, do everything possible to continue my lifestyle. I will, possibly, be coming to a small town near you soon.

Christmas and the tiny house

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I do love christmas. Always have. But in recent years it has taken on a deeper meaning than simply my love for food, alcohol and a glam-rock fascination for everything that glitters.

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Mistletoe has always had a special place in my heart.

I live mostly in Norway, and from October on, it’s dark here. Cold and dark. The sun barely, if at all, rises and the more time you spend outside, either out of doors or out of society, you notice. And in a smaller house, where the walls are thinner both against the cold and against the things that lurk in the shadows of the world, you notice even more. And after the first horror, come to appreciate that there is still a time and space for the darker and stranger things in the world. It is a time for those things that are never given any space the rest of the year, chased away with light and noise, things that are needed and beautiful and necessary.  It is a time for secrets, for nature to rest, a time for freezing or starving to death either physically or mentally and while it’s a challenge to secure against the first, it’s even more difficult to secure against the latter, for you rarely see it.

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That merry tinsel on your tree? This is what it’s meant to be.

Therefore,we sing happy songs, and light candles, and decorate and make room for the deeper colours, read poetry and light fires and drink. As the line more or less goes; eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you’re probably dead. It is a sacred time, even for us who are not christians, possibly even more. because while the christian idea is one of the quick fix, the permanent solution, we know that winter will come again next year also, and after that, a new spring.