Text: Ellen Wild
I carry a piece of Icelandic magic. Something I acquired after living there in 2018. And you know what? I really do believe in the actual magic of it. That may make me different things, but original isn’t one of them. Just as probably a million other people, I carry a permanent ink of the Vegvísir. It is a rune symbol whose name translates to ‘way finder’ or ‘compass’, but whose meaning goes deeper with ‘finding your way in storms or bad weather, even when the road is unknown’ or ‘finding the right way’.
It is often misinterpreted as a Viking symbol, but there is no actual evidence of it tracing that far back in time.
The rune was introduced to the world for the first time in the Galdrabók, which translates to ‘magic book’. It was written consecutive by three Icelandic and one Danish magician during the 16th and 17th century. The manuscript shows a clear record of the beliefs and practices of the Icelanders and of the contexts in which their magic was practiced.
This old magic speaks to the imagination. Whether you believe in it or not, the fact that it was used and trusted upon by thousands and thousands of people of the course of hundreds of years, gives these symbols power. It is not so much the promise, but the lure of a possible promise, that is so enchanting. Especially for the seekers in life. For the people who are on the look for something. Solutions, methods, cures, anything that can help with the pain living inside.
The birthing place of these symbols, holds the original power. And these roots continue to attract people from all over. Iceland speaks to the imagination. The landscape itself is the stuff for dreams. But underlying is the same energy. The possibility of magic. Like the fire coming from the earth, untamed.
I was not the first and certainly not the last person, coming to Iceland, looking for that change in life. Like the raw energy of the land would magically cure me and solve all my problems. I came with the hopes of a new life, of finding that one piece of the puzzle that would make everything make sense.
But that is not what Iceland’s magic did for me. The energy of the landscape works in a different way. It is so unbelievably beautiful there, the atmosphere so silencing, that it bends your attention to the now. The people that live there, work as accelerators. The number of retreats and workshops you find hidden in the fjords, is not a coincidence, but in perfect alignment with this magic at its roots.
Instead of handing you a way out on a shiny platter, all these elements together, make you feel lost. In a very powerful way. But really, you were lost to begin with. Why would you be in search of a path otherwise. You came to Iceland to be reminded. Where are you? Here and now. What do you feel?
Iceland makes you feel still and it accelerates you at the same time. You are alone. But there are many hands and hearts here to help you feel safe that way. It serves as an example. How to break open your shell and let the fire out. Volcanism as the perfect metaphor.
I needed to go to Iceland to get lost. To very powerfully learn that I am the way. I am my own compass, my own way finder. I hope many more people will continue to come to Iceland to learn this powerful magic.