An American Heathen in Iceland "A Fast Friend"

Though I had originally intended this account to be a chronological journal of my adventures in Iceland, I've come to so many delays in the year since this wondrous visit that I've decided to outline the memories as they come. Perhaps wyrd works the order best.

This entry is less about an incident and more about a erson. Specifically, this entry is about a woman some of you heathens may know from a large tome of a book called Óšsmįl. She is the talented author, a woman I came to know as Gaujya. I've probably spelled her nickname incorrectly, as I always did while I was there, but I assure you that betokens no carelessness in my account. She was a good friend to me in the short time which I spent there, and one whom I will never forget despite the transitory nature of our contact.

I had been E-mailing Gaujya previous to my trip, asking her about Icelandic culture and speech and trying to work out any cultural conflicts or mistakes I might make before I arrived. I was over-concerned, but this trip truly meant the world to me, and I was not about to offend the natives. ;^)> Upon arriving in Iceland, Gaujya gave me her address over E-mail and I found my apartment to be very close to her home. From Eskihliš is was only a short trek up Snorrabraut to her home. I had seen it before, strewn with signs of her heathenry and pride. It had made me smile as I passed the large "Norraen Menning" (Norse Culture) sign/shield each time I walked to the grocery store. I noticed upon coming to her door for my first visit the large Freyukettir sign, and I knew I was in the right place. At the door appeared a woman with what I can only call very wise eyes. She seemed to have an inner spring of health and liveliness that endlessly recharged her. Even at I glance I saw that she would be a good friend to a true heathen. I was ushered in to her cluttered office in the lower level of the home, and she stopped at nothing to make my visit enjoyable, from showing me every hospitality to discussing every topic I might put forth. We talked about heathenry of course, upon which she was very happy to hear of my hall's adherence to the natural calendar over the "official": one when scheduling our blots. She looked at me with delight and spoke very directly to her happiness that some Americans did indeed have a sense of heathenry, as she said, that we "understand it below our lower jaw." That phrase sticks with me to this day. We talked about family and heritage, we talked of inspiration and poetry, of language, of love, of music and of many of the most important things in life. I found no end to her wit and great solace in her wisdom. I purchased her tome on the spot and would read it voraciously the next day and night in all my spare moments. I need not agree with it all to say it definitely made me think and enriched my understanding in some areas. It is definitely worthy of my shelf. She took me on a walk after our speech, and we truly continued our council as we went to the harbor. We boarded the viking ship Islendigur and listened to the sound of the nimble ship in the water. I gained much from our speech and moments on the deck. In one afternoon I had been givine many years worth of wisdom and thought. It was a great gift. We seemed fast friends and made our way to her home and parted regretting the necessity of the time. We met for two other walks, and had great discussions about life and learning. She aided me in learning the language and about the music of the land, and so too about the holy places it offered. Each time we met, I learned much. There was a sincerity in the embraces of greeting and departure that still fill me with a warmth upon remembering those days. Though she spoke of herself half in jest as a strange old heathen woman, she is only strange in that all those who are inspired and wish to live inspired may seem strange, only old in that her valuable years have built a great understanding in her. I will always think of her as a very outgoing woman who still found herself a bit surprised as I took her picutre next to the great statue of Ingolfur on our last walk, as a woman who gave much kindness and care to a young heathen, and as a woman who lives very true. I thank her even now, as I think of the fun we had and all that I learned. Thank you, Gaujya. Žin Erikur has gained much in knowing you.

When I finally had to leave Iceland, I did so with not a small amount of sorrow and with a strange feeling that I was not leaving at all. She said to me as I made my reluctant final goodbye to her that I felt this way because I understood somehow that I'd be coming back, that some part of me was very much at home in Iceland. I know that part of me still resides there, and I hope with all my heart I prove her right about returning.


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