Part one here.

The Norse deities rarely have just one task to be busy with. Freya, for instance, is a Goddess of love, sex, death, war, fertility, gold, and seiðr magic. This strikes me as an awful lot of work, but there are more Gods taking care of those things, possibly with the exception of gold, because Freya is a bit…possessive when it comes to gold. There are many types of fire, and many Gods who are “assigned” to take care of it.

Let me start with berating Wagner, who put it into people’s mind: Loki is not the “god of fire”. That’s Logi. (Which means “fire” in Old Norse, in case you forgot the name, but had a dictionary at hand.) In one of the Sagas, Loki is put to competition with Logi to see which one can eat faster. They meet in the middle, but while Loki ate all the meat, Logi also took care of the bones, plates, and the table itself. Later the deities involved find out that Loki was competing with the fire itself. Logi is the God associated with wildfire, and if you’ve seen any news from California in the recent months I don’t need to explain why Loki had to lose this contest. Loki plays with fire, Logi is fire.

There are good sides to forest fires, although I wouldn’t say Californians (and others) think the same way. A fire cleanses the nature, preparing it for new growth. You have to destroy in order to build. It’s when the destruction gets completely out of hand that the real trouble starts…but I will talk about Surtr in a moment.

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I’ve got some random memories from my childhood. Super-explosive diarrhea somewhere around the age of six (Sorry! I can’t help that this is my earliest memory! I do hope it’s not some sort of prediction for quality of my writing…). My parents fighting when I was around eight. Having seen a children’s movie called “Electronic Grannies”, where an electronic granny went rogue after rain caused her Z80 processor to crash, then getting a nosebleed out of fear as I was staying with my granny that night. But the earliest happy memories I have all involve myself sitting by a bonfire and being happy.

Back in the 80s, when Poland was still waist deep in Communism, you could buy cheap holidays via your work. The choice was limited, but for that price nobody really cared much (also it’s not like you could go anywhere else, as in Communism for some reason each company had their own holiday “resorts”). Every time we went the fun started with what was called, roughly translated, “an evening to meet each other”. This always involved two things. Tons of alcohol, which I didn’t partake in, and a bonfire. Other kids ran around, meeting each other. Someone would inevitably play guitar. I would sit in one spot, staring into the fire, feeling happy. My mom and stepfather were very pleased, because I caused absolutely no trouble. I’d be allowed to stay up as long as I wanted unless the fire went out first.

This never changed. I spent the New Year’s Eve ignoring the explosions, staring into the fire (I have my own woodburner these days! No need to meet anybody!), and feeling happy.

When I was looking for a new career after a burnout (hoho) ended the 14 years of my work as a graphic designer, I was asked to list 15 things that made me happiest, related to work or not. First eight or nine were easy, but then I ran out and started writing about things that made me happy in general. One of them was, of course, fire. I apologised to the coach, saying I simply couldn’t come up with anything more. She told me everything was important. A few weeks later I found out that blacksmiths still existed, they worked and made a living, and that I might be able to take a blacksmithing course. Suddenly I knew what I wanted to do with my life. Forging ticked almost all of the boxes – I would create tangible products that would last a long time; I would work on my own and be able to point at something and say “I made this”; I would be working physically; but most of all, I’d get to play with fire all day and possibly even make money out of it.

This happened.

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I just returned from my retreat to Germany, but I wish I didn’t have to. I’ve been here a few times before, but every time I discover something new, and this trip wasn’t an exception.

Part 1 here

A nice, soothing sound

The place was never completely silent. Not just because of insects buzzing or wood cracking in the fire. For the first time, I noticed some sort of constant white noise somewhere in the background. Sea, a thought flashed in my mind. But there was no sea nearby as far as I knew. Wind? And then I went for a long walk, choosing a different direction than I have before, only to discover it was…a motorway.

The whole place is located in a nature reserve, so I was quite taken aback. In fact, I almost felt personally offended. You can’t place motorways in my private paradise! And then, as one of my friends phrased it, I realised that my glass wasn’t only half-full instead of half-empty. It was completely filled. The motorway’s soothing, constant noise…calmed me down. The thing was located just near enough to be convenient and just far enough for me to not really know it was there.

No pictures of the motorway, because I am almost certain you know what motorways look like.

 

Alone, but not lonely

I walked on. I saw cows and bulls. Horses. Dogs. More horses. In fact, during my entire stay, I’ve seen more horses than people. It’s been a long time since I felt so upset by my back injuries because there is nothing I would have loved to do more than to ride on horseback again. That desire became stronger even than my dream of returning to forging, and it also brought a realisation: I now prefer animals to people. Our apartment in Amsterdam is located on top of a bar, and our neighbours regularly arrange shouting matches, sometimes in the middle of the night. The nearest park is ten minutes away by bike. The Fairytale Garden in the middle of not-so-much-nowhere gives me everything I could possibly need.

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