Homestead fit for A Viking

I like to ponder about what life would be like on the sea. Living as a full time ocean-farer, barely touching land except to trade, explore, stock provisions, and refit one’s boat after the damaging elements of wild nature take their toll on the wood, sails, and clinkers of the ship. In essence I like to keep this atavistic fantasy in practice through a more modern domestic expression that serves me now. I wouldn’t say the idea of life perpetually rock by the waves is in the back of my mind, nor in the front, but somewhere tucked away in the knotwork of careful ideas I have about alternate lifestyles, past, present or future? It exists in a kind of ginnungagap, a realm of fated potential, next to other crazed ideas of going barefoot into the jungles of Amazon and disappearing, surviving the rest of my life as a hunter gatherer somewhere in the plains Africa, or farming a mountain homestead with my beloved, traveling every winter to warmer climates like Malawi, Tobago or the Canary islands, while enriching our Kingdom/Queendom with the relics from our trades and travels. These are alternate realities steeped in varying degrees of practicality ranging from the possible to the far-fetched, and while not efficient to mull over at length, sometimes the small sips of mead can be sweet in moderation.

I prefer to live in such a way that all my possession could potentially be stevedored onto a ship, tied down with a bale of hemp rope, and confined onboard for the long voyage, just in case. Standing strong on the long-ship with my woman by my side, a hull full of preserves from land dwelling life, a fur bed, a tool chest, small stove, my motorcycle (the modern day Ehwaz) for when I did find land again, to roam and raid on two wheels. Keeping one’s material possession minimal is a pretty wise protocol I keep, not only for if such a prospect were to ever bear some weight and need to be done, but for the simple spartan truth that the fewer things we are attached to means a lighter life. I’ve walked far in the world to arrive where I currently am blissful to call my abode, and in my eyes it a homestead fit for a Viking. So this journal will be a dedication to my dwelling.

We’ve all come so far from the cave, to carry our creature comforts into new shelters, and set up altars of remembrance of what once was. Not all of these things we carry and hold onto however are useful, meaningful, or beautiful and most of it is just stuff. Objects and artefacts of the hoarding dragon within man, who collects, stores, hides and guards the mound he has accumulated. As the symbol of the Lyndwurm in one of the Norse folk tales tells of, a small worm that sits on gold, eventually grows into a beast with an insatiable appetite for more and is never satisfied or able let his guard down to truly enjoy what it already has.

So much potential is lost in the potent worlds of time expenditure, resource acquisition, experience making, connections, and opportunities, while so precious little energy is given over to deeply living, practicing frugality, slow culture, craftmanship, simple pleasures, and being over doing. An opulent man progresses quickly forward through life by bending and bowing any situation to his financial prowess, and his anxiety for a better future. While a man with wayward luck, and a will woven magic is able to see that in everything there is an art and density of meaning imbued in it’s creation. He is able to transform the minute by making of it an eternity, to infuse beauty into every face of his conscious creation. To uphold connections that outlive the span of his own lifetime, and to learn the true value of all things. I often humorously refer to myself as a solar-powered, dirt-worshipping, heathen peasant, and there is some symbolic juxtaposition to why I use this statement. In the reminder of the importance of the sun, and the power that can be harnessed from solar energy, not only in a technological way but in an ancient way primarily. Also in the recognition of ground, dirt, soil, the middle earth on which we depend on for everything as a human.

I indentify proudly as heathen because I choose to live in a part of the countryside characterized for heathlands, wildlands, forestlands, beyond the concretelands, marketlands, and civilized lands. It is outer heath which provides home to those preserving the old ways, and who think differently about what it means to be successful. Those living in liminal spaces and places beyond the inner wall of the city, the palace of the domesticated, and the sprawling populations of homegenous nothingness. The heathen bears the character of the countryside, meanwhile the peasant is mostly happy with his lot, and has learned how to work in tough situations, and manage his life with less input, material, mental or otherwise. He uses what he has in a myriad of inventive ways, and wastes almost nothing because he bears so little.

Long have I dwelled in days of yore in houses of stick and stone. Then sheltered as a youth by the toxic industrial materials of drywall, plaster, fiberglass, plastic, and plywood, even finding myself homeless on more than one occasion. Never truly finding comfort in any modern style habitation I traveled abroad and lived on farm steads, and with micro and macro communities for eight years, living in traditional shelters from all world cultures; lavvu, yurts, roundhouses, teepees, wigwams, cabins, tents, treehouses, boats, forest huts, barns, caves, temples and ashrams. Of them all, it is the longhall that has made me feel most like a King in my own home, and is the crux and beam style bedecked in wooden trunks, and staveposts that are the stuff that gets my heart. So many of the sagas were housed in these timbered halls of old, where the Allthing met and kinsman gathered to decide on law, feast joyfully, decide on travels, dance, sing and play wildly, and pass many a night by the long hearth in the middle of the hall.

It has all the elements I need to live a happy life while indoors. The hearth is not only the holder of the sacred fire, but also the heart of the home. The nine central pillars of the evergreen trees hold up a long and low roof where heat does not escape so easily from its chamber. Exposed to the elements are the beginnings of a living moss roof, a seasonal project informed by the seasons of growth and sustainable harvest times, that has its own schedule. Cloaked in raven black, arctic white, and runic red are the dressings of the longhall cabin. Indoors, collected are plants of far off exotic lands, deep jungles, dry deserts, and vast savannahs, growing well in the environment of the hall. Relics from the Scandinavian homelands, handcraft from Vinland and antiquaries of travels befitting each wall, post, shelf and window. An eclectic fusion of neo and primitive, vintage and modern. Woven basketry holds fruit, and bread, others for the forage and harvest of the forest and garden. Ringed barrels store up the winter root vegetables. Drinking horns welcome the visitor with good spirits. Wooden plates and bowls are filled with brothy stews and nourishing harvests. The seating of the hall thinks of those who will sit within, made by the tooling of two hands, wresting the branches of wild plants and saplings with lashing, and nail and clothed in pelts and wool. An oil lantern as lightkeeper of my earliest days in the hall without solar power is risen on a spike, as a reminder of long autumn days lit by the flame. A passive cold storage holds away dry herbs, mushrooms, flours, and calorie dense staple foods, because winter always comes. Tunics and trousers, woolen shifts and work pants, overcoats and leather vests find their place to hang, or be tucked into crates, each garment special and purposeful in their use. When tired, a large bed built of straw, wood, wool, and fur restores the might of the body and keeps me warm, with my last sight before sleep and the first I see when waking being the woman I love. What more could a man in his prime crave for? Another bed is drawn out for the husky to dream of winters sledding, feasting on meat, and northern forest life.

Now the frost cycles of hibernal seasons have ensued and I have moved my standing runestone indoors to protect it from the elements. Here it may live permanently or be stood again by the Vinland flag cairn next year. A new earth platform is being prepared for the Mongolian dwellings second life. This time using only natural materials gleaned from rock pits, sand quarries, farm fields, maritime forests and even from the stones themselves in the form of natural pigments. The grand designs shall remain somewhat secretive to preserve their integrity and magic, but the process so far is again a slow rendering of what it means to live artfully. Nothing is done in haste, everything within means and with a conscious terms of condition. With sustainability and design as a keystone objective in the process, informed by simple and traditional techniques of building, using natural and clean earth based materials.

I’m stacking up the last of the firewood for the next half year ahead, though I shall be sailing by air to new territory by yule month. There, with the Caribbean princess in her own homelands, we will model a tropical dwelling fit for habitation and if the Gods will have it, travel in the West Indies, exploring what those unique islands have to offer. The main focus will be on designing and befitting a house that is appropriate for a South American latitude, and will be optimal for living, year in year out, during the perpetual wet and dry seasons.

There are yet many moots and gatherings to be held in my own hall before that time though, and much to look forward to in the coming moons. Today marks the equinox and the dwindling power of Sunna to the might and main of Mani, the Moon usurps the sky and we hail the turning of the forces on Middle Earth. As human labors start to smoulder, and the halls of the mind take reign over daily life in its stead.

I have aligned myself with a nature school in a wyrdfully fated position of teaching. The gilded transmission of knowledge, informed to me by heritage, ancestral knowledge, academic study, the animist lifestyle, elder traditions and magic now find an outlet for those of the next generation as we meet on Wodens’days, and Thors’days for saga sharing, runic yoga, Norse European craft production, and historical download of the Vinland and Viking narratives in pre Christian Scandinavia. Last week we began the process of producing drinking horns, and this week are exploring the first aett of Runes. We have started a saga circle in crow camp for the wild child curriculum, reading the tale of Gudrid the Far-Traveler. This autumn we shall practice the craft of nalbinding, rune carving, skalding, and far more! Only Midgard is the limit!

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