The Longhouse Ontology

“How is the longhouse a part of the longue durée? – in this context begs the question: Is living with plants and animals a part of the longue durée? How are these other beings so deeply embedded in the farmscape and lifespace that they are fundamental to being? Partly, the answer surely lies in their immutability, the cyclical nature of farming life, in which life is centered around animals and plants, individuals die, but the life force of the flock, the plants and the family remains. The farmhouse as an anchoring point brings all of these farming practices together. The farmhouse can thus be seen as an ontology unto itself, the basic framework upon which every aspect of life depended. The framework of the longhouse appears to have been a physical, spatial as well as embodied, structuring principle upon which social relationships were given meaning and were played out.”

-Kristin Armstrong Oma, excerpt from The Agrarian Life of the North 2000 BC to AD 1000, Studies in Rural Settlement and Farming in Norway, from the article Long Time – Long House

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Microsighting Wilderness

The common man thinks of wilderness in terms of epic landscapes, fierce predatory fauna, untouched tracts of land, and inhospitable mountains, or maybe something more humble like a boreal trail through the forest of his own memories of times spent camping on silent occulted lakes, and off lost hunting highways. Rarely though is wilderness associated with the small and subtle details of the natural features that mostly likely surround the modernized domestic man in his environment. When one looks to the patches of old growth left on the world, it is probably the purest symbol of wildness will young plantations left to go feral, standing broadleaf timbers on country roads, and fringe zones surrounding so many cities and towns across the continent have remnants of the past, and micro-ecosystems in place that can easily be appreciated, only on a different scale, one more easily seen with the naked eye up close than with a telescope or binoculars.

Mallard ducks and Canadian geese on the icy lake waters in winter ...

This scope of the wilderness may seem far fetched at first but as a seasoned traveler, and having some merit in the world of wilderness exploration, then returning to a more domestic lifestyle, (read: domestic meaning of the domecile or home), and prospecting the land for small pockets of intact wilderness, a lot of rich and impressive life can be found. They are the simple and overlooked phenomena; the lanky squirrels digging up old protein stores from before the winter, the first fungal growths on sogging wet pine logs, the litter of black oak acorns left unharvested after the thaw, the first saplings starting the race for the sol of the sun, the fuzzy branchlets of virgin trees, or the small game, that would be so perfectly snared for a spring feast. I am coming to notice the local weather very intimately, the time of the first thaw, and when the lake finally loses its ice cover. I feel the light increasing just a couple minutes each night, and its so beautiful. I admit to having traditionally being a big nature, big game kind of guy. I craved the open, massive spaces, and always will. Yet, there is a cognitive difference in the perception of these spaces, as they usually stand on their own as a kind of thing to be observed. Only few look at such a landscape and think about the individual valleys which may hide watersheds, the high crests where the experienced hunter can glass out for whitetail deer, or the possibility of springs and rivers from which to harvest wild water. It is in the micrositing of the large epic land masses that we see and experience the almost overwhelming beauty in its intimate refinity.

I think there is a particular kind of affirmation in seeking out this tracts of wild spaces anywhere and everywhere, because it is easy to feel you are cut off from the wilderness when you live in a city, or even temporarily staying in one, but I believe separation is a kind of illusion and is just put on us. I would urge people to get out and discover these microsites that might just alter their day, or their conscious perception of where they live and try to identify as many species of life that dwell there, which animals make their home in the trees or the ground? Which mushrooms latch onto the rotting logs? What plants seems edible?

This is just something I wanted to bring to the fore, as my priorities change from a life of constant travel, wildlands seeking, nomadic backpacker lifeway, into a more rooted, and bioregional style of thriving existence.

Culturing Perspectives

Time is a testament to where we have been, and who we have grown to be. It is a running perspective of Life in the moment experienced throughout eternity, and it’s ephemeral nature of constant change is something worth convicting in. Four years of semi-nomadic travel purveys a significant wellspring of cultural exposure, and things to think about. You also become very keen on world issues, human relationships, and the overarching mechanics of society. I use the word from the proto Germanic, and runic root *kenaz meaning to know, or to ken something, as in digging to the root of understanding the thing in itself. Each time I return to the Canadian North, the state of the peoples awareness always strikes me, as if it were alien and gray. The immediate exchange of a foreign country, for the familiarity of home never ceases to bring me into a kind of ‘stranger in a strange land’ scenario, often because I have become enmeshed in an altered routine, a European lifeway, a Central American sense of time, a Scandinavian sense of being, that I feel I am bringing back part of those places in an almost Faustian way. A Faustian man in a multicultural age.

Love:

I have learned a hell of a lot about relationships, how they break apart right before your eyes, and how planning for the future is just about as fickle and inefficient as investing all your money into a personal business before you have any customers. The levels of maturity and mutual growth within a relationship at any time can be moved out of balance, because of each individuals personal endeavors and private lives. I have seen the miscommunication fosters bad seeds that will grow to destroy and poison perfectly harmonious bonds, and spoil any good intentions between you and your lover by creating a culture of suspicion, doubt, and mistrust. Sex turns into lust rather than a beautifully primal experience of altered consciousness and bonding, and becomes a vice very quickly, that breaks out of its own containing shell and reverberates in your personal life, you become addicting to pleasure seeking in all forms. For a relationship to be tangible in the sense that is has a lasting flame, it must be your number one priority, and the truth must be realized that it’s inevitable summit is domestic living, although in extremely rare cases it may be able to survive through the tumults of travel and vagabonding, it does not thrive, and you are forced to rise to a whole set of factors that effect the binding of that relationship, like geographical distance, the question of monogamy vs. polyamory, or having an open sexual life, and the always present need for money. Man needs his woman, as the woman needs her man, and the role of polarity needs to be strong in order for the love to thrive. In the words of Jack Donovan on the Way of Men, “He is not only called upon to be a good man, but to be good at being a Man”. In this way, the Man must cultivate the archetypes of primal masculinity if he wants a real woman, whereas being a good Man or Woman, entails a kind of contract to society and cultural norms, which is good and fine and useful, but not always in tune with what it means to be a Man at heart, only a man through a judgement system (lots of friends at work, two children, has own car, clean cut, etc.) A man good at being a man may not necessarily be a good man by some eyes, but this is all relative of course. Mutual differences are an integral and healthy identification that whom you love is complementing your own unique individuality, while you are supporting the things that are special brands of her name. The cross-hairs of shared interests of course must intersect enough for common goals, and direction in life. I would recommend the best partner is one who shares your beliefs or religion of the world, an exacting mythology of the way life is, and similar desires to the prospects of whether or not you have kids, where you will live, and what you will have, but you do not need to both have a passion for dancing, hunting or belong to the same social clubs, or share the same friends. When you travel, and your lover needs to go home to work, then you must be prepared to follow or allow yourself to be cut off for awhile, otherwise one person becomes dependent on the other and a tension arises that will cause ruin to the sense of interdependent love between you.

“Man rarely places a proper valuation upon his womankind, at least not until deprived of them. He has no conception of the subtle atmosphere exhaled by the sex feminine, so long as he bathes in it; but let it be withdrawn, and an ever-growing void begins to manifest itself in his existence, and he becomes hungry, in a vague sort of way, for a something so indefinite that he cannot characterize it. If his comrades have no more experience than himself, they will shake their heads dubiously and dose him with strong physic. But the hunger will continue and become stronger; he will lose interest in the things of his everyday life and wax morbid; and one day, when the emptiness has become unbearable, a revelation will dawn upon him.” -Jack London, Son of the Wolf

Money:

In the old days, and still in some cultures, we had cows and sheep, and they were essentially a unity of currency. It is also the first rune of the Viking language because it seems to proceed all other needs in life, money equaled wealth, and wealth equaled freedom of ability and privilege, but it can easily be abused, and some people even do without much of it at all, like myself. The adage of ‘the things you own, end up owning you’ is a kind of two way mirror. In the beginning of my wandering days I had very few possessions, in a metaphorical way, I was un-possessed by materials, as in the sense that something bears a negative influence on you and you become possessed by its energy. I felt extremely free to be carrying little, even in the way of money, and I came to view money as solely a trap, when I ran out of it, I was forced to be dependent on someone else, for survival. I am guilty of this from past relationships, and made it an oath to never let it happen again by setting new boundaries, and ‘zero points’. This was a term shared with me by a lover who describes it as the time when your stock of personal money comes to a point where you must switch to survival mode, and change your financial priorities. For the longest time, I had wandered with extremely little, and found myself stuck on more than one occasion. Even living in cheap hostels, sharing food with other travelers, and transitioning from one volunteer situation to the next takes a hit on your budget, and the truth is you need money, or :fe:, in this world to thrive. You don’t need exorbitant amounts which usually foster a sense of foolish materialism, vice, and excess, but you need enough, that you are cautious with your money yet free to spend when you need to, frugal yet abundant. Now, we are in a generation that is exploding technologically, and people are waking up to the problems with the modern money system, crypto-currencies are being developed to ensure that we are not getting ripped off, and our money is secure. This is a future I look forward to, with a radical embrace of traditional trading systems and gift exchange blending with a modern contemporary use of money, saving what I rightfully earn, and using it effectively as a tool.

The Illusion of Community:

It seems that community is only talked about where the very essence of community is lacking, and those who are outside of community are always prospecting for it in the wrong places or failing to see it thriving in their locality. This is because community is not a point of reference but an intact and reliable system of relationships. A facebook page is not a community, nor is the i.d. generation of collective staff in your workplace, it is not found in coffeehouses, and meet-up groups. Community hearkens to a more tribal oriented lifeway, the obvious differences being the owning of land, the hunting and gathering of food, and the autonomy of culture and belief held within it. A farmers market is community, it fosters the interest in living of the land, I don’t really like the word self-sustainable because nothing is ever done alone in a community, the others are needed just as much as you, and the lone wolf will always die away from his pack. In order for the community to exist there must be a shared work load, and division of relevant skills throughout those members who choose to be responsible for it. A set of meta-beliefs that transcend the generic fandom of a social media phenomenon is a highly distinctive feature of the community, and those who belong to it find their own way into it, they are not sought after, or hired. The people will come of their own accord because they know with the primality of instinct in their heart that they belong there with no coercion needed. Having worked and lived in the Central American continent, I have observed authentic community thriving through the everyday rote existence, whence people band together and link their energies to sustain a lifeway. Different from tribalism, there is often no hierarchy, but an egalitarian sense of rites and responsibilities. I have also observed this in the maritimes of Canada, the sub-arctic regions of Scandinavia, and Saharan Africa. Community arises out of the need for a prolonged survival and transforms the patterns of tradition into a thriving mode of existence. In my own country I see a lot of community masquerading as commercialsm, “support your local community and buy local”, this is in essence what community can be about, but it is advertising for international businesses simply stationed within city limits, because truly local businesses do not have their name all over the country, they may have one or two or three outlets within a vicinity, and are not making much profit, just enough for the community, and that goes into the bands of families who truly live their mien, and walk the talk, not a blind consumer who doesn’t really care whose lives they impact, including their own by their conduction in the society. Voting with your dollar counts, but making the dollar secondary serve relationships equals community.

Work Ethic:

My engagement with work may seem to some as a fickle one, largely international skill trade in volunteer experiences for the basic commodities and necessities of life, without earning much more than that, but in a deeper context, and wide ranging view, my work ethic has become highly evolved to serve a purpose much bigger than myself. As someone who follows a largely derived Germanic tradition, that of the journeyman, and the freeman, travel has been the lynchpin of my work experiments and has lead me to seek relative skill building in Scandinavia, Europe, Central and North America and Britain. When I come home to Canada, and take a ‘normal’ job, which I have had fewer than I can count on one hand in my life, an entirely different work ethic tries to supplant itself. I clock in, I have a number, a schedule, and co-workers, I am persuaded to work as a team, I have a set wage, and tax taken off my pay, it is outside of my normal set of working conditions, and it is not my natural habitat. I have chosen this type of work though for very specific reasons, with big-picture thinking in mind. I am a farmer, and forestman, I belong to Thor’s people and engage my primal masculine in the world and all the work I get involved in. Reforestry, woodwork, demolition, planting and harvesting, building, permaculture, preservation of species, these are my comfort zones, these are the lay of my hands and heart, and to act outside of them is foreign to me. I am free to choose as is every sovereign individual his own course of work, and thus one does not build their own working jails where they feel trapped. Currently I am a meatcutter in a factory style setting, working with beef and pork. By today’s standards this is highly productive, and repetitive, and I have certainly worked small scale with processing meat in country farm settings or wilderness, so there is overlap involved, but thinking in big-picture, it is a skill that relates to almost all my other aspirations. The work ethic core remains strong, because despite which company may hire me, I am working for myself, not here simply to exist, pay my bills, and get wasted on the weekend. Making money must be matched in aspiration to learning and growing. I talk to people who are entirely negative, and speak of their years in service to a company that cares nothing for them, who have nothing positive to say during the lunch break, have not regard for their personal health, and live a life stuck in vice, and regret. There is an eerie comparison to olden day slavery, and in my eyes I still see it practiced, only with alterations in its style. A slave owner has full control over his workers, but he does not mingle with them personally, they keep heavy handed records of your activity, and their profits, yet is provided for handsomely for less work, does this sound like your boss or manager of today? One must always question the authority, and ask yourself what you are getting in return for your efforts, is there a balance? Why not forge a thriving life-way that serves your highest being? By your self induced masochism and suffering through the condemning need to work at places you hate, you become the inferior, the minority, and the coward. Gradually you become weakened and have no conviction towards your own personal power, the work ethic mode becomes the work ethic myth, there is no standard left. You are not providing for yourself in reality, because you are still buying everything you need, instead of growing it, building it, killing it, harvesting it, collecting it, raising it, loving it, such is the real work ethic, work for yourself or your community at all times, then let your work outlive that.

Travel:

Is a boon to every man, and a realization that life is a profound struggle. Four years ago I left the domestic trappings of life, swore myself to the Old Gods, and went in search of love and life out in the wider world. Now I am spearheading a new lifeway by preservation; of money, of resources, of tools physical and spiritual, of allies and friends, and ultimately of place. All the experiences of the last four years are being compounded and grown upon as I turn towards a slightly more sedent way of being, and staying in my own country for some time. Travel takes a hard toll on the body, but it also strengthens it to be fit for a new world. I have come to the often brutal realization of how difficult it actually is to travel with limited money, but through ingenuity and adaptation have been able to thrive even when my pockets were empty. There is a paradox in the travel world, but nonetheless true, that real freedom comes from sacrifice. This entails that one must live to decondition themselves from the constituted dregs of normal society, to think and act for oneself, and reconcile your abilities with your purpose. Travel, that isn’t holiday, is stoic and austere, a wanderering man gets to know the many faces of Odin, and it is struggle and success both. It is like if I watch any nature documentary, and see these wolves or caribou, who migrate long distances, and then settle into a place, the hardships they must face, the extreme weather, the physical toil, the chase, the hunt and the hunger. The need for the pack or herd community. I see myself mirrored in these beasts intimately. I have worked almost exclusively out of doors, have slept in hundreds of varied settings, from the cathedral garden of a medieval Norse cathedral, to a leather tipi stoking with fire, a metal trailer, to the forests of Newfoundland island. The real traveler must be prepared for anything, this means you are going to have installments with the law, as I have, you will need to represent yourself, you may be repelled in one place and attracted by another, you have to carry everything you own, and know that your story is more important than anything in your pack. Sometimes I was desperate, sometimes I had a luxurious life and money to spare, a woman in my bed, and the world in front of me. Travel is a way of being, just like some animals are highly localized who may occupy one specific tract of forest or river system, while others have their territory spanning thousands of miles. I have always thought that as long as I am a human animal, I want to explore my own territory which is the earth, and find the place where I can feel king. After four years of living in communities, traveling to foreign countries, crossing borders in the physical world and within, having everything lost, being ripped off, and then rewarded, and come to know part of this planet in a more humble way, I feel awe and hungry for more, but also I am tired, and my priorities are changing. The acquisition of land is important for me, the collection of resources, tools and useful possessions, the startup of my own operation that provides for me, whether that be a farm, a small cultural business, an ecological company, or all of these. Eventually I think, and most of my allies, all dream of the idealistic cabin in the woods, with a fire burning in the hearth, game to hunt, fish to catch, food to gather, and a place where we belong. It was never intended that I would tramp around forever, and this will still take some time to resemble the change I am enacting. I like to think it took me traveling to far fetched countries and cultures to come back and find my own, and where that will be, until then I keep moving forward and upward, with light in my eyes, love in my heart, and peace of mind, knowing I am doing the right thing for me, it is up to you to make up your own way. If you do not have a plan, you end up being part of someone else’s plan. If the system does not work for you, use the system to get out of it, and create your own.

Your Home Is Someones Destination

Whether it’s a quiet Gotlandic fishing village, a traditional Mexico pueblo, a trendy American city, or a struggling Indian slum, each gps coordinate of the earth has an attraction from at least a handful of globe trekkers who want to see it, experience it, eat there, stay the night. If you identify with the traveler archetype, it is easy to feel restless, always on the move, never quite satisfied with settling to one place at one time. This
https://i0.wp.com/a.rgbimg.com/cache1s2Igv/users/a/ay/ayla87/300/nqjLX0u.jpgis completely normal, as an inherent recognition of our primal nomadic nature. There is so much of the world to see, and we are intimately aware of our marginal and ephemeral time to explore it. There is always a billboard of another beautiful far away city in every airport, the swirling journey continues. Wherever you live, you can find people who have traveled from distant and remote parts of the world, to spend a short time in the place you live. Being from a small northern Canadian village built on the backbone of mining and fishing, with a few thousand inhabitants where nothing seems to change, and tourism appears to be nil, I would not expect to see internationals who desperately want to find it, but in reality there are.

For those intrepid few who have chosen a more stoic lifestyle, and opted to live minimalistically on the road, there is an unmistakable urge for movement, one feels the unrelenting urge to keep going in order to thrive. This puts you in some very interesting locations, and run ins with some eclectic folk that you would otherwise never meet eyes with. But when you learn to tread with hoof and paw in a slower fashion, you will see that people will come to you. Eventually even the cultured and seasoned traveler needs to put down roots and find a land where he himself is King.

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Then comes the stage of integration of seeing your home as your hearth and hall. But this is far from simple accepted sedentism or domestication, it is about seeing your homeland from a perspective that inherits a new bio-regional importance. If these ideals can be exemplified, and valuation can be extracted out of the normal and overlooked aspects everyday life, then chances are someone else will be able to see this, and make an effort to experience it as well. The intimately social creature need not worry, because if you tune into your home, you can probably bring out at least ten things that would attract a traveler to your city, town or whatever. A frozen pond near your house may seem like something you walk passed everyday without giving much mention to, but for someone who may have never seen snow or ice, it is an exotic biosphere, with opportunities for ice-fishing. Likewise for someone from the north who may have never seen palm trees, a trip to the tropics may be one of a great wealth of experience.

There is such a vast breadth of intentional travel in the modern age, that is also goes without saying that there may be several niche reasonings for someone to come your way that would otherwise stay at home. Hunters to stalk specific game in a foreign country where wildlife may only inhabit a small rural area off the beaten tourist routes. Food lovers who may be seeking out gastronomic specialties and exotic dishes, writers looking for the perfect b&b for finishing a book, or researchers looking to study rare plant and animal species in your backyard. More airports are being built and the people living there are crossing paths with new company, knowledge is being exchanged, and the world is becoming more accessible. When you start to think of your home as the culmination of a trip, one gains a new perspective on where you are in the world. It’s the easily recognizable notion of recognizing the significance of a place, and your position in it, the  symbol of the arrow on the global map that says ‘You are Here’.

THORSday

Our Teutonic ancestors called this day in time, Thor’s day. The god of the common man, a strong farmer, warrior, and something of a peasant shaman. Thor is the enigma of a truth that can only be known through mythology, and a cognitive system that allows us to follow suit with such a belief system, but on a more practical level I find there is a deeper reality in this honoring of Thorsday.

What does it mean, and what does it imply to the average man, who must face the same set of challenges, tribulations, and confrontations of a life in Midgard. Personally speaking, it helps me to humble myself to my own abilities and limitations in this world, and then to understand that even these constructs are not concrete, and are greatly altered by the power of the will. One is ushered to deal with the implications and surmounting responsibilities of his own work and wyrd, and in honoring the hail of Thor, a subjective evolution must take place in one’s own spirit.

Strength must be the ideal, for this is the hammer’s intentions, and we must be forged in the stoutest of fires, and tempered by the finest hands and muscles if our form is to be as impeccably wrought as we compel it to be. For Thor is a God of more than Man himself, he is of the quintessence of Man becoming great. When a man comes to terms with his own incredible nature, and seeks to exploit it for it’s full worth while here in time, he makes a testament to his species of his ability to conquer weakness. When I think of Thor, on this day, I must face my own inedible frailties, and see through them to the other side, to a point in my being in which these are no longer relevant, and I come to bear runes of victory for my success.

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Today we hail Thor, because he is representative of our slumbering primal masculinity, and we acknowledge the wild, yet ordered energy that erupts from our souls, when we hear the sound of steel, or run freely through the wilderness of our own souls.We wear the scars of our past as experiences and lessons, not of weaknesses and failures, and we come to bear the task of the hero, to fight against our own psychological and physical in order to see the golden sublime that awaits us in Valhall. The work of this Man then becomes not of doing, but of becoming, for anyone can simply react, but to actively participate in the formulation of our own heroic ideals, we are THOR, and the only reality is what we do here and now!

Cacao Jungle Farm

I’m not a tourist, this must be said before anything else. I am entirely uninterested in following the customary gringo trails and flogging to tired and uninspired traveler traps that can be found in any guide book. Traditionally on my journey I will settle down for a few weeks or a couple months in each country and learn the culture, volunteer my work, stay with a family, and live on the land, off the grid, with the world as my oyster. I have made this a signature style of my travels, and have partaken in some amazing experiences, and written many chapters in the saga of my life. Lately I have found myself in the Guatemala cloud forests of Alta Verapaz, co-living on a 1000 acre wilderness farm  next to the largest national park in the country and a biosphere for quetzals, other rare jungle avifauna, and primeval creature life. Here I have been trading what I know in permaculture, sustainable living, and bushcraft, whilst living and working with the local Keq’chi Mayan culture.

Owned by a Belgian/Canadian man known as Lorenzo to his friends, who bought this land eight years ago, and has been living between San Marcos la Laguna on Lake Atitlan and the mountains of Teleman in Coban county. Spread across this vast landscape are many cultivated areas of profitable fruit, and spice farming. Lorenzo deals primarily in cacao and cardamom, with local merchants in the nearby town, and a brand new chocolate factory on the plantation itself. He also sells premium chocolate on Lake Atitlan, at several of the healthy food bars, and his treehouse. Part of my job here has been pouring the 1 kilo bricks of raw cacao from the metal drums into molds so they may be cooled or frozen for preservation. I’ve also been privy to the paste grinding, and bean fermenting process, but as a witness only. The work in the chocolate factory is intoxicating as the wafting aroma of theobroma humidifies the air. In the time I have not been working with the chocolate itself, I choose to study into the ethnobotany, history and alchemy of cacao, and read about the
Keq’chi culture, or take plant walks which usually bring great foraging missions. Bananas, plantains, pineapples, zapotes, figs, jackfruit, coffee, cardamom, and macuy are some of the offerings of the land. Next to the cacao work, there has been time to try my hand at curing, stretching, and tanning the large hides of bull cows. This is a difficult undertaking which require many processes of cleaning, defleshing the underside of the skin of gristle and fat, shooing away flies and bees from laying their eggs, brushing off ticks from the fur side, using lime to desicate the skin to dry, and either brain or pig lard for the tanning process. There are other steps besides this which are very difficult in all to engage with in the jungle heat.

This particular exchange is the precursor to future projects and hospitality for international backpackers to volunteer in the future, and there has been some work to renovate the dormitories, adding a Guatemalan uniqueness to the bedrooms, and humbly giving up my own bedspace for a tent spot in the forest. The plantation brings an army of over 60 workers from the local village who sweat and bear the weight of the cacao and cardamom harvesting and most of the labor intensive tasks. The perspicacity of the Keq’chi workers in admirable in their sheer willingness, and strength of ability, they are trained from a young age to work the land.

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Abundant avifauna like the quetzal, several species of parrot, toucan, and songbirds reside here, and the volunteer casa has served double as a bird hide to watch these plumed dragons drift through the skies and between the canopy of the jungle. On a short tramp out on the roads or trails, one may come to meet hundreds of psychedelically colored moths and butterflies, their patterns become enmeshed in the visual mind. I was lucky to see on several occasions the tepescuintle, a kind of stout mammal with a square head the resembles the capybara of Australia, as well as the opossum, a silver goshawk, small pigmy like deer, a large Bufo toad, tarantulas, serpents, scorpions, and a host of glowing insects, some with chemical filled thorax that bioluminesce when they fly and others like a cockroach with two headlights that guide it through jungle detritus, and a small centipede like worm with lighted chambers at its front and back. The abundance and variety of Life is astounding in this place.

At night the moonsoon rolls in and encloaks the forest with a wet mantle, while all the green things soak up its cleansing downpour. Vegetation is lush and fractal, life growing on life, each microclimate reflecting the larger ecology.  Hanging fibrous moss clings to gnarled branches, while vines of heart shaped leaves like ropes drape down from the tallest arboreal reaches like vintage curtains. Several medicines and edibles can be found on the land, including macuy, a kind of spinach, a smokeable tobacco substitute leaf resembling a large animal paw, and a jungle vine with similar psychoactive properties as ayahuasca. During my stay at the plantation, we have eaten the meat of some of the free ranging
ducks, cows, chickens and pig, as well as tilapia from an in-built pond, and the diet has remained primarily paleo based.

As my time hear draws to its close, it is easy to recall all the felt moments of experience in which I was compelled to make a choice, to stand my ground, and ultimately learn something. Next to this was my evolution and personal growth that draws down all the influence of the day into a single focus of energy and charges me with life. The scars on my body, the relationships made, the memories hologrammed into my brain are all testaments to my time in this part of the world, and now I look forward to returning to the familiar sights of home.

Witnessing the Similarities between the Popul Vuh, and the Icelandic Sagas

The Keq’chi Maya are an indigenous people that live throughout Guatemala and primarily in the states of Alta Verapaz and Peten in the cloud forests of the North. The prominence of their mythological tradition stems from  a book entitled the Popul Vuh, an ancient text that tells the stories of the early Keq’chi or Quiche, the creation of the world and different phenomena, familial geneologies, and folk legends. Through the language of exaggerated narration, memory, and representation, the Mayan Keq’chi beliefs and cosmology comes to be known. The translation I am reading is from Latin to English, and contains deep anthropological, theological, historical, and traditionalist fields in which to understand it from.

As a student of old Teutonic culture, Norse Mythology, and the Icelandic Edda and Saga literature, my usual bent is towards the branches of text that stem from the North Germanic regions, and pan-Scandinavian customs. I have read probably a few hundred works, folk stories, and legends that originate in the Icelandic tomes, yet I remain culturally sensitive in my travels and heavily influenced by the local languages and societies, so on a recent trip to Guatemala, I have been reading said book, the Popul Vuh, and without intervention on my own part have been noticing the similarities in these two vastly different branches of ancient civilization.

Kennings: Something any well read reader of the Icelandic Sagas and indeed the Edda or Amma, will indeed know and understand the use of kennings. Cheiftain Snorri Sturluson was the infamous Icelander who helped devise many of these kennings, and in my own opinion they are the lynchpin of all Icelandic mythology. They represent the advancement of language and poetry which the literate Northmen had even before the Christian Era, when almost all literature was instead composed by monks. To be simple, a kenning is a set of words or references to a single thing, idea, or phenomena. The kenning can be another way of speaking about something that is mentioned far too often, thus making it redundant, and in the Icelandic sagas, this happens a lot. For instance a Viking ship may easily be called by its name, but using kennings and compounded kennings allows the writer to implore their imagination into the subject, and the reader to create more verbally textual memories of the passage by thinking of it from a different angle. An example would be to call the ship as the ‘brine stallion’, ‘the wave horse’, ‘the vessel on the fish’s bath’, and so forth. In the Popul Vuh, I also observed this custom of using kennings in a similar fashion for instance in Ch. 7 of Part II, when a hawk is referred to as ‘he who devours snakes in the corn fields’, or when the Earth was created it was formed by ‘the Heart of Heaven, and the Heart of Earth’. The names of animals and trees are also referenced by many different words for instance the gum as ‘noh’ and ‘pericon’, and a different tree that exudes red resin is known as the ‘dragons blood’, or the ‘heart of man’. The kennings used in the Popul Vuh are indeed of a different calibre than those used in Icelandic literature, and of course for the purists they may say there is no comparison at all and each one is exclusively unique of itself, and that may be true as well, but for now I am only drawing certain arrangements of patterns between the two kinds of literature, what we might called an indigenous literacy, or ancient language style, that perhaps is lost to us now in our dialects and poetical minds.

Geneologies: The Sagas of the Norse Kings or ‘the Resultado de imagen de heimskringlaHeimskringla’ is but one major work of the Scandinavia northlands that deserves attention here, for it is literally all about geneology from the last Kings of Norway all the way back to the descendant lines of Yngvi-Frey or the Ynglings and that of Odin. Geneology and heritage in these works are sometimes daunting and monumental and it was only after several years of reading the Sagas and stories that I began to pick through them with any clarity rather than skipping through them. It is not uncommon in the first few paragraphs of a heroic saga to mention the familial ties ranging back as far as three, four, or five generations, naming each mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, each son and daughter and cousin. This can go one to the point of seeming mundanity and confusion as the Icelandic naming tradition, as in any culture had a specific set of names for males and females and names are often repeated within family lines. This kind of chaotic order of tracing geneology is fascinating for scholars but to the average reader can be offputting. A typical passage might enumarate the relatives of “Leif, who is son of Bestla and Bjorn, who also bore daughters Ingrid, Hildagard, and Solveig, and sons Ragnar, Svart, and Svein. Solveig also had two sons, one named Bjorn and the other Ivar. Leif’s grandfather was a wealthy chieftain in Iceland and had many wives ‘Astrid, Helga, and Bjork’, who in turn gave him many sons, Bjorn, Leif’s father being one of them.” I am just making this passage up but this is respectively how the opening passages of a true Icelandic saga can be expected. In the Popul Vuh, I came across this same kind of nomenclature of the men and women, and their familial ties. The opening of part II reads “Here is the story. Here are the names of Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu, as they are called. Their parents were Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. During the night Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu were born of Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. Well now, Hun-Hunahpu had begotten two sons, the first was called Hunbatz, and the second Hunchouen. The mother of the two sons was called Xbaquiyalo. Thus was the wife of Hun-hunahpu called. As for the other son, Vucub-Hunahpu, he had no wife, he was single.” And so it goes on like this naming off several members until all are accounted for, and then sometime later in the story they will make their appearance to some imporant degree, or be named specifically because they are to be known for some reference point of meaning.

Resultado de imagen de popul vuhDrama/Violence: Any good saga has some violence in it, and sometimes it is extremely amusing to read of the antics that a band of stoutly countrymen inflict upon each other. Iceland was a lawless country for a long time, and several parts of the glacier country was known as the utangard because of the many horse trails that crossed it, lingering with thieves, murderers and outlaws. If I remember correctly, there is a passage in one of the Sagas involving a breeched whale, wherein a conflict between two Vikings arises, and they are fighting on the back of the whale while it is being cut by others for the blubber. Here are the men in a holmgang or duel, and one of them is struck with the sword to his death. Just about every saga, even the romance genres are filled with duels, wrestling, revenge, killing, and domestic violence. In the Popul Vuh, there is also a high focus on violence and warfare.
The place of Xibalba for instance is a house of torture. When Hunahpu and Xbalanque are tricked by the Lords of Xibalba, they go through several chambers and places in which different types of discomfort, pain and violence are treated to them. They enter the house of Jaguars, where they must throw bones to the animals so that they not bite them. They go into the House of Fire, which inside ‘was only fire’, or the House of Bats, which sheletered a creature that killed using its stingers. The bizzare and strange ways of torture are also complemented with human violence, in the way the head of Hunahpu is used for play in the ball game, a kind of primitive Mayan soccer that is itself incredibly aggresive that might make the British football teams seem tame. The violence in both this Mayan/Central American literature and the far sub-arctic North are worlds apart, yet add a kind of comic relief, and may intrigue readers of general novels to reading both of these works.

The last that I wish to mention, although there may be more ties I can draw out, is the evident nature of the oral tradition. The Popul Vuh IS the word, and thus the Saga is too the story of someone or several people retelling actual events but through a lens that is subjective and often exxagerate or phantasized. Regardless, these books are dictums of the oral tradition and passing on stories from one generation to the next, and the fact that we still have them here with us, even if they be translated from heiroglyphs, runes, latin, or proto-Norse is besides the point. They have simply survived because of their remarkable nature and remain classics because they are so interesting and compelling to read. I certainly could not read nothing but Icelandic sagas for all my days sitting in a rocking chair and imagining Viking warbands conquering the land, but it is fun to indulge in that sometimes, and the same to read the very primal sources of ancient cultures through a different lense, and being able to draw from it, the sources of its humanness and roots of our language.

RUNA ov the year 2016

Each revolution around the sun marks another passage in time when the wyrd-weaving of man and his orlog is spun on the great loom, and soaked in the well. We live on the same earth as did our Teutonic forebears, and experience life through the vicarious balances of the phenomena of nature. How we interpret them is one of a different matter altogether, but one worth reflecting on. Since finding the old Gods laying deep in my soul four years ago, I have made a point to mark the calendric with the Runic wheel so to speak, and to guard each passing of time with the influence of their energies, which affect me directly. This one comes slightly late as I find myself in more remote areas of habitation in the jungles of Guatemala, the prospect of Runes, and European culture are alien here, yet still remain as ever present in the two ravens of my mind and memory.

... Nordic Mysticism on Pinterest | Runes, History articles and Calendar
:F: Volunteered much of my time in a work exchange to earn my keep in board and lodging, made reliable and accountable allies through travel and trade, earned enough money through a harvest season to afford a trip through Scandinavia, and Ireland, new perspectives on personal power and the dynamics of wealth, learned about crypto-currencies and the changing of money
:U: Learned how to de-flesh, cure, and tan a bull, understanding the deeper importance of violence in man’s history, first time procuring meat by the knife for my own hunger, worked hard building stages for a festival in Norway
:TH: Exile while traveling, lost trust in friends, found confusion and chaos in the heart of a women, overbearing forces of my personal spirit forcing me to cut through illusions of self-knowing
:A: Psychedelic experience with various chemicals and plant medicines, Theobroma food of the Gods, poetry and journalism, started writing for a travel website, learned more Spanish, Swedish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, and Newfoundland language and dialect, visited the pyramid temples of Tonina
:R: Traveled extensively within Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Gotland, Ireland, and Mexico, and adapted to traveling lighter, spent my first winter away from the snows, took time off to explore domestic lifestyle
:K: Cooking extensively with fire in primitive camps, using wood fire to heat cabin home,
:X: Volunteer exchange with German family, Co-living with friends, traveling for the first time with another person, balancing borrowed time and money, traded or gifted several possessions, communal economy and mutual living in rainbow and ting gatherings, gifted my fishing knife at the grave mounds of the Viking Kings
:W: Found love, sought happiness in new places and questioned what it means to be truly fulfilled, finding different paths to having a life that enjoys me,
:H: Regenerating personal luck, dealing with illness without conventional help
:N: The struggle for survival with lack of funds, attempts to move to Australia
:I: Solitary life in off grid cabin, came to new terms of what it means to be alone, traveled on my own through Europe, lost relationships, refining intentions and focuses in life,
:J: Harvesting perennial fruits, foraging fruit in southern Mexico, experiencing summer season twice in one year, re-cycled natural and inorganic materials for sustainable housing
:P: The dark game of risk and rewards
:EI: Made personal strides in maturity, fitness, and skillset
:ALG: Equinox blot of the straw man, Cacao ceremony on winter solstice, Utiseta at the Uppsala barrows, ritual banishing and re-birth during mushroom ceremony, first LSD experience, meditations at the Borre mounds in Norway,
:S: midnight sun, extended summer, wise interaction with sun, learned more in depth about solar power, solar coffins and sun-cycles in permaculture
:T: problems with authorities in Ireland, new passport,
:B: met several beautiful women while traveling, sexual prowess, re-forged relationships with past lovers, mutual bonding with sisters,
:E: Spent time understanding the symbiotic relationships between man and animals in a primal way, co-farming with domestic livestock to achieve work,
:M: claiming masculinity and brotherhood, quality time with male friends, tribalism
:L: hot springs and lagoons in Iceland, canoeing in small remote lakes of Canada, traveled by ferry from Iceland to Faroe Islands and by boat in Vancouver island and Sweden, lived on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America, and experienced several European bodies of water
:ING: farming in grasslands, picking fruit in the border valley of Canada, expanded knowledge of permaculture and perennial fruits
:D: worked on making my days more efficient, living through paradoxical schemes and energies, probed deeply into the shadows and opposites of familiar concepts and ordinary life
:O: Found a new home in Newfoundland, visited old dwellings in Canada and stayed with family, built earthships in the Rocky mountains, stayed in a Viking village

Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey Pozas

Drive two hours through lush mountain roads from Coban, Guatemala towards El Estor, and you will eventually come to a dirt road, and a lonely sign that reads Lanquin. From here it’s another 30 minutes down the slowest 11 km stretch of trail road you can imagine
until finally you are in the hive of Lanquin itself. From every angle, the words ‘Semuc Champey’, ‘Greengos’, or ‘Retiro’, reverberate in the air. Obviously, coming from Canada, this makes me a tourist in the eyes of the local Mayans, who speak mostly Ke’qchi, and some Spanish, but know enough English to harangue you into their tourist nets. Lanquin is the central vortex for travelers visiting the Semuc Champey cascading pools. So without sounding too much like a Gringo tourist, I will relate my time hiking the jungle trails of Alta Verapaz.

Lanquin is on the active side of the mountain so to speak, on the main route from Antique to Flores, Lake Izabal or Tikal. Amidst lush vegetation, cacao plantation, breadfruit trees, and several rivers, namely the rio Coban, rio Lanquin,  and rio Dulce. In a single day you may hear dialect of English, Mayan (Ke’qchi), Spanish, French, Australian, German, and Portugese from the horde of novelty seeking backpackers making their deals and tours with the locals. The mountains of Lanquin breathe with such a pregnant diorama of life. It is simply compounded, and occupying every niche, both plant, animal and human. The scrappy dogs roam the streets looking for a morcel to fill their belly, the men work sweatingly on the  roads, while young girls hustle their cacao of many flavors at every turn.

Semuc Champey Pozas

The market is bustling with energy, but one can see the massive importation of American goods that wait to be gobbled up. Meanwhile there is a traditionalist backbone of farming; cardamom, cinnamon, cacao, coffee.. one is bare to the old world as much as the new. They also really love their Jesus here, and Sundays can be an important fiesta for song, and a celebration. I was lucky to stumble into a shrine room where three men were playing beautifully made wooden guitars and a full harp. The music under the influence of cannabis at the time was quite hypnotically beautiful.

Semuc Champey itself is steeped with expectation, and tends to deliver. Once out on the trails, the jungle enshrouds you with tender greenery, like a paradise found especially when you are alone. Hiking here, I headed to the Mirador lookout where one can have a vulture’s eye view of the cascading pools. The mineral crystal deposits on the rocks create fascinating globules of color which adorns the forest on the way up. A foray off trail leads one into more dense machete worthy jungle, where foraging for red bananas, or hunting for rare orchids and butterflies may be possible. On this occasion, a side trail leading off from El Mirador, I found myself in a stand of high canopy, and above crawled five howler monkeys, one of them being only a young kid. I watched them for nearly half an hour as they brachiated through the branches, using their tails to climb and hang while eating leaves, and occupied their nests.

Semuc Champey Pozas

Descending the trail proper from here, they began their howl in full sensurround effect, and their throated syntax filled the forest. Finally reaching the pools themselves, and the chromotherapeutic colors of the  cascading water. The pozas, are filled with small minnows that crowd around you when standing in the shallows, and nibble on the dead skin on your feet. According to my partner it is quite luxurious. One can swim from each of the six pools, down river over gleaning rocks, and slimed moss. The call of the monkeys
echoes into the rift. I did not witness any of the rare lizards or geckos, but did catch a sight of some tremendously beautiful moths and butterflies with psychedelic colors and patterns. I felt fulfilled with my time here, and thrilled to see our simian cousins thriving in their natural habitat.

Semuc Champey Pozas

Tonina Pyramid City

You may have been to Palenque, or Chichen Itza, and even had the privelege of traveling to the other pyramid cities at Giza, but not many travelers seem to go out of their way for the ruined Pyramid city of Toniná in Chiapas Mexico. This acropolis is found near Ocosingo about halfway between San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque itself, and a serious landmark along the way for those interested in the Mayan civilization that once was. Put in the coordinates of 16°54’4.39?N 92°0’34.83?W on a map, and you virtually be hovering about the central terrace of Tonina. Unlike Palenque, this is not as grand a city, and it is excavated fully, whereas Palenque is only 10-20% uncovered, the rest lying beneath jungle vines, and guarded by howler monkeys. At Tonina, you can also find the Meso-American ball court and several smaller structures, and chambered tunnels within the pyramid itself. I had a chance to visit this ancient site during a foray in Chiapas recently.

What Tonina lacks in structures, they make up for with the sculptures resembling some of those in intricacy from the Olmec civilization, and there are over a hundred of them. Most of these are representative of old Kings, or prisoners in suffering. One in particular near the ball court depicts a man kneeling with his hands tied around his back. Another circuclar tablet looks like two Mayan men trying to instigate each other by pulling the others ears from around their heads. Aerial views of the pyramid complex
itself reveal many interesting patterns, apexes, mazelike walls, and perhaps sacred characters. Many of these have alleys for walking through, and terraces at their summit. A view from the top stone after climbing the acropolis affords a panorama of the Rio Jataté, and the Ocosingo valley.

Tonina was actually is warfare with Palenque during the Mayan rule, and this is a testament to their power as they rose to dominance. The hieroglyphic texts speak of K’inich Hix Chapat as the first ruler sometime in the late 6th century. The second kings rule is depicted in monuments with captives who are bound, and mention specific
names of lords and sites that are as yet unfound in Mexico, namely ‘Annak’. The pyramid city was taken over by a kind of Palenque, K’inich Kan Balam II, and then reclaimed by K’inich B’aaknal Chaak. The ballcourt stucco scultptures are depictions of important captives taken from Palenque. It seems there is a morbid humor involved with the
ball game, and the defeat of enemies. The fourth ruler of Tonina was still yet a child when he came to power, which reveals a fascinating detail about Mayan social life. Tonina eventually fought a battle with ‘Piedras Negras’ a town on the north side of the Usumacinta River, now in Guatemala.

Tonina was not built all at once, and in total had 8 rulers, as other Kings came to restore the pyramids, and install more sculptures. Tonina is also a gravesite, and centre of many palaces such as the Palace of the Frets and Palace of the Underworld, which is invigorating to go caverning through. The late classic era of Tonina is steeped in cultural imagery of aquatic deities, dragons and monsters from the earth, so these sort of divine and bestial beings were obviously playing on the mind of the people of this time. There is also on site museum  with most of the sculptures, and there is a central tenet of violence and warfare amongst the captives, while I find in Palenque from a previous visit, more evidence of ceremony and perhaps sacramental use of plants, and shamanistic ritual. The site itself is also told in story through the hieroglyphics of the Mayan calendar, and the depictions found in the various temples; the ‘Prisoners’ and the ‘Smoking Mirrors’ has a mural that describes the legend of the four suns and the Mayan deities.

To visit Tonina I stayed at the nearby cabanas, which were comfortable bunkhouses just 2 minutes from the entrance. Tonina was also free, but accepts donations. There are some rare fruits trees growing near the pyramids, like the Yaca which is more common in Veracruz, and a relative of the Guayabana. Many of the trees host  some of the special ‘air plants’ or bryophytes that are common here. There are many Mexicans visiting the site, and less gringos,  it is not nearly as busy as Palenque or Chichen Itza. There are also horse drafters offering rides to and from the pyramids from further away. I was thoroughly impressed with Tonina and spent several hours here on the grounds, and climbing the steps or studying the pictures. If going there from San Cristobal or Palenque, make sure to go very early because the travel there takes a long time, and the road is slow, but make sure you don’t miss it if you’re following the pyramid trail.