A Viking Dream

We found out this year through the Ancestry DNA test that we have 10 to 15 percent Scandinavian blood in my paternal family; meaning I descend in part from Old Norsemen and Vikings! Ever since, I have been thinking of the Vikings and seeing a strange Newfoundland beach in my dreams, and drawing my own Viking ship….



So this season I have been researching Vikings in Newfoundland and Viking art and culture.

I feel like I have found my way home, and sense that ‘my people’ have been misunderstood for at least 1000 years! I mean I know some of the Vikings were raiders and plunderers, but we weren’t always  bad asses, all the time. The good ones left behind amazing works of art, carved boats and stones, and churches; I sense in their art a love for nature and golden circles.

In fact, I found a website that lists English words that derived from Viking words, and it starts by saying:

“How many loanwords from Old Nose are there in the standard English language? Viking origin of the words ‘ransack’ and ‘slaughter’ probably would not surprise anyone, but very “peaceful” words like ‘leg’, ‘sky’ or ‘window’ are also of Scandinavian provenance.” – Viking Words in English

Reading these ancient words,  I felt some wheels turning in my mind; My mind that can half understand the words and can be shaken whenever I hear them. And I remember walking into a Stave Church in Norway, once….

Stave church of Heddal, Norway, painting of the Heddal stave church by Johannes Flintoe (1828)

The Stave church of Heddal, Norway: painting by Johannes Flintoe (1828)

In fact, it turns out then whenever I say words like birth, die, sky or window, I am using the words of my ancestors! Hail hail, to my set of peaceful Norsemen, the type that went to the stave church  …. hail, hail!

Here are some other Old Norse words, and my instant reactions and feelings about them:

anger – (ON angr ‘grief’) [1220-1250]

I also find it very  interesting that the word angry is related to the word grief.  As an artist and sensitive person, I can carry a lot of grief.  It is better to express the grief in my art and poetry, than to get angrier.

I am not an angry type of person, despite what some people may experience my heart is full of peace …. even as I shout and scream for respect at times. And in my dreams, my own Viking people are NOT the violent raiders or the plunderers, but my people are the explorers and artisans who became the settlers and who just loved the world. I just don’t have angry dreams…

die – (ON deyja) [1016-1150]

Wow, deyja is about as deep and heart rendering, as you can go; to learn the word comes from a Viking Old Norse is… just awesome.

fellow – (ON félagi) [before 1016]

Now this is interesting, because I love the words fellow and fellowship; and the word felagi sounds even more fun: Hey felagi, lets sail across the ocean today and see Vindland….

sky – (ON skie ‘cloud’) [1220-1250]

I like to hear that this word comes from the Viking word for cloud; as the Vikings sailed the seas they were always surrounded by the sky and clouds, attune with the elements,  more aware of the sky as a misty cloud than as a clear day, and probably also more aware of the aurora and the stars, than the land-locked folks.

trust – (ON traust) [c.1250]

I love these concepts, good for you Vikings, you learn when to trust, you learn when not to. You are who you are. You form trust and you lose trust.

window – (ON vindauga ‘wind eye’) [1220-1250]

I think this concept of windows, has been in my dreams, my entire life. I draw and I paint windows.  I look out of windows and dream about them; I see the world in the window of my eye.  I love to look out.  I love the wind.

See also, these linked articles about Viking art:

It’s Small, But It’s Mine

Here are some more of my poem fragments that I had scribbled in a notebook this year, and recently turned up again.

It’s small.
It’s old.
It’s crazy.
But it’s Mine.

My mom is sick
Must I see this
with all these eyes?
Can’t I love her
for who she is
and not listen to anyone
but her love and wisdom?

When someone is losing their mind,
You have but the Love
and life and light
of your love.
You don’t have reason. Just love.

votive in a scallop shell with flame

An Artist’s Action Items … Rebuilding

The Artist’s Action Items after a WILD fire:

Thank God that
Makers Make and
Makers do not rest…
Beginning with Mother Nature
Who kindly brings
naught but fresh rain and green grass.


After: The site of the once astonishing Red Round Barn. In remembrance. Photo by Irene Rowley, December 2017.

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Sonoma Fires Part 2: Trees on Fire!

The Santa Rosa fires were of epic proportion. Here is a current page from my creative journal. I titled this drawing, My Memory of Trees on Fire!


It is a sketch of trees that I see along the 101 Freeway after the fire. You can see the handprint of the edge of the fire, where a green tree ends and black trees start. continue reading

Celebrating Octoberfest in Squaw Valley

Octoberfest lady dancing, by Irene RowleyDid you know there was a Octoberfest festival in Squaw Valley, California, with snow?  I did not know…  I went to the Sierras for the autumn colors, and because I loved the mountains. If you have been following me, you know the Sierra Mountains are one of my favorite destinations. So I went to Squaw Valley this season.

Irene, First snow, Squaw Valley, photo by Irene Rowley

I loved the first snow in Squaw Valley …

I found Squaw Valley was a little village nestled under steep and beautiful granite mountains. They were untouched by snow, at least the day I arrived… continue reading