I was invited as a special guest speaker and trainer to talk about Indian myths parallel to myths from the Norwegian folk tales at a Folk house school in Kristanstad -Northern part of Norway.
I was lucky to be invited for both training and sharing stories to the young students . Traveling that far I also planned to visit the Fjords to experience the path of the Vikings. Vikings were the seafaring Norse people from southern Scandinavia (in present-day Denmark, Norway and Sweden) who from the late 8th to late 11th centuries pirated, raided and traded from their Northern European homelands across wide areas of Europe, and explored westward to Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland.
I traveled overnight by a train from Gothenberg in Sweden to Kristanstad in Norway. I was welcomed by my host at the Folk high school (folkehøgskole )- (Norway has nearly 70 such schools that offer theatre and Arts for two years if you have finished high school and would like to attend a Folk High school. )
What Is a Folk High School?
Folk high schools (folkehøgskole) are often called the world's freest schools. These schools have no grades, no rigid curriculum and no exams. We happen to believe that you learn better without this kind of pressure.
At a folk high school, you get to practice what you learn, not merely immerse yourself in its theory. Supervised and encouraged by dedicated teachers, you find yourself a member of a small class, generally consisting of only 10 to 20 students.
A folk high school year lasts nine months, from August to May. Most students attend folk high schools right after graduating from high school (upper secondary school). Most folk high school students are between 18 and 25 years, but a few schools accept 16-year-olds, too. No folk high school has an upper age limit.
These are scheduled classes that all students at the school attend together. They can be anything, from literature, choir, dance, physical activity, social science, Saturday seminars and philosophy.
My train passed through the icy rivers and it was paradise on Earth. Little waterfalls of ice and ice fields stretched throughout the journey. The train even stopped at a station called FINSE where cycles were parked on both sides of the railway track that was built across the lakes of water and ice. The waves would come and splash on the sides of the platforms. Most of the platforms were empty and for an Indian it seemed as if people never existed. As I took the bus first to my host at the Folkhouse theatre school I passed through the Sognsvann lake.
It was late evening and there were boats with tiny lanterns hanging and truly it looked like Heaven on Earth. To me it seemed as if the Gods were waiting to ferry you across to the other world. Having completed my assignment I was excited to travel by the cruise to the Fjords.
I only heard the waves lap the sides of the cruise and stretch themselves towards the mountain’s feet so gently that they looked like mermaids at sea. The Meditative journey made me unaware of my existence until the cold winds tried to whisper the mysteries of the fjords in my ears.
As I looked up at the twilight sky and then the mountain it felt like they were unfolding the mysteries of a bygone era as they stood dark and majestic on both sides of the sea. THAT MOMENT helped me touch the doorway of my inner self. I felt both awe and wonder at the same time. The Silence was sacred.
This was the Gudvangen Fjord I was passing through. The word “fjord” is originally Old Norse and means "a place used for passage and ferrying". The fjords are a proof that the Vikings had their roots here.The waterfalls of Kjelfossen was breathtaking. It is one of the highest waterfalls in Norway. The falls are located near the village of Gudvangen in Vestland county. With a total fall height of 705 metres,the waterfall is listed as the 18th tallest waterfall in the world.
What is a fjord?
A fjord is a story of water, ice and mountains. Fjords are long, narrow inlets with steep sides or cliffs. They are formed through glaciers deepening existing valleys, and water and ice gradually wearing down the mountain masses.
In Norway, we have had a total of 40 ice ages of varying durations. During each of the ice ages, ice, melt water and gravel have worn away the rock. The result after each ice age is deeper and deeper valleys. The glaciers, water and gravel eventually carve out such a deep valley that the sea starts to flood in. This is how the Norwegian fjords were created.
The Norwegian fjords are truly a stunning sight to behold. I reached Bergen from where I had to take the train back to Gothenberg Sweden.
Well as I alighted I only missed one thing. No semblance of vegetarian food and I was hungry having had some baked potatoes for breakfast. I finally took the two sides of the bread they use for the hamburgers and added some Mustard and ate it hungrily. My mind was full…
Man will never be able to see the true nature of life and death, as long as he believes himself to be an independent entity- an inevitable byproduct of ego.
How and by what means then, can we break though and transcend our habitual ways of life which is also Non creative? It is for each one of us to seek and strive to add that little Cosmic way to help our fellow citizens to see the Limitless possibilities of nature and strengthen the positive thoughts of living and Dying to the past meaningless ways and mend ourselves to help our Earth.
Norway and Oral tradition
In the 1300s, The Black Death touched two-thirds of Norway’s population, which left them economically and politically disadvantaged for years. With the deaths of so many of their clergymen, who also happened to be the few people at the time who knew how to write, Norwegian literature and folklore would remain an oral tradition for a good 250-300 years more. During the Middle Ages, the rest of Europe was writing down poetry and prose, but Norway had only their oral traditions to rely on for the preservation of their history, customs, knowledge and stories.
Norwegian folk tales breathe life into the glaciers and fjords where spirits dwell and trolls make their homes. Simultaneously grotesque and quaint, Norwegian fairy tales are anything but a nursery or children’s story. Sometimes Norwegian fairy tales are downright scary, but in being so, they are also gripping and exciting.