Thursday, June 24, 2004

Dreams in the shortest night
If you are a young girl, unmarried and eager to know if you will ever find your true love, you should have picked seven different wild flowers last night, put them under your pillow and gone to bed. You should have done this in silence, and as you fell asleep he would be there, in your dreams: the one to share your life.

I did this many times, in the midsummer nights of childhood, but somehow I never managed to stay silent and draw the dreams in. Instead I was awake way past midnight, watching the bonfires. The fires burning along the fjords and in the mountains this night are to scare the witches, who gather to celebrate, as well as any other dark spirits, who would start gathering strength as the sun turns. There is a fierce optimism and a whole row of fertility rites connected to midsummer, St. John's day, Jonsok. To ensure your fertility until next summer, you should walk three times around a natural spring, naked, and then you should bathe in it. To keep pestilence from your sheets (and so, your bed), you should spread them on the churchyard and leave them past midnight. But at the same time it is a night of melancholy and loss.

After this night, the shortest of all, darkness approaches. Last night was the most beautiful midsummer night in many years, and I sat on the veranda until sunset, watching the pink and purple fade in to pale delicate blue, as the shadows lightly touched the darkgreen mountains. In this pale imitation of a night, the potential of darkness is perhaps more powerful than at midwinter, as summer and light feels so fragile. A cloud can darken the long days, rain can wash this pale palette into grey.

And so, it is a night for dreams, for sleeping uneasily and for waking up with your mind filled with portents of the future.

What I dreamt tonight? Oddly, I think I had wings - slick dragon wings of steel-grey ribs and silvery membranes. They would mirror that pastel sunset and reflect a flash of fading sunlight as I soared above the mountains.

Picture nicked from

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