100 Good Things From 2021

This self-portrait was taken on my 35th birthday in Whitby.
I was almost caught by the tide about half an hour before this photo was shot.
  1. Venturing into nude self-portraiture. It still feels madly surreal to know how far I went with this.
  2. This quote from one of my favourite authors, Lucy H Pearce. “I am she who sees what cannot be seen, who knows what cannot be known, who speaks what cannot be said.” 
  3. Writing and publishing my poetry collection People of the Sea IceIf you’ve been here a while, you’ll know why this is such a feat. If you haven’t been here a while, you should know that in 2019-2020 I went through the worst depressive episode of my life. And, late 2020, I contemplated suicide, predominantly because writing was impossible, and I was convinced I’d never again write another poem, let alone an entire book of them. 
  4. People of the Sea Ice being accepted into the Scott Polar Research Institute LibraryTrue story. It will be catalogued and on the shelves in January. I’m going to go and visit it in its forever home. 
  5. The scan that confirmed the lump in my breast wasn’t cancer. 
  6. The blood tests that confirmed my stomach issues weren’t connected to ovarian cancer. To this day, the doctors don’t know why I was experiencing early satiation and near-constant stomach pain. Even an endoscopy couldn’t provide answers. 
  7. This interview I did with Beyond Man
  8. Finding my best friend. In 2017, a French Canadian man called Nafre contacted me from his home on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. He’d stumbled across my spoken word album Arctic Fever and was madly curious to know about the background to my poem Beluga. He wanted to know if I’d ever ventured to the High Arctic because the details I included in the poem read as though I had. I said ‘nope’, and he said ‘no way,’ and I said ‘yes way,’ or something along those lines. Anyways, after several years of being friends on Facebook, we started having good, lengthy conversations, and since then, we’ve never stopped. We are proud best friends. Nafre edited People of the Sea Ice, helped with the artwork for Daughters of the North and has, essentially, been the most extraordinary life coach I could have hoped the old gods would send my way. I’ve sent gift packages to his gorgeous family in Iqaluit, and he’s sent packages to little old me in the UK. Some of the most treasured things he’s sent include a pair of walrus whisker earrings, a narwhal tusk hairpin and fur from his husky. He calls me his Sister of Blizzards. I call him Wendigo. If I ever get married, he will initiate the ceremony. If he dies before me, I’ll read a poem at his funeral. I wouldn’t, and I couldn’t be without him, his infinite wisdom, wise crack jokes and solid life advice. 
  9. My first ceremonial cacao. In November 2021, I met an Icelander called Moli. He is wise and hilarious (his Norwegian accent makes me ridiculously gleeful), and his company is addictive. He also knows a lot about cacao. He invited me for ceremonial cacao, and, utterly intrigued, I went along. Moli combined non-dairy milk, cacao chopped straight from the block, vanilla, date syrup, and spices – cinnamon, ginger and cardamon if I remember right. What he gave to me was, and I don’t use this word lightly, divine. I was all kinds of stressed when I’d arrived at his place, but after drinking the cacao, I was blissed out in a gentle and freeing way that I’d never been before. I’m considering making it a daily ritual. 
  10. Receiving such a good massage, I was ill the day afterwards. The massage was Moli’s handiwork (literally) as he released years of tension and built-up toxins. My upper back, ribs, neck and face were, in his words, ‘rocks’ before he worked his magic. The massage wasn’t relaxing per se. It was one of those ‘this hurts so good, and I know I’m going to benefit massively’ sorts of massages, i.e. THE BEST. The following day I was fluey, exhausted and didn’t leave my bed until mid-afternoon.
  11. Creatrix – She Who Makes by Lucy H Pearce. One of the three most important books I read in 2021. Her other book, She Of The Sea, is also excellent. 
  12. Writing and releasing Cave Mouth’s third album, Daughters of the North. I was almost as determined to put out an album with Cave Mouth in 2021 as I was writing and publishing a new book. Daughters of the North was picked up by Non Posse Mori Records for release on CD in 2022. The album was launched digitally back in December. 
  13. This collaboration. And this collaboration. And this collaboration. All with @eyeswideshut75
  14. The man I met on Tinder who came to my rescue after a family dispute. He’s called Sean. He’s the most talented glass blower on Teesside. He has incredible hair. He makes a really good cup of tea. His heart is humungous. 
  15. This interview I did with Mirusbella.
  16. Photographing Addi from Solstafir. My hands were trembling when I typed a message to Addi and asked if he would be up for a photoshoot. It was probably one of the bravest things I did last year because, believe it or not, I can be most timid. When he said sure, I rejoiced. Anyway, Addi was lovely and ever so patient with foolish little me who decided it would be a great opportunity to use my new camera for the first time. The photoshoot was enjoyable and laidback, and I was happy, happy, happy with the results. 
  17. AndkristniThe 20th Anniversary of Iceland’s Annual Antichristian Festival was the second festival I went to in Iceland in 2021. I attended the first, Ascension, with such a heavy heart I can hardly even remember which bands I watched. I only went for one and a half days out of the four, too. I was so miserable I just couldn’t hack it. Andkristni, though, I was raring to go, and it was some of the most fun I had in 2021. 
  18. My friend Örlygur. He laughs at my jokes which means he’s probably one of the loveliest Icelanders on the continent of Iceland. (You have to watch Ari Eldjarn on Netflix to get the ‘Continent of Iceland’ joke. His music (of which there is a lot, he’s in most of Iceland’s black metal bands) is also outrageously good. 
  19. Creating the album art for a highly respected Swedish black metal band. I can’t tell you which band it is yet, but it was the most challenging and simultaneously brilliant solo photography project I’ve done, and I’m most proud. 
  20. Discovering DyflizaIt was the Folk Horror Revival page on Facebook where I found out about Dyfliza, a Dark Dungeon Music project from Iceland. It transpired to be some of the best DDM since Mortiis. I became friends with the musicians – Hrafnsunna and her boyfriend Josef, even getting the opportunity to photograph them. They gave me the original photograph (framed!) used on their debut album Morkinsálmar and handwritten lyrics. I’ll take a photo and show you sometime. 
  21. Seeing the Northern Lights for the first time. It was Halloween. I was too ill to go to a costume party, so I was pissed off and feeling sorry for myself. My friend Hrafnsunna messaged me and said the lights were out. I threw on my coat, put on my boots without doing them up and launched myself out the front door. I watched them, and I cried, and I gasped, and I laughed, and when a French man said ‘your dream?’ I said, ‘Yes, my dream.’
  22. Being accepted for a writing residency in Iceland. It’s where I’m writing to you from now. 
  23. Collaborating with Lagomorphosis to create a music video for the Cave Mouth song Angrboda. And collaborating with @eyeswideshut75 to make a video for the Cave Mouth song Sedna.
  24. Cave Mouth merchandise. I haven’t got used to wearing my own band’s band top. I don’t think I ever will. 
  25. Hares on the Mountain by Shirley Collins. 
  26. The Weeping Song covered by The Bastard Collective.
  27. The research meeting I had with Jón Páll Björnsson, the curator of The Settlement Exhibition in Reykjavik. If you’re interested in listening to the conversation we had about winter in Viking Age Iceland, you can listen to the whole thing on Patreon. 
  28. Hannibal. I don’t watch much TV, but Hannibal did it for me.
  29. The gift of a handmade ritual knife with a jaw bone for a handle from my shaman sister and bandmate, Meghan. 
  30. Taking a social media sabbatical. One of the very best things I did for my health last year. 
  31. Having Cave Mouth’s second album, The Dark Has Teeth released on CD by Non Posse Mori Records. 
  32. FINALLY becoming the owner of a felted wool collar from Dajana Heremic. 
  33. My SIGIL crystal necklace. I’ve been aching to support my friend Anita with her business SIGIL for the longest of times. In 2021 I bought this necklace. 
  34. Receiving gifts of bones from a Facebook friend in Ireland. 
  35. L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine. I started taking these supplements to try improve my memory and focus. Surprisingly, they work. They really work. 
  36. The Terror. Another TV show that satisfied. 
  37. Foxfire, Wolfskin by Sharon Blackie. The best short story collection I’ve ever read. The writing is rich and dense and gorgeous and satisfying—compulsive reading. 
  38. Blogging on Wyrd Words & Effigies every day in January. 
  39. Reading seventy books, thereabouts. 
  40. Managing my depression more effectively than any time in the past decade. 
  41. To Build A Fire, the short story by Jack London. 
  42. Creating and uploading my perfectly cringe worthy video on how to *eat brunost (Norwegian brown cheese.)
  43. Relaunching my Etsy shop and selling prints of my photography for the first time. 
  44. Esja. I’ve developed this most profound relationship with the mountain that watches over Reykjavik. ‘The North has you,’ it seems to say. ‘You’re safe here.’
  45. Transcendental sex. There have been occasions this year where, during sex, I came, and I went somewhere else. I’ve started to feel empowered during sex, and the witch shows herself. 
  46. Moving away from a vegan diet. Predominantly. I still drink non-dairy milk, and I enjoy a lot of vegan foods. 2021 was plagued with stomach issues. Adopting a carnivorous diet helped me heal.
  47. Feigd. I formed an excellent friendship with Jan from the brilliant Sognametal band Feigd, and we created a song together. It came about because Jan asked how my stomach was doing. I said not good and that I’d had my blood taken for analysis. He went onto say ‘the answers must be in the blood,’ and I said, ‘we’re making that into a song,’ and we did. 
  48. Your darkness is welcome here. 
  49. Patreon. The gratefulness I have for this platform and for the people who willingly offer up their hard-earned money to support me on my wyrd creative journey through this most strange human experience is of a size impossible to comprehend. 
  50. Under The Stars: A Journey Into Light by Matt Gaw. A superbly written, eye opening book about the power of the lights of night. I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. 
  51. There’s something kind of magic about posting once a day. Austin Kleon talking about blogging every day.
  52. Enslaved’s cover of Röyksopp’s song What Else Is There. 
  53. Núll. This depressive black/doom band from Iceland created what I think, what I really, really feel might be one of my favourite albums ever. Check out their album Entity
  54. Going to bed with a book, my notebook, a pen. Most of my ideas come in the time I spend reading before bed.  
  55. Friends who understand I need solitude to function and that I’m not being neglectful of our relationships when I disappear for a while. 
  56. The creak of snow underfoot. The most special ‘creak’ of my life came when the first snow fell in Reykjavik, and I went out onto the street I was living on and put my prints down on the cold white blanket.
  57. What is a bunad? Proud of this article on my blog, The Girl With Cold Hands.
  58. Feeling confident enough to call myself a photographer.
  59. The Terror. An outstanding drama series based on Dan Simmons fictional re-telling of the fated Franklin expedition. It was one of those shows where I was like, ‘Well, this was clearly made for me!’
  60. Marghöfða dýrið and the staggeringly strong release Djöfladýrkun under jökli. 
  61. Discovering Kælan Mikla and their album Undir Köldum Norðurljósum. When I saw them live, I died and rose and died again. 
  62. Experiencing a profound connection to Hel. I honoured her by blogging about her, putting her at the focus of a Cave Mouth song, portraying her through my photography and wearing a pendant in her image around my throat.  
  63. My band mate Meghan’s side project Heksebrann and the album Eljudnir
  64. My interview with the incomparable Bogwitch.
  65. The obsession I developed with Jon Henrik Fjällgren’s song Daniel’s Joik. I listened to it on repeat for weeks when I was writing People of the Sea Ice. 
  66. Winter storm ambience. What I also listened to when writing. 
  67. The ravens of Reykjavik. 
  68. London Fog. Essentially, an Earl Grey latte. Earl Grey mixed with steamed milk and vanilla syrup. I tried mine at Eldur og Ís in Reykjavik. Sex is good. But London Fog is almost better. 
  69. Dried fish with butter. It smelt like fish food. But fuck me, it’s delicious, especially when teamed up with some good butter. 
  70. Tinder. It led me to some astoundingly good interactions, some astoundingly good sex, and some astoundingly good friendships. Who would have thought?
  71. Cave Mouth’s first interview. 
  72. Icelandic comedian Ari Eldjarn and his Netflix show Pardon My Icelandic. No other comedian can compare, so don’t even try to change my mind. 
  73. Lamb. I took myself on a date to see Lamb. It was disturbing and beautiful and brilliant. If I ignore the last part of the film, I can easily say it’s one of the best things I’ve seen. The soundtrack too. Gods alive. I’ve listened to it so many times I’ve lost count. 
  74. Steindor Andersen. Introduced via Solstafir. 
  75. Solstafir live. Words don’t do it justice. 
  76. All my friends in Iceland who’ve put up with me and my erratic moods. 
  77. Old Tower. 
  78. The heart of another is a dark forest—this hard-hitting Russian proverb. 
  79. Winning an auction for 700 moose teeth. The lot, which came from Sweden, weighed fourteen kilos. I’ve been handing them out to the good people I meet and admire.   
  80. Wendigo by Mary McCaslin. 
  81. Being warm in Iceland. I’ve never been cold inside an Icelandic home. Never, ever, ever. In England, I’m cold most of the time. 
  82. This felted wool collar from Filzfein.
  83. Blood, Fire, Death: The Swedish Metal Story by Ika Johannesson and Jon Jefferson Klingberg. 
  84. The art of Foldweg. 
  85. Being able to give a fox fur a good home. My fox was culled in Poland as part of ‘population management,’ the idea of which haunts me. I brought him home from eBay for £65. 
  86. Finding out a sheep’s ribcage makes a beautiful crown. 
  87. Not being swept out to sea on my 35th birthday. I was on the beach at Whitby and almost caught out by the tide. 
  88. Perlego. An affordable online library with genuinely good books
  89. Increasing my collection of lusekofte and lopapeysa. For those of you who don’t know, I collect Nordic knits. 
  90. Reykjavik City Library. Probably the best library in the world. 
  91. The poem that my best friend wrote for me when I was having a rough old time. 
  92. Learning Blackhall Rocks exists. Sea caves to die for. 
  93. Turmeric latte. 
  94. Making it through several months of trauma therapy and finally getting over the relationship that had me forget who I was. 
  95. Experiencing the darkness of an Icelandic winter. 
  96. Finally paying for a food sensitivity test and discovering what foods I should avoid. I can’t say I was delighted with the results. Wheat, cheese and salmon are three things I shouldn’t even be looking at. 
  97. My friend Moli picking me up from Keflavik airport after a nerve racking journey. On our way back to Reykjavik he pulled the car over in a lava field so we could eat a picnic of pistachio pastries, tea and brunost (which he’d gone through the trouble of slicingg beforehand) with crackers. 
  98. When I didn’t go blind in one eye when I accidentally used camera sensor cleaning fluid instead of eyedrops. 
  99. The Icelandic accent. 
  100. This line from my best friend Nafre – Keep that frigid nightmare screaming for poetry and your enemies.

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