Recommended reading on systemic design

Why do 54% of Icelandic people believe that elves exist?

What unique things happened in the national consciousness of Iceland; the land; the language; the culture? Headmaster of the Elf School Magnus Skarphedinsson explains it like this:

1. Most people in Iceland know somebody personally who has had an encounter with hidden people or elves.

Throughout its history Iceland has known difficult living conditions, with the long winters, unpredictable volcanos, times of not enough food, fishing accidents. At one time, one in four young men would die from fishing accidents. There are seemingly as many stories from a relative, grandparent, neighbor who have been helped in some way by kindly elves and hidden people. They have been rescued from being lost in the forest; were taken in from the cold, fed, and taken care of; were guided about when to go out fishing and when to stay on shore. Many of the accounts are about life and death survival moments.

2. The Age of Enlightenment did not arrive in Iceland until much later than the rest of Europe.

Being further away meant that the shift towards a clockwork universe did have the same impact. The price of the rationalistic way of thinking from the Enlightenment was a loss of faith. For Magnus, faith is the key to why in Iceland people have been able to hold on to their beliefs this far into the modern era.

In 1941 during WWII the British and American armies invaded Iceland. With it the Enlightenment arrived more quickly and is now cleaning the elves away.

How do you study elves, hidden people, and phenomena that not everyone experiences?

Magnus is a historian and has not personally had encounter with hidden people. He thinks that is because the elves know who he is. “Hidden People have described me as their worst enemy,” he said. “They think I’m some kind of maniac.”

He says that the only way to study them is through collecting accounts from people who have. By this point, he has taken more than 1,300 witness interviews and, convinced that we need to take this longstanding friendship more seriously, is always looking for more.

After doing this for 30 years Magnus is so well known that witnesses come up to him in the grocery stores with their accounts. But on a slow news day, he is known to go around town, asking anyone and everyone:

Psst, have you seen any elves?!

Walking thru nursing homes and talking to the elders is often particularly fruitful.

This phenomenological way of working is a similar approach taken by the Institute of Noetic Sciences in their rigorous studies about consciousness and the mind-body connection.


Interview with Magnus Skarphedinsson of the Elf School


Drawing in the Snow

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Two Rivers Talking

“Many years ago, a scientist from France came over [to our Aboriginal Australian community] and said, “Do you realize that Le Meuse is the oldest river in the world?” and he wondered why the elders did not get excited or challenge him.

When I went back to them that night, they said, “You are going back to France next week aren’t you?” Yes, I said. “That white man, he said that Le Meuse in France is the oldest river in the world — is that true?” I said, well from a science point of view, it may be at the time.

And they said, “Well what we want you to do is take some water from the Mardoowarra and you must walk and you must find the head waters of Le Meuse and you most go to Le Meuse and kneel and say that you have come, and that we have heard that you are the oldest river in the world, and so if you are the oldest river in the world, you will know what the humans have done. And we would like to ask you if you would like to share some of your memory

So I got some of the Mardoowarra and brought it to Le Meuse and wrote a play about the two rivers talking.”

— Australian Indigenous Elder Anne Poelina

Songlines and Ley Lines

There is memory stored in the land, in country, in place itself.

Song is our map.

“Dreamtime is not just a memory of the dawn of time when the ancestors sang the world into existence, it’s like an entire parallel universe so that you actually have a group of people – the aboriginals – who believe that there are two realities. And they lived in the phenomenological world but they also recognized that this phenomenological world only existed because it was going through their imagination.

And so when they walk the songlines, which were the trajectories walked at the dawn of time by the primary ancestors as they sang the world into being, they’re both walking across the Earth, but the Earth itself is also being formed just even as they see it. So everything is a constant act of creation. So if a stone exists as a stone but it’s also, they really believe it, it’s still being formed. It’s being formed even as you look at it.”

There are songs and dances for this land; the land itself is real and alive.

Ley lines

“Ley lines, then, form the matrix of energy which is the dynamic physical principle of the geological body of Earth. Ley lines are the essential structure of the etheric body of the Earth Spirit. To appreciate this, it can be helpful to imagine Earth as having no dense physical existence, but being only a globe of interconnected lines of electric energy, a sphere made up of webs of energy.

These lines vary in length from five miles to approximately two thousand miles; they are straight, but not dead straight and may over distance undulate gently. They also vary in width and in intensity of energy.”

William Bloom Leylines and Ecology

The land holds memory

“The land holds memory
Because it’s a living system
And when you start to have ceremony and start to communicate with the land, secrets will be revealed and things will come to you

Because there is a connectivity between the energy systems
I have been working with Victor Steffensen (author of Fire Country)
We actually brought him the Kimberley when we were given our land back
We thought that when we got our land back that because of the intensive pastoralism we had to start to plant things.
But he said No, you dont do that.

When you start to burn in the right way, country can feel that
And country will evoke its own memory
And the plants that were there before extensive pastoralism will come back
Because the land is alive
And the memory of the land…

The birds are part of it; the insects; all of the elements — fire, wind, water, land, stars, all inter-entwined
Because this is the balance of our law
We have to do as our old people say:
Read the signs
The land can teach us.”

— Australian Indigenous Elder Anne Poelina of Regenerative Songlines Australia and many other projects

On Human Dignity

If we realize, “I am a human being. A human being can do anything,” this determination, courage, and self-confidence are important sources of victory and success.

Without will power and determination, even something that you might have achieved easily cannot be achieved. If you have will power and reasonable courage —not blind courage but courage without pride — even things that seemed impossible at a certain stage turn into being possible because of continuing effort inspired by that courage. Thus, determination is important.

How can this be developed?

Not through machines, not by money, but by our own inner strength based on clear realization of the value of human beings, of human dignity.

For, once we realize that a human being is much more than just material, much more than just money, we can feel the importance of human life, from which we can feel the importance of compassion and kindness.

Human beings by nature want happiness and do not want suffering.

With that feeling everyone tries to achieve happiness and tries to get rid of suffering, and everyone has the basic right to do this.

In this way, all here are the same, whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, Easterner or Westerner, believer or nonbeliever, and within believers whether Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and so on.

Basically, from the viewpoint of real human value we are all the same.”

Tenzing Gyatso Kindness, Clarity, and Insight


Radical Joy


Active volcano at Geldingadalir, Iceland, where the European and American tectonic plates meet. May 2021.

What is the nucleus, the kernel, the hot core of human life?

Three kinds of life energy

Jan Jacob Stam describes thee forms of life energy:

1. Explosive energy
It works randomly; when it is blocked it can feel like extreme frustration; when it unblocks it can feel like a volcano exploding; affecting anybody in its path no matter who they are

2. Killing energy
has victim perpetrator within it. underlying is the unspoken sentence “I want to kill you; I want to get rid of you.” Can feel like a soldier, executing someone else’s strong energy that they may be still holding.

3. Warrior energy
is not against something; it is in favor of doing something, moving something, creating the cracks where the light comes in. One can work a garden with warrior energy, practically forcing plants to grow; deciding where is the energy directed to.