Of Norseisism and Happy Scorn-Poles

«Hei Oslo! Dette er en blidstang.
Jeg vender denne blidstang mot
deg, fordi jeg haper du har en fin
dag! Og jeg haper alle folka som
bor her har en fin dag! Og jeg haper
alle nissene, landvettene og andre
ander som bor her har en ekstra
spesielt fin dag, sa de kan hjelpe
resten av oss med a ha en fin dag!
Takk for meg, hilsen Peter

«Hi Oslo! This is a happy pole.
I turn this happy pole towards
you, because I hope you have a fine
day! And I hope all folks who
live here have a fine day! And I hope
all nisse, land spirits, and other
spirits who live here have an extra
special fine day, so they can help
the rest of us with having a fine day!
Thanks from me, regards Peter»

Thus declared Peter Horneland his humble hopes towards the residents of Oslo, harkening back to a magical, bygone era in which deranged, homicidal Icelandic poets would curse bloodthirsty Norwegian kings and queens with decapitated horse heads impaled upon wooden poles carved with runes. But there are some key differences: Peter’s nidstång (scorn pole) is actually a blidstang (happy pole) featuring a severed head of cauliflower bleeding blackcurrant syrup rather than a horse’s head bleeding horse blood, and he’s wishing all the corporeal and incorporeal residents of the area a good day rather than damning them with misery and restlessness till they’ve driven out the reigning monarchs (as Egill Skallagrímsson did against Erik Bloodaxe and Gunnhild with his notorious nidstång). Combining Norse cultural references with absurdity, this is public art at its best.

Peter Horneland is a Norwegian artist and vitki (Norse pagan sorcerer) practicing in Oslo via a variety of media whose work focuses on the interplay of art, technology, and occultism. Since 2010 his work has been exhibited and performed in Norway, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Italy. There’s a thread of humor through many of his projects as well as critical commentary on our present-day society. Of particular relevance for a website dedicated to general Norseness and viking paraphernalia such as this is Norseisism, Peter’s project that focuses on modern-day mundanity as articulated in a manner inspired by and representative of ancient runic messages from the Viking Age. The project exists across a variety of media and these are just a few of the specimens from the collection (with their English language translations):

I Peter carve these runes/
with a batterydriven Dremel/
after two years study in Rotterdam/
coming home to quarantine and/
everything closed down : got so depr/
essed this winter that I quit/
smoking tobacco : slightly better now

bread / milk / toiletpaper / snus

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There’s a lot of interesting work documented on Peter’s website, not all of it related to the Norse theme, and one of my personal favorites that falls in that category is 7 Days from Now. A couple image of this one are featured below, but if you have a sense of humor, do yourself a favor by visiting the project’s webpage.

You can definitely while away some time perusing Peter’s projects online, and I suggest you do so. And in the spirit of his happy pole, I hope you all have a fine day, and that the glitch-demons lurking your various devices also have a fine day, so that they can help you have a fine day without any technological fatal errors!

And of course, the images here all belong to Peter himself and the happy pole and Dremel-carved rune stone images are courtesy of Jason Havneraas.