“Some say the world will end in fire. Some say in ice.” -Robert Frost

From what we writers know of desire, Robert Frost aptly expresses what it feels like when the words won’t come: a cataclysm of fire and ice. We burn to create. But we’re impeded by the cold, hard refusal of writer’s block.

The Runic Journey reminds us how valuable a hard freeze can be in its discussion of the Nordic rune Isa:

In modern symbology, fire is generally masculine and ice (or earth) is feminine, but it is unknown whether the Norse shared this association. Certainly, ice was a constant factor in their day to day lives. It threatened their crops and their ships almost throughout the year, but it also served as a symbol of creation, from which all life will eventually spring. It says something about the Norse mind that they could recognize the need to have such a seemingly destructive joining of elements in order to create and maintain life. Fire may be warm and pleasant, but it must be balanced by the freezing of winter just as birth must be balanced by death. Even the little death of sleep has been proven to be vital for our mental and physical well-being.

Isa encompasses all of these ideas, but primarily represents a period of rest before activity, and itself forms the material from which life can be created. It is matter, inert by itself, but transformed into the stuff of stars when wedded with energy. It is the immovable form acted upon the irresistible force. In many ways, the Norse predicted Einstein with their version of the creation of the universe, recognizing that everything in their world contained both fire and ice (energy and matter), and that the relationship between the two defined the processes of life itself.

Rather than panic and declare a creative apocalypse, we can actually use writer’s block as period of rest that precedes one of creativity.

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