Travelling in Iceland: among the Norse and the Viking land
If you are considering travelling to Iceland, here is an excerpt from ROOT AND WINGS: adventures of a spirit on earth, by Jack Haas. It is a unique account of the author's experience and perspective of this idiosyncratic island in the North Atlantic.
"The Kerouac of the new millenium." Frank Wolf (author of Blind Bay)
    As much as I have within me an East Indian yogini, an Irish monk, a Native American scout, a Teutonic barbarian, and a French decadent, so also do I contain a peaceless, wanderlusting Norseman. It cannot be otherwise, for I have been to most of the Viking Countries, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, and Iceland, and I can see no other reason why I have been drawn or guided to all such places.
     Perhaps this accounts for a certain amount of my estrangement to the rest of the world, for I consider the Vikings to have been the original astronauts of the earth- the ones who would launch themselves into the unknown, to the ends of the earth, for no better reason than they could not keep still. In this way did those northern gypsies roam the harsh and unforgiving North Atlantic for more than a millennium, discovering North America no less than five-hundred years before Columbus- that southern European homebody- who, being not quite as nautically skilled as the Norsemen, landed a mere fifteen-thousand kilometers from his intended destination, and then proudly declared that he had reached …India.
     The Vikings, however, found what they were looking for- solitude. For the Norseman's soul is the soul of loneliness. Not a loneliness like the Celtic soul, which has been transformed and made beautiful and inviting through its music and poetic melancholy- but the loneliness of the north itself, of the rocks, reefs, icebergs, and seas which the Norse came to inhabit. The Norse soul is the most distant soul within the entire occidental family, though it is a soul which belongs to all of us, for we are all part Viking, barbarian, wanderer, and nomad, cold and peaceless and wild within.
     …In the austere, unforgiving landscape of Iceland, I found that I did not love the earth because of the trees, the birds, the warmth, or fruit, but that I loved the earth for itself. Because to camp in Iceland, in the barren, harsh, and windswept living land, is to find no fecund adornments wrapping the ground in swollen spectacle, but instead to stand or lay upon the bare earth, the unclothed Mother, and to suckle the beauty of Her being in a shivering, disquieting, intimate embrace.
     It was in Iceland that I finally overcame my personal need to return again and again to the thriving, sustaining plenitude of the magnificent west coast Canadian wilderness, for I had now lain with the naked Mother in that northern land pregnant with Her supernatural spirit, and there I adored Her.
     I say supernatural because Iceland is a vibrant region supporting the mythological world. Here one finds Mt. Hekla, under which it is said exists the theoretical gates of Hell. Here also is Mt. Snaefelsness, which was Jules Verne's inspiration for his story Journey to the Center of the Earth. And here one sees a netherworldly quality in the land, where mountains are not mere rocks but are the castles of elves, and hills are not simply inanimate bulges but are living mounds of the Mother.
     Iceland, like Hawaii, is a land only recently tortured by the encroachment of mankind proper, for it did not receive its first humanoids until the tenth century AD, and this fact, more than anything, could explain why the Mother is still billowing with primordial delight there.
     It is also a land still holding the spirits of its first inhabitants- the Irish monks, who came seeking even a more remote location than Stelig Michael for their otherworldly piety. And it contains the remnants of the Vikings with their Norse Gods, as well as a plethora of mythical creatures such as gnomes, faeries, elves, hobbits, and trolls, for these earth-spirits still find favor not only in the land but also in the minds of many Icelanders even today, and I can vouch for a strong sense of these nether-realm beings, whose dwellings lurk within the land, just on the other side of our realm, but continuous with it, and involved with it.
    … Iceland is one of the rare places on earth where the Father and Mother [aspects of God] are each a substantial presence.
As stated earlier, He resides in the ancestral Norse spirits who worshiped Odin, the All Father, and in the Christian Monks who worshiped God the Father. And even to this day, the culture is so bound to that patriarchal polarity, that Iceland is the only place on earth, to my knowledge, that has a Phallological Museum- a museum of penises from species all over the world.
     And yet the Mother is equally as strong in Iceland, for She resides in the living, gurgling land of fire and ice, and in the Tolkienesque remains of the realm of earth-spirits. And so the Mother and Father aspects of God exist together there, as dramatically as anywhere on earth, and they do so in a subtle harmony which might be capable of occurring only on such a remote island, battered constantly by rain and wind, hidden in perpetual fog, in a northern sea, which is yet a land warmed by the living blood of the volcanic earth, bubbling just inches beneath the surface. ...
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