Jesus Christ, the holy spirit, witchcraft, loneliness, remote beaches and Iceland
A book excerpt from the Iconoclast Press online library.
Iceland is a land of lost witchcraft and wizardry, of sagas, battles, slaves, and seamen. And though I have often wondered why I had been guided to go there, what I had accomplished, what I had found, and what I had learned- queries which to this day I remain without concrete answers- I know that on that isolated rock, alone in the grey chill of an arctic day, I met again the Christ within us all, because, in many ways, Christ is the loneliness within us all.
This came about on an empty, magnificent, endless black-sand beach on the south coast, where I camped alone for a number of days near the end of my month-long stay. Staring out towards an empty sea, as I stared out towards the North Atlantic on that trip, is, I have found, a great way to wash away all but that Christ-loneliness within ourselves, and to enter into the self which hides within the self. In this way do we encounter not only our most intimate being, but we invert our vision, looking now inward rather than out, which helps the third eye open, because the third eye is spirit, not flesh, and so, by looking out to the unblemished sea, our sight can find no object on which to rest, and therefore all vision ceases to focus on ‘things’, and instead slowly changes direction, and looks towards home.
I have sat on many beaches in such a way, staring out to sea, and I have walked on many of those desolate beaches all around the world, in such isolated haunts as the Queen Charlotte Islands, the west coast of Vancouver Island, the Alaskan panhandle, the fabulous Wharariki beach on the south island of New Zealand, hidden beaches on Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii, the endless shores of County Donegal, Ireland, and even the massive stretches of more accessible shores on Santorini, and Goa, in India, but never have I walked on one while as lonely and full of wonder as I was on the massive black-sand beach found on the south shore of Iceland, near the town of Vik.
This stretch of intertidal magnificence lies right near the main road which circumnavigates the island, and yet it is as remote as the seventh moon of Saturn, and is one of those few places where puffins and other sea birds, rarely seen from land, are as prominent as weeds.
And so I marched up and down that neverending beach for many days, wearing a winter coat and walking in bare feet, just so that I could be in contact and feel Her, and camping amidst the dunes, communing with the puffins, drinking warm Icelandic beer, eating cold Icelandic beans, and trying to come to terms with what I was always trying to come to terms with- myself, God, humanity, and the earth. What a maddening complexity of incompatible variables; take any one of them away and a perfect unity might prevail, but put them all together and all you get is a frantic jumble of incohesive forces and fields and a damn fine mess of the miracle. And perhaps this is the crux of the whole spectacular problem- that to be, means to be not only individual, but also in community, in God, and in the Earth, and perhaps we, as evolving beings, are not yet capable of perfecting this mad quaternity. And maybe it is this very unsolvable tangle which is symbolized by the four directions of the cross on which the Christ within all of us is alone and yet pulled in all directions by the inharmonious show.
No matter, if I was sent to that remote island for both love of the Mother, and also communion with the Son, perhaps it was for this latter reason that I was to meet a young man named Bjorn- a large yet timid twenty-five year old Icelandic musician- in a northern town, who, I recognized quickly, was wearing the same pants that I had seen in one of the seminal dreams driving me into that awkward pilgrimage. And, to be sure, Bjorn came forth with some interesting news soon after we became acquainted, in that he shamefacedly admitted to me that he often held audience with the Holy Spirit, and that It answered his questions. Yet he could not share this phenomenon with his countrymen because he feared their disbelief, their scorn and their ostracizing. To his confession I was quick to rejoin that perhaps he ought to rethink his silence, and, regardless of the perils to his ego and societal status, he should consider telling it all as it is, not only for his own sake, but for all others.
I understand Bjorn’s conundrum, though, for it is not easy to expose yourself in a crowd of naysayers. And though Iceland held all the pretense of a religious community, I was slowly finding out that, as a collective, the country had slowly fallen away from God, away from acceptance, and innocence, and into greed- a fact which would betray itself in numerous subtle events. For example, a number of times during my stay, waitresses did not give me the proper change back after I had paid, and it was always in their favor. And grocery stores often displayed one price near the product, but sneakily charged a higher fee at the cash register.
I was wondering if I was the only one seeing these subtle lies- because perhaps I was the only one paying concerted attention at the till, due to the pauper’s budget I was on, and therefore could not help but become aware of the deceit being perpetrated throughout the breadth of the entire island. But then, as I was hitching towards Reykjavik during my last days on the island, I was picked up by an elderly fellow who confirmed my investigation, and who said that the entire country was thick with this type of deception, this type of greed, this type of disastrous, hidden, and cancerous unlove. SOS indeed.
This type of communal sin, which begets the coming communal chastening, reminds me of a conversation I had with another old gentleman I met on a ferry from Holyhead to Dublin, on my first visit to Ireland. After he and I had spoken for a while, and we had taken up the ever popular topic of the great famine, he turned calmly towards me and solemnly stated that though the whole affair had been disastrous and disheartening, some people believed that it was God who had caused the suffering, a point to which I agreed, because the spirit can quicken or chasten an entire group, as is necessary occasionally, which is why The Book of Revelation is filled with judgment for, or against, entire populations.
Oh, Lord, save them and every Gomorrah like them. And save me as well while you’re at it. For I am a sinner who did not understand that true sin is simply a lack of love, and that this lack of love comes from judgment, which creates the duality of right and wrong, which creates good and evil, which creates separation, which creates death.
Luckily for me, somewhere amongst the confused trials of my erratic re-ascent, I met again the same snake who had taken me down, and again I bit into the apple given. But this time I took a bite only ...so as to spit it back into his disbelieving face. And then I said goodbye, and left him in his wily hell, and I walked back into the Garden to feed evermore upon naught but mystery, love, and the Tree of Life.
If only I had always known how easy it was to pry apart those bars of separativeness. To walk through, to breathe, to grin, to walk away. If only I would have kept playing in the play of the soul and nothing more- to be wrapped, in the rapt, welcoming, fabulous stream.
And though I am nobody and know nothing, I still come humbly to give aid to you who blunder on obliviously, with an offering to wash the mote out of your eye, so that with love you might weep the plank out of mine. For I have seen another possibility, another chance for freedom, as it were. And I will not go down without a fight. I have found the new garden in which grows no Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but only the Tree of Life. And perhaps when finally you become tired of the world and its criminal misconceptions, perhaps then you will seek to flee along with me.
I stand in earnest welcome for your tired eyes.
There are different answers these days. We must be kind and ruthless to ourselves. We must destroy the thoughts given to us, by abandoning every idea of right and wrong, and forgetting ourselves at every moment, so as to arrive at where we came from, and there to love without finishing.
And for this we must simply leap without descending, and climb without holding on, for there is no Way, no distance, no movement, no arrival, departure, longing, or fulfillment. Nothing need be done here; nothing to save, alter, deny, invent, desire, or understand. Nothing to seek, nothing to abandon. In the inevitable communion of our approaching new innocence, we shall reap not, and neither shall we sow.
Come into this new garden, come in, gather it all up, eat your fill. Here you shall find no exile.
(excerpted from Roots and Wings: adventures of a spirit on earth, by Jack Haas)
Books by Jack Haas. Autobiography, Memoir, Spirituality, Mysticism, Comparative Religion, Poetry, Art, Photography.