Travelblog Part 20. From Sinai to Schiehallion

I’m standing on the deck of the ferry that takes us from Skye to the Isle of Lewis, even further north. Around me I see a spectacle of wind and water, clouds and waves and some rocks and islands that rise above the water level. Occasionally, part of a rainbow appears. It’s a breathtaking sight. The flag of Scotland – bright blue with a white diagonal cross – flies proudly on the bow of the boat. In the distance, the contours loom of Lewis. It reminds me of a scene from a movie; the magical island comes into view. Lewis is part of the Outer Hebrydes and Skye is part of the Inner Hebrydes. In between lies the Minch, a shallow sea. The story goes that sometimes blue men can be seen in the waves. I wonder if the two parts of the Hebrides were not once one country, but flooded by water. Could it be that the word Hebrydes comes from the word Hyperborea, the magical island in the north that the Greeks spoke of? The island that was above – hyper – the North Wind – Boreas – where the temperature was mild, where people lived much longer and where a high spiritual level was experienced?

The views and impressive natural elements make it easy to dream away. I think back to the journey we made, from the Moon Temple on Mount Sinai, via Israël, France, England and Scotland to finally make the last leg to the most northern spot, where there is also a moon temple, the Callanish Stones. The Greeks wrote that every year Apollo, the god of the Sun, visited the temple, and that the moon moves horizontally behind the stones once every 18.6 years. Many possible locations have been thought of for this magical island, but the only place where the moon moves over the horizon is on this northernmost island. The Island Above the North Wind, Hyperboreas. But perhaps, just like in Atlantis, something happened that caused the entire culture to disappear into the waves. There is talk of a climate catastrophe that occurred after an eruption of a volcano in Iceland. The temperature dropped drastically, the highly developed culture disappeared and what remains is nothing but stories and myths.

A feeling of sadness and melancholy overtakes me about something that was so valuable but was lost. Is that what will happen to our culture as well? Is that why we meet in Glasgow? To save what can be saved? Or is it just all too late – too little, too late? Too much Blah blah, as Greta Thunberg says, but no actions. I balance between hope and despair. Does this whole journey make any sense, or are we doomed to perish?

The melancholic melody of the television series Outlander plays in my mind:

‘Sing me a song of a lass that is gone,
Say, could that lass be I?
Merry of soul she sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.
Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.’

Again the fresh wind and the white crests on the waves blow all my gloomy thoughts away. “Be here now.” I think of the Clan motto of Jamie Frazer, the series’ hero: “Je Suis Perst,” or something like “I am heeere,” as the Scots say. The land and its nature forces you to live in the moment and be present.

When we are on land, the beautiful weather changes into a drizzling rain. The wind picks up and not much later we drive through a gray cloud cover with streaks of rain and gusts of wind. My god, it’s deserted here. Not a tree in sight. The houses look shabby and abandoned. It’s Sunday and no one is on the street. Even the lights inside are out. It seems as if the whole island is deserted. What a sadness. We struggle to find a B&B and eventually end up in a hotel in the small capital of the island, Stornoway. The room we are offered is a kind of large broom closet in the courtyard of the hotel where the droning sound of the kitchen extractor hood penetrates our room. My mood has now turned from euphoric to deep below sea level. I don’t want to be here at all. The room is the limit. Fortunately, Anne takes it much better and decides to go back to the reception. We are offered another room, room number one. I fall asleep in bed, but wake up in the middle of the night. Once again I find myself in one of Odin’s nine dark nights, staring into the darkness. How could something so beautiful and lofty have sunk so low, literally and figuratively? Where has the heart gone? In my mind I picture the map of the Hebrides and imagine that the whole country together, the Inner and Outer Hebrydes have something of a heart. But a heart that is wounded, broken in two and sunk.

And then suddenly the coin drops. I understand why I came all the way here. What my role is in the bigger picture. I realize with a shock what I am looking at: my own heart. This is me. My broken loves, my pain, my sadness that I’ve been carrying around for years. I see all the events in my life that led to this moment, making it difficult for me to open my heart. Is that why I’m here? To heal my heart, and to heal the heart of the world? As inside, so outside?

I realize that the healing starts with acceptance in the first place. This is as it is. Maybe everything just needed to happen. I had to descend into the darkness to experience all this. Is that the assignment? Enter the darkness and experience the pain of finally coming out unscathed, like Odin hanging from the tree and being tortured before getting the Runes? No light without dark? It’s the night before Halloween and I realize that all my demons are passing by again. Hopefully this is the last of the nine nights of darkness.

The next morning we walk into the restaurant that belongs to the hotel. The restaurant is called Eleven and the revolving door says “Eleven, eleven.” It’s all getting a bit much for me, the whole eleven-eleven thing. If I draw a tarot card with Anne, I get card 11. OK then. I surrender. Like in a whirlpool I am swept into the depths.
The card says: ‘It can be so much simpler to seek light in the heavenly, in that which is blissful, sweet, loving and kind. To look for the light in that which is dark is an advanced task that only a rebellious and brave heart will attempt. You may not feel that you have taken such a journey by choice. Yet you have this wise challenge from deep within your soul to grow in power, wisdom and understanding.’
The text gives me something to hold on to and brings a glimmer of hope and light in the gray morning. Perhaps all this is not for nothing. Perhaps the world is going through the same process: going deeper and deeper into the abyss to remind us of who we really are. To find our hearts beyond the separation, the crisis, and the inner wounds. The more people embrace and accept their inner pain and face their demons, the brighter the world becomes. But the reverse is also true: the more we resist, struggle and are angry at what life, the world or the leaders are doing to us, the longer and more painful the process becomes…
Is that the solution: surrender, acceptance and compassion, or do we have to fight for the light? It remains an impossible dilemma, but perhaps it is not about the right choice or outcome at all, but about awareness, the lesson in the pain: to purely observe, and to be aware of what is. Nothing more and nothing less.

As we walk out of the restaurant through the revolving door, I check my iPhone calendar: 11 days to go until November 11th.

  • To be continued –