Out-of-Body Journey to the Arctic Ocean

For Samhain (Halloween) I would like to share my most recent out-of-body experience from the night of October 27th, 2014...

I felt the arching of my back as if I was being pulled upward from the centre of my body. Rushes of energy moved me toward the sky with increasing velocity, at first with my eyes closed, and just the intensity of sensation growing with every moment. A feeling of total exhilaration, freedom, and speed. Yet moments later that heightened feeling was enhanced when my vision was filled with the azure blue of the sky at altitude. Cloud all around me, bellowing and fast moving, the Sun’s lucent form suggested by rays of light, yet it was hidden from my vantage point. I spent some time drifting there watching the unravelling cloud surrounding me. 

Only occasionally as I glided through the white canopy, would I glimpse the islands and knurled peninsulas jutting out below me. Eventually my attention was drawn to the land and I focused on descending to a lower level to try and work out where I was in the world. As soon as I made the decision to descend I began to fall below the cloud line, with increasing speed.

I am convinced now the first area I came upon in my out-of-body form was Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, it’s triangular, or diamond shape is fairly distinctive in the stark surroundings. Svalbard is also home to one of the most interesting projects in the world, the "Doomsday Seed Bank", or The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, as it is officially known. A complex designed to hold billions of seeds from plants around the world. It is believed the vault would survive a nuclear war, or other disaster. From my altitude in the OBE I could not make out much beyond the vaguest suggestion of inhabitance, a dark manmade structure, but little more.

The speed and flow of the experience as I glided on soon brought me to another distinctive shaped archipelago named Novaya Zemlya, which reminded me of Italy, with it’s boot-like appearance, yet facing the opposite direction. It was in fact these two groups of islands next to each other that gave me the biggest clues to the route I had taken while out-of-body. I knew if I could find two Islands close by in Northern Europe with this appearance I might be able to identify where I was, and that’s exactly what happened.

The stunning beauty of this area makes it easy to understand why people have ventured so far north in search of something unknowable. The sea that now connects to the groups of Islands, I found myself exploring in my non-physical form, was named after the explorer William Barents. He and his crew were stranded on Novaya Zemlya for a year before Barents died on the return journey.

Yet somehow it seems to me that these explorers did not have a deep respect or awareness for where there were. They attempted to kill the wildlife they came across and were poorly prepared for the nature of the voyage. I can't help but feel that on some level the same kind of arrogance is what damages the natural world and creates the need for something like the Seed Vault as a last resort should we devastate our world.

As I turned southward sheer the expanse and gleaming snow covered vistas filled my awareness with awe. Yet despite the beauty and transcendent solitude in this place I wanted to find something of humanity. I continued to travel on into the Sápmi (Lapland) region of northern Finland.

The territory much more familiar now, the trees, people and wooden dwellings. These were the homes of indigenous people, wooden and partly triangular in shape. I was drawn to one in particular, its outer edge defined by a large log, large enough to have been the whole tree before it was cut. I then noticed a single man, standing looking out across the snow, I came to a stop right in front of him. He was dressed in the reds and furs of the Sami people, the indigenous peoples of the northern region of Finland, Sweden, and Norway. I don't know if the man was aware of my presence, but if he was he made no indication. I stood just half a metre from him looking at the lines on his face, and the light reflected in his eyes, wondering what it was that he was focused on, as I too stood still looking out across the blue-white snow covered plains. Maybe on some level he was aware of me, aware of another consciousness in this seemingly empty place. In those final moments of the out-of-body experience my whole being was filled with light, and the sun seemed to get brighter as I stood there. The crystalline purity seemed to merge with my awareness and I found myself being drawn homeward towards the medieval Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia, just south of Finland. Finally, when I slowly returned to normal consciousness and opened my eyes I reached for my diary and began to note the details of the journey. In many ways it seemed to symbolise the line between the world of now, the developed world, and something of the ancient and primordial, the native ways of life that still exist, at least in some form. I found out the next morning that my partner, Triin has for many years had recurring dreams about the islands north of Finland. This only underlined the symbolic feeling of the OBE and made me think about the strong folk traditions in Estonian, Finnish and many other cultures, the appreciation of the land. A message of connecting with the ancient arts of our cultures, and in-fact our ancestral roots. The real meaning of Samhain (Halloween), to honour and give respect to our ancestors.