The Northern Camino: The Path Through the Body to the Light

I’ve been thinking about Khezr, who found me lost on the road to the Northern Orient.


In Sufic tradition, he’s one of the afrad, who receives (and gives) illumination directly from God, without human mediation. He has a traditional representation:

Two_Minds_Cover_FINALFor more on the book and Khezr, the Hidden Prophet, click here.

To purchase a copy to bring Khezr into your home, click here.

Now I have found him in a deeper place. This image below also shows this form of energy:


John Day Painted Hills

The land flows, yet goes nowhere at all.

On the Northern Camino, I lost my way, because I lost my self. I was suddenly an empty shell.

P1140459Roma Monument, Buchenwald

This is not the passage through light, but the one through darkness.P1140457The low point was here.


Women and Girl’s Memorial, Buchenwald

And here.burschenschaft

Monument to the Fraternities, Eisenach

One of the last functioning Thing Squares in Germany. The monument honours the members of the revolutionary right-wing university fraternities who died in the Franco-Prussian War. My grandfather (b. 1900) was a younger member of this society.

I learned then that darkness is not a force outside of me, but deep within. On my pilgrimage east, my Canadian self was burned away, and the day to day journey on the road replaced its absence with the road itself, which included Buchenwald, the Burschenschaftsdenkmal (above), and this:


St. Elizabeth of Hungary’s Forest, Wartburg

A tapestry full of light and minstrel song. Time stopped here. I don’t think it has started again for me.

Three days later, I went back further.


Celtic Bear at Siebenfelsen, Black Forest

This virtually unknown site is as massive as Stonehenge. It’s not mathematical or geometrical, however, but springs from animal energies in the deep forest.

Slowly, a self has formed within the memories of the person I was before, but out of the world and the stories of the Way and of the earth. Two years later, I was sitting here…


Rauron Village Church, Valais

For a half hour I talked with the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who has lived there now since 1926.P1270127

Then I went around the corner to the Catholic graveyard.


Friedhof, Rauron

There, I asked Christ to look after my friend, who had chosen to live out there on the point where all the wind of Europe rose up into the sky. Then came a surprise. A gift. Joy.


When I met the caretaker of Rilke’s old house at Muzot by chance and told her my story, she brought me into Rilke’s garden, which is permanently closed off to all visitors.


I was home.


John Day Painted Hills

Now I know how Khezr found me: he’s not a character but a force of the world. It is the force of being lost. One finds this force when one is not present, and is then reignited by the green flame of the world.


One shivers like a flame.


Vineyards, Lorelei, above Sankt Goarshausen, Rhine Gorge

At the point of being lost, one is reanimated with the primary force of nature, or, in the Sufic tradition, the primary opening of God through human form, and learns that the journey is not a journey to a place, but a continual re-manifestation of creation in a place, wherever that is. One cannot be lost.


from Two Minds

One is always at the centre of this energy.


In whatever form it takes.


Wherever it is.


Mount Hood, Oregon

This is what it is to speak as the world.

It is not something that comes from books or the traditions of books. It is not what contemporary Western culture calls creativity. Yet, it gave the poem above, this bitterroot…

bitter2 … and this companion.liz2

John Day Fossil Beds

Each is an expression of body spiritually anchored in place. In Western tradition, the self is a portable measurement device to provide a stable point of view that can equalize many different observations using many different technologies. It is a powerful thing. That is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about this…


The View From Rilke’s Garden

When he lived at Muzot, Rilke learned that the goal was not to write about abstract spiritual subtleties but about these poplar trees, these vines, and these cliffs, right here, right now, complete in their manifestations.

I’m talking about the old ways, known as art, body and mind…


Schloss Favorite, Kuppenheim, Baden

This country palace was built to help resurrect Baden after the devastation of the Thirty Years War

Tomorrow, I’m going to open this discussion into the labyrinth of contemporary creativity, such as the “creativity as personal property” at the University of British Columbia, favoured by people who have scripted their selves out of the act of reading books …draft

… or the creativity as collage method, favoured by people who have acclimatized fully to built environments and can only access the world through them, at great remove:



I’m talking about living on earth. I’m talking about the self not being the capacity to “find” or “write” itself, but being the capacity to be lost everywhere, to be emptied, filled with the world and then speaking with it as it opens.


But remember…


1945 Soviet Cemetery, Belvedere Palace English Garden, Weimar

… every moment is its full self, and, as the Northern Camino teaches, the dark path is also the path of light when apprehended by the body, which is one place light ignites and takes on new form, but never the only one.


Maypole, Mosel Valley

These are the threads that bind.

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