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  • Hakan Öztunalı

Leap of Faith w/  Jóel K. Hrafnsson

Updated: Feb 25

Greetings everyone! I am deeply honored to have Jóel K. Hrafnsson on my realm as the last interview of 2022. He is a mystical artist and musician who comes from a remarkable land, Iceland, and have profound understanding of occultism, dark arts, tarot and miscellaneous disciplines that touches his heart and worth to believe. This is the longest interview I’ve ever done so far. You can consider it as a guide-book with valuable experiences and anecdotes in-hold. I truly appreciate Jóel for sharing his enthusiasm and time for me.

(Courtesy of Jóel K. Hrafnsson)

Jóel K. Hrafnsson
(Courtesy of Jóel K. Hrafnsson)

 Jóel K. Hrafnsson
(Courtesy of Jóel K. Hrafnsson)

Could you please introduce yourself?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: My name is Jóel Kristinn Hrafnsson, an artist and mystic explorer born in the North of Iceland.

Could you tell about your envision process before commencing to create you art?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: It depends on the nature of the work; some visions appear quite suddenly, demanding to be given form, others are more mechanically planned, with color schemes, composition, themes and forms combined to create subtle effects, or in the case of my Tarot illustrations for example, a combination of both; depictions of actual manifestations occurring during inner workings or meditative processes, with certain symbolism and colors in order to make the image conducive to presence and emanate the energy type in question.

In other words, most of my envisioning process is drawn from visions that surface spontaneously, then planned and programmed accordingly to try to ‘contain’ the ‘feeling’ or frequency which accompanies the vision.

However there are also artworks which are more sensational, simply drawing forth forms and colors which have a pleasing, ideal aesthetic or that attempt to harness physical energies within the system, such as with the erotic works which tap into positive sexual energies as life-affirming, vitalizing potency and catharsis, which can, as all things, be a bridge to ever higher levels of consciousness.

Nearly every work though has an intuitive side which is never possible to anticipate and is not part of the visualization process but occurs during the act of creating itself; this is possibly the free flow of creative energy which I always try to remain passive toward. That aspect is the most precious one as it is always unknown.

Do you remember how you involved with Symbolism and Occult Art?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: Art, to me, is in itself an Occult act in that it imitates reality in different ways to produce effects through the senses; occult in that we tap into the various frequencies of the living intelligence beyond those senses, which remain from sense-perspective hidden or ‘occult’.

The vision or idea itself being formed firstly in the mind, then as a consequence of action or activity it emerges on the three dimensional plane (as a 2D image); a drawing forth and re-shaping or manipulation and manifestation of a form from a pool of possibilities. This is essentially a description of any occult act; reality itself being a Black Art of manifestation sprung from the cosmic imagination. Symbolism is then a certain language or set of forms borrowed from the world of the five senses we know; already manifested, combined or ordered in a certain way to indicate or speak of states which are in themselves formless or wordless. For example, fire as a symbol for enlightenment.

Symbolic language can of course, as consciousness itself, work on multiple levels at once; e.g. the fire of enlightenment, the fire of dissolution and the element of fire itself can all be designated by the same image of fire. Therefore depending on the level of awareness and perception of the beholder, the work of art can translate differently from person to person. Ultimately it’s not about the artwork. The art is just the result of action sprung from other planes; the medium, the culminating manifestation, or, from a subtler perspective, the esoteric language which acts as lock, key, and gateway to the frequencies it depicts.

It’s about consciously participating in the creative process, practicing the art of creating from mind to matter, forms on matter which then activate the mind; mimicking the ultimate creation. Creating artwork is also an excellent exercise for visualization, which possesses power seldom discovered. We try to capture a dream’s essence vividly and craft it a form, a body, so that it may remain alive and accessible in that state.

How I got involved with Occult techniques themselves and got into seeking mysticism and spirituality however stems from a strong sense of wonder and curiosity I have always had burning within me. To me there is no longer any separation at this point: Life is a spiritual process, in every aspect. Add to that the fuel of ‘supernatural’ experiences and strange apprehensions occurring at various intervals and the pathway propelled me toward itself.

I always knew that somehow the ‘ordinary’ perceived reality is not all that is and I simply could not accept the common views. I was so fortunate of being exposed at a very young age to authentic Yogic and Tantric culture and received my first initiation at age 12 from an Indian Yogi and subsequently visited the sub-continent, traveling with certain people from the organization involved in that process around the North-Eastern country; staying at ashrams, people’s rural homes and other interesting places. This journey culminated in a stay at a rural area where thousands of seekers gathered for a spiritual retreat.

There I witnessed a man who was blissfully dancing on his own with eyes closed and I was told he had been dancing for a couple of days non-stop. No drugs, no alcohol. Not even music, save for some drum in the distance. His expression was utterly ecstatic and seeing this had a profound impact on me. I had never seen anyone in that state before. That helped open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Back then Christianity (a distorted interpretation of the Bible) was still being implemented in schools and the limiting belief system of Abrahamic religious indoctrination was – and still is – very strongly affecting people around me back home and when I returned from India, a changed kid, my mystic quest of curiosity was in full sway. It would take me too far off to go into every detail of that journey up until this moment, as much as I would love to, but I explored many different things, went through further initiations and gained insights which profoundly transformed the way I experience life. Often these experiences were highly unpleasant and terrific. These apprehensions and experiences are often expressed in my artwork and music, in its own esoteric language. One thing I found during the years of experimentation and exploration is that the so-called Occult world is filled with nonsense and people still limited by subconscious programming and conditioning; the mystical language of authentic works often being misunderstood and abused.

Therefore a word to the wise is to develop a keen sense of authenticity and a broad, clear perception before attempting to gain access to the initiatic world and other dimensions of Life. There is no limit to the intensive change which can occur. One has to be at ease with having their whole world turned upside down, over and over again. A playful attitude even toward the most profound of things will be effective to cushion the blows.

Jóel K. Hrafnsson
(Courtesy of Jóel K. Hrafnsson)

Do you like the illustration of the perceived reality where we exist ?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: I don’t have strong likes or dislikes, but yes, I am fond of illustrative art, however, some may perceive more than others at a given moment. The ‘common’ perception of the manifested three dimensional world of forms is only the densest crust of what exists; or more accurately, only a certain frequency of effects in an infinite amount of other frequencies and possibilities. Therefore if a vision or experience emanating from a dimension beyond the physical is re-produced as a two-dimensional image, that is also a part of our perceived reality.

It’s just that the attention and sensitivity needed to see beyond the senses and into other planes has not been awakened and practiced by most. Neither may the unaware beholder of such an artwork be able to apprehend the transcendent nature of such a vision as it is in truth the mental projection or ‘translation’ of an otherwise formless energy. Hence symbolism and esoteric languages. Any human being can develop their hidden senses if they wish. We are far more powerful than we previously may have thought ourselves to be. We were meant to creatively participate and facilitate the conscious evolution of our being. Life demands it!

Your ink work and watercolor paintings are mesmerizing. How is it within reach to self-taught without going to school for learning paths-techniques?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: Thank you! Well I first started experimenting with watercolors shortly after beginning to draw when I was probably between 3-6 years old. Subsequently as a kid I got into the world of Japanese Manga and Anime and this was before digital painting mostly took over and the colored work was very often done with watercolors or gouache. That stuff influenced me immensely, it had a certain eye-catching quality to it and a simplicity which I absolutely loved.

Those works permanently inspired me. Secondly I think I stuck with watercolors simply because I had them around and kept using them. All this process of self-teaching was not without mistakes and overcoming inner battles and it is an ongoing process. I never cease learning and studying and practicing. The magic of Life is found in the process of transformation which occurs when we make a decision to change or improve and art, like any skill, is no exception. I would also buy how-to-draw books with my pocket money and study all and any kind of art that caught my attention. I have a somewhat ‘obsessive-fanatic’ kind of attitude toward things I get into, that probably helped focus.

One thing that I discovered which I got obsessed over and absolutely fell in love with at about age 10 or so was point perspective drawing, which allowed to draw accurate 3D environments and put things in perspective. This experience was very exciting and empowering for me back then. I did go to art-school though later on, briefly, but it was more because I was into drawing already rather than to go learn it. Unfortunately I learned nothing about watercolor or painting, but some lessons helped sharpen my discipline. There were a couple of seriously competent teachers whose discipline I admired. I never finished as my journey brought me to other experiences then, besides I always found education overwhelmingly boring and fruitless. I think the current education systems lack realness and are pioneered by beings with limited vision.

Consciousness is evolving and people are awakening, thus it will change eventually. Personally I suggest learning from those more experienced in any given technique and remain open to learning and to be realistically critical of your own work with complete honesty, without ever succumbing to negative, limiting thoughts. This holds true for anything, not just art. Besides, learning from others can smooth out the otherwise harsh journey of trial and error.

My advice in terms of art, is to develop a keen perception and focus. Maintain attention; developing persistence, patience and repetition are key. One great thing to keep in mind is that there is no such thing as failure for the committed individual, only lessons.

The only real failure is giving up. If someone truly wants something, they can have it, if they truly believe themselves able to. We are all creative beings and there is no single right way to do things; there’s an infinite pool of possibilities available. The only thing to do is to dive into the unknown in the present moment, creative energy will flow naturally therefrom.

Jóel K. Hrafnsson
(Courtesy of Jóel K. Hrafnsson)

I assume you are on a quest to find your quintessential identity. Do you believe you can find thyself somewhere?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: No to be honest. I do not see it that way. I feel it is important to identify with a holistic ideal or concept of ourselves improved, rather than holding on too strongly to a limited identity such as nation or gender as what we identify with, becomes our reality. To me, we should create our identities rather than search for existing ones to assume.

The more strongly one identifies as something limited however, the more doors and possibilities will be closed because being identified as some limited belief or idea also must mean that that identity is not something else. That creates a duality; that divides perception and distorts reality according to that identity. The strongly identified one thus cannot see things as they are, but only through the lens of their accepted, limited reality, which is based on memory of the past and therefore cannot propel the being toward the ideal future, which is attaining ever higher levels of consciousness.

Life is not too serious about itself, why should we? I am devoted to the process of change and if I would find and accept some limited identity, this identity, would stifle that process. Just when we assume the identity of the best version of ourselves we can imagine does identity have true purpose. I believe I find myself in an immense experience of intense manifestation, totally beyond logic which propels me to be found lost in the bliss of being.

What is your most precious in this entire cosmos?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: Love, gratitude and imagination.

How do you amalgamate terrorized creatures to form your artwork?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: I assume you are referring to the inhuman beings which are often central to my works. Most of them appear that way by themselves; some of them are from dreams and nightmares; some intrude as echoes of primordial cosmic memories of dissolute worlds beyond the existence of the human and the universe we ‘know’.

Sometimes they are simply a result of the creative energies allowed to intuitively roam freely across the paper. There are many frequencies to reality and tuning into some of them can produce strange results. Lifeforms beyond ourselves as individuals exist within Life’s geometry. As long as I remember, I have been immersed in those aspects of the divine which became demonized by those with limited perception. They influence me greatly.

 Jóel K. Hrafnsson
(Courtesy of Jóel K. Hrafnsson)

You are an Artist from Iceland, would you like to tell a folkloric story you remember that gives you shivers?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: I don’t want to disappoint but unfortunately I am not well versed enough in the folktales themselves to know a full story by memory, but I remember my grandmother telling me always to take care when sitting on rocks or being around rocks, to ask permission first as it could belong to the Elves.

Many people believe in the existence of Elves here. I can tell you a tale from personal experience, in the modern world. I always kind of dismissed these folktale beliefs and superstitions because of my previously skeptical nature. There’s this place called Heiðmörk which is a place right outside the capital area; not at all a hidden or secret place, in fact it is a common place for hiking and horseback riding.

This place is distinctly filled with rather large volcanic rock and boulders. Ravens are abundant there and frequently nest there as well; it’s a pleasant place for walks and meditation and such, so one day, a few years ago I was having a walk there, no profound practices just an ordinary walk; Then I stumbled upon a small hole in the moss on a rock within which was a small, clean animal bone, seemingly from a bird and I decided to bring it home with me for some reason, so I put it in my pocket.

Later on I was driving back to the city and realized I didn’t have my phone in my pocket anymore. I thought it must have dropped out of my pocket, so I drove back and searched high and low, for the phone, every crevice, every place over and over for over an hour with no result and had finally concluded that someone must’ve found it while I was away and was about to turn back in disappointment when suddenly, as I stood on the crossing of two paths, I heard a distinct voice coming from the right, not as an audible sound but as a psychic sound within me, saying(in my own language) : ‘Return the bone and you will find your phone’.

The first reaction of my logical mind was to dismiss this as my imagination, but the voice persisted. It was a sexless, not aggressive kind of voice, but firm enough to cause an alarm and too intrusive to be my own mind. As I went back where I had found the bone, there was my phone on the ground, with a cracked screen, Ravens mockingly cawing above in the tall rock wall, as if they had picked it up and dropped it for fun. My first intuitive feeling of this was that this must have been the voice of an Elf.

I didn’t need to think about it, I was in a strange kind of state at that point, it just came to me at once: ‘It was Elves.’ I’ve had numerous otherworldly and crazy experiences prior and since, including those with entities but this one stands out as it was so physical and because it intuitively confirmed that the species in question was indeed the one spoken of so often in Icelandic folktales. I am sure if you go there and pay attention, you will feel the presence of Elves. Not profound or life-changing, but very intriguing at least… Now I always stay extremely conscious about taking stuff from the wild…

(Courtesy of Jóel K. Hrafnsson)

In days of yore, there was an aphorism that advocates; ‘’If you want to become closer to elder gods, then you should fall into the abyss of art/music. Can you tell me about your music project?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: I have several ongoing music projects, but my main one is the one called Naos. The principle is more or less the same exploration as with the visual projects, only in sound form. However, music has a certain advantage as being sound frequency it is able to generate more power more quickly.

I chose to stick with the styles of hardcore electronic dance music because it has a certain quality both of abandon and invocation to it; the thumping rhythms and aggressive sounds can easily open one up to a rapture of ecstasy.

I try to express the intensity which is felt during a transformative experience, as well as the sort of ongoing, creeping intensity which occurs continuously in waking experience when one is opening up to change. I visualize the music of Naos as both a record of a mystic journey and as a tool for ritual dancing / frenzy; as the new version of the rhythmic music used in pagan cults of old to invoke the gods and powers of the cosmos.

Naos, as a word, besides being the name of a star, designates the inner part of a temple, or a sacred temple itself. The translation can be Nave, which also means Ship in certain languages (as does the similar word ναύς), so I imagine Naos to be both the Ship or vessel which carries the seeker and listener on a mystic expedition through the cosmos as well as the Temple or Shrine or Inner sanctum where the sacred ritual dancing takes place.

The body is itself a Temple to the divine, dancing in life. It could be an intergalactic spaceship-temple on an endless rave through multiple dimensions. I mark each album in ‘waves’ I, II and so on, as to indicate a story, beginning with the first album and then continuing therefrom in a kind of chronological order, thus compiling into a process of change, as the music changes, as I change, as the style is refined; the journey continues.

This is all enveloped with a playful energy, in which the aim is to make the music simply sound strong, life-affirming and empowering. I am working toward an article detailing my ideas behind Naos and each album which will be on my website in the near future. My other projects are more experimental or playful in nature, with Solar Night being on the deeper, esoteric end and more personal, I wish for the music in that case to speak for itself.

(Courtesy of Jóel K. Hrafnsson)

I felt the vibe of atmospheric gloomy experimental resonance in your music production. Can you name the music bands that you were stimulated from?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: I am always aiming to create atmosphere as it sets the stage where the dance-ritual or meditation takes place, leaning more toward the Dark and Feminine as it is an aspect filled with vivid potency often overlooked or avoided out of fear, prejudice or other limited perspectives.

I am very much influenced by soundtracks and similar music that aims to create an atmosphere or produce a set of feelings, those works are usually made by individuals hired to make them for an animation production or a video game or something, but that kind of music inspires me the most.

The music I listen to is usually very different from what I produce, but varies greatly, there are so many amazing artists, so to name the bands is tough, I don’t have any particular favorites, but at the top of my head is Laserdance which is a space-synth project dating back to the 80s, I listen to them a lot, I love the energy and optimism in their work. I have a soft spot for their space theme too. Richard Moult is a composer of classical music which is absolutely magnificent, beyond anything else I’ve ever heard. Truly special and powerful music, it’s hard not to be awe-inspired by his masterful works.

Rotterdam Terror Corps is or was a Dutch Hardcore Techno group formed in 1993, their style is raw and simple and gritty and Naos is heavily influenced by their potent style and other classic Rave and Gabber projects. I also was very inspired by Peter Gabriel early on. I find the band Type O Negative pretty nice too. All very different kinds of music, and there is so much more, but these are some that I like a lot.

Any last words or a message you would like to disseminate?

Jóel K. Hrafnsson: First of all to express my gratitude for including me on your journey and posing vitalizing questions!

I think it’s important for us as a species to realize on a mass level that there are no good or bad things; no pure or impure things of themselves; that it is only our limited way of thinking and perceiving that makes it seem so.

As the genuine Adept does not care through which mode or form the numinous is reached, so can we as human beings know that everything is divine consciousness, from atom to void and beyond. If we commit as individuals to transform ourselves by turning our attention inward we will begin taking the steps which ultimately is our purpose to take.

There are going to be different paths and techniques for different individuals; different but never at odds even if seemingly paradoxical, but as long as we are devoted to the process of change and the growth of Life, and there is a yearning to learn and evolve, with an open heart filled with devotion and an open mind filled with wonder; then there is no limit beyond which horizons consciousness can evolve. We are powerful dynamic beings and if we consciously keep practicing overcoming our limits, by acting in harmonious rhythm of imagination, emotion and energies devoid of delusion and competition, we can begin to awaken our true potential in a cohesive, ever-unfolding system of creative symbiosis.

Life is a short dream, which we must all realize is our own making. Let us make it a wondrous one!

(Courtesy of Jóel K. Hrafnsson)


Jóel K. Hrafnsson’s official website page: tap here.

Jóel K. Hrafnsson’s Bandcamp: tap here.

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