Thursday, October 10, 2013

A candle a day won't chase your monsters away

Found this cute candle holder at

I burn candles for other people on a regular basis. I feel it is a great way to add something extra to your best wishes. It is a little extra energy you can send to the Spirit Helpers, for them to use to assist the person you burn the candle for. Always when I light a candle for this purpose, I say a prayer with it. Otherwise, I feel, it is just an empty gesture. Maybe the prayer is more important than the candle itself, which might just be a nice focus point.

Also in case of a disagreement, I will often light a little tea light. Wishing for the well-being of the other person and sending light to the problem, so we might find a way out. Again this is a little extra energy to support the finding of a solution.

For a while I've been surrounded by people who would use candle magic for any given problem. And in case of quarrels they would certainly advise to burn a tea light. An other advise they would give is to let go.
Burn a candle and let go.
"Give it light and forget about it, don't hang on to the problem!" Is the advise I was given repeatedly.
I really tried. And I can tell you it does not work.

Pain needs to be acknowledged, not pushed away. A conflict needs talking, to be resolved and problems need to be faced. Just lighting a candle, is walking away from your responsibility as an adult to handle the difficulties in life.
It might seem like a beautiful spiritual solution, this uplifting your spirit with light. But it can become a base excuse for hiding from everything you don't like.
Let me  quote Jung here:
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious."

If you don't face your problems, if you're not willing to talk about conflict, you are just fooling yourself with your little tea lights. Nothing will be resolved, you will just feel a little better for the moment, while all the 'un-niceness' lies rotting and is growing under its cover.
This is why there are truth commissions in parts of the world where horrific conflicts have to be solved. Darkness has to be faced and talked about, pain needs to be expressed. You will only be ably to really let go and move on, when your story has been heard.

It was nice to learn to work with more light, but I'm very grateful that I had already learned to work with darkness too. You can find TRUE light in the deepest darkness, but only if you dare to go there. Surrounding yourself with candles and hoping that the darkness will go away, is deceiving yourself, and others.

Today while pondering this theme and remembering how I broke with the 'light a candle and let go people' I realized this about myself:
I have a sharp mind, I have sharp eyes, I have a sharp third eye.
And if you piss me of I have a sharp tongue too.
Some people hate me for this, but I'm kinda proud to be able to see darkness in others AND in my self, to talk about it, accept it and then burn a little candle to relieve it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Morals of the Great Mother

One of my books with stories about Lady Holda

I've been reading a lot about Lady Holda lately, a Goddess who I see as The Great Mother of Northern Europe. All over the internet people have written about who She is on websites and blogs and I won't repeat all that. All I want to write about today are  the folk tales that were still told about Her in the 19th century and the message those stories contain.

These tales are not at all a (re)constructed mythology, written down by poets and priests. These are just stories that tell how common people thought about right and wrong and how a supernatural Female Being would sometimes come and set things right.

When I first read these stories, I thought they were heavily influenced by Christian morality. The good ones are rewarded and the bad ones get punished. But I came to realize that these morals go far beyond Christianity. These values are ancient and show what was common sense for our ancestors.

While reading up on Lady Holda, two modern times messages caught my attention. One was a video going viral on Facebook, about a man with a good heart helping a little boy, who many years later was rewarded for his good deed. The other was an article in a Belgian newspaper about how an employee in a bakery shop was fired, because she had given some leftover cookies to a homeless guy.
One fantasy from Asia and one true story from ‘around the corner’, both retelling the theme of the folk tales about Holda.

Specially the stingy shop keeper reminded me of one of the stories I read about Holda.
It's about a miserly farmer who just hated it that his servant girl gave half of her bread to a poor old lady, who they met daily on their way to the fields. So every day he gave her a smaller piece, but she would always give half of it to the old woman. In the end he gave the girl nothing and she wept bitter tears when she saw the woman and had nothing to give. Other servants found pearls where her tears had fallen on the ground. When the farmer found out, he went back to the place and found a castle where he feasted on lovely foods. He stuffed his pockets with it, but when he came home, it had all turned into cow dung. Realizing what he had been eating, he threw up and flung the content of his pockets to the good girl. She went to the pump to wash it off and heard the tinkling of golden coins...

Many, many stories about this Old Goddess repeat the same message over and over again. Those who have a good heart and are willing to help others, will be rewarded one day. And those who are greedy and cold hearted, will get what is coming to them.
The Great Mother comes to walk among the people to test their hearts. And there is no question about what She does and does not like. It is an ancient value system, the base of any healthy community. It is about the willingness to share and the willingness to help others who are not able to help themselves.

And people nowadays still long for these values. But those are hard to find in this materialistic modern society, where money and short term profit prevail. Hence this YouTube video that everyone loves to share.

I feel this is the reason why more and more people want to get to know The Goddess again. This is why it is time for Her return! It is time to reinstall Her wisdom, with which we can build a healthy society again.

For those who really don't know who Lady Holda is, here is a video I made in Her honor

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Is it OK to insult the Gods?

To me the Gods have personalities and sometimes I may not like what They (don't!) say or do. Sometimes I can even get really angry with Them, just like with human beings.

I remember one day when I was particularly upset with The Goddess and I covered Her whole altar, because I did not want to see Her for a while. It didn't last for long, the house felt so empty and cold, I removed the cloth within a few hours. She was there for me, as always and we 'talked' things over. This kind of incidents always happen when there’s a lesson for me, that I don’t want to see . . .

So at certain times I don't like my Gods at all and I let them know.
I feel being honest about your feelings is basic for a healthy relationship.  Anyway They know how I feel, so hiding would be silly.

But you don't have to insult someone when you're angry.
I know I have insulted people in the past, after all I'm only human, but I never scolded a Deity. I did draw the line once in a while, like "I don't want You to do that every again!". Maybe even threatened to remove an altar, or to stop offering. But that was it.

I think it's perfectly OK to be angry with your Gods sometimes and express it. Privately!
Even if you want to insult Them, go ahead, it's your own responsibility.
But in a ritual where people are present whom you are not very close with, it's a different ball game in my opinion. Also if you are not leading a ceremony, your priority should be to consider the feelings of other participants in the group. Because during a ritual everything said or done has extra impact and everyone present has the same right to a pleasant and meaningfull experience.

It happened to me, one day during an asatru weekend, that I hailed Thor, thanking Him for His true friendship over the years and then the person next to me took the horn with mead and started scolding Him. Apparently she had had some trouble with the Gods and She took this opportunity to 'settle her score' with Thor. Calling him untrustworthy and demanding the asnwer she wanted that instant.

I was so shocked I didn't know what to do. I did not want to be part of this, but I also did not want to make an even bigger scene by leaving the circle. Later I heard this had not been a spontaneous outburst, this woman had planned to use the energy raised by others, to try to force an answer she had been waiting for, for quite a while. Had I known what she planned to do, I would have chosen not to participate in this ritual. But now it was forced upon me and I didn't know what to do about it.

Some years later I tried to talk about it with her, because we keep meeting each other in the small Dutch pagan community and I hoped it would be possible to clear the air. Maybe she would apologise, or at least acknowledge my uncomfortable feelings about what happened. But she claimed it had been an absolutely normal thing to do in asatru circles and that I was just overreacting. She was shouting at me within a few minutes and I just walked away.

But it left me puzzled.
Is it OK to insult the Gods in a (semi) public circle for some pagans?

Monday, September 9, 2013

About money and why I like to offer spiritual services for donations only

Nothing gets people more defensive than a discussion about spirituality and money. Last week I followed yet another one of these on Facebook and read some amazingly askew arguments (from my point of view that is )
This made me realize that it might be a good idea to explain why  I prefer to work for donations. Because I learned that it can cause a lot of confusion for people who have a quite different outlook on life.

Let me start with saying that I understand perfectly well that people who give workshops etc, have to pay the rent for a venue and make other costs. And I also understand that money is a very handy medium of exchange and is needed in this society, to buy all the stuff you need to live.  So I have absolutely nothing against people who give spiritual workshops and ask money for it. As long as prices are reasonable and there are no initiations involved.

But I make different choices in life and I have a strong objection against the idea that value can only be expressed in money. To me there are things that are way more important. I feel this focus on money has made the western society sickening, unnecessarely harsh and unnatural . And I think it's a shame that the spiritual community is also contaminated with the virus of marketing and profits. Are these not the people who should know better and who could show a different, better way of living with each other? If they don’t, who will?

The next thing I want to make clear is that I do not ask just for donations, because I feel that what I have to offer isn't worth much. On the contrary! I think there is no price tag that fits my work :-)
A set price means nothing in terms of value. For some  €50,- means very little, they can spend it in half an hour, on lunch. For others it’s the budget they are struggling with for a whole week. So at times €5,- can be much more valuable than €20,- or even €100,-

My spirituality is not about money, I want to keep the two separate for several reasons.
The moment people make themselves dependant on the income coming from their spiritual activities, they will have to face some difficult choices, one day or the other.
For example: Who will you, and will you not, accept as student?
Tough choice when you have to pay the rent and this person with psychological problems will bring two more students...
Or there are not enough subscriptions for your advanced class ....

Money shows its real dark side when it comes to initiation. If your students have already paid for the package, how can you refuse to give what is paid for? No matter if someone is ready for it or not, you will have to deliver this initiation. Which makes it drop in value rapidly.
Now money has become a medium of power and the power is with the one who paid.

The power of money can also be on the side of the teacher of course. When students have paid in advance,  you can be (more or less) sure they won't cancel for just any reason. That way you can force people not to change their mind.
Oh yes, I hate it too when people cancel last minute, or worse: stay away without notice. But at least I know that the people who are there, really want to be there at that moment and did not come just because they didn't want to lose their money.

So I choose not to have to make tough choices. I choose to keep my spirituality as pure as possible.
And I can afford to work this way, because I don't have to rent a venue. My temple is at home.

But I admit, I too do need some money to keep things going. Candles, incense, sage, tea, cookies, cushions, folding chairs, etc don't grow on my balcony.
The donations provide for this, there is always just enough money to buy what is needed. That's the way the universe works.

And yes of course it also happens that people take advantage sometimes. Some people simply can't resist a bargain, while they don't need one. They don't realize they are just lowering their own value as a person, when they force a real bargain on someone, who wasn't offering it in the first place. This is just a symptom of this sick society.
Luckily this is balanced with people who give a little more than necessary.
All in all I'm really blessed with the people around me! :-)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Light and Darkness

Yesterday I attended an evening in memory of a special lady, who decided to leave this world recently. It was a lovely event, organized with so much love and care. A community of beautiful people commemorating a beloved member who passed away so unexpectedly.

It brought back memories of another large mourning ritual, the funeral of a pagan leader. And I couldn't help noticing some distinct differences.

Yesterday was a new age gathering and usually I never really feel at home in this kind of setting. But this time it felt good, I admired the dedication, the love and care this community showed. Beautiful speeches full of appreciation, gratitude, humility and hope. Lovely music played by inspired and sometimes emotional artists.

What a contrast with some of the speeches at that other funeral, with a lot of self-importance and worst of all: covert vinger pointing to the person who was seen by some as the root cause of the deceased's illness. Ego boosting and back stabbing, this was my community of witches and pagans, but I did not at all feel comfortable there that night.

So yesterday I was struck by this difference between Paganism and New Age. And I thought it obvious that in New Age a lot more attention is given to personal development. In contrast with paganism where more emphasis lies on ritual skills and magic.

But on my way home I realized something had been missing on this memorial evening. Yes, this girl was enthusiastic, energetic, radiant and her smile was amazing, but. . . . . . she did take her own life.
And, though a beautiful poem about inner darkness was read and her boyfriend did talk about taking more notice of the troubles of your neighbors across the street . . . . .,  no-one spoke about how not anyone in this loving community had been able to prevent this tragedy. No-one spoke about how there could be others, dancing right beside you or even hugging you, who are also hiding an almost unbearable pain behind a lovely smile.

Light and love covering the darkness behind the masks, in one community. And ugly darkness covering the light of what had also been good, in the other.
Of course this is a black and white picture that does no justice to both groups of people. It is just my observation, frozen in this moment of time.
It leaves me with the question I've been asking myself so often lately: where are the people I can feel really at home with?

Light and dark, both present inside me. I've been fascinated by darkness for many years and loved to surround myself with people who are not afraid of dark and death, secrets and the occult. But I grew into appreciating light, love and compassion more and more.

So now where do I belong ? Somewhere in the middle I guess.
Would anyone care to join me? Please?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Daily ritual

I remember the time when I used to light a little oil lamp in front of a brass Ohm ornament every day, meditate for one or two minutes and then go on with daily life. It was my little moment for myself, very short, but effective. So when I went to Maroc, for what might have been the most stressful week of my life, I brought a candle and incense sticks. And these little meditative moments pulled me through.
This was some twenty odd years ago and I don't remember when I stopped this little ritual, but I did.

Over the years I developed new daily rituals, meditation, prayer, even yoga for a while, but it never lasted. At first it felt so good and then I would start forgetting, one day, two days, .... then I would start feeling guilty about forgetting. And what started as a lovely, inspiring little thingy had become a big issue, a daily chore that triggered all my feelings of incompetence and any other judgemental thinking about myself.

I don't know how many times I gave up and started all over again with something new. The need, the urge to connect with my higher self and The Divine on a daily basis grew stronger and stronger. I don't know how many altars I build, that ended up gathering dust after a while, because I couldn't keep up the daily routine.

And now, after all these years of struggling, I found the way to keep going. In my house temple I take care of a whole series of different altars on a daily basis. Most important is the main altar for The Goddess of course, but Thor, Odin, Lady Holda, Mary, the Ancestors and my Spirit Helpers also have their own place. All these altars are alive and taken care of.

Most difficult is the oil lamp on the Goddess altar, which I keep burning 24 hours a day. Well … I try to keep it burning, but I found it’s not really in my hands. The wick and the oil are always the same, all I have to do is refill the oil, pull up the wick and clean the whole thing once in a while. But sometimes the flame dies, while all circumstances were perfect. After a lot of confusion I figured out there just is no practical reason, it is one of Her ways to get my attention.

But what taught me a more significant lesson, were the times when the flame kept going against all odds. My health is poor and sometimes I'm just not able to take care of anything for several days. During these periods the flame keeps dancing and shining all by itself.
Not long ago I went through a spiritual crisis and I really didn't feel like taking care of anything. And again the little flame just kept burning and burning.
I had one of my 'talks' with The Lady afterwards and She told me:  "I understand, you needed your time, but I was still there"

And that's how I learned to continue with daily ritual.
The trick is: it doesn't have to be daily all the time !
If you really don't feel like it, just don't. The feeling will come back and you are the only one who is blaming you for skipping a few days.

If a ritual has become an obligation, it turns into an series of empty gestures, because it's not coming from the heart anymore. Just give yourself a break, till the feeling comes back and you will be able to enjoy again your daily little ritual moments.
And if it doesn't come back, it just signifies a radical turn in your spiritual path. Something new will come your way, nothing to worry about.

Just wish someone told me this 25 years ago.....

Friday, August 16, 2013


Artist: René Linares
Once in a while my life comes to a standstill, due to health problems. Sometimes it's just for a few days and sometimes it lasts a few weeks. On these days my energy gets so low, I can't even do my daily temple rituals.  Almost every time this happens, it is not just a physical crisis, but  a spiritual one as well. Energies are shifting and my body responds.

These are minor shifts compared to the complete change I went through almost 14 years ago, when the life I used to know stopped forever. In hindsight this was a kind of shamanic death, but I didn't know (and couldn’t care less) at that time. My body forced me to stop with everything I used to do. Only after I gave up fighting this, I saw my chance to use all this extra time to intensify my spiritual development.

It made me what I am now.
I discovered shamanism, I met my Spirit Helpers, I followed the calling and found my path.  Slowly I learned to live with chronic pain, to let go, to relax, to heal. Today I can walk without a crutch and ride my bike once more. Never again will I take simple things like this for granted.

Then the Universe had another trick up Its sleeve: asthma.
So once in a while my life comes to a standstill and my energy gets so low, I can't even do the simple daily rituals. And every time I go through the same cycle of anger, denial, resistance, acceptance and surrender.

But in the end, after a lot of despair and struggle, I get this new inspiration. All of a sudden questions I've been asking myself for months are answered and I know what the next turn of my path will be. These periods of ill health almost always turn out to have been an involuntary, but powerful vision quest.

So here I am, I’m back overflowing with inspiration!
My path lies clear in front of me, I know where to go next and I'm ready for it.
I feel blessed by The Great Mother and Gods who always stand by me. They don’t mind some days without incense and all. They know what’s going on and welcome me back with open arms as soon as I’m ready for it. They are my best friends, though I might forget this once in a while ……

Monday, July 29, 2013

Priestess here, priestess there, pagan priestesses everywhere.

Years ago I met two ladies who gave a presentation about 'sacred' sites in the Netherlands. They made the most outrages claims about dolmen, without any scientific, historical or archeological ground. I went up to them and asked, as politely as I could, where they had found this information I had never heard of before. One of them straightened her back, looked down on me and said in a low, presumably magical, voice: "We are priestesses!" And that was the end of the conversation as she turned her back on me.

These girls had been 'initiated' after a one year training consisting of about 8 weekend workshops. I've met other women who did similar 'priestess trainings', many of them hardly knew anything about the Goddess before they started. Apparently it takes only one cycle of the sun to learn all about Her, Her mysteries and Her rituals.

I do realize I'm stepping on some toes here. But I really have to get this of my chest. I don't intent to demean the spiritual path of others. I'm sure a training like this will be very meaningful for your personal spiritual development.
But I do want to discuss the inflation of titles, that makes them meaningless.

What to think about an initiated high priestess, who leads large public ceremonies, but is not able to simply hold the energy of a circle? And in the ceremony I attended there were no Deities  invited to be present.

I once asked a lady, who is offering a 'priestess training' and who also calls herself high priestess, to What or Who she was a priestess. She told me to look on her website, but I couldn't find anything about it. It was all about self development and awaking the priestess in yourself.
Just like the countless workshops about awakening 'the Goddess in yourself'. What does that make you? A priestess of yourself?

Yesterday someone told me about another lady who offered a 'goddess workshop' where they all sang "Yemaja Asesu". When asked if she knew who this Goddess is, she had to admit she had no idea. She didn't even know Yemaja is an Orisha, let alone what path of Yemaja is actually invoked with this song.
This kind of workshops are feel good gatherings for women who want to have a good time and have little or nothing to do with actual Goddesses. And thank the Goddess for that, because you really don't want the energies they sing about, to manifest Themselves in circumstances like that. No, you don't!

And yet, I too call myself priestess of the Goddess. It took me a long time before I dared to. I felt no one would take me seriously, while so many others had already diminished the word. But I decided to reclaim it, because no other word expresses so well my relationship to the Goddess.

But every time I feel compelled to explain what it means to me to be a priestess. That I dedicated myself completely to a Divine Being, Who does not need me to exist. That it took me about 25 years to get to know Her. That I allowed Her to take over my life and to turn my house into Her temple. That I, lovingly and out of free will, serve Her with daily ritual, offerings and prayer, with public rituals and a yearly procession.

That is the basics of being a priestess in my book. And there are more responsibilities, like teaching and counseling, serving a community. This is not a weekend hobby, not something you just do when you feel like it, this is not something you can become in a few years and it is not something you can buy with paying for a training and/or an initiation. Maybe it isn't even a choice, but a calling....

There are no rules in paganism, anyone can do what they want (as long as it's within the law) and anyone can call themselves whatever they like. I have no say over it and I want no say over it. But I do have an opinion and I do want to express it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Seidhr Staff

Don't ask me why, but many years ago I wanted to visit Hel, the realm of the dead where the Goddess Hel is the hospitable ruler. Of course it had everything to do with my preoccupation with seidhr at the time.
I already knew other parts of the underworld, the misty realms where deceased and shamans can easily meet. But I wanted to go further.

I figured the best entrance would be the land of Lady Holda, Frau Holle, who I consider to be the same Goddess or at least an aspect of Hel.
So I jumped into the well and went to the beautiful green land with the apple tree and the oven. Every time I went there I got beautiful messages and had exciting adventures which gave deep insights, but I never made to the cottage. I did get very good at jumping in that well though.

I found a path leading into a forest, mountains in the distance and the landscape getting more and more rocky, but I lost my way every time I went there. After trying many times I got fed up and exclaimed "come on, isn't there anyone who can give me some help here?!" I looked down and saw a metal rod in my hand with a kind of open knob at the top, made out of twisted wires. It resembled a kind of scepter or jester staff but it was a bit longer.

The staff led the way, all I had to do was to follow it. And yes, I did find the cottage, but the door was closed. It took me another jump in the well to get there and find the door open. But with this magic staff in my hand it was no trouble at all to find it again. And after I had met the Lady who lives there, I got permission to go further, to go over the mountains and the staff led the way. I did find the realm of the dead and it wasn't at all easy to get in, it took several more jumps into the well. And it wasn't at all pleasant to be there. I do NOT recommend it!

It was more than a year later when I saw some pictures of metal objects, found by archeologists in Viking age graves, staffs with open knobs. And Neil Price - -claimed these not to be roasting skewers, but völva staffs. Can you imagine how shocked I was? And how delighted?!

 So when we started our practical seidhr research, one of the first things I did, was to make a metal staff like the one I was using in my trance journeys.
It is very thin and not very comfortable to hold in real life, so after a while I made an upgraded version, with wood inside the twisted metal wire. This was the best I could do, not being able to forge a proper one myself.  It works very well, I love it and I still use it for almost all my staff trances.

 I promise to write more about staff trance later.

I do hope that all my readers understand that this blog is mostly about trance experiences. I don't jump into wells in real life. Really I don't :-)
If you’re not familiar with the story of Frau Holle I'm refering to, you can find it here:

Monday, July 15, 2013

About seidhr - what is it?

So what is seidhr?
5 years ago I would have started quoting sagas and the edda now. But all my references are locked up in an old PC that crashed a long time ago. And I'm happy for it!

Yes it's good to read and yes it's very good to know the lore. Without the hints in the sagas I would never have been able to reconstruct some old practises. Without all my books I would never have realized that there once was a genuine shamanic tradition in North Western Europe.

And there it is, the answer to the question: seidhr is a form of shamanism practised in Northern Europe during the Viking age. Hah!

The thing with shamanism is you can read and write about it as much as you like, but you will never be able to understand it unless you start practising it yourself. I was already practising shamanic techniques, when I started to discover seidhr. Had I not, I would probably not have been able to recognize the hints I found in books. Read old fairytales - the original ones, not the Disney versions- and  sometimes, it is just like reading a trance journey journal!

So what did I find in the sagas and the eddas?

I found stories about female clearvoyants traveling around the country, to answer people's questions. They would perform elaborate rituals, involving a platform or high seat, a staff and special songs.
I found stories about shapeshifting, weather magic, supernatural guides, journeys to the realm of the dead, talking to dead people, healing songs, sitting outside searching for a vision.

I found stories about carving magical formulas and singing songs of power. Wait a minute ...... I can hear some people's thoughts - yes I am clairvoyant. Some readers are thinking now: " hey, this is something different, this is about runes and galdr, this has nothing to do with seidhr! Seidhr is about sneaky, cunning, feminine tricks and vague things like trance. Galdr is proud and honest manly magic, keep your hands off evil witch!"

Well, after studying and most of all practising magic for about 25 years, this witch is convinced that there is no such thing as a strict line between different kinds of magic. Not between 'white' and 'black', not even between ceremonial and shamanic and certainly not between seidhr and galdr.

In my opinion, based on a lot of practical experience, galdr is part of seidhr and trance is part of galdr. It is impossible to work any kind of magic effectively without altering you state of consciousness. In other words: you are in some kind of trance while working magic, weather you like it out not. Singing runes is just one  of many ways to use your voice to state 'Your Will' and singing is imho the most important technique used in seidhr.
I promise I will write more about magical song another time.

Back to what I found.

I read Ginzburg's books about the  Benedanti in Italy and after that accounts of the witch trials in the Netherlands. Then I studied local folk tales and legends. And all of it, sagas, eddas, witch trials, folk tales pointed towards the same thing: a tradition of trance journeying and communing with otherworldly beings.
It all pointed to an old, now forgotten, European shamanic tradition. And the sagas gave the most complete accounts of it.

So how do I practise seidhr?

Some of the following I do on a daily basis, some of it I don't practise anymore, due to circumstances:
Singing healing songs
Singing enchantments
Communing with nature spirits
Going into deep trances holding a staff
Journeying to the realm of the dead
Working rune magic
Sitting on burial mounds to commune with the Ancient Ones
Sitting on a high seat answering questions
Horsing spirits and Deities
(Horsing is to allow to be possessed by a being who has no material body)

I do play drums again now, I just love to play them. But I never touched my drum while I was exploring seidhr. I don't need a drum or rattle anymore to enter a trance, softly singing while holding my staff, brings me faster and deeper into a trance than anything else.
My favorite way of journeying is in bed, using the 'twilight zone' between wake and sleep, I think this was the most common way to journey for the old European witches /shamans.

More than 700 words already and I feel I haven’t even started yet.
This is just a broad outline for people who never  heard about seidhr before. Most people who already know about it, will most probably not agree with some things I say. That’s ok.

This is my vision after many years of studying, trying, working, failure and succes. I know many people interested in Norse Tradition love to quote sources, and debate semantics. I used to be like that too (and I still love a good discussion sometimes) But I left behind theory to focus on practise only and it’s not important to me anymore to remember Who Wrote What Where. What matters to me now is what I learned and what I can do with this knowledge.

All Hail!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mount Spirits

My most important spirit helpers are nothing like the enlightened ascended masters that New age mediums like to work with. They are also not the kind of spirit helpers that like to work during an espiritismo white misa. No, they are not attracted by Catholic prayer.

These spirits are ancient, from a long forgotten culture, with values that are not common nowadays. All we know about these people is the pottery they left behind and some traces of pole holes that show were they once lived. And everywhere in this country you can find their burial mounds, little bumps in the landscape that many people find inviting to sit on for a picnic. Little do these people know about those who dwell there. And little do they know about how some of these spirits create this inviting atmosphere to feed on the energy of the living.

They were once used to being worshiped, their descendants would come to bring offerings and feast in their honor. Even long after their own people had all died and their names were forgotten, their resting places were still revered as sacred. Not now anymore, their mounts have been dug up by archeologists, their bones are on exhibition in museums, their stone tools are considered primitive.

Many years ago I read about 'utisetta' an old Norse word for sitting out to get a vision. And I understood this sitting was often done on a burial mound. In Viking age society you could go out to sit on the burial mounds of direct ancestors of course and ask for guidance. Alas my ancestors don't rest in mounds and it's not allowed to sit on graves in this culture.  (Though I did sit on my grandfather's grave once, when my sisters and I found it on an abandoned graveyard, but that's an other story).

Because I was studying seidhr and everything related to it, I went to a field with ancient bronze age burial mounts, not at all knowing what to expect. My friend and I were cautious and approached the first little hill we saw very carefully, while we were not even sure if it was a burial mound our not.
Both trained in shamanic techniques and used to contact with otherworldly realms, we felt the barrier simultaneously. We were prepared and took out the little offerings we brought with us. After asking permission and offering at every barrier we encountered, we were welcomed at our first 'fairy hill'. And a great adventure had started.

There were so many of these hills in the field and over a period of a few months we visited them all. Some wanted to be left alone, some lured us in and sucked our energy. At some I got horrible visions, at some I got terrible headaches and some made me vomit. But a few of them became very special to me and I developed a friendship with some who dwell there.

One of them took me on as a kind of student and started teaching me his old wisdom. He taught me about the essence of the Goddess, calling Her "She Who Is“. He taught me about his culture and showed me things that were only years later confirmed by archeologists. He taught me a magical singing technique and only just a few months ago I found that the same technique is still used in some modern traditions.

The inhabitants of another mount simulated me to become a healer. And with every healing I do, they are right behind me. They have become my most trusted advisors, answering questions about situations in this modern time very accurately.

To talk with them, I don't have to visit their resting places anymore. I can contact these helpers any time I want, they showed me how. But to visit their burial mount is something extra special. I was crying when I came there after staying away for too long. I was so welcome, but I was also reprimanded for neglecting to bring offerings for such a long time.

After resting for thousands of years they have a lot of patience, but in the end it is all about respect. They gave me what I asked for because I asked in the right way, because I came with offerings, because I asked permission, because I asked with due respect. But I should never forget they like, they need!, to get offerings sometimes. Nothing big, nothing special, it is mostly about the effort made and the thought that counts. Though they do have preferences .......

Dear Ancient Ones, I will not stay away for too long again!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Basic Training Priestessing

Basic training Priestessing

Priestessing is a modern word, and it's a verb!
It expresses very nicely that being a priest(ess) is not something passive, not something you just are after some kind of initiation, but it is all about the work you do.
Being a  priest(ess) means to be in service of a Goddess or God (or more than one) and working to create a place where the Gods can be present. This can be an altar, sacred space, a temple, and all this together at the same time.

In devotional paganism everyone is free to follow their own path and to contact their Gods, in their own way. A priest(ess) is a person who builds and maintains a kind of highway to make such personal contact easier for anyone who wants to use it.

I will accompany people on their personal path towards becoming a priest(ess)

I won't tell you where to go.  
But I can help you find the way to where you want to go.
I can tell you about the mistakes I made,  
so you know you're not the only fool around.
I will tell you about the lessons I learned
and about the ways that worked for me.

I can support you when things are difficult,
I will celebrate with you when things go smooth.

This is what I have to offer, the real work is yours.

In return I ask your commitment to walk this path together for a year and a day.

I will be teaching:

Shamanic techniques
The use of voice
Making power tools
And some more that can not easily be put into words

The first year will be all about finding out if becoming a priest(ess) is something for you. All the techniques offered, can and will be used for other purposes, but the main focus of the training will be to establish direct contact with Deities.
We will come together in Amsterdam. Every month for workshops and we will do ceremonies  together, at least every full moon. Some of these workshops and ceremonies will also be open for other participants.
In between we can meet online and you will have home work to do.

We will work in a small group, lessons will start when the first two students have signed up. Others can join in and start their year and a day at any moment they are ready for it. After your first year you can start a second, if and when you are ready for it.

This is a very personal path, without fixed program.
This is the ancient way of teaching!
The costs will be: your commitment, your time, traveling to Amsterdam and a donation for the upkeep of the temple.

If you feel this training might be for you, please contact me, so we can meet and talk about it. In September 2013 there will be an introduction workshop, so you will have a chance to get to know me and my way of teaching. You are also welcome to join in one of my public ceremonies of course.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Writing about seidhr

A friend, who is following this blog, asked me "So, when are you gonna tell us about seidhr? I'm waiting!" I told her I was working on it, but actually I'm still in the stage of thinking about it.

There are some tough choices I have to make, before I can begin writing.
It has always been complicated to write about magic. Old grimoires never tell the complete, correct story and there's a good reason for it. You just don't, really don't, want any adventurous beginner to make stupid mistakes and work themselves into a psychosis or other problems. Working magic is not without danger. You will attract all kinds of unwanted energies and you have to know how to deal with those. Or you might get just exactly what you asked for and not what you actually wanted, hahah!

On the other hand, nowadays you can find everything you want to know somewhere on the internet, if you search desperately enough. So does it really matter, one more blog?
And is it my responsibility what others do with this information?
I can warn people about the danger and that will scare some off ..... and encourage some others....

This is enough to keep me awake at night, but there is more.

My friend and I started with hardly any information. We had no idea what to expect and that gave us an authentic experience.
When I write about these experiences, I take away from my readers the opportunity to go through this themselves.
And I take away the opportunity to compare results free from expectations.

Wat is wijsheid? (This is Dutch meaning: What is wisdom?)

Oh well, I can start with writing about what I think seidhr is. While typing all this, I realized that many of my readers will probably have no clue what I'm babbling about here :-D
Opinions about what is and isn't seidhr differ, so to give mine might be a good beginning ...
But not today :-P

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Sacred Place

I started lasts night's ceremony with a thorough personal cleansing - throwing up the soup I didn't really trust, but ate anyhow. Very symbolic and an appropriate preparation for the ceremony I was about to perform.

For about three years I've been working to build the energy in my house temple. Doing most of my ceremonies indoors, focusing on the statue of The Goddess. It's really easy and comfortable to do your rituals at home, with everything you would like to use at hand and not being bothered by rainstorms or ice cold winds.

But my winding path continues and on this full moon evening I met my friends in the park. There is this amazing weeping beech in the Beatrix park where, years ago, I used to do little ceremonies, building little altars that had always been destroyed next time I came back. So I gave up on this place when I needed all my energy for a new project. Looking back it all falls into place ..... part of this project was making the large Goddess statue.... hahahah..... yes, the Universe just kicks you around until you're on the right track!

So when the super moon was hiding behind thick clouds  on this midsummers evening, it felt like the right time to give it another try. To build an altar again on this amazing place, that feels sacred the moment you enter. A natural circle hidden behind the branches that hang down all the way to the ground.

I wasn't feeling well because of this soup and during preparations I had to run away. So I thought I would do the whole thing in a relaxed shamanic way, sitting down, visualizing and praying. But Brother Crow did not agree, as soon as I started greeting the corners he came screeching so loud and persisting, I just had to get up and walk the circle.

It was a lovely ceremony, the elements were circling around, the tree trunk connected the worlds effortlessly, we recreated Ygdrassil and Mimir's well, honoring the wisdom of the Ancient Ones. Raising the energy, grounding and dancing around like the ancestors would have, with our roots in the Earth.

We will come back and do more ceremony there, I will come back to bring offerings. This is an open air, but yet enclosed (in summer) temple. And I invite everyone to go there, in a good way, to meditate, to pray, to bring offerings to Mother Earth, to honour the Ancient Ones -  Keepers of old wisdom, to honour the Nature Spirits - Keepers of the green things.

May all sentient beings live in peace with each other.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Different Paganisms

I had a very interesting talk with a good friend yesterday evening about different kinds of paganism. I identify myself as a devotional pagan and I've come to realize lately that I might have been trying to connect with the wrong crowd.
For many of the Pagans I know here in Holland the pagan path is above all a personal path. It's about feeling good connecting with nature, doing a little magic when you need something, enjoying fun gatherings, sharing food and talking a lot about personal stuff.

A big difference between me and many other Pagans is devotion. I often find it easier to connect with liberal Christians and Muslims. They might not agree with me in details, but at least they understand the basics, at least I don't have to defend my believe in 'a greater Power' outside myself.

It's really nice to connect with nature, and I'm very glad that more and more people respect Mother Earth again and celebrate the cycles of the seasons and of life. That's good and important!
But to actually acknowledge the existence of the Gods as powers beyond yourself, independent of what people make of Them, is a completely different ball game. It's not about just you anymore.

A devotional relationship with the Gods is based on mutual benefits and comes with extra responsibilities. It's not only about what you want and need anymore, the Gods have wants and needs too. This doesn't really fit into the modern western individualistic lifestyle. "What can I do to serve a greater good", instead of "me, me, me, what's in it for me?!"

There is a difference between 'feel good rituals' and rituals with a 'higher' purpose. Sadly I found that many pagans love the first and shun away from the latter. And now I think I may have been hanging around the wrong people for too long. Just because we call ourselves pagans, doesn't mean we share the same values.

My path as a pagan priestess is about being in service, my rituals are about more than just personal experience. Of course personal development is part of the package, but not the main purpose.
While writing this blog I realize that I'm using a lot of old fashioned words  and write about old fashioned ideas, not at all popular in the modern world and not so popular in the Dutch pagan community. I evenmight be stepping on some toes here…..
Oh well, all that matters for me right now is to stay true to myself and my Gods.

Feel free to share you thoughts, but please keep it polite and respectful.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Searching for seidhr

Up until a few years ago there were just a few people who knew anything about seidhr here in the Netherlands. My former shamanic teacher and I were fascinated by the traces of a genuine old European shamanic tradition, but it was almost impossible to find anyone here, who could tell us more about it. So we decided to find it out by ourselves, both of us where experienced trance workers and we started experimenting together, from scratch

What followed was an intense period of collaboration, sharing, laughter, discovery, friendship, bewilderment, shocks and excitement. We worked hard: experimental ritual every week at my place, daily phone calls to digest new insights and dreams, regular visits to agroup of burial mounds, reading every scrap of information we could lay our hands on and discussing it all in some more phone calls. It all ended with a big bang, as happens so often with people who do just a little too much magical work together.

The bang happened about 5 years ago now. We split up fighting. She wrote a book and I forbade her to include any of the information she got from or through me. Impossible of course, if she had abided by that restriction, there was hardly anything to publish at all. But I think some important parts were left out, what is a shame in retrospective.

Too shaken by what had happened, I couldn't write about seidhr myself anymore, I neglected my website and gave up my domain in the end. It just didn't feel right to make the same mistake and claim something for myself that was ours. But both she and her publisher encouraged me to write my own book.

So now, after years passed and pain healed, I am ready to tell the story and write about what we discovered. Because I think it is an interesting and important story to tell. It shows that it is possible to retrieve an old and long forgotten magical tradition. If you know what you are doing and if you are dedicated enough not to give up when things get rough.
Some old paths are just below the surface to be rediscovered, and if you find the right track, things start happening faster than you could ever imagine. The old magic is still alive!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

After the procession

'post blanket'- dressed in all white

Every year the Goddess Procession turns out to be an initiation into a next level of being Her priestess. And there I was, a few days after the procession, in front of Her altar and She tells me to wrap the statue in a blanket.
"Will I still be able to communicate with You, when You're all wrapped up?", I asked.
"Of course you will", She said.
So I put a white blanket around Her.

For two and a half years this statue has been in my living room, for two and a half years I've been charging it with daily ritual, offerings prayers and meditations.
The last few months She gave me the same message several times: "I am not this statue". And I thought "duh! I know that"
When the bier for this year's procession was ready, I realized it didn't need a statue at all. But I thought it would be too zen, too abstract for the participants to carry an empty bier.

Now the statue in my house temple was wrapped in a big white blanket and the house felt so strange, so empty. OOPS
No statue to greet in the morning, no statue to wish good night.
"Those who seek Me sincerely, will find Me everywhere" I remembered and started to sing 'Ma Amba Lalita Devi'. Her presence was tangible in the temple again.
I sat in front of the altar and She told me to go out and find Her everywhere. And if I don't see or feel Her, I will just have to invoke Her.

4th Goddess Procession Amsterdam

Photo: Margo Dalla
Organizing the Goddess Procession was a difficult journey this year. But in the end I'm so very happy I did it!
And I'm so grateful for the wonderful people who pulled me through!

It was a fantastic afternoon. The singing in the park, while waiting for others to arrive. The lovely bier drew a lot of attention. Most newcomers were easy to be recognized by their colorful clothes.
It was so much fun We danced a spiral to meet each other.
Then three people played their blowing horns, that was such a powerful moment, and of we went.

Four people carrying the bier this time, it was just beautiful. And just like previous times, bystanders smiled and ran to take some more pictures. Cars and bicycles stopped to let us pass.
Only one guy flipped out, shouting things about hel. It made us smile and he could not enter our circle, he tried to approach, but turned round at quite a distance every time.

During the ceremony we dressed Her altar together, we send round Her light and love and everybody made a beautiful wish for the Earth. These wishes were taken home by the participants.
The whole ceremony was flowing on magical music. Some friends were holding the circle for me and I could just do what had to be done, not disturbed by anything. This was never discussed, some wonderful people just did the right thing at the right time. The Goddess had it all perfectly arranged.

I learned a lot this year. About control and letting go of it at the right time. About trust. About friendship. About people. About going back to basics and not to worry about details. About being supported and allowing to be supported. And about the importance of the Goddess Procession and why I have to do it again next year and restore this ancient pagan tradition.

Friday, June 14, 2013

I loved you so dearly
But you were never worthy
Just a talented boy
With so much promise
But refusing to grow up

I waited for you to grow up
I prayed for you to grow up

You're stuck
In power games
Ego games
Boasting about following guidance
While in reality you are just resisting it

And now you are leaving
As you did so many times before
Leaving behind the pain you caused
Refusing to repair

How many times must She forgive you
Before you stop hurting those who love you?

I wish you well
And I will still pray for you
But I’m giving up waiting for you
To become the man
You are supposed to be

See you in a next life
My soulbrother