I am an international teacher of Sacred Art and Seidr/Fornsed (Northern Tradition material, the ancestral teachings of Northern Europe). I divide my professional time between London, Sweden and the US. I am the author of three books. My first book: Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life was published in August 2016 and the concept has grown into a global network of kindred spirits. I was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in both 2016 and 2017, hosted by Michael Stone and The Shift Network. I was a presenter on Year of Ceremony with spiritual publisher Sounds True in Colorado and remain a regular presenter on their group The Shamanic Path. In 2019 I appeared in a TV program called Ice Age Shaman, in the Mystic Britain Series, on the Smithsonian Channel. I am currently deeply engaged with rediscovering and reviving the pre-Christian spirituality of my place of birth: The Netherlands. My third book, Medicine of the Imagination (Dwelling in Possibility) will be published in October 2020 (but can be pre-ordered now).
One key concept in Northern Tradition cosmology is balance, reciprocity, fair energy. Healing is always about things seeking balance. I find it helpful to think in terms of issues seeking balancing (rather than being bad or wrong) because it allows me stay clear of the "black and white thinking" that dominated my (Roman Catholic) childhood, where everything (and everyone!) was endlessly being judged"good or bad". I have deliberately stepped outside that box, or that pigeon-hole.
The tension between opposites unfailingly opens a creative space where we do our learning. There is a gift in every disappointment. There are always additional or aspects dimensions to any given situation we do not see. There are always more options and possibilities open to us than our waking mind can conceive of. That is what makes spirit-led work so life-changing - the spirits and deities perceive ALL options!
Etymologically speaking the word healing is related to wholeness
One big theme in the Human Journey is transcending the duality we perceive in everything, such as medicine/poison. Another big one is god/demon - because the field of comparative religions teaches us that old gods often become demonised when new gods arrive on the scene. The early Church Fathers of Christianity actively demonised all earlier heathen traditions (using fear to attract people to "the true faith") We also tend to demonise gods that fall outside our own cosmology (which is fear speaking and how "religious wars" arise!) and we demonise other people by making the distinction between Self and Other (but often not in a healthy and sacred way). Even groups constantly demonise other groups (as we can see in the world all around us just now!) So... the choice is always ours: cultural appropriation or respectful cross-fertilisation? Committing to doing daily shadow work or forever projecting our unresolved material onto others? Walking a committed path of healing restores us to sacred wholeness and that is the state where dis-ease dissolves, because we no longer need its teachings and reminders. On the ultimate level dis-ease is sacred too, just as poison and medicine are the same thing.
Walking a committed spiritual path is tough. It turns our life upside down and demands a constant re-evaluation of everything we have taken for granted: beliefs passed on to us in childhood, the approval of key attachment figures (our nearest and dearest in other words), the far-reaching consequences of our own actions and choices, the way we project uncomfortable psychic material onto others and so forth.
There is an ultimate Void or sacred emptiness at the heart of our quest. It is not unlike peeling an immense onion. Socrates said it so perfectly:
All I know is that I know nothing!
“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.”
"Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people."
-Carl Gustav Jung
This is the work we need to do. There is no end destination. It spirals beyond the end of our human lifespan and was started long before we were born, by both ourselves and by our ancestors.
Until a few years ago I was happy to present the events of my own life as a story. One day I realised that with the same ingredients and key players one could write a different story. I lost interest in my own story and I no longer assume that others find my story interesting either.
The real question is: who have I become and how am I actively involved in that Great Process of Becoming? The unfolding of this requires a great deal of unlearning (for more about this see my newsletter for September 2019).
If you really want to know about my "story" I will direct you to my books. Book #1 Natural Born Shamans describes how I did a lot of work in other realms at night, also how spirit children called me to a calling of doing spiritual work with children.
Book #2 Sacred Art describes my journey as an artists, starting with four blissful years as an art student in Amsterdam, then making visionary paintings inspired by dreams and pioneering courses in making sacred art (spirit-led art, shamanic art).
Book #3 Medicine of the Imagination describes in more detail how ancestral pain and trauma inflicted in my childhood helped me discover a passion for healing work, and especially the power of shadow work and ancestral healing work.
I have come to see the human imagination as a very powerful muscle that needs regular exercise and using correctly… Just like all “muscles” in a human body, it weakens and even atrophies when it is not used fully. The moment this happens our world of perception grows very small (no matter what our physical powers or limitations are). -Medicine of the Imagination
HEALING CELLO DREAM >>
Chiron is the Centaur who gave us the archetype of The Wounded Healer
In Greek mythology, the centaur Chiron was a "Wounded Healer", after being poisoned with an incurable wound by one of Hercules's arrows.
C. G Jung gave us the concept of The Wounded Healer based on the ancient Greek Myth. Literally he said that "a good half of every treatment that probes at all deeply consists in the doctor's examining himself... it is his own hurt that gives a measure of his power to heal. This, and nothing else, is the meaning of the Greek myth of the wounded physician."
Collectively we now need to move beyond 'always healing', we need to start creating healthy reality or even realities (plural)!
The demon we really need to wrestle with (as Jacob did in the Bible) is not the serial killer or mass murderer (those are best left to law enforcement and the FBI) but the toxic belief that there are “two kinds of people”: good people and bad people, superior races and inferior races, people like me and people different from me: “Us and Them”. That way of thinking has caused some of the greatest atrocities in human history. Unless we police our own consciousness and activate our Inner FBI (as it were) all of us carry within us the seeds of such things occurring again...
I look forward to hearing your reactions to my upcoming book (and yes, it does give a shamanic perspective on serial killers!)
The painting above was made in the year 2013 after I had a powerful dream where I found myself in the Desert with only my cello for company. A woman appeared and was in great need of shamanic healing. As there were venomous snakes and scorpions crawling all around us, the only safe healing room I could offer her was my cello case. She fitted into it perfectly. While I worked my cello danced around us making music. Using sound to pull this woman's life back into the perfect vibration, healthy resonance with the larger Cosmos.
The following week I did a healing session with a small autistic boy who had no speech. He walked straight up to my cello and plucked the strings. The cello agreed to give voice to him. I understand the voice and language of my cello. I could help the mother understand her son. It was a life changing session.
This week my colleague Susan Rossi and I offered a tele-seminar with our sacred art students in the U.S. We explored how both traditional Hunters and string musicians use a bow. And how the bow is a bridge between worlds. Much depends on skill and "bowing technique". Essentially it takes us into the sacred zone where Death, Life, Music and Healing all meet.
I believe that current events invite all of us to do our inner work in this zone. We have been given a political situation (an instrument) - much will now depend on our bowing technique... Can we make music with the materials we have been given??
We may need to be like the "Cellist of Sarajevo" and play deadly beautiful music in a scene of devastation. My question to day is: are we willing to be those brave musicians and make music from horror and despair??
So then what is health?
Unlike the more ‘modern’ notions of health, in shamanic societies health is not the absence of feeling, nor the absence of pain, Health is seeking out all of the experiences of Creation, turning them over and exploring their multiple meanings. Health is expanding beyond one’s individual state of consciousness to experience the ripples and the waves, the gifts and blessings of the Universe
- from 'Imagery in Healing' by Jeanne Achterberg
It is all about being in service to Life, to a greater cosmic process than our own personal lifetime!
Sometimes we need to jump off the cliff in order to discover that we have wings!
- Imelda Almqvist