Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Herbal walk

My brother-in-law Ron has been game-warden / forester in the dunes near IJmuiden, De Heerenduinen. He lived in the dunes with his family. He has a lot of knowledge about plants, trees, birds, other animals, etc. Some time ago I asked him if he would want to guide a group in the dunes with a focus on the herbs that are growing there. He agreed and I started organising.

Last Sunday we gathered for the walk: ("my") Ron and I, my sister Joke and her husband Leo and 6 other friends drove to the parking lot near the entrance, where Ron was waiting for us. The weather was good: sunny and dry. A lovely day for a walk in beautiful nature! From time to time Ron stopped to show us a herb and to tell us all about it: how to recognise it, the name, family, what it is used for, etc. Everyone was enjoying theirselves and at the same time we learned a lot! I won't say I remember everything, but it's a start!

After the walk most people came home with us to drink something and chat. Ron picked up his wife Gerda and came too. We were unanimous: we want a sequel in the not-too-far future! Ron agreed to guide us again, but we haven't set a date yet.

A lot of people made notes and pictures. Ron made pics for me and I've put them in a Picasa webalbum. The name in Dutch is under the picture, but if you have the English or Latin name, or any remarks: please add them under the picture!

Our guide Ron didn't want anything for his work, but we didn't agree! I got some money from everyone. Yesterday I bought a nice card and signed it with all the names. Ron has a love for birds too and an big aviary in his garden. His female zebra finch had just died so I gave him a new one on behalf of the group as a thank-you-gift.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

PFI Dutch Conference

go to PFI websiteSaturday I went up early to drive to the 9th annual PFI Dutch Conference in Lunteren (right in the geographical centre of The Netherlands). It wasn't the best timing to go right after the busy day of my brother's wedding, but I wasn't going to miss the conference either!

I arrived in time to attend the opening ritual by Boann & Dagda. The horn blowed to gather in the big room. Dagda welcomed everyone to the conference and referred to it as "a gathering of the tribes". The Dutch conference has always been international with foreign guests and ex-pats living here. The "tribes" are the different pagan paths: druids, witches, asatru, etc. They all come together in a wonderful meeting. I always encounter lots of friends from the pagan community. Boann and Dagda called upon Angus Og and Bride in Gaelic. At the end of the ritual we were all invited to walk through the Bealtaine fires. The best opening ritual I have been to so far!

There were workshops all day. I started with a lecture by GardenStone about Asatru. He has a lot of knowledge about it, being an Asatru himself and having done a lot of research! After that I went to a workshop by Frigga Asraaf of Het Rad (a network for Asatru) about Seidhmothers and -fathers. She first told us how she got in contact with them; they live in the astral ancestor realm. We did a short pathworking to meet them, so we can do it more extensively when we are on our own. After that we were "weaving a web" by singing a chant together while 4 people in the middle were visiting the Seidhmothers or -fathers again. The energy was very strong!

Later in the afternoon I attended the workshop by Boann and Dagda about pagan Irish funeral rituals. They shared a lot of information in a very personal way. Especially the part about "Keening" was impressive. A lot of people let their tears go and the group felt very warm and close. After this very intense time I went to the talk by Kit Berry, the author of the Stonewylde series. (Remember?) I met her and Mr. B. (her husband) earlier and she signed my books for me. She's such a friendly woman and a warm personality. She told the listeners about how she came to write the books and how she found her pagan path. It was great to meet her and hear her talk. She sold all the books she brought with her.

In and around the building were stalls with all kinds of "pagan stuff". I got my Nehalennia book by GardenStone, that I ordered in February. I also bought some incense (granules). Another book called "Under Valkyrie's Wing" was signed for me by the author Annemarie Skjold.
When I wasn't at a workshop I had chats with friends. Some of them I only meet at the conference once a year, others I see more often.

The closing ritual by Boann & Dagda was as good as the opening one. We were blessed with water by Bride. In the end we all got a ribbon to tie in a tree to celebrate summer. It had been a wonderful conference and Lady Bara, the organizer, was thanked in words and with a big applause. I stayed for dinner (yummy Indonesian buffet) and went to the Italian iceroom across the street with a little group for dessert. There was a party with a live band in the evening, but I was too tired and decided to go home. A great day!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My brother's wedding

Leo & Joke - Gerard & Sylvia - Cora & RonLast Friday my brother Gerard got married to Sylvia. They are together for some years now and they are a good couple. May 15th 2009 they made it (more) official! Gerard looked handsome in his black suit and Sylvia wore a very beautiful ivory bridal gown with a lovely back and a chapel length train. Gerard is a huge Ferrari-fan, so the wedding car was no surprise (except perhaps the colour): a yellow 348 GTB. They made pictures with it on the racetrack at Circuit Park Zandvoort and (without the car) on the beach. A friend of them showed up at their home on a motor, dressed up as a girl. He made a burnout on the parking lot.

When bride and groom walked into the town hall, the local duo "Wel & Wel" welcomed them with a song called "'Eén Simpel Woord" (One Simple Word). The ceremony in the wedding room was beautiful. I missed my parents all day, but right there it brought me to tears. I felt they were present, moved and proud. Next to me on the front row were two empty chairs, their places... Gerard's oldest son Michael was one of the witnesses. Sylvia's son Rick was just too young to be a witness, but the registrar included him in a different way: he did the hammer blow to seal the wedding.

After the ceremony in the town hall everyone drove to the party location. A banner with the theme of the wedding invitation was hanging in the entrance hall. We also made the picture on top of this post there. The room was nicely decorated with doves, hearts and balloons. Instead of a book Michael had made a triptych on which all the visitors could sign their names and wishes.
The party was adorned with local singers of which Ron and I liked "The SoulBrothers" the best by far. We made pictures and enjoyed ourselves. Just after midnight we went home, but I'm sure the party lasted a lot longer. :-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spiritual runes

The Spiritual RunesYesterday I've been to a workshop by Harmonia Saille, an English author and Hedgewitch, at a friend's place in Amsterdam. It was a workshop in 2 parts, but unfortunately I missed the first part a few weeks ago. Luckily Sorcha was so kind to share her notes with me, so I came a bit prepared for this second part. The subject was "Connecting with the runes", based on her upcoming book The Spiritual Runes. It's not the umpteenth book listing the runes and their meaning, but a guide to help you make a spiritual connection with the runes. It includes rune philosophy, mythology, divination and magic.
I'm familiar with the runes and their general meanings, always attracted to them but never explored any further. This workshop provided just what I needed. For example we did a very good exercise. We picked a rune, but didn't look at it. Holding the rune Harmonia guided us in a pathworking. Afterwords we wrote down our experience and only then looked at the rune. I had Dagaz; the images and impressions I got in the pathworking fit the description perfectly! We also talked about bindrunes, the Norse mythology and other interesting stuff.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Beltane 2009

Last weekend Ron and I celebrated Beltane on a meeting with 40 other people in Hengelo, the same location where we celebrated Beltane last year. This time I was just a guest, although I did have a role in the ritual.
We arrived late in the afternoon on Saturday and were welcomed in a very warm and kind way. It was good to see a lot of familiar faces, but also a lot of new ones. At first I thought: "wow, 40 is a lot", but it worked out for the best. It wasn't possible to talk for a while with everyone, but that's okay. I didn't have to. Ron and I just wanted to relax with friends in a beautiful area, that's what we needed. And that's what we got!

In the evening we performed a wonderful Beltane ritual. I didn't bring the right shoes, so I decided to go barefoot. Ron was responsible for the fire. We chanted a native american song while we were smudged. One of the girls guided us into meeting the elements, the perfect start of this ritual. Of course there was a Maypole; very different from last year, but just as nice. We laughed while dancing around trying to get the braiding of the ribbons right. The result was not-too-bad. :-) Ron did the drumming. To end the dancing he gave one stroke on my drum. It wasn't heavy at all, but he went right through the drum! Such a pity, but we'll try to give it a new skin.
After the ritual most people gathered around the fire in the fire pit circle. Until late there were people singing, playing instruments, talking, etc. I went to sleep as the first one; I was exhausted!

I slept like a baby and woke up in the morning. Ron was early too and we decided to take a walk in the park behind the location. It was very quiet and we heard and saw a lot of birds. When we got back most of the group was awake. After breakfast the workshops started. I participated in a workshop by Yvette and Tonny of Insentro (Centre for emotional realization and coaching) called "Identifying with our thought" based on The Work of Byron Katie. It was all about experiencing, very interesting and I learned a lot.
After the workshops it was time to pack, clean up and saying goodbye!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

United C (ballet)

Yesterday evening I've been to a ballet performance: WHO cycle by United-C in De Melkweg in Amsterdam. It consisted of 4 different performances: 3 solo and 1 with 4 dancers. As their website says: "4 intimate documents, each pleasing to the eye as well as alarming. Each literally as well as figuratively in all nudity." Yes, the dancers were naked, but that was never a sexual thing. Sensual, sometimes erotic, but most of the time a beautiful tribute to the body.

I really loved the performances, the dancers are great, each in their own personal way. I was on the front row and the dances captivated me from the first second to the very last. It was intriguing, magical, enchanting. Sometimes I had to remind myself to keep breathing. At the end of the third solo there was a twenty-minute break, but I had to stay on my chair for a while to get back from some kind of trance. I may sound lyrical, but that's just how good it was!

In the first solo Hilde Elbers was amazing. She went through a lot of emotions: falling hard on the ground, crawling like a panther, her moves always beautiful and perfect. Her laugh was contagious at first, but slowly changed to hysterical and back.
Marleen Kleinstapel expressed despair brilliantly in the second solo. It looked as if she couldn't finish a certain move. She started over and over, bringing her despair to the public although she was completely in her own world.
The last solo was the best one for me. Marjolein Vogels danced with a mattress in a staggering way. Her face and body have an amazing range of expressions to show feelings, tell stories. Her performance took me to another world.
After the break the floor was soaking wet with olive oil. Four dancers were lying motionless among dozens of broken glasses. Slowly they started moving, swimming through the oil and glasses so easily but always graceful and elegant as if the broken glass wasn't dangerous at all.

If you want to see them: on May 7 & 8 they'll be dancing in Eindhoven!