Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy
A Shaman Yogi
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
This article is a back-up to my philosophical counseling practice in Rold Forest Denmark, especially the counseling form called The Godgame. It deals with the shamanic aspects of this counseling form: the background story and philosophy. It is therefore not a general/academical text on Nordic Shamanism, but a text about my personal form of shamanic practice in Rold Forest (see my website: Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy)
Shamanic counseling forms the basic part (base magic), and philosophical cunseling forms the advanced part (higher magic)
There will be links, followed by commentaries, that can lead to a more general image of Nordic Shamanism.
Before I start, I will quote what I also write on my philosophical counseling page:
I will emphasize, that if your´re planning to visit me for philosophical counseling, it is not necessary to be an expert in all of the texts mentioned below (after all: I´m the counselor and guide). The introduction is namely also meant as a support for people who are doing self-studies, and want to go deeper into my teaching. But, it is necessary that you have done a little bit of studying and thinking about my work.
However, the counseling is not complex courses in all this! Philosophical counseling is not a one-way talk, but a dialogue followed by walks in the forest. In reality it is rather simple. So, the texts just function as background frames of references.
Table of Contents:
1) The Godgame
2) Base Magic and Higher Magic
3) The Gundestrup Cauldron
4) The Golden Horns at Gallehus
5) The Cimbri and The Gundestrup Cauldron
7) Forest Therapy and Walks in Rold Forest
8) Links to the Implied Shamanic Philosophy
9) General Texts on Shamanism
10) Central Texts on Witchcraft/shamanism in Danish Context
11) List of Godgame Resources
A) The Hallowquest Cards (related to The Gundestrup Cauldron)
B) The Runes (related to The Golden Horns at Gallehus)
12) Photography From Rold Forest
1) The Godgame
The Godgame is a kind of role-playing game, or, a storytelling game. It is inseparable connected with forest therapy. This is the most advanced counseling form in that it requires familarity with my cultural criticism, hereunder the general concept of The Matrix Conspiracy, and, the underlying occult structure: The Godgame (full explanatory article).
When that is said, this counseling form is also a kind of children´s game, which requires an ironical distance to yourself. You play a role such as a Grail Seeker, or a Forest Wanderer. As suggested in my article Counseling in the Mythic Forest of Rold, you are a character trying to awake from The Matrix Conspiracy and The Godgame. You are trying to become a member of the resistance, a "Godgame Hacker".
You could say that The Godgame is The Evolutionistic School against The Traditionalist School (where I belong), or, the Anti-realism School against the Philosophical realism Shool (where I belong). Or, in a more ancient context: the Sophists against the Philosophers.
What is the award? Well, the whole game is about the Quest for the Holy Grail. A part of this game is about the destruction of the One Ring, the Ring of Power, Sauron´s Ring.
In my ebook, Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, I claim that Sauron´s One Ring has two demonical movements which are seen in our culture of today: the movement into the ego (the will to power), and the movement out towards the others in ideology. Hereby the Truth, Beauty and Goodness of the Wholeness is reduced to power and ideology. The danger is the reductionism of modernity.
On this "Grail Quest", or "Ringbaerer´s Quest", we will discriminate between base magic and higher magic.
For base magic (divination, shamanic journeys and healing) we will use some tools, such as Hallowquest cards and runes. For higher magic we will use Meditation as an Art of Life.
The whole thing is in other words paradoxical: we use tools of base magic in order to understand the delusional aspect of base magic, and in this way enter into higher magic. As I write in my book, Meditation as an art of life - a Basic Reader:
[...] an important part of the opening in towards the Source is the realization of what hinders this opening. Unless you know, for example the Ego´s, fundamental essence, you can´t recognise it, and it will deceive you to identify with it again and again. But when you realize the hindrances in you (for example through the question Who am I? as Ramana Maharshi did it) then it is the Source itself - the Good, the True and the Beautiful - that makes the realization possible (page 11).
Base magic is in other words a "Gatekeeper". Central in this counseling form is the healing art of storytelling.
In this article I will tell the background story and end with a list of "Godgame Resources".
2) Base Magic and Higher Magic
I don´t want to call myself a shaman. There are some specific reasons for this. One of the reasons I stopped calling myself a shaman, was due to the many psychic ill people in this environment who, due to New Age subjectivism and relativism, confuse their psychic illness with spiritual constructs, as for example kundalini and shamanic awakening. This is often the case with people who would be diagnosed as skizophrenic, delusional, bipolar, or simply disconnected and untethered from collective reality. Often they even work as shamans, therapists or spiritual healers (see my article: The Faust Syndrome and the End of the Time of Enlightened Masters).
In his book, Shamanism - Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Mircea Eliade talks about "the decadence of shamans", and that shamans once could see directly without the use of trance inducing techniques and/or psychedelics.
This has to do with base magic (shamanism, occultism) and higher magic (theurgy, meditation). Meditation as an Art of Life is about higher magic; that is: going beyond all ideas and images. Base magic is a practice that doesn´t focus on meditation, but on divination, healing and techniques that can develop certain trance states. Shamanism, as we know it, is not a path of enlightenment (though I claim that it was so in a forgotten time age - more about that below). Higher magic is focusing on meditation, and the goal is enlightenment.
The spiritual exercises developed in, for example Platonism and neo-Platonism, are refinements of those leading to cataleptic trances and other paranormal experiences (psychic abilities, kundalini, shamanic journey, channeling, possession of gods or demons, ecstasy, etc). They respond to a rigorous demand for rational discrimination, a demand which, as far as I´m concerned, emerges with the figure of Socrates. In this you can see precisely the same as what happened in, for example Tibetan Buddhism and Taoism: a refinement of shamanism into a path of enlightenment (Unio Mystica).
In the Upanishads you can find the oldest accounts of philosophy as a spiritual practice. It is very likely that Plato, or maybe Pythagoras, had knowledge about this tradition.
During my spiritual crisis, I used critical thinking (elenchos, refutation, logic) to distinguish base magic, which leaves everything to chance, and may lead its practitioners to consort with falsity and evil daemons, and higher magic. The latter is a guarantor of truth and happiness, combined as it is with the source itself: the Good, the True and the Beautiful. Critical thinking simply rescued me from madness. As a result I came to believe that Socrates represented an ancient path of wisdom, where philosophy in a similar way was used as a navigator through the Spiritual Twilight Zone.
In her book, Singing the Soul Back Home, Caitlin Matthews writes:
Shamanism is rapidly becoming the most over-used and misappropriated word of the current era. Too many people read a book, attend a workshop and become "instant shamans", or else rejig their therapeutic training and add the word "shamanic", in the hope that this will align their work with the current fashion. Shamanism is in danger of becoming warped out of the context. Imperfect understanding, cultural reclamation and exposure to unrelated "new Age" techniques often devalue what is a worldwide tradition with local specialities (page 28).
I have myself written about the concept "plastic shamanism" in my booklet: Plastic Shamanism versus the Traditional Shamanic Awakening.
However, I do in fact practice some kind of shamanic work, as mentioned on my website Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy. Here I offer the basic parts of Meditation as an Art of Life (base magic). It is caIled Shamanic Counseling. Counseling in the advanced part is philosophical counseling (higher magic). All in connection with forest therapy. Forest therapy involves many shamanic elements, such as the healing powers of nature. Philosophical counseling also involves the stories of the forest. Furthermore, as you can see in my article, Meditation as an Art of Life, Greco-Roman philosophy was a path of enlightenment rooted in shamanism.
Finally, as mentioned on the philosophical counseling page, I offer a counseling form called The Godgame, which combines base magic with higher magic. It is shamanism/occultism in the form of an ironical role-playing game. It is intimately connected to forest therapy in Rold Forest, Denmark
As a part of The Godgame, I will therefore, in the following, explain the more or less forgotten Story behind Rold Forest, so that you, if you seek philosophical counseling with me, can get some background knowledge. It also describes the different walks I offer in the forest. And, in the end of the article you´ll find some links to the implied Shamanic Philosophy, as well as to some Resources to The Godgame: shamanism, witchcraft, Hallowquest cards and runes.
I therefore use some frames of references. Let´s begin with two of these. They are archaelogical discoveries: a) The Gundestrup Cauldron and b) The Golden Horns at Gallehus
3) The Gundestrup Cauldron
The Gundestrup Cauldron (200BC-300AD)
The Gundestrup Cauldron was found in a bog near Rold Forest, Denmark, in 1891, by my uncle´s grandfather, Jens Sørensen. It therefore has a family connection to me (my cousin has tattoos of the cauldron). But not enough with that: I have an even deeper ancestral lineage to it. This will be shown as this article proceeds.
Shaman Yogi on the inner plate of the cauldron
The figure is usually believed to be Cernussos - the Celtic God of the Forest. However, it is unquestionable that the figure is sitting in a classic meditation position (the Lotus position). The figure therefore seems to be some kind of shaman yogi surrounded by totem animals, spirit helpers and gods.
The iconography has both Gaulish, Thrasian, and Celtic aspects. Other aspects of the iconography derive from ancient Greek art, the Near East and Asia.
All of the above is an inspiration for two ideas of mine:
a) Shamanism was once a path of enlightenment.
The meditation position of the shaman yogi indicates an inspiration from Eastern philosophy. This is a central idea in my attempt of a re-construction of a European form of shamanism, which once was a path of enlightenment. I have outlined the sketches of that in my article: Meditation as an Art of Life.
b) Shamanism and Dream Yoga was once the same.
The shamanic pluralism on the Gundestrup Cauldron is also central in my idea that shamanism once were one and the same as dream yoga. In my article, Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth (a Shamanic Ritual), I have indicated a connection between Tibetan Dream Yoga, Siberian shamanism, Samic shamanism, Scandinavian Shamanism, Greco-Roman philosophy and Egyptian Wisdom.
The idea is furthermore connected to the Indian Yuga teaching. I believe that the Cauldron is a memory of a forgotten time age (the Satya Yuga), where shamanism and dream yoga were one and the same, and formed a, now forgotten, path of enlightenment. Furthermore, I also believe that Vedanta and Platonism are the last memorized philosophies of that age.
Shortly said: the pluralism of the Gundestrup Cauldron forms the contours of an European shamanism, which once was a path of enlightenment (that is: in style with Tibetan Buddhism and, especially, the shamanic aspect of Tibetan Buddhism: Dream Yoga).
4) The Golden Horns at Gallehus
The Golden Horns at Gallehus (5th century, beginning of Germanic Iron Age)
Another frame of reference is the Golden Horns at Gallehus. Here we come to the specific Scandinavian side of my frames of references. Also here you see the Shaman Yogi (Cerunnos). But now we can see a specific Germanic influence. There are, for example, Germanic mythology and runic inscriptions. However, we also see Mediterranean (Byzantine) elements.
The image panels of the both horns projected onto a flat surface (etchings by J. R. Paulli, 1734).
The rune inscription in the top segment of the second horn is here read as a sentence in Proto-Norse, ek Hlewagastiz Holtijaz horna tawidō, translating to "I Hlewagastiz Holtijaz made the horn".
The meaning of the given name Hlewagastiz is debated: it may mean either "lee guest" (Danish: Lægæst) or "fame guest". Holtijaz may either be a patronymic, "son (or descendant) of Holt", or express a characteristic such as "of the wood".
It could be a reference to the shaman yogi, or to Cernunnos, the Celtic god of the forest.
A reading of the supposed cipher in the first horn´s top segment according to Hartner (1969). Note the interesting aspect of rune yoga here. On the whole, it seems that the images on both horns indicates spiritual tranformation processes.
5) The Cimbri and the Gundestrup Cauldron
The Celtic element in my philosophical counseling and forest therapy has to do with my ancestors, the Cimbri, a tribe which came from the area of Rold Forest. My grandmother lived in Rold Forest, my mother is raised there, my family on my mothers side has lived in Rold Forest as far as I can trace, and feel intuitively. So I´m a direct descendant of the Cimbri.
The Cimbri is intimately connected with the Gundestrup Cauldron, which has supplied the environment of Celtic Neopaganism with an unsual degree of narrative for Celtic art. However, as already mentioned: the iconography of the Gundestrup Cauldron contains a pluralism of other influences.
The Cimbri were an ancient tribe. They are generally believed to have been a Germanic tribe originating in Jutland, but Celtic influences have also been suggested.
A memorial stone in Rebild Bakker (The National Park of Rold Forest) in memory of the Cimbri. The stone is representing the characteristic “Cimbrer Bull”, and it has been engraved: “The Cimbri set out from these parts in year 120 BC”. The monument was present from Søren J. Heiberg, Chicago, to Dr. Max Henium, who passed it on to Rebild National Park Society.
The Cimbrian Bull in The Mines of Thingbæk (The mines are also situated in Rold Forest. Still worshipped, as you can see).
A bull is depicted on the bottom plate of the Gundestrup Caludron.
Together with the Teutones (my father´s tribe) and the Ambrones, the Cimbri fought the Roman Republic between 113 and 101 BC. The Cimbri were initially successful, particularly at the Battle of Arausio, in which a large Roman army was routed, after which they raided large areas in Gaul and Hispania. In 101 BC, during an attempted invasion of Italy, the Cimbri were decisively defeated by Gaius Marius, and their king, Boiorix, was killed. Some of the surviving captives are reported to have been among the rebelling gladiators in the Third Servile War.
The Cimbri are depicted as ferocious warriors who did not fear death. The host was followed by women and children on carts. Aged women, priestesses, dressed in white sacrificed the prisoners of war and sprinkled their blood, the nature of which allowed them to see what was to come.
Strabo gives this vivid description of the Cimbric folklore:
Their wives, who would accompany them on their expeditions, were attended by priestesses who were seers; these were grey-haired, clad in white, with flaxen cloaks fastened on with clasps, girt with girdles of bronze, and bare-footed; now sword in hand these priestesses would meet with the prisoners of war throughout the camp, and having first crowned them with wreaths would lead them to a brazen vessel of about twenty amphorae; and they had a raised platform which the priestess would mount, and then, bending over the kettle, would cut the throat of each prisoner after he had been lifted up; and from the blood that poured forth into the vessel some of the priestesses would draw a prophecy, while still others would split open the body and from an inspection of the entrails would utter a prophecy of victory for their own people; and during the battles they would beat on the hides that were stretched over the wicker-bodies of the wagons and in this way produce an unearthly noise (Strabo, Geographica 7.2.3, trans. H.L. Jones)
Evidence that the Cimbri practiced ritualistic sacrifice may be found in the Haraldskær Woman discovered in Jutland in the year 1835. Noosemarks and skin piercing were evident and she had been thrown into a bog rather than buried or cremated. Furthermore, the Gundestrup cauldron, found in Himmerland, may be a sacrificial vessel like the one described in Strabo's text. In style, the work looks like Thracian silver work, while many of the engravings are Celtic objects.
It is noteworthy, that New Agers´, all positive descriptions, of the Celts as some kind of ancient, and British, wonder people, are heavily distorted. The Celts practiced in fact human sacrifices as described.
The concept of Berserker, may stem from tribes like the Cimbri. In the Old Norse written corpus, berserkers were those who were said to have fought in a trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the modern English word berserk (meaning "furiously violent or out of control"). Berserkers are attested to in numerous Old Norse sources. However, as Jörgen I. Eriksson writes in his Rune Magic & Shamanism, the berserks were spiritual warriors, allegedly with the ability of shapeshifting and magic. They were in fact highly skilled shamans: Bear shamans (from where the name Berserker comes: wearing a bear skin), Wolf shamans or Boar Shamans. They could be the male counterpart to the female priestesses.
Plutarch writes about the Cimbri:
For no sooner had word been brought to the people of the capture of Jugurtha than the reports about the Teutones and Cimbri fell upon their ears. What these reports said about the numbers and strength of the invading hosts was disbelieved at first, but afterwards it was found to be short of the truth. For three hundred thousand armed fighting men were advancing, and much larger hordes of women and children were said to accompany them,
The most prevalent conjecture was that they were some of the German peoples which extended as far as the northern ocean, a conjecture based on their great stature, their light-blue eyes, and the fact that the Germans call robbers Cimbri.
[…] whereas the largest and most warlike part of the people dwelt at the confines of the earth along the outer sea, occupying a land that is shaded, wooded, and wholly sunless by reason of the height and thickness of the trees, which reach inland as far as the Hercynii; and as regards the heavens, they are under that portion of them where the pole gets a great elevation by reason of the declination of the parallels, and appears to have a position not far removed from the spectator's zenith, and a day and a night divide the year into two equal parts; which was of advantage to Homer in his story of Odysseus consulting the shades of the dead. From these regions, then, these Barbarians sallied forth against Italy, being called at first Cimmerians, and then, not inappropriately, Cimbri. But all this is based on conjecture rather than on sure historical evidence.
(in The Life of Marius, section 11).
The high unknown north was the preferred fable kingdom of the Romans. Any story might be true, as long as it took place far away, up in the North. Even the sober-minded Julius Caesar (who lived in the extension of the Cimbrian raids), let himself be possessed by his fantasy. In a footnote to his “Commentaries to the Gallic Wars” he writes about “The Curious Animals of the Hercynian Forest”. Among others he talks about unicorns.
Another newer, fictional, source to the Cimbri, is The Long Journey, a novel by the Danish author Johannes V. Jensen. The novel deals with the author's theories on evolution, backdropped against a description of humanity from pre-Ice Age up to the voyage of Christopher Columbus. The work is fictional, weaving in Jensen's stylistic mythic prose with his personal views on Darwinian evolutionary theory. It was primarily for this work that Jensen received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1944.
The first two books take place somewhere in the primeval forests of Europe near a huge volcano. The next two books, with a second prehistoric patriarch, begins after another measureless lapse of time. The later books describing the journey take us down to historical times: we see the Cimbrians marching on Rome and the Vikings' raids. But the story does not end until Columbus realizes that dream of a tropical paradise which is the leading idea of the book.
This novel is quite central for the area of Rold Forest. Johannes V. Jensen was born and lived in the area. However, despite that Johannes V. Jensen of course is known in Denmark, the story of the Cimbri is more or less forgotten. The same is the case with enormous power place of Rold Forest. I have had the fortune to talk with one of the last living storytellers of rold forest, Helge Qvistorff. He is repeatingly making aware of how sad it is that Rold Forest remains an untold story.
Another living storyteller of Rold Forest is the local witch, Dannie Druehyld (hear her tell stories here). My coming use of rune magic will be supplied by her teachings. You could therefore also call it witchcraft. The reason is simply that Druehyld´s teachings are intimately connected to the goddesses (the Disir), ancestors, spirits and folklore of Rold Forest (more about her in "resources" in the end of this article).
The sad fact that Rold Forest is an untold story, can be seen concretely in its uninvestigated archaelogical sites. Rold Forest has about 250 grave mounds from bronze and iron age. There are also other archaelogical sites, such as robber castles. None of these sites have been investigated. Whatever is lying there of treasures are still lying there. This gives of course an exciting feeling of secretness (if you know about it), but generally, in my view, it is a shame.
The main character in The Long Journey is Norna-Gest, a Norse hero and scald (Danish: Nornegæst). Norna-Gest was the son of a Danish man named Thord Thingbiter, who once dwelt on the estate of Grøning in Denmark. When he was born, three Norns arrived and foretold the child's destiny.
Die Nornen, by Johannes Gehrts (1889)
Two of them gave him good gifts. However Skuld, the youngest of the Norns, deeming that the two others made rather light of her, determined to render void their promises of good fortune for the child. So she prophesied that his life was to last no longer than that of a candle standing lit beside the cradle. The eldest Norn (Urðr) instantly extinguished the flame and asked his mother to hide it well.
When Norna-Gest had grown up he became the care-taker of the candle and he is said to have lived for 300 years. He took part in the battles of Sigurd the Vølsung, spent time with Ragnar Lodbrog's son Bjørn Ironside and his brothers, with Starkad, with the Swedish king Sigurd Hring, with King Erik at Uppsala, with King Harald Fairhair and with King Hlodver in Germany.
According to legend, when King Olaf Tryggvason tried to convert the Norse to Christianity, he brought Norna-Gest to his court. In the third year of the reign of King Olaf, Norna-Gest came into the presence of the king and asked to be admitted to his bodyguard. He was uncommonly tall and strong and somewhat stricken in years. Norna-Gest afterward permitted himself to be baptized at the king's desire and lit the candle that the norn Skuld had prophesied about. In accordance with the prophecy, when the candle failed, Norna-Gest died.
The Death of Nornagest, by Gunnar Vidar Forssell
In Jensen´s novel Norna-Gest lives much longer than 300 years. He is a main figure through the whole of the novel. He seems to be in some kind of inner tantra process. Women, both Norns and other goddesses, as well as mothers, mistresses, etc., are central in his fate, in his decision of when to light his candle. Norna-Gest is a scald and seem to sing the whole story.
When I had my kundalini awakening during a dream, Norna-Gest was featured. And, when I accepted my kundalini awakening, and my life in Rold Forest, I began to dream about the Nordic goddesses, The Disir. I have written about all that in my article: Seiðr Shamanism and the Art of Song Healing. It is in this connection I feel very attracted to witchcraft.
But there are more to this: In my booklet, The Nine Gates of Middle-earth, I shortly tell about the "coincidences" (synchronicities/progressive karma) that led me back to my mother´s and grandmother´s forest. But lately there is beginning to happen more strange things. I have namely discovered, that Rold Forest originally was a natural place of worship of the Nordic Goddess, Freyja. The above-mentioned storyteller, Helge Qvistorff, has in his books on Rold Forest, investigated names in Rold Forest, and traced them back to Old Norse. The name Freya occurs in several names. In a small bog in Rold Forest, there was also found a wooden figure of a goddess. The archaeologist, Peter Riismøller, called the figure: Frøya from Rebild. He writes:
These discoveries are clearly those of gods and goddesses lying besides their altars. But is it possible for us to give their names? We know from the sagas that in the Viking Period the Scandinavians worshipped, in addition to the warrior Asa-gods, the more peaceful Vana-gods, the spirits of the weather, of land and sea, of the family of Njord. And Tacitus gives us a picture of this Njord, or Nerthus, as a goddess of fertility. Concerning Njord's children, Frøy and Frøya, who were also man and wife, many scandalous verses have survived telling of their sexual adventures, and countless more, now lost, were said by Adam of Bremen to have been sung before the phallic statue of Frøy at Upsala. Clearly a god and a goddess of fertility were worshipped throughout the Iron Age, and until valid counter-arguments are found it may be permitted to call these simple representations by the names of Frøy and Frøya.
In her article, Songs of Enchantment - The Legacy of the Seiðr Tradition, the Danish shamanic teacher, Annette Høst, uncovers the early northern European shamanic tradition of Seiðr and magic chanting and looks at what it has to offer us for empowerment and healing. Høst writes that our only written sources are bits and pieces in Norse myths and sagas from late Viking age, but the tradition probably has much earlier origins, with roots in Germanic fertility cult and early shamanism.
The above-mentioned Disir belongs to a group of gods called The Vanir. In ancient Celtic religion they are called The Sidhe, or more popular: the Faery. They are the Divine Ancestors. They are closely associated with poetry and music. In her book, Jorden Synger – Naturens Kraft of Nordiske Rødder, Annette Høst describes ”alferne” (basically meaning ”elves” – see Wikipedia: Alfar) as spirits of nature. However, she also claims that in the old Nordic spiritual tradition they didn´t discriminate much between gods and spirits. In Old Nordic tradition, and in several sagas, “alferne” are closely connected to the fertility god Frey. Frey´s mythical home is called Alfheim, and he is celebrated at the festival called Alfablot. Both Frey and his sister Freyja are of the family of gods called Vanir, which area of work is peace, fertility and magic. In old Nordic scripts, the whole of that family is sometimes called “alfer” (elves) instead of Vanir. So, in the old Nordic tradition, the fertility gods were very close connected to the spirits of nature.
Again Annette Høst is talking about something I clearly recognize. In an article, Keep it Close to Nature, Karen Kelly interviews Høst on Seiðr:
KK: Does This Mean That In Order to Practise Seiðr We Need to Follow the Religion of the Vikings?
AH: I am glad that you bring this up because I think that this question lingers maybe unconsciously in many people’s minds. I’ll put it this way: A lot of the research connects the tradition of seiðr with the Viking Age, with the Aesir deities and especially with Odin. This is without considering the fact that seiðr is much older than the Vikings, much older than the Aesir gods. I would rather go behind the filter and structure of any religion in my seiðr working to the source of the spirits and powers of Nature. That is the same for us as for the old ones - it is timeless. I don’t see seiðr as being necessarily part of any religion. I really want to emphasise connecting it to the power and spirit of Nature rather than any religion.
If we should relate seiðr to a religion it would be much more relevant to link it to the older fertility religion and the Vanir. They are the earlier Nordic gods and spirits concerned with fertility, sexuality, magic, peace and abundance. We know the main deities of the Vanir: Frey, Freyja and Njord. But what is interesting is that they were inseparable from groups of spirits of the land and Nature. Frey is connected with the Elves (alfar), Freyja with the Disir and sometimes the whole group of Vanir is called Elves. So they are much closer to the Earth and shamanism than any later Nordic gods. I think most people don’t really know about the Vanir, so they have not yet been the object of romantic interest, but they are much more in harmony with some important aspects of seiðr, such as the ecstasy and ergi.
However now that we know how a seiðr works I prefer to let go of all that historical fringe and concentrate on the timeless aspect of seiðr. We are not recreating the past.
All this seems to fall completely into my own intuitions and dreams. In the Tibetan tantra traditions (for example Dream yoga), they have a sacred female spirit, called a Dakini. This spirit is very similar to the Celtic Sidhe, and the Scandinavian Vanir (the female Vanir is called Disir).
Helge Qvistorff writes in his book, that he believes that if archaeological work was allowed in Rold Forest, we would find several temples devoted to Freya. He believes that one of them is located on the top of the hills of Rebild. Today there is a road from the the top of Rebild Hills down to Gravlev Valley (also called Lindenborg Stream Valley). The actual name of the valley is Hørgdalen. And the word "hørg" or "harg" is old norse and means a place with many stones, mountain peaks, springs, sacrificial altars, sacrificial houses or shrines - especially for goddesses.
According to Qvistorff, it is therefore more than likely that "Hørgdalen" (Gravlev Valley) has been a holy valley, and that there has been a temple for Freyja on the "mountain peak" (the top of the hills). Probably some place in Rebild where there has been a view over the valley (see "Photography from Rold Forest" in the end of this article).
Meanwhile, look at the below photo from Gravlev Valley. It is taken from the church Gravlev Kirke, which, precisely like many other middle age churches in Denmark, is build upon an ancient temple to the Nordic Gods. On Gravlev church you´ll find the grave of sculptor Anders Bundgaard, who made "Gefion Fountain" in Copenhagen, and "Cimbrian Bull" in Aalborg (the actual sculpture of the Cimbrian Bull is, as shown above, located in the Mines of Thingbæk). The sculpture of the girl is called "Hedepigen" ("The Heath Girl"). She is looking directly towards Ravnkilde (Ravenspring), a holy spring situated below the old beech wood on the other side of Gravlev Valley. In that connection, read my blog post: How Ravenspring Got It´s Name.
In Rold Forest you can experience Freyja in many forms. Try to go to Bjergeskoven. In Bjergeskoven (the Mountains forest), the terrain falls 85 meters from the highest point of the burial mounds Pigs High to Gravlev Valley´s base just 1 km away. Here, the forest varies from tall pines on the high parties, the younger hardwood forest to the ancient twisted and gnarled beech forest that one associates with the name Mountains forest.
Mountains forest gnarled and often many stemmed beeches tells of miserable upbringing and exploitation. When the state took over the forest for the tax debt in 1826, it could hardly be called a forest, total felling notch and impoverished as it was. The forest has licked the wounds and now stands as a picturesque memory and beautiful natural scenery for a rich ground flora with calcicoles plants.
When you wander among 2-300 years old beech, you might suddenly come to an encircling fence, which even are watched by video cameras. Within the fence you can experience the forest pearl orchid Lady's Slipper, not surprisingly also called Freyja´s Slipper by the locals. Europe's largest and rarest orkide survive in its bower, to shield against illegal opgarvning. Visit the site last week in May when everything is bright green and Lady cow beautiful flowers peaks. Freyja´s Slipper only bloom fourteen days each year.
Qvistorff also believes that the church “Fræer Kirke” might be build upon an old Freya temple. Fræer Kirke is lying just north of where I live. My first trip to this church, was almost like a Grail quest.
It is no coincidence that I write that it was like a Grail quest. Because when I was in progress of discovering Rold Forest´s link to an ancient Freyja worship, I was also in progress of studying the Grail mystery. The quest that comes most readily to people´s minds is namely that of the Grail, which has become associated with the cup of The Last Supper - a relic that brought healing, divine gnosis and the heart´s desire. In this context the Grail was the cup used by Christ to celebrate the Last Supper and the first Eucharist.
In my booklet, The Nine Gates of Middle-earth, I wrote about synchronicities/progressive karma in connection with the above-mentioned Gravlev Church. The synchronicity/progressive karma feeling also came when I entered Fræer church, and walked down to the altarpiece. The central altarpiece was a painting of Jesus at the Home of Martha and Mary. On the two wings there was written this quotation:
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you (Luke 22:19-20)
The Last Supper is the foundation for the Eucharist symbol. This event both has an exoteric and esoteric side. The bread is Christ´s body, the wine is Christ´s blood. Therefore, when you eat this bread and drink this wine, then you absorb Christ in you; you are getting one with the energy of Christ. The exoteric side is that you only do this in order to remember Christ. The esoteric side is the mystical practice, where you actually are being united with Christ in the heart and in the enlightened consciousness. Something similar is happening in the so-called Mary mysticism, which for example is practiced on Mount Athos in Greece.
As I will describe below, the Grail story begins in the Celtic past, as a cauldron giving the food most desired, or healing, immortal life and wisdom.
In the book, The Lost Book of the Grail - The Sevenfold Path of the Grail and the Restoration of the Faery Accord, Caitlijn and John Matthews write about two appearances of the Grail. They write:
[...] Within this book, we will term these two appearances of the Grail, "the Faery Grail" and "the Holy Grail." These are not two different vessels but rather two appearances of the same Grail. The Faery Grail represents the earlier, folk tradition of the cup, which is entirely to do with the relationship of humans with faeries and the earth: we will explore its context and antecedents in chapters 4 and 6. The Holy Grail represents the Arthurian cup, which has taken Christian coloration, and with which most people are more familiar (page 17).
The two appearances could be seen in relation to my booklet, The Nine Gates of Middle-earth, which is a depiction of the nine chakras. I call the first chakra, the Earth chakra (beneath the body), or Mother Earth (the Faery Grail). I call the last chakra, the Heaven chakra (over the body), or Father Heaven (the Holy Grail).
Furthermore: in my article: The Compass - The Forgotten Secret of Hara Healing, I refer to the depiction of Hara Healing, which you´ll find in Chinese philosophy (Taoism). Here the concept of Hara is known as the lower Tan Tien. The lower Tan Tien is also called the “medicine field” or “elixir field,” as it gathers and contains the healing power of Chi. Other names for it are the “ocean of Chi,” the “sea of energy,” the “cauldron,” and the “navel center.” The use of the expressions “ocean” and “sea” refer to the wavelike quality of Chi. The expression “cauldron” refers to the function of the lower Tan Tien as the center of internal alchemy that transforms energy (have a look at the images of "The Embryo of Buddhahood" and, "The Embryo of Virgin Mary").
In my booklet, The Runes of Rold Forest, I describe how I combine base magic (Nordic runes, Celtic Ogam Tree Alphabet, Disir/Freya mysticism and an ethics of balance, or said differently: compensatory karma), with higher magic (icons, Mary mysticism, grace and love, or said differently: progressive karma) – more about that below.
Back to Norna-Gest! It is Norna-Gest (combined with the Celtic bard and shaman, Taliesin), that stands behind the title of my coming book: The Vision Singer - Nordic Songs of Meditation and Shamanism.
Download The Long Journey for free here.
Taliesin: The Last Celtic Shaman, by John Matthews. Note the many references to The Gundestrup Cauldron in this book. Taliesin is, for example, called "The Cauldron-Born". The front page of the book, is showing a gold bracteate from Lellinge. Lellinge is also a place in Denmark:
[the bracteate] possibly depicts a shaman, thumb in mouth, surrounded by animals, with star-signs in the background (page 164).
I agree with that it possibly is a shaman, but Matthews ought to have included that the artifact, as you can see, also has a Germanic rune inscription on the right side.
Matthews is occupied by a British oriented form of Celtic shamanism. As mentioned: I myself lend towards an ontological pluralism, and I totally agree with the Danish historian and storyteller, Ebbe Kløvedal Reich, when he held the festival speech at the Hundred Years Festival for the discovery of The Gundestup Cauldron, and said the following words about the Cauldron:
"...in that way we are standing with nothing less than than a grand Indo-European symphony. A find of Eastern Celtic, Western Celtic, Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Scythian, Parsian, and Indian origin, found in Himmerland in Northern Germania. Then the whole of the European antiquity should be covered."
In the following I will go more into that quote. Another thing is namely, however, when you look at it in the context of storytelling: then you are more free, and in this respect it is alright to fabulate. I my coming book, The Vision Singer - Nordic Songs of Meditation and Shamanism, I will certainly do that. Included is the above idea of that shamanism once was a path of enlightenment. This is something which, partly, belongs to my own imagination - but also to a mix of historical facts and intuitions received in meditations and in dreams. It will be my postulation that the imagery of both The Gundestrup Cauldron, and on The Golden Horns at Gallehus, are depictions of transformation processes happening during meditation (yoga, inner tantra), and which have striking similarities with shamanic and alchemical processes.
In his book Fæ og Frænde – Syvenhalv nats fortællinger om Vejene til Rom og Danmark, Ebbe Kløvedal Reich tells the same story about the Cimbri as Johannes V. Jensen, but in an openly admitted mix of historical truth and fiction. Reich is telling about two cauldrons, which are called Akok and Mikok. After the Cimbri´s violent raids, they gave one of them to emperor Augustus. Strabo writes (and that´s a true historical account):
and they sent as a present to Augustus the most sacred kettle in their country, with a plea for his friendship and for an amnesty of their earlier offences, and when their petition was granted they set sail for home;
So, in Reich´s story, one Cauldrion was given to emperor Augustus. The other Cauldron, which was found in a bog near Rold Forest, is The Gundestrup Cauldron.
Strabo´s account witnesses about that The Gundestrup Cauldron, and similar cauldrons, were a part of the Cimbri´s spiritual practice.
Read Strabo´s full account here.
A friend made me aware of an interesting post in the Facebook group, Irish Mythology and Folklore. It is written by Bernard Joseph Molloy. Though the text shouldn´t be considered as historical evidence, it is creating a fascinating mythline, or storytelling connection, between what it is I´m telling on this page, namely about Rold Forest´s factual Celtic past.
I will reproduce the post here:
I do believe the Bronze Age Scots and Irish once had very strong links to a once “Celtic” southern scandinavia.
This I believe is worth considering in terms of discovering who the “caledonians” were.
On older map of “celtic” europe, it is always assumed that the “celts” stopped short of scandinavia.
Yet these “celtic” maps show “celtic” peoples in ireland, britain, the ibernian peninsula, gaul, belgica, germany, poland, central europe, the northern balkans and anatolia.
But the “celtic” influence / culture stopped short of scandinavia. I have always questioned this. I do believe that before southern scandinavia was “germanic”, the people there too once spoke a nordic variant of “celtic”.
Study Nordic folklore and Nordic Bronze Age archeologically and it appears to be as “celt” like as many other parts of “celtic” europe.
Also on many older maps from antiquity, showing where the “celts” were, southern scandinavia is often called “Celtica Lytarmis”. I do think there is a lot of true in this. And this once “Celtic” Scandinavia would once I believe have had strong links to Bronze Age Scotland and Ireland.
I also believe the “Celtica Lytarmis” region of Scandinavia was the home of the “Tuatha Dé Danann” who are said to have come to Ireland in the late Bronze Age. See attached map for example. Though it’s blurred, southern scandinavia is named as “Celtica Lytaris” on this map.
I believe also that when the vikings came, they were following in the footsteps of their ancient “celtic” Nordic past, from hearing old stories. And that ancient “Irish / Scots / Nordic connection later continued with the later “Norse-Gaels” & the “Galloglass”
Nordic Bronze Age (Wikipedia – In connection with the link between the Gundestrup Cauldron and India, the Wikipedia text mentions that cultural similarities between the Nordic Bronze Age, the Sintastha/Andronovo culture and peoples of the Rigveda have also been detected).
Tuatha Dé Danann (Wikipedia - In Irish mythology, Danu is a hypothetical mother goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann - Old Irish: "The peoples of the goddess Danu". In connection with the above-mentioned Indian connection, it should be mentioned that Danu also is a name of a Hindu primordial goddess. This is mentioned in the Rigveda like this: "Danu is the mother of the Danavas". Finally, the Tuath Dé Danann eventually became the Aos Sí or "fairies" of later folklore - the above-mentioned Sidhe).
7) Forest Therapy and Walks in Rold Forest
Rold Forest is also called “The Seven-league Forest of Fairy Tales”. Today no one knows where this expression comes from, the forest is asleep. However, the expression suggests that storytelling once was widespread here, and that the forest at that time was more awake and in a state of dreaming.
Denmark’s largest original forest naturally has a comprehensive wildlife. Rold Forest’s 8,000 hectares encompass so many different habitat and forest types that a very large number of forest, bog and meadow animals are found here. Spread around in the forest you can find 6000 years old grave mounds, so the place is probably filled with history, legends and fairy tales going back to Norse mythology, and, perhaps, Celtic mythology. It just needs a storyteller and visionary singer that have the ability of passive listening presence. Dannie Druehyld has a bit of the ability.
If we return to the book, The Lost Book of the Grail - The Sevenfold Path of the Grail and the Restoration of the Faery Accord, by Caitlin and John Matthews, then it says something which also is important for Rold Forest. The authors namely examine the forgotten story of the Faery Wars and the role of Well Maidens in the Grail story. The authors show how the lost book of the Grail reveals themes familiar to the modern world and offers hope of healing the rift between the worlds of Faery and human as well as restoration of our natural belonging to the land.
It is basically about re-enchantment. Enchantment is also central in Tolkien´s works, and he is, besides the Grail story, another frame of reference during philosophical counseling and forest therapy.
Rold Forest is precisely the kind of Northern European forest which inspired Tolkien´s creation of The Old Forest, Lothlorien, Fangorn, and Mirkwood. We will encounter ancient beech trees creating a magical trolls’ wood of gnarled trees, a hiding place for the robbers from Rold, springs rising up from the ground everywhere, a burial place from prehistoric Denmark with 250 large grave mounds, the Mines of Thingbæk, the most beautiful heathery hills in Denmark, and maybe we´ll meet the witch, Dannie Druehyld. And at the same time we will enter deeper into our own minds.
Rold Forest is simply a holy place. It is a grave place for the great ancestors. The power you´ll experience here is beyond imagination. I have always found it more or less amusing that in our modern secular culture, people also experience it. No matter what road you choose to drive into the forest area you´ll meet a sign that says : "Warning. You are now entering a vulnerable water area!" The area of the Well Maidens.
Forest Therapy. Shinrin-yoku. Forest Bathing. Many names for the medicine of being in the forest.
Forest Therapy, also known as “Shinrin-yoku,” refers to the practice of spending time in forested areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness, and happiness. The practice follows the general principle that it is beneficial to spend time bathing in the atmosphere of the forest. The Japanese words translate into English as “Forest Bathing.” Although I´m inspired by the Japanese practice my use of the terms Forest Therapy and Shinrin-yoku do not mean a specifically Japanese practice. I mean spending time in nature in a way that invites healing interactions. There is a long tradition of this in cultures throughout the world. It’s not just about healing people; it includes healing for the forest (or river, or desert, or whatever environment you are in).
There are an infinite number of healing activities that can be incorporated into a walk in a forest or any other natural area. An activity is likely to be healing when it makes room for listening, for quiet and accepting presence, and for inquiry through all eight of the sensory modes we possess. In short: Meditation as an Art of Life.
In Rold Forest in Denmark, I offer different guided walks/meditations in the forest, where I partly will tell stories about the forest area we walk through, partly offer philosophical counseling. There will also be opportunity for sitting around a campfire in the evening, or “vision quests”: sitting alone in the forest during the night.
Forest therapy will naturally involve shamanic elements, since shamanism is a spiritual path exclusively dealing with nature. During forest therapy, I therefore use The Celtic Shaman´s Pack as a storytelling guide (more about that below).
Three main walks, which basically follow the shamanic concepts of The Middleworld, the Underworld and the Upperworld:
1. The Holy Springs Walk (the Middleworld). This is a walk along the "hollow" Hills of Rebild, through Gravlev Valley, also called "The Valley of Happiness". We will follow a path beneath ancient beech and oak wood. We will visit the house of the poacher Lars Kjær and his wife, Marie, who was a fortune teller. The walk includes two holy springs: Ravnkilde (Raven Spring), and Lille Blåkilde (Little Blue Spring). On the hills above Little Blue Spring there is an ancient burial place consisting of 50 grave mounds (in Rold forest there are approximately 250 grave mounds from stone age, bronze age and iron age - the oldest are 6000 years old). None of them have been archaeologically investigated. So, whatever is lying of treasures are still lying there. Between the mounds you can find some stone rows and stone circles. They have the same astronomical mysticism as Stonehenge. The comparison is not a coincidence. As already explained: the ancient people of Rold Forest, the Cimbri, very likely worshipped ancient Celtic religion. It was properly a Celto-Germanic mix. This is made likely, since the famous Gundestrup Cauldron was found in a bog near Rold Forest. The cauldron has delivered most of the imagery which Celtic Neopaganism uses today.
2. The Mines of Thingbæk Walk (the Underworld). This walk is following another path on the other side of The Valley of Happiness. It includes The Mines of Thingbæk, where The Cimbrian Bull is dwelling (see images in the end of this page). We will, as mentioned, talk about the Danish author, Johannes V. Jensen, who depicted the Cimbri in his novel, The Long Journey, which he won the Nobel Prize for. We will visit the "Workshop of the Witch" (Heksens Værksted - the witch of Rold Forest is Dannie Druehyld - see her page on Thingbæk Kalkminer, where you can hear her tell stories: click here. In the Workshop of the With you´ll have the opportunity to mix herbs collected by Druehyld, and bring them with you home. You might even get an opportunity to meeet her). Furthermore, we will visit three springs: Skillingbro Spring, Egebæk Spring, and Gravlev Spring. Finally, we will visit an old middle age church build upon a temple to the Nordic Gods: Gravlev Kirke. The Valley of Happiness is an enormous power place.
3. The Mound of Wonders Walk (the Upperworld). This walk includes the strange "Troll´s Wood", The "Forest Tower" (Skovtårnet), the "Primeval Forest", and finally, a burial place in a sacred grove of ancient trees: beech, ash, oak, birch, etc. The place is called Klodholmpladsen. It a smaller burial place, with 6-7 grave mounds. There is especially one grave mound on which there grow ancient trees. This is a power place you won´t forget. This is my "Sacred Place" in the forest. I call it: "The Mound of Wonders". Here we will sit for a while. As mentioned above: it is possible to perform an incubation ritual here. It is also possible to wildcamp here, and have a campfire in the night, right next to the mound. In other words: it is a perfect place for a vision quests (Utiseta, Sitting Out). Lunch can be brought, or arranged at the Inn: Hotel Rold Storkro.
1. A Walk to an Ancient Forest Lake. This is a walk through the woodland where I daily think and walk in beauty. Includes Lake St. Økssø. The walk will include different forest types, bogs, meadows, ancient forest houses, grave mounds. Rold Forest has a lot of grave mounds from both Stone Age, Iron age and Bronze Age. None of them have been archaeological investigated. This means that whatever was buried there of treasures, still are lying there. There will be a possibility for lunch at "Mosskov Pavillonen". Lunch can also be brought. This is also the tour if you want to visit places for wildcamps, campfires, and vision quests (Utiseta, Sitting Out).
2. The Forest Garden of Jutland (Den Jyske Skovhave). In preparation. Also this belongs to the woodland where I daily think and walk in beauty. This is a special area in Rold Forest, where a collection of the most known tree species of Northern Europe can be found. This walk will focus on The Spirit of Nature Oracle (see resources below), which draws upon the wisdom of the trees and the Celtic ogham tree-alphabet (the secret language of the poets). Each of the cards represents one of the ogham trees and is painted in such a way as to look alive and watching the diviner. There are certainly real tree spirits looking out of the cards! The accompanying book draws upon the lore of the trees and the wisdom of the Green Man. Since many assume that The Celtic Ogham alphabet and the Norse runes are one and the same thing, I will also work with rune lore/magic in connection with trees (this is called Wild Runes). Both the Celtic and Norse cultures concern themselves with arcane knowledge and under the patronage of the gods of word-wisdom. The Ogham and Runic alphabets both distil wood-wisdom, while the trees themselves are seen as living embodiment of memory. This is related to the third stage of critical thinking: flexible thinking (Anamnesis: remembrance through imagination/poetry/storytelling) - see Meditation as an Art of Life. Also remember that England was actually Danish from 1016 to 1066! And the Orkney and Shetland Islands were Danish from 1380 to 1459. Again, I will mention the Cimbri, who perhaps was a matriarchal culture. Their religion consisted of female priestesses, who were seers. This could be discussed by drawing in Robert Graves´ book, The White Goddess, where the Celtic Ogham alphabet is quite central.
3. Nazi Ghosts, Primordial Woods, and Robber Castles (in preparation). This walk requires a bicycle or a car; a walk which will involve stories from my family and ancestry. We will start in my grandparent´s village Rold (from where the name of the forest comes). Here my mother grew up in the family´s merchant´s house. During the Second World war two Nazi officer´s were staying here, and Rold Forest was a place for the war between the resistance movement and the German occupying forces. We will go on an expedition into unmapped, private woods with untouched forest. This is the woodlands where we can meet "Silvanus Callirius" - "The Woodland King" - or, the Stag. We will visit a spring with a very rare species of mosquito, that only lives there in the whole world! (Not even in the other springs in Rold Forest). And we will see Nørlund castle, a castle with a past of robber chiefs, and the secret marriage between King Christian IV, and Kirsten Munk. During the Second World War, one of my uncles delivered goods to the castle, and I will tell some stories about that (no entry though).
4. A Pilgrimage to a Sacred Oak Grove (in preparation).
8) Links to the Implied Shamanic Philosophy:
Meditation as an Art of Life (this article outlines the first sketch of my ideas).
The Runes of Rold Forest (the cosmology of my own shamanic work, hereunder rune magic and icon mysticism, ways to work with spirits, etc.).
Counseling in the Mythic Forest of Rold (article, which describes the role of storytelling in the counseling process)
Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth (a Shamanic Ritual) (In this article I indicate a connection between Tibetan Dream Yoga, Siberian shamanism, Samic shamanism, Scandinavian Shamanism, Greco-Roman philosophy and Egyptian Wisdom - all in all: a documentation of some bricks in a puzzle that could be used in the reconstruction of an European path of enlightenment).
Witch Power, Occult Awakening and Dangerous Illusions (introduction to Dannie Druehyld, but also to some dangers on the occult path).
Witchcraft, Shamanism and Storytelling (introduction to the Earth Chakra/Mother Earth. Something I, personally, have found liberation in, in this chakra, is how to use negativity - rage, anger, fear, sadness, etc. - in a creative and healing way. This is symbolized by the Tyr-rune. The Tyr-rune is connected to the above-mentioned berserks, the bear shirts, who were a special Nordic variant of the spiritual warrior. The spiritual warrior dares to confront and overcome his own dark side and joyfully throws himself into challenging situations, as Egil Skallagrimsson did. The spiritual warrior can control his wrath and direct it in a spiritual and advanced way.
Karen Blixen - The Devil´s Mistress (Karen Blixen referred to herself as a witch. She is a central witchcraft mentor to me. She appeared in a dream when I had my kundalini awakening).
Seiðr Shamanism and the Art of Song Healing (an article about Scandinavian shamanism. Here I describe how my kundalini awakening happened in a dream and how Norna-Gest - besides Karen Blixen - was featured in the dream).
The Connection Between Shamanic Healing and creative Unfoldment (focuses on the concept of: The Artist as Shaman).
The Long Journey, by Johannes V. Jensen (free download).
The Nine Gates of Middle-earth (my description of the chakra-system. Framed in a story from The Long Journey, the booklet could be said to describe the inner journey of The Shaman Yogi, depicted in the beginning of this page. Furthermore, it leads towards Tolkien´s work, which is quite central in my ideas)
Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien (the complete philosophy; quite literally, since this ebook is written as a course in philosophy. Tolkien works with a pluralism in style with The Gundestrup Cauldron. He mixes Celtic, Scandinavian, Finnish, Old European and Christian elements)
9) General Texts on Shamanism:
Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, by Mircea Eliade (this is a classic scholarly introduction. I suggest that you read the Wikipedia introduction to Eliade, since he belongs to the same traditionalist school as myself).
Singing the Soul Back Home - Shamanic Wisdom for Every Day, by Caitlín Matthews (personal account. Also see her website: Hallowquest)
The Shamanic Workbook I - Cleansing, Discernment, and Ancestral Practices, by Mary Shutan (personal account).
The Shamanic Workbook II - A Guide to Animism, Elements, and Grids, by Mary Shutan (personal account).
The Spiritual Awakening Guide - Kundalini, Psychic Abilities, and the Conditioned Layers of Reality, by Mary Shutan (personal account).
Working with Kundalini - An Experiential Guide to the Process of Awakening, by Mary Shutan (Personal account. Best description of Kundalini I know. Contrary to other books, she depicts the three phases of kundalini. However, she doesn´t work with Hara in combination with spiritual crises - see my article: The Compass - The Forgotten Secret of Hara Healing. In order to avoid ego-inflation I always call spiritual awakenings for spiritual crises).
Nine worlds of Seid-Magic - Ecstasy and Neo-shamanism in North European Paganism, by Jenny Blain (scholarly account, introducing Nordic Shamanism).
10) Central texts on witchcraft/shamanism in Danish context:
Heksens Håndbog, by Dannie Druehyld (as mentioned: my coming use of rune magic will be supplied by Dannie Druehyld´s teachings. You could therefore also call it witchcraft. The reason is simply that Druehyld´s teachings are intimately connected to the goddesses (Disir), ancestors, spirits and folklore of Rold Forest (where she lives and practices). As in South America, Druehyld mixes Paganism and Christianity. Visit Dannie Druehyld´s website. Hear her tell stories here. In the future, I will go deeper into her witchcraft. In that occasion I have opened a new blog category: Witchcraft in Rold Forest).
Jorden Synger - Naturens Kraft og Nordiske Rødder, by Annette Høst (a mix of witchcraft and shamanism. Read more about her on the website: Shamanism.dk)
Kalendarium (calendar with connected Danish "Wheel of the Year" folklore. I will use this in combination with rune ceremonies. Also see Dannie Druehyld´s Wheel of the Year in the bottom of this page).
11) LIST OF GODGAME RESOURCES:
Each philosophical counseling session will start with a meeting in my apartment, where we will have a short talk. This aspect of the counseling will be more formal, in that it will be an introduction to the whole storytelling cosmos, which is a central part of philosophical counseling.
In that connection it is important that you understand that I don´t use base magic (The Hallowquest Cards and runes: healing, divination, shamanic journeys) in a traditional way, but as entrances to higher magic: Meditation as an Art of Life. Divination, for example, will be related to the "Four Philosophical Openings and Hindrances", as described in the introduction to my book: Meditation as an Art of Life - a Basic Reader. Divination will furthermore be related to the Socratic enquire technique described in the supporting exercise: The Philosophical Diary (in the same book). This will again lead to the art of asking philosophical questions in a meditative-existential way.
But why use base magic when critical towards it? That´s precisely the paradoxical, because it also contains elements of truth. There is an element of aesthetical meditation in it, which lead to the third level of critical thinking: flexible thinking - (creative thinking, storytelling, mythic imagination, etc.) - as described in the Meditation as an Art of Life article. This is the ability of looking at your issue from all kinds of alternative viewpoints, to open up your stagnated reality tunnels, to make your thoughts flower - shortly: to become a life artist! I have already mentioned the healing art of storytelling in my article, Counseling in the Mythic Forest of Rold. You could also read my essay: The Connection Between Shamanic Healing and Creative Unfoldment.
As mentioned: this will be a bit formal. I will use cards, runes, and books. But after this, we will start one of the walks in the forest. The dialogue will here be more informal and free-flowing, and you can ask all the supplying questions, you want to.
In the following I will describe the base magical tools I use (The Godgame Resources):
A) The Hallowquest Cards (related to the Gundestrup Cauldron).
B) The Runes (related to the Golden Horns at Gallehus).
A) The Hallowquest Cards (related to the Gundestrup Cauldron):
The Hallowquest cards are created by Caitlin & John Matthews. They namely, in rich ways, feature The Gundestrup Cauldron. "The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts", for example, is directly constructed around the cauldron.
Also note the importance of the Wildwood in some of the products. The cards have wonderful artwork, and I love the simplicity in the iconographic pedagogy. I use them for storytelling and aesthetic meditation; more or less in the same way as I use my Icons (also see my article: The Spiritual Practice of Icons).
Note the beauty and poetry in the cards. The beauty is precisely why I´m fascinated with shamanism, and with the notion of The Artist as Shaman. It is the beauty that points towards enlightenment: The Good, The True and The Beautiful.
Below I will present the main cards I use. Besides these cards, I also use other cards from Hallowquest: The Storyworld Cards (as an introduction to storytelling), and two tarots which indicate, that your journey start out in some kind of urban Matrix: The Sherlock Holmes Tarot, and The Steampunk Tarot - Gods of the Machine.
The Godgame implies a lot of references to my pop culture files, as for example: Sherlock Holmes as a Stoic Philosopher, Alice in Wonderland, and, Mythology Seen in Relation to Dungeons and Dragons - the latter booklet contains, in the last part, an interesting description of the alignment system of Dungeons and Dragons, which could be compared to the alignment systen of Runes: an ethics of balance.
So, despite it´s philosophical complexity, the Godgame is in fact a kind of children´s game. It requires an ironical distance to yourself. As soon as you have grasped what I write in my article, The Godgame, you can let go and flow with the inner child.
You could see it in relation to my booklet: The Peter Pan Project. The goal is that you become like a child again. Indeed, all my Hallowquest cards are kept in a treasure chest. The image of Peter Pan leading the Darling children to Neverland, is pure shamanism. Also Caitlin Matthews sees shamanism in relation to a children´s game. In her book, Singing the Soul Back Home - Shamanic Wisdom For Every Day, she writes:
Our childhood play is a time of primal learning where we discover the universe. Play is about becoming and acting out, about discernment and understanding. Without this consolation and soul-food, we become sealed off and separated from sources of joy, which is often what happens when we grow up. Anything which subsequently reconnects us with the source of creative play is accordingly held precious by us (page 10)
This book invites you to become a walker between the worlds. To do this, you need to know just where the thresholds of those worlds are and how to cross them. They are not difficult to find.
The doorways and pathways lie all about us. As children, we knew them intimately in our secret play; like Alice in Wonderland, we explored the multi-dimensional complexity of the cosmic web, which was inhabited by spirits with whom we played. The tragedy of growing up is that we are seduced into giving up any contact with the web, to join the adult world where people are largely disconnected from it. When Dylan Thomas wrote "Rage, rage against the dying of the light", I believe that it was this creative illumination, our connection with the web, that he meant. As adults, we lose our easy access to subtle reality, except through dreams or theough meditation and other spiritual practices (page 45).
Caitlin´s words here, could be a summary of the whole idea with my philosophical counseling practice: to become like children again, and regain the contact with the web.
Let me give you two examples of how I use the Hallowqust cards, when I start a new philosophical counseling session:
1) The Hallowquest cards and the Grail question
2) The Hallowquest cards and forest therapy
1) The Hallowquest cards and the Grail question
Before the session, I ask the guest to describe an issue which he or she want to at the centre of the counseling, and formulate a so-called "Grail Question" about this topic. This is related to "The Grail Tarot" which I will describe further below. In the counseling, I use it (and the other Hallowquest cards) as a way of using storytelling to get two central ideas of the counseling clarified:
a) The spiritual quest.
b) The art of asking philosophical questions in a meditative-existential way.
I believe that images/stories can become real vehicles of divine energy. Therefore you can, in my view, both use the Gundestrup Cauldron (the Faery Grail), from the area of Rold Forest in Denmark, and the Holy Grail, as links to the divine. Even Plato talked about the Cauldron of the Gods in his dialogue Timaeus.
John Matthews writes:
The quest that comes most readily to people´s minds is that of the Grail, which begins in the Celtic past, as a cauldron giving the food most desired, or healing, immortal life and wisdom. By the thirteenth century the Grail, which began life as a wonderworking Celtic cauldron, had become associated with the cup of the Last Supper - a relic that brought healing, divine gnosis and the heart´s desire.
The Gundestrup Cauldron is the most famous Celtic cauldron existing. But, as I have suggested in this article: The Gundestrup Cauldron not only points back towards a British oriented Celtic past (which is Matthews´s main focus), but also towards a broad Indo-European past: an ontological pluralism. In that way, the Grail ripples backward, into an ever-widening hinterland of epic and deep myth (storytelling), and then, into the Platonic world of ideas (philosophy).
Matthews has himself described this in his book: Grail: A secret History. In this book, Matthews suggests some of the mythic themes and narratives that lead up to the first appearance of the Grail in literature, which include the wonderworking cauldrons of Celtic tradition, the Platonic and Hermetic vessels from which life spills into being in a variety of esoteric traditions, and early Hebrew and gnostic myths.
This depicts very precisely how a spiritual path develops: the Wholeness is opening up from sleep, to dream, into awakeness; more and more layers, or shells, are opening. On the relation between storytelling and philosophy, see my article: Counseling in the Mythic Forest of Rold. On the opening of the shells: The Nine Gates of Middle-earth.
In the introduction to The Grail Tarot, John Matthews writes:
The Grail has been described as many things: a stone fallen from the crown of the Angel of Light during the war in Heaven; a cauldron of Celtic antiquity which was sought after by heroes; a cup used by Christ to celebrate the Last Supper and the first Eucharist; and, more recently, as a bloodline stretching back to Biblical times. But more than the sum of its parts, the Grail is really an idea representing the presence of a numinous, mystical link between the sacred and the secular. It remains, to this day, a focus for search and a provider of winder to the world in which we live - and it gives us a tool for a personal quest, from which may come personal growth and restoration of spirit (page 6).
In the above-mentioned book by Caitlin and John Matthews, The Lost Book of the Grail - The Sevenfold Path of the Grail and the Restoration of the Faery Accord (which you can use as a back-up for The Grail Tarot), Matthews writes:
In the words of Dai Great-Coat, the soldier protagonist of In Parenthesis, the great mystic poem of World War I, written by the Anglo-Welsh poet David Jones: "You ought to ask...what´s the meaning of this? / Because you don´t ask...there´s neither steading - nor a roof-tree. In the Grail quest, not asking gets you nowhere and merely repeats the cycle of suffering. From the beginning we need to ask questions; it is the only way of navigating the landscape of the Grail (page 5).
In the Arthurian legends, various Round Table knights attempt to find the grail. In some texts Peredur or Percival is the Grail winner and mediates between the otherworld and the physical world. In others it is Galahad who appears to die after looking into the Grail. But central to the mythos is the asking of the Grail question: "Whom does the Grail serve?" This relates to the art of asking philosophical questions: "Who am I?", "What does my life mean?", "What is the nature of reality?"
The art of asking philosophical questions in a meditative-existential way is one of the most central aspects of Meditation as an Art of Life. In my book, Meditation as an Art of Life - a Basic Reader, I wrote:
The great masters within the wisdomtraditions have always communicated this teaching via philosophical counseling. Because the great masters asked philosophical questions - that is: not in an intellectual way as in the academical philosophy, and not in the sense of repeating a mantra - no, they asked philosophical questions in a meditative-existential way, as the wordless silence within a strong existential wonder. As Aristotle said, then philosophy starts with wonder. You probably know the wonder you can feel when you look at the stars, or when you are confronted with all the suffering in the world. This wonder fills you with a silence in which all thoughts, explanations and interpretations in a moment wither away. It is in this silence you ask the great philosophical questions, open inwards and outwards, listening and observing, without words, without evaluations.
The wordless silence within the existential wonder is the same as asking philosophical questions in a meditative-existential way. And it is this philosophical questioning which can be the beginning of a deep inquiry into Man and reality - a lifelong philosophical voyage of discovery towards the Source of Life: the Good, the True and the Beautiful (page 6).
So, asking philosophical questions in a meditative-existential way is the wonder which must be the foundation for a Grail question. The Grail is not simply a beautiful and powerful object in an old story. It stands for spiritual truths that are as important now as they ever were. In our own lives the search for the Grail can represent the essential element that makes us who we are, the mystery at the center of our being that drives us to ask questions and seek answers.
Asking questions has always been an important part of the Grail quest. In the Perceval story, the young knight´s failure to ask about the nature of the Grail forced him to take a very much longer path to reach his goal. We can be similarly hampered by failing to question the things that happen in our lives. By asking questions we take the first steps toward entering our own quest. The powerful and visionary archetypes of The Grail Tarot (and other Hallowquest cards) help us to do just this.
Life itself is like a quest. From the word go we seek to discover our purpose, our role in the pattern that makes up the span of our years. Where will we go? Who will we be with? What goals will we seek to fulfill? Just as Perceval undertook the quest for the Grail knowing none of the answers, so we set forth in ignorance of what the future holds. We may have helpers already - such as parents, grandparents, or friends - and we may meet others on the way. But if we seek to apply the pattern of the quest to our own lives, we amy need to ask some questions first to help us focus on our intention and the way forward.
How to go about asking? The Grail question must of course be formulated in a concrete way relating to the personal story of the guest, and to the issue which the guest wants to be in centre of the counseling. But it must be carried by the wonder of asking philosophical questions in a meditative-existential way.
The best springboard for any philosophical counseling session is your question or issue: the reason you´re consulting me (and the forest). It goes like this: you write a short description of your issue, and hereafter you formulate a question about this issue. A clear question creates a clear answer. Refine your question as much as you can, and open it to the help of the Powers that you´re contacting, by asking it in a way that includes them. Write down your question and ponder what you´re asking. avoid yes/no questions, and don´t ask either/or questions, which will merely confuse the oracle (the oracle is basically the Freyja oracle - or, The Runes of Rold Forest - described on the philosophical counseling form, healing and divination; therefore the Hallowquest cards are more used for storytelling than for divination).
Here are a few examples that will help you to frame your question:
Short guide: How to ask your grail question.
2) The Hallowquest cards and forest therapy
Forest therapy invokes the power of the Wildwood, and of the living spirits of the forest. It takes us across time to the pre-viking (before The Golden Horns at Gallehus) and pre-Celtic world (before The Gundestrup Cauldron) of the forest that once cloaked much of the world, where primal forces, cloaked in the shape of animal, bird and fish roamed free and opened doorways into the primal otherworld of the Ancestors. Forest therapy includes elements on the Lore of the Wild, ways to work around the archetypal Wheel of the Year, shamanic methods of exploring the wild, and meditations designed to enable powerful, personal encounters with Wildwood spirits.
The Celtic Shaman´s Pack is used as a starter of forest therapy. It functions as a Peter Pan substitute. It both works as an entrance to the guest´s Grail question, and as an indication of focus points in forest therapy. It will also indicate which of the the other card systems (tarot and oracles) we will use (see below). These other card systems will be used as further trailmarkers, pathfinders and helpers - all conneced to forest therapy and storytelling. And, all this will then be combined with Meditation as an Art of Life (higher magic). The main divinatory tool, however, is the Freyja Oracle, or, the Runes of Rold Forest (more about that under B: The Runes (related to The Golden Horns of Gallehus).
Cards connected to forest therapy:
The Celtic Shaman´s Pack - Guided Journeys to The Otherworld is the main card desk. It is neither tarot, nor oracle. For all who love shamanism and the Celtic worlds, this 40 card set depicts the three realms of the otherworld and its inhabitants: animals, divinities, places, objects. The Gunderstrup Cauldron is a part of it. I use these cards for meditation, as journeying gateways or destinations in combination with forest therapy, as well as for divination (however, divination with these cards is not so simple as using the below tarot or oracle cards).
Most shamans possess a pouch or bag in which they carry certain items imbued with magical or mystical significance. These may be bones, stones or other items intended for use in shamanic rituals or healing ceremonies, and may also include objects designed to act as maps of the worlds traversed by the shaman.
The Celtic Shaman´s Pack represents just such a collection of items. In other words: this card desk will both be used as a starter of the counseling sessions, and as a guide in forest therapy. It works in close harmony with the forest, with the elements, and with the spirits who assist in its cyclic momentum. It so to speak provides a number of gateways to the elemental and spirit worlds.
In the beginning of this article, I mentioned, that I don´t want to call myself a shaman. My way of using The Celtic Shaman´s Pack, as well as the other, below, Hallowquest products and runes, is that of shamanic counseling. Shamanic counseling is a modern counseling method that is based on classic shamanism, but in this case the “client” ("guest", as the "client" is called in philosophical counseling) becomes his own shaman and his spirit teachers become the counselors. Under the guidance and support of me the "client" shifts to shamanic consciousness and journeys to the spirit world with his own mission. The purpose may be, for example, to get in touch with his own spiritual power, or to find his way through a personal life crisis, or receive advice on some practical issue.
However, remember that the whole thing is paradoxical: I use tools of base magic in order to understand the delusional aspect of base magic, and in this way enter into higher magic (Meditation as an Art of Life). Base magic is in other words a "Gatekeeper". Central in this counseling form is the healing art of storytelling, which also illustrates my deep respect for base magic. Base magic is a "Gatekeeper", a necessary frame of reference. But higher magic is necessary in order to avoid dangers and pitfalls, as well as to enter into the philosophical openings, and eventually be united with the divine Source itself.
The Celtic Shaman´s Pack could also be used in combination with my booklet, The Nine Gates of Middle-earth, which, by the guidance of the chakra-system, describes the inner journey of the Shaman Yogi.
Now, finally, let me describe a concrete philosophical counseling program. You can choose 1-day, 2-day or 3-day programs. Normally, people travel to Rold Forest. Therefore they usually choose a 3-day program. So, let me describe a philosophical counseling process based on a 3-day program (if you choose a 1-day or 2-day program, the same process will be compressed to fit). A 3-day program will fit into the above-mentioned three walks in Rold Forest, which follow the shamanic concepts of the Middle World, the Underworld and the Upper World:
Day 1 (the Middle World)
We meet in my apartment and you present your issue and Grail question. Hereafter I ask you to draw one card from the major arcana in the Grail Tarot. In addition to to the normal background information and divinatory meanings for each Major Arcana cards there is a one-line "Grail Question." This is asked of the reader by the archetypal being of the card and is designed to reveal the deeper wisdom within each image. That there is asked an additional Grail question, to you, will in my context be related to the central idea of Meditation as an Art of Life: the art of asking philosophical questions in a meditative-existential way. We will now look into my book Meditation as an Art of Life - a Basic Reader, and study the "Four Philosophical Openings and Hindrances", the "Socratic Inquire Technique", and, eventually, the philosophical questions, and the teachings of Krishnamurti. Usually, we will also look at the coresponding card in the Major Arcana of The Wildwood Tarot (which uses imagery from The Gundestrup Cauldron). In that way we have a view from the two grails: The Holy Grail and The Faery Grail. Hereafter we will use the Celtic Shaman´s Pack, and, by drawing a card, select a focus for forest therapy. The latter will happen all three days.
NB! In certain contexts, for example if you are a returner, we can lay a complete tarot spread, either based on the two above-mentioned, or others. I´m a collector of Hallowquest´s tarot decks. They are wonderful storytelling maps over the spiritual journey, and the following can be used, if the context is suitable: The Complete Arthurian Tarot, The Byzantine Tarot, The Da Vinci Enigma Tarot, The Sherlock Holmes Tarot, The Steampunk Tarot.
Day 2 (the Underworld)
Day 2 will focus on the Gundestrup Cauldron. We will investigate your Grail question by using The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts. This card desk is directly based on the Gundestrup Cauldron. Like the Grail Tarot, there is a questioning element that can lead to a combination with Meditation as an Art of Life. Good for family issues/lower chakras. Can be used both as an oracle and a healing device, just like the runes (more below). Can be used in connection with a visit to The Mines of Thingbæk. It is also related to the Wheel of the Year. I will use the above-mentioned Kalendarium.
As with the tarots, other oracles can be used. See list below.
Day 3 (the Upper World)
Day 3 will focus on the Golden Horns at Gallehus. Here, The Runes of Rold Forest will be used: the Freyja´s Healing Cosmology and, Freyja´s Oracle. Freyja´s oracle will be combined with The Spirit of Nature Oracle. This is about the above-mentioned Ogam tree alphabet, which therefore also is related to the runes. That the Ogam tree alphabet can be related to a Goddess (Freyja) is not based on a coincidential choice. In his book, The White Goddess, Robert Graves precisely describes the Ogam alphabet in combination with goddess worship. The Spirit of Nature Oracle depicts the Ogam alphabet by using wonderful images of trees, or rather Ents, since each tree-image reveals a face looking out at you. I simply combine the whole Rune line (the Uthark) to the trees in the Ogam tree alphabet. Together this form The Runes of Rold Forest: rune signs and Ogam images.
Depending on which counseling form you have chosen, the healing aspect (Freyja´s Healing Cosmology) can be focused or defocused, but it will be included in all counseling forms. If you have chosen the Healing and Divination counseling, I will form a healing rune-mandala. This will be combined with the Spirit of Nature Oracle. A complete "Ent-moot", can therewith be formed. This can furthermore be combined with the Ancestral Oracle of the Celts. Like the runes, the Ancestral Oracle of the Celts is not only a device for divination. It is also a device for healing. In fact, the oracle functions in connection to the healing function, just like the runes. It can be used for healing family issues, both individual persons and groups.
Freyja´s Oracle will be based on the Draw of the Norns. This will be combined with The Three Worlds Spread in the Spirit of Nature Oracle. The tree spirits will function as empowerers of the teachings of the norns. This will furthermore be combined with three draws from The Celtic Shaman´s Pack (if you are a returner, more complex spreads can be used).
It all fits together! The Three Worlds Spread will be placed on an image of the Worldtree: The Roots of the Underworld, The Trunk of the Middleworld, and The Branches of the Upperworld. This corresponds to the three Norns: Urd, Verdande and Skuld. Urd (the past) is related to the Roots of the Underworld. Verdande (the presence) is related to the Trunk of the Middleworld, and Skuld (the future) is related to the Branches of the Upperworld.
The worldtree is also associated with kundalini, and in my view, the imagery of the Golden Horns at Gallehus shows the inner tantric, alchemical and shamanic transformation processes, which is happening during a process of kundalini awakening. Kundalini is the same as shamanic power. Kundalini is also a feminine power, asscociated with serpents.
Finally: In the Ogam tree alphabet there are 25 "letters" or signs. In the Uthark (magical runic alphabet), there are 24 "letters" or signs. In the Uthark this is supplied with a 25th sign, which is called "The Empty Rune". I have no problem in relating the Empty Rune with the 25th sign in the Ogam alphabet, which is called "Phagos". This is namely related to the Beech. The divinitary meaning of Phagos has to do with the concept of "crossing over" and questions such as "What lies beyond the threshold?" That is: the unknown, the indescribable, etc. Moreover: The Beech is the most widespread tree in Rold Forest. The beauty and femininity of the beech is obvious - traditionally, it is called the "Queen of the Woods", sharing place and honur with the knightly oak. Local British traditions associate the beech with serpents, probably because of its serpentine root systems, which are revealed by soil erosion when they are planted on hills and slopes, precisely what Rold Forest is characterized by.
As mentioned: the below card systems can be used as back-ups to the above-mentioned central tarots and oracles. I choose the desks I find relevant in relation to your Grail question and the draws from the Celtic Shaman´s Pack. I use the cards for aesthetic meditation and storytelling. They will be used as trailmarkers, pathfinders and helpers (tarot is actually a kind of map for a traveller of sorts). And, again: the answers will hereafter be put into the complete context of philosophical counseling. And, they are all connected to forest therapy, and the main base magical tool: The Runes of Rold Forest. They end with The Grail Tarot. The circle is closed (note that 1 to 4 are related. They are all Sidhe oracles related to the four elements).
1) The Oracle of the Fleeting Hare (related to the Earth element)
2) The Sidhe Oracle of the Waters (related to the water element. Coming up)
3) The Sidhe Oracle of the Sun (related to the fire element. Coming up)
4) The Moon Oracle of the Sidhe (related to the air element)
5) Celtic Totem Animals
6) The Celtic Book of the Dead (coming up)
7) The Shaman´s Oracle - Wisdom and Guidance From the Ancestors. "The Shaman´s Oracle" is based on prehistoric cave art. This oracle corresponds well with the above-mentioned concept of shamanic counseling. You are yourself a shaman consulting the cards. Hereby you can find a tutelary spirit. The link contains a related link to Werner Herzog´s fascinating documentary: Cave of Forgotten Dreams - watch for free! The Shaman´s Oracle can also be used in combination with a visit to The Mines of Thingbæk! This can happen as a substitute for The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts. Where The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts works well with close family relations, The Shaman´s Oracle deals with distant ancestors and ancient knowledge. Furthermore, I suggest that you use the cards and the movie in connection with what I write about "Wisdom in Dark Places" in my article: Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth (a Shamanic Ritual). The cards are namely relevant in connection with Greco-Roman incubation rituals, and can also be seen in relation to Tibetan Dream Yoga.
8) The Wildwood Tarot (all kinds of forest spirits will be involved in this. Features imagery from The Gundestrup Caildron. I use the major arcana of this tarot in addition to the corresponding draw from The Grail Tarot, so that we have a view from the two grails: The Holy Grail and The Faery Grail).
9) The Beowulf Oracle (coming up in 2021 - this card system will be brilliant as a Scandinavian storytelling game. Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon poem, and depicts the important link between Denmark and England. It also describes "The Hero´s Journey", and can be used for talking about dangers and pitfalls on the spiritual path - related to my booklet: The Art of Pilgrimage).
10) The Da Vinvi Enigma Tarot (coming up!)
11) The Grail Tarot (This is the cards we began with. Closes the circle of Mother Earth and Father Heaven. Leads towards Christian mysticism. Asking a "Grail Question" is probably the most famous "storytelling aspect" of "asking philosophical questions in a meditative-existential way" as I did in my first book, Meditation as an Art of Life - a Basic Reader. Also note the implied "The Complete Arthurian Tarot" and "The Byzantine Tarot". Besides the final connection to the opening of the spiritual heart (enlightenment), I use all these tarots in combination with "The Art of Pilgrimage". However, as with all the other base magic themes mentioned in this article, I´m ironically playing with paradoxes. With The Grail Tarot I´m namely also opening up for the most common storytelling structure under the Godgame: the pseudo-history, conspiracy theories, and anti-Christian New Age occultism, which today are being related to the Grail, and which are part of a Plan (?) of a reinvention of Jesus Christ in the image of New Age).
B) The Runes (related to the Golden Horns at Gallehus):
I see, and work with runes as symbols of the mystical structures under ordinary language: songlines and dreaming tracks. Seen in that way they form a map of the cosmic web.
As mentioned on the philosophical counseling page, I´m in progress of offering a counseling form I call Healing and divination. This service is still in preparation. It will be based on The Runes of Rold Forest. Rold Forest is, as mentioned above, an ancient place of Freyja worship, and healing and divination with The Runes of Rold Forest will be based on a Freyja cosmology and a Freyja oracle, which I´m still in progress of developing. This is base magic. This base magic will also be combined with higher magic. Higher magic is, as explained, Meditation as an Art of Life, but in this counseling form (healing and divination) there will be a focus on icon mysticism.
Moreover: when the runes are seen in combination with the Hallowquest cards, we can see a combination of the Gundestrup Cauldron and the Golden Horns at Gallehus; both of which seem to depict inner tantric transformations. Again: this can be seen in relation to my booklet on the chakra-system: The Nine Gates of Middle-earth. This fits into Tolkien´s ontological pluralism.
As described on my page Meditation as an Art of Life (critical thinking, level C): when you are opening your personal images to more collective and universal images (from ordinary naive realism, to objective idealism), these structures will be experienced. When this happens, the Wholeness itself begins to dream, and are starting a "remembering process", or, a "waking up proces". This is the direct experience of animism (or inner tantra, which I see as the same). We will go from runes (Germanic past) to Hallowquest cards (Celtic past), and from there, longer and longer back in time, towards the creation.
This is not a path without dangers and pitfalls. Again: my use of runes is paradoxical: I use them in order to understand the delusional aspect of base magic, and in this way enter into higher magic. Base magic is a "Gatekeeper".
In my free Ebook, Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, I have described the "waking up proces", in chapter 2: Philosophical Theology, part 2: Divine Providence and Free Will, and in chapter 8: Philosophy of Language. But I have only very briefly described Tolkien´s view of the runes. However, in my new booklet, The Runes of Rold Forest, I have developed a theory of rune healing which unites base magic and higher magic - seen in relation to Tolkien´s cosmology. Also see this guide to Runes in Tolkien´s universe: Runes - Tolkien Gateway.
Finally, I will recommend the following texts (Jörgen I. Eriksson is my central rune magic teacher. But, like many others New Agers, Eriksson feels the importance of having a metaphysics. Therefore he, instead of seeking out philosophy (where metaphysics belongs) has fallen into the trap of new age scientism: Jung´s solipsistic psyche, quantum mysticism and Sheldrake´s "morphic fields". It is interesting that New Agers, who are talking about holism, are basing their metaphysics in reductionism (the creators of the "Wildwood Tarot" are doing the same). But that´s because they believe that reductionism only has to do with materialism. They don´t know that reductionism also is psychologism, sociologism and historism (which they mix with psedoscientific psychological, physical or biological fantasies). However, Eriksson is talking out of experience and, especially important: out of an authentic deep passion. He is also rooted in the Scandinavian landscape. He has a simple way of passing on his knowledge that completely resonates in me, contrary to other books on runes, written by much more famous rune theoreticians. Finally, the New Age scientism stuff can easily be separated from his, brilliant, traditional rune teachings, because he only talks about New Age scientism in separate sections and articles.
As indicated in the start of this article: I combine his own rune cosmology with my own (see: Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien), and, in continuation of Tolkien´s Catholicism, I combine Nordic rune magic, the Celtic Ogam Tree alphabet, and icon mysticism - about that: see the already mentioned booklet: The Runes of Rold Forest. Creating your own rune cosmology is something Eriksson himself is advising new rune magicians to do. Remember that Norna Gest finally converted to Christianity. From the Hallowquest cards, also remember The Grail Tarot.
Main texts on the runes:
1) The Runes - a Shamanic Tool From Dreamtime, by Jörgen I. Eriksson.
2) The World Tree, the Cosmic Web and Mother Earth in Nordic Tradition, by Jörgen I. Eriksson
3) Rune Magic and Shamanism – Original Nordic Knowledge from Mother Earth, by Jörgen I. Eriksson (my primary source. Uses the so-called Uthark theory).
4) Seid 5.0 – A Guide to Nordic Shamanism, by Jörgen I. Eriksson (my primary source)
5) Helrunar – A Manual of Rune Magick, by Jan Fries (secondary source. This is a fascinating, unique book on runes. Fries is a kind of "wildman" who writes different on runes and shamanism than other writers (he focuses on the "Nightside"). I will therefore also recommend other books by Jan Fries, who, for example, also has written about Celtic Shamanism: The Cauldron of the Gods: a Manual of Celtic Magick. Also here The Gundestrup Cauldron is central, but not in the New Age version, which the above Hallowquest cards depicts. This is a much more realistic version, describing the violence and darkness of the Celts (he also mentions the Cimbri). He has also written a book about Seidr magic: Seidways: Shaking, Swaying and Serpent Mysteries. Fries is also talking about the Nazi use of runes, and therewith we again are faced with the paradoxes of base magic. Read for example the Wikipedia entrances on: Nazi Symbolism, Runic insignia of the Schutxstaffel, Guido van List, and on the whole, Occultism in Nazim).
6) Sound: Listen to the runes here, by Jörgen I. Eriksson
7) Sometimes Miracles Happen - On Saami Shamanism and Traditional Healing, by
Jörgen I Eriksson (as in South America, the Saami combine shamanism with Christianity)
12) Photography from Rold Forest:
Rold Forest 2021: Winter´s Tales 1
Rold Forest: Spring 2020
Rold Forest: Indian Summer 2018
Quote from The Long Journey, by Johannes V. Jensen
Dannie Druehyld´s Wheel of the Year. Click here to find her descriptions of the different seasons (only in Danish, but with a Google translate it should be possible to access the text).
The Wheel of the Year, from The Wildwood Tarot
Copyright © by Morten Tolboll.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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