Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy
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.
NB! This article is in progress of being revised and updated. Especially the last part is unfinished, and a bit confused.
The following article is a theoretical introduction to my shamanic counseling practice in Rold Forest, Denmark. It is therefore also an introduction my practical website: Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy.
Shamanic counseling is a modern counseling method based on classic shamanism, but in this case you become your own shaman and your spirits teachers become the counselors. Under my guidance and support, I will help you to shift to "shamanic consciousness" and journey to the spirit world with your own mission. "Shamanic consciousness" is in my work not ecstasy or trance, but Creative Consiousness and Meditative Consciousness. The purpose may be, for example, to get in touch with your own spiritual power, or to find your way through a personal crisis, or receive advice on some practical issue.
Shamanic Counseling with me is a mix of Celtic/Scandinavian shamanism, Christian Mysticism, and Tibetan Dream Yoga.
I use some frame of references. Two of these are archaelogical discoveries:
1) The Gundestrup Cauldron
2) The Golden Horns at Gallehus
1) 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. 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 meditation position. The figure therefore seems to be some kind of shaman yogi surrounded by totem animals, spirit helpers and gods.
The iconograpy 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:
1) 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.
2) 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).
2) The Golden Horns at Gallehus
The Golden Horns at Gallehus (5th century, beginning of Germanic Iron Age)
Another frame of reference in my shamanic work is the Golden Horns at Gallehus. Here we come to the specific Scandinavian side of my shamanic work. 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.
I will return to my practical shamanic work with Germanic mythology and runes. First, I will return to the Gundestrup Cauldron and my deeper ancestral lineage to it.
The Cimbri and the Gundestrup Cauldron
The Celtic element in my shamanic counseling 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 icongraphy 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, 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.
Another, 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. But she is mainly telling stories in relation to witchcraft.
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 Völsung, spent time with Ragnar Lodbrok's son Björn 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. He is a scald and seem to sing the whole story.
When I had my kundalini awakening during a dream, Norna-Gest was featured. I have written about that in my article: Seiðr Shamanism and the Art of Song Healing.
Download The Long Journey for free here.
Shamanic counseling and forest therapy
Shamanic counseling is an introduction to an enchanted world. Said in another way: Shamanic counseling is a poetic process. A great deal of the counseling consists in storytelling, games and play. You will learn how to transform yourself into a Life Artist, and your life into a Work of Art.
The central concept is The Wholeness, and everything in shamanic counseling will be seen in relation to the Wholeness. The Wholeness is symbolized by the wheel, or the circle.
Shamanic Counseling with me is a mix of Celtic/Scandinavian shamanism, Christian Mysticism, and Tibetan Dream Yoga. I also work with the teachings of the local witch, Dannie Druehyld.
Before a session, I will ask you to think about an issue which is important for you, and form a central question about this issue. You can ask about anything between Heaven and Earth.
Normally, shamanic counseling happens in connection with forest therapy. However, I also offer shamanic counseling alone. This is either happening in my apartment, or at your place of accomodation.
Shamanic counseling in connection with forest therapy is offered as either a two-day program, a three-day program, or a four-day program.
The first day is an introduction. Like shamanic counseling alone, this happens either in my apartment or at your place of accomodation. The first day will, besides the introduction, also be the day where I will perform specific divination and healing.
Hereafter, the counseling happens as a free flowing dialogue while spending time in the forest. In reality it is rather simple.
However, there are some frames of references, which the counseling can revolve around:
It is not necessary that you are completely familiar with all this. It is me that guides you. The focus also depends on what you want to be the main topic for the counseling. However, here is a short introduction to each of the above frame of references:
The Peter Pan Pan Project
If you want, you can read more in my article The Connection Between Shamanic Healing and Creative Unfoldment.
A program consisting of shamanic counseling and forest therapy lasts around 2-3 hours.
In order to, that you can make a "retreat" out of your "pilgrimage" to Rold Forest, I offer the following programs: two-day, three-day, or four-day programs.
A four-day program is the standard program, beginning with oracle work the first day, and hereafter followed by the three main walks in the forest.
Under the contact form below, you can see, which walks I offer in the forest. Here you can also find an introduction to shamanism, storytelling and folklore in connection with Rold Forest. You´ll also find more information about the Hallowquest cards and other resources.
The program(s) starts with an introductory meeting, as well as oracle giving, either at my place, or your place of accomodation. This will be happen the first day.
If you are disabled, or badly walking, counselings can be arranged at power places, where walking is unnecessary. Eventually, it can also happen indoor, either at your place of accomodation, or in my apartment (this is also an option on cold winter days).
Eventual extra costs for food, entrances, transport, must be covered by you. Evening arrangements around a campfire will also cost more.
General information about Rold Forest:
Rold Forest (information about Rold Forest)
Photograpy (Rold Forest 2020)
Rebildporten (Tourist information. Rebild is the name of the National Park of Rold Forest, Denmark). Watch this video:
About forest therapy:
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 shamanic 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.
Three main walks:
1. The Holy Springs Walk. 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. 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. 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 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 - she is not included though), and we will visit three springs: Skillingbro Spring, Egebæk Spring, and Gravlev Spring. Finally, we will visit the old middle age church: Gravlev Kirke. The Valley of Happiness is an enormous power place.
3. The Mound of Wonders Walk. This walk includes the strange "Troll´s Wood", 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. 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. 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, which draws upon the wisdom of the trees and ogam lore. Each of the cards represents one of the ogam 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 Ogam 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. Remember! 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. 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).
What time a year is the best?
Shamanic counseling and forest therapy can happen all year round. It follows The Wheel of the Year. Initially, you might think that the best time is during the summer half year. The Mines of Thingbæk, for eaxmple, is only open in the summer half year (except during certain festivals in the winter half year, as for example Christmas). And, staying outdoors in the forest is not very pleasant if it is cold, and there are storms, snow and rain.
However, if you are familiar with The Wheel of the Year, there might be cardinal points, seasons, elemental kingdoms, animals, birds and fish, that relate to you and which you resonate with. There might be certain festivals that have a special meaning to you, and which cause a mythical resonance in you.
The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts is special because it is connected to The Wheel of the Year:
And so is The Wildwood Tarot:
Personally I see the above Wheels of the Year in connection with the below calendar (The Calendar of the Witch - Heksens Kalender), which is created by Dannie Druehyld:
It is special, because Dannie Druehyld is an example of what we in Denmark call a Wise Woman. She is completely untouched by New Age, and her lore of the calendar is based on a mix of ancient Danish folklore, paganism and Christianity. You can read her lore of the calendar here (only in Danish but it should be possible to translate it by the help of Google translate).
During the counseling, I mainly follow Dannie Druehyld´s calendar lore, and try to present the foods, drinks and herbs she advices us to use for each time of year.
The important thing is that you should consider what time of year you want to come. The most attractive is of course in the summer time, but there might be things connected to the Wheel of the Year that makes another time more valuable (or, you might only be able to come in the winter time).
(Reading is not necessary. The below resources are a help for people who want to go deep into the background)
Texts by myself:
1) Meditation as an Art of Life (Introduction).
2) Counseling in the Mythic Forest of Rold (article).
3) Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien (free Ebook. This book is a course in philosophy. Tolkien worked both with Celtic and Nordic shamanism, as well as Christianity. Tolkien is a central frame of reference in the mentoring process. On my page on cultural criticism, you can see why I consider it immensely important to have a coherent metaphysics. In this book I present a such. It is a kind of wild magic philosophy, a map of the Inner Side of the forest)
4) The Nine Gates of Middle-earth (free booklet. Related to the above Ebook: Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien. Explains the chakra-system in relation to Meditation as an Art of Life. Chakras are the gates between the Outer Side and the Inner Side, a circle starting with Mother Earth and ending with Father Heaven).
5) The Art of Pilgrimage (free booklet. As mentioned, I consider meditation mentoring as a way for wanderers (holy fools) and outskirters to meet in Rold Forest. This booklet see the Art of Pilgrimage in relation to the journey motive in The Lord of the Rings).
6) Seiðr Shamanism and the Art of Song Healing
7) The Connection Between Shamanic Healing and Artistic Unfoldment (Essay. The ancient Celtic priesthood consisted of Druids and Poets (wandering bards, who also were magicians). This corresponds to the Nordic Seidr shaman and the Nordic wandering scalds. In this essay I try to depict an image of "The Artist as Shaman"; a concept which allows ordinary people to participate in a kind of shamanic work. Where the philosopical background allows you to "Think for Yourself", this concept allows you to "Awake Your Own Inner Power". In ancient Celtic Religion, magic was intrinsically connected to poetry. In Seidr shamanism magic is intrinsically connected to singing).
8) My Life as a Vagabond (Article. Philosophical reflections on bohemianism. Looks at poetry as a shamanic technique).
9) What is a Life Artist? (article)
10) Links to Idlers
11) Storytelling as a Spiritual Exercise (article).
12) Primordial Meditation and The Philosophical Diary (article).
13) The Long Journey, by Johannes V. Jensen (free PDF version. This text is of course not by myself, but is related to my texts. As mentioned, the novel is quite central in the mentoring, both personally and cultural. I have mentioned it in the above-mentioned The Nine Gates of Middle-earth, and in my article, Seiðr Shamanism and the Art of Song Healing, where I describe my kundalini awakening. It happened in a dream, where the wandering scald, Norna-Gest appeared. Norna-Gest is a central character in The Long Journey.
14) The Peter Pan Project (my main term for the liberation project, which I consider my work to be. It is the project of becoming like a child again).
15) The Life Artist as Shaman (Blog category. These blogs are exercises in "looking at things from above". This is inspired by the philosophical diary, as practiced by the Greco-Roman philosophers. According to Goethe, poetry is a technique for shamanic journey. This is also in harmony with the bards in Ancient Celtic Religion, who also were shamans. The same is the case with the Scandinavian scalds. You could say the same about any artistic unfoldment, under one: Art of Life. It has to do with the shamanic art of shapeshifting, and shamanic journey. The goal is to set the thoughts free, and escape the prison of the mind).
16) The Primordial Meditation Archive.
17) My YouTube playlist on Meditation Mentoring and Forest Therapy (I could of course easily have posted some Celtic New Age music, which admittedly is quite good. But the music on this playlist is in my view much more genuinely pointing towards techniques of inducing special states of consciousness - inspired by Northern European traditions such as Seidr Shamanism, Sami Shamanism and Celtic Shamanism - the link opens in another window so that you can continue studying this site, while listening to the music).
18) New Sûnyatâ Sutras (Blog category. My Sûnyatâ Sutras are so-called mirror-texts, or pointing-out instructions. They aim at going beyond all images and ideas).
Hallowquest Products and the Right-hand Path (an aspect of Meditation as an Art of Life is about going beyond all ideas and images. But this must not be confused with nihilism, which is an unacceptable philosophical theory, and not a spiritual state of mind. It is therefore necessary with frames of references in a spiritual practice (see my article: The Value of Having a Religion in a Spiritual Practice). I have chosen the Hallowquest products, partly because of their peculiar relationship with both the Gundestrup Cauldron, and The Wildwood - partly because of the eminent scholarship/artwork. But I don´t use them for divination. I use them as tools for poetry, shapeshifting, dance and journey. I also use them in combination with dream yoga techniques. They are also gateways to my book: Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, which is central in my mentoring. I will use them in order to show the paradox of the left-hand path and the right-hand path, which both are examples of base magic (see Jan Fries literature below on the left-hand path). You might think that the Hallowquest products belong to the right-hand path, but this might not be so. Meditation itself is a journey from base magic to higher magic (enlightenment), or, a way to think for yourself.
My three main card systems:
1) The Wildwood Tarot (This is the introductory card system I use. The Gundestrup Cauldron plays a role. Could be seen in relation to the quest motif in The Lord of the Rings - see my booklet: The Art of Pilgrimage. We could relate it to the beginning of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, where Gandalf try to get the hobbits into a "wanderer" mood).
2) The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts (directly based on the wisdom of the Gundestrup Cauldron. Could be seen a bit like the Council of Elrond. This oracle works especially well with family/ancestor issues (lower chakras/psychological issues): The Fellowship of the Ring).
3) The Spirit of Nature Oracle (Now we are wandering into the soul of the forest. The Spirit of Nature Oracle has to do with The Celtic Ogam tree Alphabet and the ancient wisdom of The Green Man. Can be seen as a reference to characters such as Treebeard and Tom Bombadil. There´s a lot of poetry in the Ogam Tree Alphabet, as also depicted in Robert Graves´s book: The White Goddess. This book also suggests an element of Inner Tantra, which is a Yin (feminine) practice (passive listening, and receptive presence). Much of the history of the Ogam Tree Alphabet is paralleled by the history of the Runes, and Rune lore will also be used for the poetic value. The Ogam and Runic alphabets both distil wood-wisdom, while the trees themselves are seen as living embodiment of memory. The word Rune can mean whisper, song, secret, mystery, adviser, woodland, magic charm, incantation, etc. Runes will also be seen in relation with Tolkien´s runic writing system, Cirth, and his poetic concept of the Moon-letters. Finally we will look at the difference between the Elvish Languages and The Black Speech of Mordor - see Philosophical Counseling With Tolkien, Chapter 8: Philosophy of Language. Note that nothing of this should be seen in a scientific way, only as poetry. However, I believe poetry has a magical ability. Again: see my booklet, The Art of Pilgrimage. Also consult my essay: The Connection Between Shamanic Healing and Artistic Unfoldment. In my booklet, What is Dream Yoga, I show how words, in the moment we fall asleep, dissolve into images. Language is based on "trees" of personal, collective and universal images: a First Forest of stories, poetry and music. This First Forest is permeated by magical dreaming tracks and songlines, which you can learn to follow. I believe this First Forest is what the poetry of Ogam and Runes originate in. The Spirit of Nature Oracle is a system of divination with the First Forest. Dream Yoga is a means of traveling into the First Forest yourself).
Back-up Card Systems:
1) The Celtic Shaman´s Pack (also here you´ll find references to The Gundestrup Cauldron. I myself use this card desk during meditation. Meditation is my way of shamanic journey - see my article Paranormal Phenomena Seen in Connection With Mystical Experiences: Appendix: part 4: Energy and Consciousness).
2) Celtic Totem Animals (totem animals are shamanic guides, teachers and mediators, and are relevant on any kind of journey, whether physical, imaginal (shapeshifting of the thoughts), or in astral form. This card desk is especially related to my booklet: The Peter Pan Project).
3) Walking with The Sidhe (A combination of The Moon Oracle of the Sidhe and The Sidhe Oracle of the Fleeting Hare. The Sidhe could be compared with Tolkien´s concept of elves and angels, and the relationship with them could be used in the same way as suggested throughout this book. See Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, especially Chapter 3: Philosophical Angeology. In my article, Seiðr Shamanism and the Art of Song Healing, I describe my own interactions with the Sidhe).
4) The Byzantine Tarot (closes the circle of Mother Earth and Father Heaven - see The Nine Gates of Middle-earth. Tolkien said that The Lord of the Rings basically is a Catholic work, though the ever-present Christian spirit never is mentioned concretely. The Byzantine Tarot (and the included Arthurian Tarot) can be used as storytelling games on the quest aspect of my shamanic counseling practice - also see my booklet: The Art of Pilgrimage).
Jan Fries and the Left-hand Path (Jan Fries is a brilliant and unique writer. But Meditation as an Art of Life is about higher magic, and is opposed to practicing base magic, both in the form of the left-hand path and the right-hand path. I have had so many people in counseling who have ended up in spiritual crises due to base magic. Note how Jan Fries spells magic: magick. Fries´s books are about occult magick and chaos magick – see my page: The Godgame Files. However, I find it necessary to have knowledge about "The Nightside" (the Left-hand Path), hereunder more dark spirits than we see in Neopagan Celtic shamanism (for example Chaos Titans and Giants of Eldritch Wisdom - and we all know the dark entities in Tolkien´s mythology). These spirits are found in Nordic mythology and Seidr. Furthermore: Am I not myself using base magic when talking about making a shamanic journey, which normally is associated with base magic tools such a trance and astral travel? Am I not a shaman myself? Yes, in a way, but there are differences. I have explained some of them in the updates to my article: Paranormal Phenomena Seen in Relation to Mystical Experiences. In the Celtic Shaman´s Pack, the shaman is described as having three faces: The Wanderer Between the Worlds, The Vision Singer, and The Wildman. Personally, I prefer to describe myself as a Philosophical Globetrotter, Life Artist and Idler. These descriptions could be seen as being complementary to the shaman descriptions. They have also to do with the balancing of the three virtues of critical thinking (see the page: Meditation as an Art of Life). Below are five main books by Fries, which I use in order to show the paradox of the left-hand path and the right-hand path, which both belong to base magic):
Nightshades: A Tourist Guide to the Nightside, by Jan Fries (Accompanying tarot card desk: The Shadow Tarot - Dancing with Demons. Nightshades - and The Shadow Tarot - expose the paradox of darkness and light, which I wrote about in my book: Lucifer Morningstar - A Philosophical Love Story. It rightly claims the importance of the nightside, but is focusing on opening the "higher", "cosmic" or "nondual" upper chakras, enabling astral and trance states. The paradox is: this is also what the right-hand path is doing. The authors of the Hallowquest cards are also exclusively fosusing on the upper chakras. However, unprocessed personal, ancestral and societal issues are located in the lower chakras - see my booklet, The Nine Gates of Midlde-earth. The paradox is, that if you open the upper chakas before the lower chakras, you can open up for dark energies using your unprocessed personal, ancestral, and/or societal issues, as gateways, simply because you aren´t aware of it. They slip in through "the backdoor" - see my article: The Conspiracy of the Third Eye. The nightside is of course a part of the fantasy of the practitioners, who are Jung-worshippers (the same is the case with the Hallowquest authors), and are believing that the whole thing is within your own psyche. It is a completely other matter, when these entities turn up for real; that is: turn out to be real external existing energies, completely out of your control. A similar paradox can be seen in that the positive thinking movement, New Thought/Law of Attraction, is developed out of the dark occultism of the counterculture - see my article: The Law of Attraction and Its Roots in Black Magic. But as always with Jung: he provides a lot of good knowledge.
Seidways: Shaking, Swaying and Serpent Mysteries, by Jan Fries
Helrunar: A Manual of Rune Magick, by Jan Fries.
Visual Magick: A Manual of Freestyle Shamanism, by Jan Fries
Cauldron of the Gods: A Manual of Celtic Magick, by Jan Fries (interesting enough, in this book there also are references to The Gundestrup Cauldron, but from the view of the left-hand path).
A more "scholary" book on Seidr shamanism:
Nine Worlds of Seid-Magic - Ecstasy and Neo-Shamanism in North European Paganism, by Jenny Blain.
Other texts on Runes:
A Rune With a View: An Introduction to The Visual Alphabet of the Northern World, by Ari Berk (Berk claims that the Runes are evocative of (if not partially based on) the natural forms found in the forests of ancient Europe. So, the shapes of these letters connect us to the First Forest, and move our minds closer to a time when the patterns of the land could be expressed creatively as signs and symbols, when letters might stand for many things: a sound, an embodiment of place,a spell, a fate).
Rune Power: The Secret Knowledge of the Wise Ones, by Kenneth Meadows (Meadows work with the so-called Uthark theory, which has to do with the alphabet mysticism of late antiquity. Besides this, he also describes how to link runes with trees).
Rune Magic & Shamanism: Original Knowledge from Mother Earth, by Jörgen I. Eriksson (also based on the Uthark theory. A very easy and simple guide to Rune Magic).
Books on Shamanic Practice:
Singing the Soul Back Home - Shamanic Wisdom for Every Day, by Caitlín Matthews (this is the best introduction to modern shamanic practice, I know).
The Celtic Shaman - A Practical Guide, by John Matthews (also splendid. John is focusing on the Celtic, where Caitlín´s book is a more general introduction. The Celtic Shaman is a companion to the above-mentioned, The Celtic Shaman´s Pack).
A bull is depicted on the bottom plate of the Gundestrup Caludron.
There are debate about where the Gundestrup Cauldron came from, and whether the Cimbri were worhsipping Ancient Celtic Religion. Some suggest the Cauldron came from Gallia, others Thrace (it is probably made in Thrace - see my links under "Traditionalists": A Spell in Time). However, according to an article in the French magazine L´histoire, number 329, March 2008: D'où vient le chaudron de Gundestrup? by Jean-Louis Brunaux, it is proposed that the Cauldron was made by the Cimbri. Also read this fascinating account of the relationship between the Cimbrians and the Britons: click here. Note that the home of the Teutones is said to be Thy in Northern Jutland. Also think about the concepts of Cumberland in England, and Himmerland in Jutland. The ancient Britons were called Cymri or Cumbri. It is therefore a question whether the Cimbri and the Cimmerians, are one and the same people, and that there in this way could be a racial mix between The Cimbri and the Celts. I believe we can talk about a Celto-Germanic family.
Anyway, no matter where the Cauldron came from, I believe that the Cimbri used the Cauldron for worship. There is documentation for this (see Strabo). As you can see on the above image, a bull is depicted on the bottom plate, and the Cimbri worshipped the bull, and there are many sources that tells about the Cimbrian use of cauldron´s for rituals.
But I also believe that it was a mix between Seidr Shamanism, Celtic Shamanism, and, perhaps, other traditions, such as Siberian (Sami) Shamanism, Tibetan Dream Yoga, and Greek philosophy. In my article, Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth (a Shamanic Ritual), I have already suggested such connections. We should therefore not believe the historicist fantasies of evolutionism. I believe our ancestors were much wiser than we are today, and that this has been systematically distorted and suppressed.
The Golden Horns of Gallehus
Another great archaeological finding in Denmark, but from a later period than The Gundestrup Cauldron. Here we see a combination of Celtic, Scandinavian and Byzantine art. These horns could symbolize the closing to the ring, the marriage between Mother Earth and Father Heaven, as described above. On these horns we find a combination of lore, art, rune magic, Galdr, or Seidr.
The Shaman Yogi depicted on the inner plate of the Gundestrup Cauldron (Cernussos - The Celtic God of the Forest - which also are featured on the Golden Horns of Gallehus). It is unquestionable that the figure is sitting in a meditation position. This indicates an inspiration from Eastern philosophy. The serpent in the left hand indicates kundalini, and the ring in the right hand indicates a full-filled kundalini cycle, which means enlightenment (my guess). That the figure is sitting with the two symbols in his raised hands indicates mastery. The antlers indicates that we are talking about a master shaman, and that shamanism originally - perhaps in another time age - was tied together with meditation and therefore was an enlightenment path. All in all: the image indicates the time before "the decadence of shamans", which Mircea Eliade talks about in his work: Shamanism - Techniques of Ecstasy.
Eliade talks about a time where shamanism was characterized by higher magic (shamanism was a path of enlightenment - perhaps in another time age - Yuga) and not as today: base magic; the use of trance techniques, possesion by gods, intoxication, drunkenness, psychedelics (see pages: 67, 68, 112, 130, 237, 249, 250, 252, 254, 256, 258, 290, 364, 376, 401, 500). For example, Eliade points out that the use of psychedelics is a vulgar substitute for "pure" trance, an imitation of a state that the shaman is no longer capable of attaining otherwise. He compares the decadence of shamanism with the same vulgarization of Eastern spiritual practices:
Decadence or (must we add?) vulgarization of a mystical technique - in ancient and modern India, and indeed all through the East, we constantly find this strange mixture of "difficult ways" and "easy ways" of realizing mystical ecstasy or some other decisive experience (page 401)
Also read my booklet: Plastic Shamanism Versus the Traditional Shamanic Awakening.
Second last card from the The Wildwood Tarot. As you can see, this card is inspired by the Shaman Yogi depicted on the above Gundestrup Cauldron.
In the same way with "The Eight Divine Ancestors" from The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts:
Copyright © by Morten Tolboll.
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