Travelling with the Sirena
Between 2005 and 2022 I travelled intensively through Italy in search of the meaning of the double-tailed mermaid. In 1978, I had found the Sirena in the Renaissance Gardens of Bomarzo, near the Lago di Bolsena, and later on Etruscan tombs and early-Christian churches. When I finally started to travel, a long journey of discovery unfolded, supported by a seemingly endless series of synchronicities and ‘big dreams’. She took me not only through Etruscan sacred landscapes, but eventually past many churches and artifacts throughout Italy, all the way to the Vatican, and – my final project – past small churches and cathedrals in the province and city of Lucca. In all these places I found her with related symbols such as the labyrinth, the flower of life, with sacred plants and animals, and with male divine partners. Together they had a miraculous story to tell, a story of rebirth.
Coming from the Netherlands I felt from the beginning that the Sirena had called me to build bridges across countries and cultures. She asked me to tell her story to a wider audience. I travelled with teachers, who taught me about sacred symbols and sacred geography. I also travelled on my own and with friends. And I guided many groups along her places. By connecting with her image and doing ceremonies, I uncovered step by step her ancient archetypical meaning. Long ago, she was the symbol of the cyclical nature of all life: from birth through life to death and rebirth. She was a gatekeeper, standing at the gate of the Other World, the spiritual world, where she welcomed souls to their earthly life, and at the end guided them back to where they came from. As such, she was the symbol of the Great Goddess of the Etruscans, known as Norzia or Voltumna. She had a strong connection with the area of the Lago di Bolsena, where she was considered the goddess of fate and time. On the shores of Lake – the sacred centre of the Etruscans – she connected divine time with human time. Every year she was celebrated there at the summer solstice.
Writing about the Sirena
The story of the Sirena has returned in different historical periods, carried by different spiritual groups, from the Celts to the Ligurians to the Longobards, and from early Christianity through the late Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Each of them gave their own interpretation of the Sirena, but they all built on her ancient, archetypical meaning. Often, she was celebrated in secret ceremonies, as the church of Rome during the late Middle Ages tried to repress her wisdom by demonizing her. But what is set in stone cannot be hidden. I visited places where she survived, for those with eyes to see, and wrote several books about her meaning. By giving careful and well-researched interpretations of her images I hope to contribute to her return to the modern world.
Journeys of the soul
In all cases the Sirena was part of a ‘journey of the soul’. Outer journeys are also inner journeys. Often, they are journeys of initiation. They guide you through the landscapes of the soul – the collective unconscious – and help you to find a path through them. All my books are written as spiritual travel guides: they enable the readers to find the path on their own. I am proud to say that by now many people have travelled through Italy without me, but with my books in their hands, and that I am part of networks of Italian and Dutch scholars who promote her return – and that of ancient goddesses related to her.
In this spirit I offer at this website all my books about the Sirena, with links how to buy them. I also include some pages on related topics, that explain the nature of the path that I have walked and taught for the past thirty years, and which include references to books I have written alone or with others.
The journey continues. I hope to write about it in my blog on this site