Foto door Berta Banacloche
Say not, ‘I have found the path of the soul.’
Say rather, ‘I have met the soul walking upon my path.’
For the soul walks upon all paths. Kahlil Gibran
Of course, a journey of the soul takes a lifetime. But for me, the spiritual path opened up in a conscious way at midlife, around the year 2000. Through some profound transformations in my life I began to realize that there is more under the sun than the eye can see. After a career as a professor of Women’s Studies and the Ethic of Care at Utrecht University, I discovered a new world – of the soul and the imagination. Step by step, I built my own practice as an independent researcher, a traveller and a spiritual worker. The path through the labyrinth provided a solid foundation for my inner and outer journey. But there were more sources of inspiration that guided me on my path – and they continue to do so.
It all started with some very big, almost mythical dreams. I received letters from above; saw heavenly doors opening, and persons and symbols coming at me, guiding me through the abodes of the Divine. I received some very clear assignments, for example, to merge the sun, the moon, and the five-pointed star in the sky. I was completely amazed and decided that I could only follow these nocturnal signs: it marked my entry into the world of synchronicity and imagination.
Over time, my dreams also led me on my outer journeys. During my many stays in South Africa the Goddess started to appear to me. Later, when I went to Italy, I saw myself travelling through the Etruscan landscapes. In a sheer endless series of images I was leading processions and doing ceremony, often hand in hand with the Goddess. I saw myself digging deeply into the earth, uniting water and fire, and walking on the waters of Bolsena Lake. At some crucial moments in my life St. Michael appeared in my dreams, as if to reassure me in what I was doing, and to cut counterproductive ties. In a dream on 21-12-12 I received a golden sun disk on my head. Later on I acquired a real one, that accompanied me on many journeys. Often, my dreams gave me clear indications about where to go and what to do there. I could only obey: that’s how I found the path of Matilda di Canossa.
Many times my dreams took me far into the dark caves of my own ànd the collective unconscious, showing me my inner demons and clarifying the inner wounds that I needed to heal before I could travel further. It taught me the principle of ‘descending into the dark’ and embracing it, which in fact became a crucial element of the journey of the soul for me. Demons turn out to be guardians of the ‘pearl of inner wisdom’. The light is born from the dark, we have to learn it over and over again.
Sources of inspiration
During my long journey I found inspiration from many directions. I learned to meditate and started to read the great Christian mystics, like Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. Their work deeply resonated with my own experiences. In the course of the years many contemporary spiritual teachers guided me by their writings and their practices, like Thomas Moore, Andrew Harvey, Marion Woodman, Lauren Artress, Giovanni Feo, Llewyn Vaughan Lee, Cynthia Bourgeault, Annine van der Meer, Anne Baring and Betty Kovacs. I joined the Dominicus Church in my home town Amsterdam, to get acquainted with the Christian tradition. And I immersed myself in books and teachings about Buddhism and Sufism, about the history and return of the Feminine Divine, and about Earth spirituality.
During the years I worked with practitioners of sacred dance; shamans and sacred drummers; specialists in mandala drawing; crystal guardians; soul readers and specialists on family constellations; specialists in sound and the voice; and practitioners of herbal healing and energy healing. It all enhanced my capabilities as a spiritual worker.
The Inka Tradition
It all took on a new dimension when I came into contact with Inka spirituality, in Italy and the Netherlands. I received all the initiations of Andean masters Don Juan Nuñez del Prado and Don Ivan Nuñez del Prado, and their Italian counterparts Giovanni Feo and Roberto Sarti, in the Netherlands by Margo Kistemaker. Later on they were joined by Andean teacher Jorge Luis Delgado. They taught me that we are all part of networks of living energy, and taught me a series of practices of how to work with these. I still love to make despacho’s, – sacred offerings -, and to make saywa’s, columns of living energy that connect places and people. Eventually it also brought me to Peru, where I travelled around for two long periods, in 2010 and 2012. It not only enriched my own life, but also laid a solid foundation under my group travels through the sacred landscapes in Italy.
Carl Jung and Marie Louise von Franz
And then I was deeply influenced by the works of Carl Jung and Marie Louise von Franz. It gave me insight into the synchronicities I was going through. It enabled me to interpret what I saw in my own and in the collective unconscious, and familiarized me with working with the shadow. It allowed me to understand symbols, archetypes, sacred texts and sacred landscapes, myths and fairy tales at a much deeper level than before. It made me familiar with the meaning of the alchemical symbols I saw in my dreams and in the churches and sacred places I visited. And it made me understand that I was going through a process of individuation, which is in fact a long journey of the soul that takes time, patience and dedication.
Connections and combinations
In my spiritual work, I like to combine these different approaches and traditions. For years I have called my practice ‘Ancient wisdom for a new age’. I am convinced that it is no coincidence that ancient wisdom traditions are returning in this century. They have a lot to teach us for the future of humanity.
That’s also why I call myself a connector. I have always been a bridge builder. First between women and science. Then between the visible and the invisible worlds. I still explore the middle ground between science and spirituality. But I also see myself as a bridge builder between the treasures I find in Italy and the Dutch culture into which I was born.
I love connecting people and places, in my work with the labyrinth, in my writings, my travels, and in the networks and friendship circles in which I participate. It’s all about weaving webs of co-creation, and jointly inventing new forms of consciousness and coexistence. Indeed in 2012 – before travelling to Peru – I saw myself in a dream weaving a net around the world, adorning the crossing points with roses. It concisely expresses what I see as one of my reasons for being here, and I increasingly feel part of networks of people who share this mission.
Now is the time…
to unite the soul and the world…
Now is the time…
to see the sunlight dancing as one with the shadows.