As without, so within: where we are, is who we are
Through the years I have written some articles, whose themes initially may seem to vary quite a lot. Yet they have all been inspired by the relation between human beings and their natural environment – by the fact that we are inextricably connected with it and completely embedded in it (like in a larger body), and how this shapes the experience of who we actually are. As is shown by the nature of most of the illustrations on this website, the power of the landscape can be experienced the strongest in remote, pristine areas. In this respect, the Irish (and Scottish and English) landscapes have touched me in particular, because in them the play between dark and light is often so strongly present.
But of course it is important to experience the power of the landscape in one’s direct vicinity. City people like myself are also not excluded from these kinds of experiences. That’s why I have written regularly about Leiden – the city (in the Netherlands) where I live. But in a certain sense all my research is an attempt to minimize our sense of alienation and to make us feel more at home on our planet – and through that also more at home in the place we are living or staying at the moment. And naturally, this cannot be separated from feeling at home in our own body.
I hope you enjoy my articles. You can read or download them below (in pdf format) . I intend to keep adding new ones in the near future. Some of my articles, like the ones about Leiden and Rotterdam, are only available in Dutch (on my Dutch website).
Do we have our lives in order? (2023). In the 1960s Arthur Koestler argued that the natural world, including our own body, is organized by the principle of the holarchy – a web-like structure that on different levels consists of holons. These holons are entities that are wholes in themselves and simultaneously part of a larger whole. It results in naturally grown, inclusive orders that differ profoundly from the hierarchies that we humans have constructed ourselves artificially for thousands of years. In this article I discuss the differences between hierarchies and holarchies, and how their orders – their ways of organizing life – have had, and still have, a deep impact on our lives.
Being rooted in the dark (2023). We tend to focus our lives, individually and collectively, on the daytime, and often extend the daytime artificially as far as we can into the nighttime. And we tend to prefer the summertime, with the light and warmth of the sun, above the wintertime, with its colder and darker periods. But to live a balanced life, as the ancient Taoist Yin/Yang symbol has depicted so well, it is important to appreciate the night- and wintertime as well, to even be aware of the fact that our life – which is perpetually going through cyclical changes – has always been and will always remain rooted in the dark: in the night and in the wintertime. We must even realize that life in general is always rooted in death, and cannot exist without it – a truth that is shown by any plant or tree rooted in fertile earth.
It is just a myth (2023). The death of Queen Elisabeth and her succession by King Charles, inspired me to reflect on the way we often still use the term ‘myth’ either negatively to refer to an obvious lie or fantasy, or positively to refer to the status of famous people – including princes, princesses, kings and queens. Originally, however, – as has been researched extensively by psychologists, anthropologists and mythologists – myth meant something very different in the mythical worldview of our distant ancestors. For them myth was connected to the fundamental truth of life: mythical beings – and the stories and rituals related to their presence and activities – were considered expressions of the power of the surrounding natural world. This was a ‘more-than-human world’ in which they felt completely embedded. Why do we cling so stubbornly to the modern distorted meaning of ‘myth’?
Materialist science and inner experience (2022). Partly due to media appearances by virologists, during the corona crisis the great value of scientific insights for our existence was regularly emphasized. Their general message was that only scientific knowledge should be trusted – and the rest not. What was not mentioned, however, is that in these cases we are dealing with a specific kind of science – namely materialistic science, the still prevailing form of science. In this, matter is regarded as the basis of reality, and the emphasis is on objective research and on the facts that result from it. What is de relationship between this scientific approach and our inner, subjective experience? This is one of the questions I try to answer in this article.
Seeing a light in the dark (2022). With the subtitle of this article, ‘How we once have lost, but now are rediscovering, a life of belonging and balanced duality’, I have tried to capture the content in a nutshell. It is focused primarily on understanding the distinction between balanced duality and unbalanced dualism, and what is involved in restoring the balance. In the article I have tried to capture the central theme of the book I have been working on in recent years – entitled The Whole Story. Healing our Sense of Separation – in a nutshell. And this book is, of course, also a mere nutshell, because larger still, there is the scope of life itself, that everyone of us only gets to know gradually and individually by going through the actual process of living and growing. It makes me think of the Russian Dolls. Yet I hope that the words of this article do resonate with some elements of your experience and inspire you to get a deeper understanding of your own life.
Letting Nature Shape Us to Suit It (2021). This article is devoted to the vision of the Irish philosopher and ‘modern mystic’ John Moriarty (1938-2007). With regard to our relationship with Nature (with a capital N) he distinguished two ways that can be chosen. In the Western world we have once chosen ‘the Promethean way’ (named after the Greek mythological figure of Prometheus), in which ‘we shape Nature to suit us’. But besides that, there is also ‘the way of the dolphin’, in which we ‘let Nature shape us to suit it’. Moriarty links the current crisis in the Western world to the Promethean way and advocates a collective change to the way of the dolphin – which actually entails a rediscovery of the original way that we have lost a long time ago. I think Moriarty’s vision is also meaningful for life in urbanized environments – like those of the Netherlands. It can also put this life in a new light.
The Boundaries of Experiencing Freedom (2021). In this article I sketch a picture of the boundary crossings and boundary shifts in all kinds of areas, which came into sharper focus for me during the corona crisis, and the period of relaxation of the corona measures in the summer of 2021.The long stay at home and the limited freedom of movement has created in many people a longing to go on holiday abroad, to mingle with people on the terraces and in the nightlife – as different ways to recapture freedom and to reconnect themselves with life. That is all allowed and also understandable. But I think it has also become clear that during this period just as many people – including myself – have experienced a much deeper sense of connection. This actually represents a slow process of recovery, of the authentic sense of connection with the entire environment – with the more-than-human world in which our human world is embedded – that we have once lost. We badly need this kind of connection to be able to move forward as a society.
Receiving Gifts (2021. This article was inspired by Anita Moorjani’s book Sensitive is the New Strong (2021), in which she focuses on the very sensitive nature of empaths. I was triggered by her argument that in addition to giving gifts, it is also very important to be able to receive them. I realized that receiving a gift is at the heart of the gift exchange process. In my article, I focus on the relationship between receiving gifts and our feelings of gratitude and wonder – and the ‘awe’ experiences that overwhelm us and leave us speechless. It contributes to reconnecting our human world, individually and collectively, with the surrounding natural world. If you want to get a good idea about the contents of Anita Moorjani’s book and the importance of empaths for our current society, watch and listen to a very interesting interview with her in the program ‘Impact the World‘.
Mother Earth and Her Community (2020). The US presidential elections in 2020 have made me aware that although there are as many worldviews as there are people on the planet, to understand what is going in the world at the moment, we can distinguish two major different worldviews. We are all born with an open worldview that potentially can grow into a global worldview, but our ego development has blocked it and generated a polarized worldview. With it, our sense of identity moved from the heart and hara center to the brain, more specifically to the left hemisphere – a development that has happened both historically and in our individual lives. From feeling originally part of an Earth Community – and all that is involved with this like feeling indigenous to the place where are living, we have detached ourselves from the natural world, clinging to nationality and to all kinds of artificial boundaries. To have a future as a society, we must reconnect ourselves to the neglected source again. And despite a strong resistance from populists and their urge to struggle against ‘enemies’, fortunately this is already happening all around us: an irreversible and hopeful trend.
The Power of the Invisible Dimension (2019).In this article I show that the manifested natural world has always been rooted in an invisible dimension. Indigenous cultures all over the world have always known this, and now it also has been confirmed scientifically by the so-called field theories. By individually acknowledging this dual quality of nature, we discover that underneath the surface of apparent separation all life is truly interconnected.
Digging for my Dutch Ancestral Roots(2019). In the Dutch coastal region in the Roman era there was a settlement called Lugdunum (located at the mouth of the ‘Old Rhine’) and there were two temples with many altar stones devoted to the Goddess Nehalennia (found in the province of Zeeland). I speculate in this article about a relationship between the two. Indirectly, this has opened my mind to the pre-Roman indigenous worldview of my ancestors, to the power of cyclical nature and the presence of the living landscape around me.
The Hidden Wealth of The Virgin Mary(2018).In this article I discuss the different ways in which the Goddess heritage has survived in the figure and the worship of the Virgin Mary. I show that her symbolism is ancient and therefore does not belong to a specific religion. She expresses a balance between the feminine and masculine, which is mirrored in developments in ourselves and in the world around us.
The rediscovery of the landscape(2018). In this article I have tried to summarize my ideas about the Goddess heritage, as a kind of introduction to my book ‘The Survival and Revival of the Goddess Heritage’ . In particular I describe the way it is inextricably related to our experience of the (sacred) landscape. I show that the experience of being fully embedded in the landscape offers something very important for our time and is being rediscovered in our time. In 2016 I wrote a short version of this article, entitled ‘In the Beginning was the Landscape’, which is included in the wonderful anthology Awaken the Feminine! Dismantling Domination to Restore Balance on Mother Earth, edited by Karen Tate and published in 2018.
Sacred Marriage in the Stone Age(2018). In this article I pay attention to the very interesting ideas of the English meteorologist and archaeologist Terence Meaden about the meaning of the stone circles in the Neolithic. According to him the Stone Age people carefully chose the locations of their stone circles in the landscape, and also the locations of the individual stones within the circle, so that the sunlight and its shadow could give expression to their idea of the Sacred Marriage between the feminine and the masculine.
Nehalennia worship in England (2017). This article is the result of my search for the possible worship of the Dutch Goddess Nehalennia on the other side of the North Sea, in England. I have limited my search to the coastal area of Kent, but I have discovered some interesting things there.
The Goddesses of the Low Countries(2008/2018). I have written this article in Dutch in the period 2007/2008 to add my findings to the (rather limited) knowledge about the many Goddesses that have been worshiped in the river delta area of the Netherlands in the Roman era. I think Dutch researchers probably could not imagine what it means that in the religion of that period in this region a Goddess has been central instead of a masculine God. Yet the archaeological finds point in that direction. In 2018 I have translated my Dutch text and adapted it a little, but I haven’t changed the essence of the original text.