Who Owns the Sacred? A Personal Search beyond (European) Indigenous Knowledge

FIMG_6100or almost 35 years nature has been my sacred place. As an 8-year old, I started to pray to Mother Earth even though the protestant tradition in which I grew up only recognised ‘God the Father’. I went outside in my inflatable rowing boat to seek solitude (as an only child in a quiet family!) on a small island in the lake of our local park. I practised rowing and walking quietly to not break the sacred silence. I collected herbs to brew infusions in my little thermos flask with boiled water brought from home. I sung to the moon, and danced my love for all creation back through my moving body.

Over the last 15 or so years, I spent many days and nights at Neolithic monuments, dreaming in ancestral burial mounds, time traveling in stone circles in Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland and Brittany. This nature-based practice evolved naturally, and later incorporated my training with the Scandinavian Centre for Shamanic Studies and the School of Movement Medicine. Nature is where I reconnect most easily with the Sacred, and listen to the whispers on the great web of life in which all of nature is a great teacher. Nature, for me, is a strong place of prayer, solace, awe, reverence, gratitude, joy, guidance, reconnection, healing and transformation.

Please continue reading this post on the Feminism and Religion Blog here!

Rowing contemplation Image credits Henk Kieft

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Autumn Equinox with the Ancestors, or after ecstasy indeed the laundry*)

As I hang the laundry back home, I remember how just 24 hours earlier I arrived back on the beach after an incredible time at the ancestral burial mound where I spend the night in ceremony at the Autumn Equinox.

IMG_5285Ile Carn is a neolithic passage grave on a small tidal island in Finisterre, Brittany. I had visited there the summer before, and found that the other world was strongly accessible. When places be
come very touristy, like Stonehenge or Mont St. Michel, it sometimes appers as if the spirits retreat and the potency of the place thins. I asked them then if I could come back for ceremony, and when the answer was yes, I promised to return.


So here I was, on the Autumn Equinox, or Mabon. This is a time of balance, when the days and nights are equally long. A time in which the harvst has been gathered and we can start to prepare for a time of gestation and growing in the dark womb of winter, before the light is reborn again next year. My personal aim was three fold: I wanted to celebrate this year, especially to give thanks for my life, which had been on a precarious knife-edge earlier in May. I also wanted to ask for guidance for both my budding business EveryWhen and for my academic work in terms of re-discovering our own indigeneity in the west.

Please continue reading this post on the Feminism and Religion Blog here! 

(they kindly agreed to make an exception to publish this blog post after I had already published it here… so returning I’m that curtesy by referring to their website as they requested!) Thank you!!!


*) Jack Kornfield (2000) After the ecstasy, the laundry. How the heart grows wise on the spiritual path London: Bantam Books.

**) Pinkola Estés, C. (2011: page 191) Untie the Strong Woman: Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Love for the Wild Soul.Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Inc.

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Collage as Research?

I love making collages, usually exploring a specific topic that knocks on my door. This can for example be something I want to learn more about, something I’m struggling with, or something 5 Collage HomeI like to celebrate or express gratitude for.

Usually I start with lighting a candle and asking for support and inspiration to work with the topic. I then browse through a bag of pictures that I have accumulated over the years, taken from magazines (National Geographic and Happinez are favourites!), cards, newspaper clippings, and prints of my own photographs. They cover themes like nature, people, symbols, the four elements, and animals. I select images that resonate with the topic I’m exploring, and once I’ve gone through the whole bag, I spread them out, and let them speak to me. Do I sense a balance or a lack in some way? Is there a dominant colour? How are the illustrations relating to each other? What message am I picking up? Is something missing? The process takes many hours spread over weeks, sometimes months.

The one you see here, I made a few years ago. It is called HOME. I was reflective of having moved so many times in my life. Of what home is, and belonging. Of what characteristics make a home for me. I needed to find out how I could continue to cope with my nomadic life style, and how to deal with yet another upcoming move, despite my deep, deep yearning to root somewhere.

The collage evolves around the space in which Seagull flies free, which simultaneously reflects the egg she came from. She once told me to find an environment that fits my soul and to honour my needs in order to survive – just as she needs cliffs and air, Mouse needs a little earthy hole and Elephant a big wide steppe. On the sides I explore elements that make a home a home for me; a place to read, write, be with spirit; a space full of beauty, and silence; a place to reflect, dream, and dance; a place of earth, and stone and nature; a place of patterns, and art, and warmth and light.

Making a collage supports me as a way of learning, increasing understanding, and deepening insight. The process is healing in itself, a coming to terms with and integrating oddities and paradoxes, an increased peace. Also, the finished piece, which I aim to be aesthetically pleasing but most of all emotionally true, becomes a power object, a reminder of my search, a solace and encouragement in times of difficulty. In this case it became an anchor through the turbulence of moving and life unfolding in different places. Through the integrity of my engagement with it and its inherent power, it may have another uncanny effect. In the last three years, where I moved from Scheveningen, to Torquay, to Yelverton, to Coventry, each time just a few weeks before I was aware of the move, something would happen to the collage. It would fall off the wall, Seagull would fall off, or the glass would break (seriously!). Was that spirit knocking at my door, signalling a time of change? Twice it happened before I got a new job; once before my house was sold. For me this strengthens and deepens my connection to other dimensions of our everyday reality.

Although I do appreciate and consider the inclusion of ‘other ways of knowing’ through nature, the arts, movement, meditation or silence as absolutely crucial to academic research endeavours, it leads to a host of interesting questions, such as what is knowledge? How is knowledge created? Are there different types of knowledge? Are there types of knowledge that are relevant only to individuals? When and why do they become relevant to smaller or larger groups of people?

We use the word ‘research’ a lot in our daily life – for systematically, methodically comparing holiday deals, best prices for our favourite foods, train times, etc., as well as for varying degrees of self-reflection and inquiry, but that doesn’t necessarily make it interesting, useful, valid, applicable for others.

I never thought of my collage practice as a process of creating knowledge, or as research method, until I began exploring an exciting field of (relatively) new methodologies, called ‘a/r/tography’. This hybrid, practice-based enquiry transcends the lines between Artist, Researcher, Teacher (A/R/T) – Peter Gouzouasis (2013) even removed the slashes to underline the holistic integration of these various roles. Coming across a paper called ‘Collage as Analysis’ (HOLBROOK & POURCHIER 2014) spurred me to reflect on my own collage activities, and the (blurry?) boundaries between knowledge, inquiry and research.

Reading Holbrook & Pourchier, while appreciating their effort of including the reflective arts, I cannot help but think: ‘so what? How is this relevant to me?’ And I fail to come up with any convincing answers – apart from a welcome nudge to look at my own collage practice (of which you, of course, might think: ‘so what?’).

To do justice to those important and creative ‘other forms of knowing’ and include them within academia as essential part of the human experience, we need a methodology first for facilitating similar journeys while documenting similarities and differences, and then for collating the ‘results’. This way the ‘simply subjective’ can grow into the inter-subjective, individual forms of knowledge creation become shared between many, and we strengthen the ‘other knowledge archives’!

I wonder what those would look like!?


GOUZOUASIS, P. 2013. The metaphor of tonality in artography. UNESCO Observatory Multi-Disciplinary Journal in the Arts, 3 (2).

HOLBROOK, T. & POURCHIER, N. M. 2014. Collage as Analysis: Remixing in the Crisis of Doubt. Qualitative Inquiry, 20 (6), 754-763.

Photo Collage: Home, © Eline Kieft, 2014

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on 9.3.2016 in my first Blog ‘the Clearing: A Soulful Space’, where I was trying out some of the ideas that would lead to EveryWhen.

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Clearing Space for Inspiration

15 misty trees used on homepage copyImagine you just stumbled across a clearing in the woods where you may encounter the unexpected… A clearing, where you can meander through droplets and seeds of inspiration and reflection… A clearing where you can take a moment to pause and breathe and come back to your centre…. (yes, right now!).

In this blog I will draw from those things that help me return and reconnect, so you’ll find a wide variety of tastes and textures, including (of course!) dance and other arts, research, play, nature, silence, spirituality, liminality, stories, symbols and the imagination, dreaming, literature…. Weaving the poetic and the academic with the sensuous multi-layeredness of our embodied nature, entries will search openings towards more intimate participation in the mystery of the (extra)ordinary everyday.

Perhaps this space invites a conscious clearing of the clearing, in which we de-clutter those spaces in our beings that have filled up with things we carry, which affect our presence here and now. And at times it may be a clearing in the sense of lifting the veils, shifting habitual patterns, a clearing of that which seemingly obscures our connection to wholeness, what lies behind, beyond, within.

Please treat this blog like a ‘living thing’,* as ‘partner’ with whom you are exploring a topic in co-creation. Engage with the text and images, not just from your mind, but also from your body, your heart, your intuition, and your soul.

What responses do you notice? What fills you with longing? What challenges you? What voices call you? What supports you in times of darkness and despair? What makes your heart sing? Hopefully, in time, this then will become an interactive clearing for artful, poetic expression of experiences that move the deep currents within us and inform a rich and meaningful ‘interbeing’, so please feel free to share and play, and join me in this experiment of being a human being, rather than a human thinking!

For all our relations,



*) Ensler, E. (2010). I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World. New York, Villard.

Photo: Forest © Christoph Frei, 2012

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on 7.2.2016 in my first Blog ‘the Clearing: A Soulful Space’, where I was trying out some of the ideas that would lead to EveryWhen.

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