When talking about shamanism, we usually think about the Native Americans or the South American natives. In this article, I would like to introduce you to a female shaman, who is practicing the ancient ways of Scandinavian Shamanism. Maria's story is about finding her own true way and daring to step into the power of who she really is. To go above and beyond, to find her path of connectedness.
I have asked Maria to share her story with us because her journey illustrates the power we step into once we dare to connect with our innate spirituality and through that, find the power to to chose a life based on integrity. Like so many of us who are born with strong inner voices, Maria never really felt she really fitted in. But when she started to listen to her longing, her homesickness, Maria discovered a way to 'bend the trees' and create a life, where she did fit in. So here she is; A Voice from the Nordic Soil.
Hail to the Day, and sons of the Day!
Hail to the Night and her kin!
With loving eyes look upon us here
And bring us victory
Hail to the Gods, hail to the Goddesses,
Hail to the mighty generous Earth!
Eloquence and native wit bestow on us here
And healing hands while we live.
(From "Sigrdrífumál", Codex Regius/Poetic Edda - 13th century)
This is my daily morning blessing and greeting of the day. I prefer to stand rooted on the ground outside in the early morning, and sing this old Nordic prayer to the new day. I sing to the Sun, the Moon, the trees, every bird and living thing around me. I sing to my spirit allies, my guides and teachers. I sing to my ancestors and I give my praise and my thanks to the sacred Earth, in which soil I feel so deeply rooted.
I live my life here in Denmark, surrounded by a land of old myths and tales of Gods, Valkyries, Elves, Fairies, Huldras and Wights - all of them mythic, magical old beings. A land deeply founded on, and connected to, the nature spirits.
When a teenager I started to search and struggled to find 'the path', the light, and the one true call in life. I searched to find peace in my heart. I searched high and low, with the Buddhists, the Christians and the Ásatrús - but I didn’t find home. What I did find, however, was the longing; the need for the heartbeat of the Earth and the homesickness for the land.
In my early twenties, I began a master study of prehistoric archaeology. I tracked the tales of the land in which I was born. The trail in my books led me through the soil, to the Earth itself. Like many others I found a somewhat naïve anchor in the Viking age and in its myths and old poems, but it gave me a direction and a place to start my journey.
I began to read intensely about the Volva, the Scandinavian seere and wise woman; She, who walks alone and serves the community. She, who sees what is hidden and can travel among the worlds. She, who have walked the same land and felt the same wind on her face, as I did. I felt a great urge to follow in her footsteps, to learn about the spiritual tradition of my own ancestry.
A woman, a Danish shaman, who had lived the ways of Scandinavian shamanism for thirty years, introduced me to animism; the comprehension of an animated, natural world, with whom I could communicate. And to the drum – the heartbeat and pulse of the Earth by which we travel to the spirit worlds to seek guidance, healing and power. And most important of all, she taught me about the old Norse tradition of útesita, a vision quest, in which you sit out all night to obtain knowledge or transformation. I learned how to approach the Sun and the Moon, how to call for the Gods and my spirit allies. That we are all surrounded by teachers, healers and guides and that they come in many forms, both in the physical and in the spirit world.
I also learned about the Wheel of the Year. Nature’s own calendar. And how we can use this ancient guideline of the Sun; the solstices and the equinoxes, to shape our focus on everyday life. How much power there can be gained by following and honoring the seasons. To learn from nature. And all that knowledge has taught me to be aware. To look up. To notice the signs. The changing of the season. The smell of the wind. And there at last, I have found home with my two naked feet buried solid in the Nordic soil. Connected.
As a child and even now, I had a hard time fitting in. I never felt like one in the crowd. Today I have made my peace with that. I know that I will never truly fit in, but when I wander among the huge trunks of the forest, I know that they will fit around me. That I might be alone, but I will never be lonely. And that is how I go about my day. With a daily awareness, a knowing, and with that feeling deeply rooted in my heart, I take my teachings from the whispers of the trees, from the voices of the night and the songs of the Earth. One with the World.
And so I return to the poem from the old Norse Edda - Hail to the mighty generous Earth for that is how I start my day. I bless the world and all I see and ask for likewise blessing of my own endeavors. I light a candle and ask the spirit of Fire to be with me all day, just as I lift my first cup of coffee in silent salute to all of those unnamed, who have always followed me and hopefully, will continue to do so till the end of time.
Maria Lisette Jacobsen (b.1980) is a herbalist, shamanic practitioner and an archaeologist, located in the eastern part of Denmark, Scandinavia. She lives with her family on a small farmstead in the countryside. Maria has worked with Scandinavian shamanism since 2002 and now teaches courses in shamanic skills as well as hands-on herbalism. She has trained with renowned Danish and American teachers as Annette Høst, Jonathan Horwitz and is greatly inspired by the American herbalist, Susan S. Weed. If you would like to know more about Maria Lisette's work, please visit her website here.
Edited by Louise Sommer