What do you think of the rise of shamanism in recent years?
Shamanism has slowly risen in popularity since the first teachers from Native American cultures started to share their teachings. In the nineteen seventies that started with people like Jon Fire Lame deer and others. These medicine men realized after the cooperation of Wounded Knee that some white people were genuinely interested in their cultures and wanted to be allies. Slowly the interest continued to grow, and gradually shamanism from mother cultures started to become known as well, and also a ‘western shamanism’ or core shamanism was developed by teachers like Michael Harner, Felicitas Goodman and others. They took their inspiration from various traditions but develop methods and didactics that helped westerners to understand the shamanic experience. I see it all as a gradual continuous process that started about 50 years ago. More is known, more western teachers are available, more traditional teachers share some of their knowledge. It continues to grow.
What main elements do you think should be given in our society to resurface the true human being and its potentials?
Obviously our economics, which is based on a principle of endless growth, is not sustainable. Not for the physical level and not for the soul as well. We need an alternative that is not based on exploitation of resources and people.
Can you explain us about the Systemic Ritual® method?
I have been blessed by the opportunity to train with traditional shamanic teachers for years, and I created my own ’school’, leading ongoing shamanic training groups in different countries. Then, in 1998, I met the work of Bert Hellinger: the classical family constellations. I started to integrate elements of these into my shamanic work, combining aspects of constellations with principles known in shamanic practice. Out of this fusion something slowly was growing, and I started calling it Systemic Ritual. It is systemic, it is a ritual, but it is no longer a family constellation or regular shamanic work. The name indicates that it is something that has its own place and character.
What age did you discover Shamanism?
When I was 18, I hd travelled in India and came back to the Netherlands with malaria and other parasites. I was severely ill and nearly died. After my recovery I started dreaming that I turned into an animal, and in dreams I started to meet teachers who taught me singing and working with the vibrational state of my body. After a while I read something about shamanism and realized that my dreams actually fit into the shamanic experience. My interest started right there.
What role do you think music plays in these times of the awakening of a new change of consciousness?
Music, wherever it is used, always has the potential to raise consciousness. Every spiritual tradition and religion has used song and music to create a spiritual awaking and a bonding for the community. Music noways can play exactly that role, which it has played for thousands of years in all cultures and times. Music can transform, can elevate, can heal. It has always been like this and it also true for us this day and time.
How would you explain the fusion of shamanism with constellations?
It grew slowly, step by step. Some things work together very well, others not. The drumming can help the representatives to ‘dream’ together, and also unites the audience with the constellation. The healing sentences of classic constellation work can merge into prayer quite effortlessly. It was a process of trying out various combinations and elements of both disciplines before Systemic Ritual found its final form(s), I started this process 21 years ago. I think that for five or six years now the methods feels ‘complete’ in the sense that the basics are understood and the underlaying principles are known. Still, the method allows for a lot of improvisation. When you understand the building blocks, the key elements, you can continue to create rituals according to what is needed.
In many places there is a fashion of rituals with Ayahuasca and other psychoactive substances that are outside the ritualistic and spiritual concept where this tradition comes from, what do you think about it?
I know that there are people who have deeply spiritual experiences that they feel support them in their lives. That is a good thing. But for me, personally, it isn’t an option to use these traditional power plant medicines without the guidance of those who have been trained in for many many years. I have only very rarely used plant medicines, and only on the reservations In the USA with my trusted teachers. I am very very careful because of the powers there. We can, I think, only approach them with true humbleness and prayer. Plant medicine is not my own shamanic path, I only change my consciousness through drumming and singing. This path is slower, but it gives more control. You learn how to open and how to close the doors of awareness by yourself, it is not the plant spirit who does it for you. It suits me better.
Is technology pushing society to a point of no return where the only way out will be the true return to the origin, living in harmony with animals and nature?
Technology is creating disaster, we see climate change, polution and exploitation on an unimaginable scale. But a ‘return’ to ’something ‘original’ is however an illusion. We can only move forwards. We do not need to expel all technology, or return to the Middle Ages. We should see what kind of technology serves life in a constructive and healing way, and use it. But this is not so easy, evidently.
You have released 5 CDs with shamanic chants, do you think real music is about improvisation and channeling?
I do not have a concept of ‘real music’. I love to improvise and drum, I can do it for hours. I found wonderful melodies that way, and also learned deeply healing melodies in my dreams at night. But I can also have a wonderful time going to a club in Berlin where they play good techno music and dance for hours! There is no ‘real’ music, only good music or not so good music. It can be spontaneous, it can be improvisation, it can be created in a studio. There are different kinds of music for different occasions. Let’s appreciate all the wonderful musicians and singers who share their work with us.
What are your short and long term projects?
I spend less time teaching and traveling the recent years, because I want to have more time for self-care. I teach some training courses where therapists and practitioners can learn the basics of systemic ritual so they can integrate the method in the work they already do. To share is wonderful, but to have free time as well. My most important project of to find and maintain the balance between these two.