The magic of landscapes

Thimsternisse-landscape2

When starting this website, I wanted to focus as much as possible on Dutch heathenism, witchcraft and folklore. I soon stumbled upon a problem: ‘the Netherlands’ as we now know them are only 200 years old. The borders we have now were unheard of in ancient times. What’s more, many people who lived in this area a couple of thousand years ago, are all but gone. Many people who live here now don’t stem from Germanic tribes who lived here generations before. But they still consider themselves Dutch. Basically, the construction of ‘the Netherlands’ is relatively modern, quite arbitrary, and always developing.

National identity is a fickle thing. I’m still a sucker for it. When I walk around in the area where I was born and grew up, I feel a deep connection to the land. I know that this is a personal thing – even though my family has lived in Noord-Brabant for quite some generations. But there are many people who were born here, who don’t feel a connection with their homeland at all, and even actively want to leave to go and live somewhere else.

Thimsternisse-landscape3

So where does this connection come from? For me personally, it’s the experience of walking through fields and forests, the many plants growing, blooming, sleeping then awakening again. It’s experiencing the wind, seeing beautiful skies and birds flying. Noticing the life patterns of the animals living in my area. This can be noticed in practically every other land on Earth, I know. But having lived her for almost all my life makes it much more intimate, as if I’m part of this particular land.

The connection is also created through a sense of history, the realisation that the land we walk on is so much older then we are. It literally contains the knowledge of the era’s that came before us. It makes us feel part of a bigger whole. This can especially be seen in the many legends that are connected to the areas over the world. From legends about ghosts and monsters to the folklore of places being fairy mounds or kobold dwellings. No one really knows how old these stories are and where they came from, but they give us the feeling, the idea, that there is more to the land than meets the eye. And I love how we give stories to the land. Maybe it’s our gift back, because the land gives us so much.

Thimsternisse-landscape1

Many of the old Dutch stories, legends and fairy tales haven’t been translated into English as far as I know. Many of them are connected to particular places. I will start (roughly) translating them and putting them on this website in the near future.

New this month: June 2015

This is a monthly blog post to keep up with all the new information, images, sources, etc. posted on this website – here you have all the new stuff, neatly summed up!

 

– Added wormwood to the Flora section.

– Additional information about the situla in the Death Culture article.

– Added a new section: Sacred and magical places,  that includes viereckschanzen.

– Added 5 images from the 19th century in the witches and witchcraft images section.

Edward Frederick Brewtall. A Visit to the Witch. 1882.

Edward Frederick Brewtall. A Visit to the Witch. 1882.

New book: Arcadia Britannica – a modern British folklore portrait

Arcadia Britannica

A wonderful looking new release from Thames & Hudson, one of my favorite publishers.  Henry Bourne has a great track record as a potrait photographer. In Arcadia Britannica he depicts the colorful characters from British folklore as they are portrayed by people from all over the island. Green men, horn dancers and other creatures abound! There’s a forword by Robin Muir, after which Simon Costin (founder and director at the Museum of British Folklore and director at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic) introduces us in the world of modern British folklore. A nice touch is the calendar of folkloric events in the back.

You can peak inside the book and order it on Amazon.

New this month (May 2015)

This is a monthly blog post to keep up with all the new information, images, sources, etc. posted on this website – handy for those who have better things to do than check Thimsternisse every day 😉

– Added two new sections in the Well of Knowledge: Death Culture and Elves and Fairies

– Added the Magical Images header, which as of now contains a section for art about Witches and Witchcraft from 1900-2000.

'The Little Witch' illustration from Elves and Fairies by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. 1916.

‘The Little Witch’ illustration from Elves and Fairies by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. 1916.

Large Stone Age grave field discovered in Dalfsen (Netherlands)

Big archeological news from the Netherlands: in Dalfsen (province Overijssel) a large grave field has been found, possibly the largest of its kind found until now.

The 5000 years old field belongs to the Funnelbeaker culture, which is named after the typically shaped beakers found in the area (Nort-central Europe) where they lived. In the Netherlands, they are best known for building the hunebeds.

The size of 120 graves makes researchers think that not only the elite were buried in graves. As many as 6 generations of whole families may be buried here. This is only a conclusion of observation and theories at the moment though, since no skeletons have been found. Thus it is not known what kind of people (sex, age, etc.) were buried, although it is clear that grown-ups as well as children found their place here.

More details about the field: it’s sized about 120 x 20 m. and has a large earthen monument in its center. Each grave holds at least one funnelbeaker as a gift, as well as other gifts such as axes, spearpoints, and barnstone necklaces. Black specks were also seen in the earth, which may indicate that proviands such as grains were given to the dead in the other world. Some graves are egg-shaped, some have been timbered. What the shape of the graves and the kinds of gifts have to say about the persons lying in the graves is still debated.

Right next to the grave field was a farmstead. The farm itself housed a grave, too. Archeologists conclude from this that the Funnelbeaker people living here probably had a very different, closer relationshop towards their dead than we do now.

More information, including pictures (Dutch):

Kennislink: Grootste grafveld Nederlandse Steentijdmensen ontdekt

RTL Nieuws: Grafveld uit Steentijd ontdekt bij Dalfsen

Heksen in Holland – upcoming documentary by Silver Circle

I learned through the Wild Hunt website, that Silver Circle is working on a documentary about Wicca in the Netherlands. To be more precise, they have started an Indiegogo campaign to help fund this project.

Silver Circle is the best known wiccan group in the Netherlands, and they formed exactly 35 years ago.To celebrate this, the year will be filled with all kinds of happenings and projects, and this is one of them.

Although at the moment they’re nowhere near their goal (still 53 days to go as we speak!), they have already started filming this documentary. From what I gather it will show portraits of modern witches in the Netherlands. You can get a taste of the whole thing here (transcript is below – I didn’t catch a few words, so help is welcome):

Transcript :

White on black text: ”There once was a witch’

Young woman in room: ‘I still know when I was little, that I told my teacher “My mother is a witch!” and she thought I simply had a big imagination, which I do have. But then my mother once visited school, and my teacher told her, and then, eh, my mother said “But yes, I am!”. ‘

White on black text: ‘Witches in Holland’

Older woman in room: ‘It was actually because of my neighbour […? couldn’t really make out…], who gave as a presence during the delivery of my eldest daughter, or afterwards of course, eh, the book Mists of Avalon, eh, and I devoured it, it’s really destroyed, really destroyed […?couldn’t make out…]

White on black text: fall 2015