Wholeness of Selfhood

Nicola Mary Christensen-Johnson

Dwelling in Eldership

A Pilgrimage of Identity and Purpose

Spiritual Bornholm is an auspicious place to dream into the next dispensation of your life, and to sail the unknown seas.

I invite you to join me for a time of retreat on Bornholm and to undertake a pilgrimage of identity and purpose guiding you towards sacred eldership. Our time together in contemplation and stillness engenders much more than what we can apprehend from the narrowness of our educated minds. Our heart, on the contrary, knows what we are capable of in wholeness of selfhood. It beckons us to step into the fullness of our extraordinary capacities. Your contribution is precious in this respect.

Read on to learn more about spiritual Bornholm and the contemplative retreats on offer in Yggdrasil Guest Lodge which you can see in the picture above, floating in the mists of an enchanting wintery landscape.

Mysterious Bornholm

The Danish Island of Bornholm where I live is a very special place. It is a detached island in the Western part of the Baltic Sea, close to Sweden, with Germany and Poland to the South. Other than being a strategic geopolitical hotspot in that region of Northern Europe, with distinctive geological features, it has also provided shelter and a welcome sanctuary for those practicing various forms of spirituality. There are numerous traces of neolithic artefacts with standing stones and tumulus burial mounds, vivid traces of Viking culture and Norse mythology etched in Runes on stones and memorials, all cyphers and insignia suggesting flourishing pre-Christian ceremonies and rituals with a large palette of devotional practices.

The most significant Christian attribute of Bornholm is the presence of fifteen medieval churches allegedly built by the Templars at the end of the 11th century. Four of these churches are round. Based on the principles of sacred geometry, the fifteen churches are positioned along a seven-pointed star in a circle with an accuracy that defeats our modern understanding. There are many hypotheses as to why the Templars built these churches on a remote island in the Baltic Sea. I favour the idea that they established an educational hub, a training centre, where students and scholars from all over Europe came to be initiated into the body of knowledge stewarded by the Templars and the craftmanship informed by sacred geometry.

Enigmatic Beckoning

In 2017, drawn by some mysterious calling, I bought an old farm close to the round church of Østerlars, considered to be the heart of the constellation, with the intention of converting the farm buildings into a retreat centre for contemplation and transformational work. The renovation was carried out in 2019 and the retreat centre opened in 2020 shortly before the first lockdown. The property offers ample possibilities for welcoming visitors of all paths of life, with comfortable accommodation in Yggdrasil Guest Lodge and a spacious meditation hall, the Abbey, overlooking the surrounding fields.


When I first landed on Bornholm, I had no clear idea why I am here and what I am supposed to do. Over the past years, things have been steadily and consistently revealed to me in the midst of the disruptions and turbulences engendered by the pandemic. Many of the revelations are now threaded into my work with wholeness, and there is no doubt that I have expanded into my sovereign selfhood. I am learning to ask questions and to listen, in the stillness and silence of my vibrant heart, to the whispers of my inner voice. So, what is the true purpose of the retreat centre which has been mainly operating as a B&B during the tourist season?

Gracious Hospitality

I am being summoned to reclaim the notion of hospitality and to revive the tradition of the caravanserai. The purpose of the retreat centre is to welcome the pilgrim, in whatever form the pilgrimage might be, and to allow her or him to rest, absorb and integrate what is available here on Bornholm, an educational power point known for eons and still actively operating.

So far, I have noticed that visitors of all sorts (mainly tourists) immediately sense the stillness and quietness emanating from the house when they step into the building. They become receptive to the peacefulness and the sense of contentment that infills anyone prepared and willing to let the house cradle them into restorative rest before ushering them towards the next dispensation of their life.

The house has become my hermitage. I have put on the cloak of the hermit, picked up my staff, and raised my lantern to cast light. Clearly, I am deeply engaged with the journey of the second half of my life, moving through the stages of the hermit and the pilgrim, a journey of spiritual maturity formed and informed by my odyssey with wholeness. It is said that the hermit contemplates on divine essence. My experience is that contemplation and spiritual maturation shepherd me to the unitive place where I and God are one. Christian mysticism is the path I have chosen to walk to move towards nondual consciousness and wholeness/oneness. The nearby presence of the luminous round church of Østerlars supports me in my quest.

Contemplation and Compassion

Contemplation without action, words without deeds, is nothing, the most important word in my invocation of a retreat centre dedicated to contemplation and transformational work, being the word ‘and’. Solidarity and compassion have become the hallmarks of the work unfolding in my contemplative practices. I intuit that when we can stand in solidarity with ourselves, with others, with God – or however we name the mysterious realms of consciousness beyond our apprehension, when we can receive ourselves tenderly in both our faltering steps and shortcomings, then we know of universal kinship and unveil not only our essential nature, but also our collective nature. This is how we become peacemakers, advocate for social justice and reform, campaign for civil and human rights, and honour our connectedness with nature and the interwovenness of all life. The journey of spiritual maturity guides us through the stages of the hermit and the wanderer towards embodied eldership, the kingdom of our actions imbued with the qualities of love unveiled in our transformations.

When contemplation and compassion come together, we begin to perceive fully and truthfully. We affirm our inner authority which is none other than the ability to author our life. We sense into the true action, rising from the space where contemplation and compassion merge, and give birth to new worlds, new fields of relationality where faith, hope and love prevail.

Contemplative Retreats

A standard contemplative retreat is a week-long stay, 7 nights, in eco-friendly Yggdrasil Guest Lodge on Bornholm. Retreats usually start on a Saturday at 15.00, but other days and times are possible according to availabilities in the guest lodge.

There is the possibility of doing a mini-retreat of three full days, 4 nights, starting on the day of your choice.

You will have your own room, a spacious room for relaxing and writing, with direct access on to the terrace and into the gardens and neighbouring fields. The bathrooms are close to the rooms and you will be allocated a private bathroom with shower, washbasin and toilet.

All meals and snacks are included in the retreat package. Meals are simple: vegetarian with local organic products or produced in Denmark. Vegan options possible. Alcoholic beverages are not included. Locally brewed beers and organic wine can be purchased from the guest lodge.

Retreat guests have full access to the kitchen, the meditation hall (the Abbey) and library, and the laundry facilities. There is excellent internet coverage throughout the property.

A Bespoke Programme

A contemplative retreat invites you to step out of tightly designed programmes, and to let go of any agenda and all expectations. It is essentially and by nature a quiet time for indulging in stillness and silence, honouring the simple and mundane, and welcoming the portal or the gateway beckoning you to the next iteration in your life.

The only fixed feature is the daily 30-minute meditation held between 7.45 and 8.15 in the Abbey. There is no obligation to attend and retreat guests are welcome to sit in the meditation circle whenever they feel called to do so.

Breakfast is available from 7.30 to 9.30. Lunch is served between 12.00 and 13.30 depending on activities (packed lunches are available). Evening meals are served between 18.00 and 19.00 again depending on activities.

Retreat guests are welcome to join in with the preparation of the meals and to take part in the tasks and duties of caring for an intentional community.

Together, we can define how we want to spend our time together. This may include

  • Simply sitting together in silence
  • Regular visits to the round church for contemplative practice
  • Enjoying solitary walks in the nearby woods
  • Visiting the sacred sites of Bornholm
  • Coming together to engage in generative conversations
  • Storytelling and playing with words and music
  • Listening to music and singing in the Abbey or in the resonant chamber of the round church
  • Constellation work
  • Oracle readings
  • Or none of the above

Planning your retreat

Contact me using the form below indicating when you would like to come. In a few words, tell me what is calling you to Bornholm. I’ll get back to you suggesting a date and time for a call to discuss the specifics.

You can book a week-long retreat throughout the year. Please be aware that the summer period, from mid-June to mid-September, is a very busy time on Bornholm: the population is ten times as much as in the quieter season. Personally, I recommend the period from 1 October to Easter for a true contemplative retreat in quietness and stillness.



Please take some time to read my Terms of service: you will find out more about me and how I work.

You can also look at my Philosophy of Accompaniment which details how I accompany people on their odysseys with wholeness and oneness.