The story behind Yggdrasil Living Wholeness
Walking towards the emerging future
Picking up the seeds
The seeds of Yggdrasil Living Wholeness were gathered on our trip to Northern Scotland, summer 2016. John and I were cruising the Isle of Skye and, as usual when we were driving, we were discussing what we wanted to bring into the world. We immediately knew that we shared the same dream, creating a place for retreats, a place where people would be able to step out of their frantic life, cultivate stillness, experience deep inner listening and feel what is calling them in life. We started to imagine what such a place should look like and what we wanted to provide: intense contact with nature, sensing wholeness and connecting to the Source.
Incubating the seeds
Having gathered the seeds, we spent the next months experimenting different forms of retreats with a three-week retreat in Assynt together, followed by a month in Findhorn for me when I took part in the first edition of the Spiritual Deepening Programme. Never having been to Scandinavia, I visited Denmark to check it out, and immediately fell in love with the country and the majestic trees around Copenhagen. I am very much a tree person and enjoy several special connections to trees. Therefore, John introduced me to Yggdrasil, the mythical tree that connects the worlds in Norse cosmology. At the beginning of this incubation time, we acquired two glass butterflies, blue for John and purple for me. The butterflies were to follow us throughout the journey reminding us of the metamorphoses that come from transformational work. In each place we would be staying in we would stick them on the window.
Selecting the land
At the time, I was still based in Strasbourg, France and John was living in Søborg on the outskirts of Copenhagen. After my month in Findhorn, I decided to move to Denmark and to leave France. During my retreat, I came to see that my work in France was completed and that the next step was to start up my own line of work and to break free from institutional settings and organisational cultures. We started to look at different options in Denmark realising that if we were prepared to live outside of Copenhagen, we could afford to buy a house and set up our own business. The Danish government is encouraging people to live in what is called “outer Denmark” in order to solve the problem of over-crowded Copenhagen and area. We quite liked the idea of being on an Island and John suggested Ærø and Bornholm. Over Christmas 2016, he started looking at properties to sell and, at a first glimpse, we could see that they were within our budget and allowing for further growth. We let go of the idea of going to Ærø when John realised that there were no woods on the island and therefore few trees, and we switched to Bornholm that fitted the wider picture. John knew Bornholm from family holidays and told me it looked a bit like Scotland in some places.
Meeting Yggdrasil Axi Mundi, the tree of the world
John gave me a book for Christmas by G. Ronald Murphy, The Tree of Salvation. Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North. The third chapter is about Bornholm’s round churches. Murphy supports the idea that Yggdrasil and the Christian Cross merged together when Christianity met Norse mythology. The round churches are an embodiment of Yggdrasil, a sanctuary and place of salvation. The central pillar represents the trunk of the tree, where people seek refuge and go within, and the garrets in the church’s roof represent the branches of heaven and enlightenment, where people can seek protection and salvation. The roots of the tree represent the hells and the shadow lands. Again, this weaving together of Christianity and Norse mythology met our inquiry into wholeness, and we came up with a name for our business, Yggdrasil Living Wholeness.
Following the call to settle down
In February 2017, we spent a week on Bornholm visiting the properties that John had preselected. We were very taken by the first house we saw and were seriously considering buying it. Nonetheless, something was holding us back so we diligently went through the list of houses we had agreed to view. We had a sense that a house would choose us rather than the other way around. On our last visit, we were driving through a very wet countryside talking about buying the first house still trying to figure out what was keeping us back. Suddenly, we both commented on the beauty of the landscape despite the rain and dull grey low skies. As soon as we stepped into the house, unexpectedly, we could feel something growing within us. After the house visit, we realised that we were at a short distance from one of the round churches, Østerlars Kirke, Saint Lawrence’s. We stopped by to visit and were invited to step in by Karen Marie busy cleaning the place. We had the church to ourselves. When we saw the enormous hollow central pillar at the heart of the church (called the oven by the locals because reminiscent of a pizza oven), we knew that we had found Yggdrasil and our house. We set our hearts on acquiring Ny Elleskov (New Alder Forest which is the historical name of the house and farm) and never turned back on that decision. The house had called us and this was where we were to settle down.
Tending to the soil
We spent the following months paddling in the logistics of me taking up residence in Denmark, wrapping up my affairs in France, buying the house and exploring what Yggdrasil Living Wholeness would be. After a few humps and bumps, we finally landed in Bornholm end of June 2017 to take over the house. During a very busy summer of intensive home care (spring cleaning and fresh coats of paint) and basic work in the garden, we stared exploring the surroundings and taking in the energies of the island. It was a precious time for attending to the soil and unpacking the seeds gathered in Scotland, time for us to bring the new seeds fully into our life and manifest our dream. Symbolically, we planted two buddleias, one pink for me and another deep purple for John, on the stump of an old oak tree that had been cut down by the previous owner. This celebrated the birthing of Yggdrasil Living Wholeness officially established as a single person business in September 2017.
Manifesting our dream
After the first weeks of settling down on Bornholm and enjoying stillness, we were ready for more action. For Yggdrasil Living Wholeness this entailed learning the basics of business management in Denmark, reaching out for help on sometimes baffling administrative aspects, setting up the appropriate support systems (i.e. accountancy), designing a new website, styling the logo and exploring new ways of being of service to Wholeness. We chose to work preferentially with people and businesses on the island which helped us get a sense of the larger landscape and to practice creative co-working. Interestingly, we would always bump into just the right person as our bigger project unfolded. The stronger the invocation, the more we were resourced.
I was mainly delivering online work with learning journeys, in French, on leadership development and archetypal psychology. I did some individual and collective coaching, and facilitated a few transformational workshops bringing in constellation work. I was experimenting a lot and investigating new orientations in subtle energy and higher consciousness work. Pacing the uncharted territories allowed me to step out of my previous life in higher education and to branch off into new directions.
Further settling down and putting out our roots occurred when we started to attend the local round church and befriended our parish priest. We have become regular members of the congregation (John is a member of the parish council) and Østerlars church is a second home and natural extension of our home.
We contacted a local architect to help us get under way with the renovation work. Sean started by drawing the plans of the house and all the surrounding buildings, which had never been done. He first drafted an ambitious project with sleeping capacity that would have turned the place into a hotel. Not what we had in mind. We then went through a challenging phase of clarifying our vision and manifesting it without throwing us out of pocket. We spent a long time looking into the finances, adjusting the layout of the guest accommodation until it felt just right for us, and finding the right building firm to take on the job. Everyone who came into the house immediately fell in love with it and showed interest and enthusiasm for our intentions. Nonetheless, we needed time to listen to their proposals, tune into them, feel the energies coming together and the possibilities of creatively co-working on the larger project. All this reflection time before committing ourselves does not feel like time wasted, despite the movements of impatience and the frustrations we experienced. We went through moments of doubt, deep fears about the financial implications and then came that magical moment of trust and being able to surrender. Grace flooded in and we knew that we had in our hands the project that we really, really wanted, and that we would be working with people we could trust to be of service to this. The renovation work on the farm buildings started on the 21st of November 2018.
Cleansing the soil and new beginnings
We have been tracking the renovation work and sharing this huge peace of transformational work in our newsletter. It has mainly been an inner and outer journey of releasing the old and obsolete to allow in the new and the unknown. We came in contact with the local habits of hoarding and burying waste. Unfortunately, we did not find a Viking treasure when the foundations were dug out, only waste and rubbish that had been dumped there for lack of a viable recycling system on what was until recently a poor and isolated island. It felt important to honour this past, to clear out the waste and to retain only what is essential and serves the bigger project. De-cluttering and simplicity became the main focus: cleansing the soil beneath the buildings to come; freeing the garden from choking brambles, undesirable plants and broken fences; cleaning our home and making it a place of beauty; simplifying the website and exploring new forms of communication; imagining new ways of gathering and exploring higher consciousness and subtle energy work.
2019 has already seen many new beginnings starting with our marriage that was celebrated in February followed by the first we-space gathering. Yggdrasil Living Wholeness has grown from a single person business into a cooperative business enabling stronger partnership. Plans for expanding in the garden and starting up a kitchen garden are being carried out. We received a wonderful collection of seeds as a wedding present and we are dreaming into abundance in many forms and many places.