Thursday, May 31, 2012


Pedigree?? Noooo, not the dog food, hahaha! My family tree...
I've taken up an old hobby, that I once started but never followed through: genealogy! A few years ago I downloaded MyHeritage, free genealogy software.

Lately I've been digging around the WWW. I'm trying to go back in time with both my family line (Van der Heijden and Slotemaker) and Ron's (Van Leeuwen and Verdikt).
I found out someone had already done the research for the Slotemaker family (my mother's family). I imported it in my files and shared some new info from our branch.

(click on the pic to visit the Slotemaker website)

Luckily a lot of archives are accessible online these days. That makes things a lot easier. First I added what I knew myself, then asked family members around me. The Van der Heijden family had been researched already and I got copies. I found the Verdikt family through 'smart matches', a very handy feature of the MyHeritage software. Facebook, Google, specialized genealogy websites and tips & tricks from people who are more experienced in this help me to get further, step by step.

Above is a print-screen image of the MyHeritage software. This is the main part, the tree itself. It is easy to work with, but I haven't discovered all of its possibilities yet. Practice makes perfect. Genealogy is sooooo addictive! Before I realize it I've spent hours searching, digging, asking, etc. And it's never done; there's always more to explore and find out!
If you want to take a look at the "Van Leeuwen - Van der Heijden Stamboom", follow this link.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


This week the weather in The Netherlands changed from variable and unstable (rain, storm, too cold for this time of year) to very hot and muggy. I'm not very fond of high temperatures (to put it mildly...), but a sudden overturn makes it even worse... Bleh! It isn't a heatwave yet (over here that's 5 days in a row more than 25°C), but because of the high humidity it was quite uncomfortable.

10°C=50°F --- 20°C=68°F --- 30°C=86°F

Don't get me wrong, I love sunny weather! Although I have sun allergy and a very sensitive skin, I enjoy the sun. Nature is beautiful, walking around in a t-shirt... I like it! However, above 22-24°C it's too much for me. I can stand cold much much better than heat. Therefore summer is my least favourite season. I know, I'm weird. :)
These are my two best friends in surviving these days: 

It's not unbearable and of course I'll survive, haha! In a few days the temperatures are expected to decrease again. I don't mind, but I hope we'll have a better summer than last year (more like autumn with lots of rain, storm and very low temperatures). The appeal of my country is the tangible difference between the seasons and I like that a lot. The national hobby of the Dutch people is complaining about the weather no matter how it is. Well, I just did. :) End rant!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Landvættir walk

Yesterday Ron and I went for a walk with a little group of people in a part of the "Noordhollands Duinreservaat", one of the largest national parks in The Netherlands (7000+ hectare). It stretches along the coast of North Holland from Wijk aan Zee to Bergen aan Zee (see map). We started in Castricum.
Organiser Michiel guided us through the beautiful landscape. He first told us about the 'landvættir', literally 'land wights' or spirits of the land (Genius Loci). They protect and promote the flourishing of the specific places where they live, which can be as small as a rock or a corner of a field, or as large as a section of a country.

To honour them we did a little ritual at the beginning of our walk. Michiel led us into a visualisation to meet the spirits of the land. I met some of the tree spirits, rowan and oak. It felt very powerful and warm.

The weather forecast wasn't great beforehand, but we had great walking weather. Just a little rain, a bit of sunshine and very nice temperature. We have walked for more than 4 hours with some stops along the way.

Although this national park is not very far from my 'own' dunes in IJmuiden, the landscape was very different. Or perhaps it just felt different, I can't really explain it. But beautiful it was!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Maia!

Today is Maia's 5th birthday. Wow, I can't believe how fast that goes... She is the youngest cat, and stayed quite little compared to her feline sisters here. If you've been with me on this blog for a while you have seen her before. Let me share a few of the earlier posts about her with you.

Meet... Maia!
first post about her

Thursday Thirteen #53 - Maia
Maia shares 13 pics and facts

Cats On Tuesday #1 - Maia is tired
cute pics of a sleepy kitten

and of course some extra pics...


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

I think of you, a little extra today
6th Mother's Day without you
I miss you so much
I send you my love and
I remember you, mom...


If you still have your mom... please cherish her! Forgive her, love her, even with all her vices - like she loves you with all of yours... Because when she's gone for good, you don't want to have any regrets!

I have no regrets; I've talked and shared everything I wanted with my mom. She forgave me (the gods know I haven't always been the easy one...) and thanked me for all I've done for her. She wasn't always easy to deal with too and I've grumbled a lot, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. She knew she could always count on me and that was mutual. I wish we had had more time together...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

You, Me & Religion

Last week Debra of You, Me & Religion contacted me to see whether I was interested to participate in her blog by answering some questions about religion. I didn't know her blog, so I first went over there to read. It explores different religions and belief systems, in an effort to promote understanding between faiths and to learn from one another. To that end, people with different religious backgrounds answer a list of questions. Very interesting!

My interview will be posted on You, Me & Religion at the end of June. I'll give you my answers here, but don't forget to visit the original blog to see the other interviews!


1) What religion do you practice? 
I’m an eclectic witch. I practice witchcraft, also called The Old Religion or The Craft, a pagan religion. There is not one true definition of a witch. There are different ways and traditions within witchcraft, with a lot of similarities but also a lot of differences. The things I tell you in this post are MY answers and not in any way valid for every witch, although a lot is common among witches.

2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting? 
I was raised a roman catholic, but I always felt some things differently and missed certain aspects. I found them when I encountered witchcraft. Witches don’t convert anyone, most of us are either raised within paganism or discovered it ourselves. If someone is really interested in my path I’ll always try to answer their questions to the best of my ability.

3) Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox, conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance? 
Difficult to say… I don’t feel this really applies to witchcraft. There are people that call themselves witches although they rarely do something ‘active’ with it (celebrate festivals, do magic,, etc.). Some groups or solitary witches never miss a sabbat and/or full moon, others celebrate only a few. All good imho.

4) Within your religion what degree of observance are you? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
I didn’t choose a certain degree. Witchcraft has a place in my life, is part of my life. I always pay attention to the sabbats, the moon, etc. but the degree of activity varies. During my time in a traditional coven we celebrated almost every sabbat, had lessons, workshops, meetings, etc. Now I’m free to do what I want. Sometimes I do things on my own, sometimes with a group of people. I do workshops, study, meditate, read, do practical things (like divination, working with herbs) and so much more. There isn’t a day in my life that goes by without something ‘witchy’.

5) What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept) 
Most witches call the afterlife the Summerland. Hell is an invention of christianity, I don’t believe in that concept of punishment.

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why? 
Everyone goes to the Summerland. In my opinion that isn’t ‘heaven for pagans’ or something. By everyone I mean everyone: people of all religions but also all other living beings. We just give our afterlife different names. Otherwise we would never see our christian, jewish, etc. family and friends ever again!

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you? 
When I found witchcraft, it felt like coming home. I believe in a Goddess and a God, both equally important. Balance is necessary, or at the least it’s a personal goal. Witchcraft is a nature-based religion. It makes me feel good and matches my general ideas and views. There’s always more to learn. Sometimes it can be a challenge, but I happily accept that. I truly believe this is the right path for me.

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them? 
I celebrate 8 sabbats or solar festivals, that are closely connected to nature. They are called Yule (Winter solstice), Imbolc, Ostara (Spring equinox), Beltane. Litha (Summer solstice), Lughnasadh, Mabon (Autumn equinox) and Samhain. All have their own celebrations, symbols, etc. I celebrate lunar festivals too: full moon, dark moon, etc. The phases of the moon have influence on all of us. Some things are better done at the waxing moon, other things need a waning moon.

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends? 
Of course! Why not? As long as there is mutual respect regarding faith I see no problem with that.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why? 
Yes, I like to learn about other faiths and have respect for them. If someone wants to share their celebration with me, I’m honoured. It has to be clear though that I don’t have to be ‘saved’ and I’m not there to be converted. I think some people should be more open-minded, a lot of misconceptions and judgments about other religions are based on ignorance and lack of education about them. I have read bibles, koran, tora and other holy books / texts to educate myself. It’s okay to agree to disagree, respect and be respected…

11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law? 
When a muslim woman has freely chosen to wear the burka I have no problem with it, but if she is forced or obliged to wear it I see it as a symbol of oppression and to me that is never good. Regarding shariah law… Well, unfortunately every faith has its extremists and fundamentalists that abuse it and (mis)interpret holy texts for their own good. In my opinion state and religion should be strictly separated.

12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, imam etc.) in your religion and how do you feel about it? 
Yes, both men and women are allowed to do that. It’s one of the things that appealed to me in witchcraft. In some ways the HPs (High Priestess) is considered more important than the HP (High Priest), but men are not discriminated in the way women are in certain other religions. To me men and women are equal though not the same. I like a mixed group. There are also groups of only men or only women though.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel? 
Do you mean whether men and women are kept separate in worship? No, and I’m glad they are not! My place of worship is preferably outdoors in nature but a circle can be cast anywhere, inside or out.

14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc? 
Witchcraft is a way of life. I’m always a witch like I’m always a woman. I can’t switch it off. It is part of my daily life including my decisions.

15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion? 
I wouldn’t mind as long as he/she is happy with it. Everyone has a right to choose their own path.

16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell? 
Hell and satan are christian concepts I don’t believe in.

17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not? 
People in the public domain are not too keen to ‘get out of the broom closet’. Unfortunately there are still a lot of misconceptions about witches.

18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain. 
No. I’ve always been open about what I do and believe in. Sometimes people don’t (want to) understand it, and/or make fun of it, but hate… luckily not!

19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you? 
Perhaps it does to others, but that’s their problem, their ignorance. I don’t value people according to their path/faith. If a person feels less because of his/her religion it’s probably not the right path for them, but I believe in free will so it’s their mistake to make…

20) Does your religion give you peace of mind? 
Yes, it certainly does.

21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
Yes, I believe in an afterlife and reincarnation. Why? Good question… I just do! I have seen past lives in regression, but I don’t need proof.


You, Me & Religion links:
Blog YM&R

Monday, May 07, 2012


Yesterday the full moon was special. Well, it always is, but it was a supermoon or perigee full moon. A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon (or a new moon) with the closest approach the moon makes to the earth on its elliptical orbit. Full moon at perigee is 12 to 15% larger and brighter than an average full moon. That has effect on the tides on earth and often people feel the difference too. I'm a full moon child and feel best around that phase, although dark moon has its appeal too as every phase does... It might be explained by the fact that the moon was full at my birth. To check what moon you were born under check this site. What it says about you can be found here and here.

Ron and I attended a full moon celebration with friends, outside on the top of a dune. We welcomed a special guest from Australia and had a wonderful ritual. We talked about this moon and her symbols. It was also lunar Beltane, so fire was all around! Ron made fire with a magnesium-stick, his knife and some tinder he found on the way up the dune. We passed around a big torch on a long stick and shared stories about our relationship with fire. I've always had an ambivalent relation with fire: appealing and scary at the same time.

I shared a very personal story in the circle. I burned something to say goodbye and give closure to a certain period on my path. I asked the fire to transform the feelings of sadness, disappointment and anger into new opportunities and add to the positive feelings I already have about this. It's the circle of life. Death and rebirth. Farewells and new beginnings... I felt free and relieved while I watched the items burn up completely.
After a guided meditation and the cake & wine we opened the circle. Time for some music around the campfire with drums, tom-toms, djembe, rattle and didgeridoo. Wow...

About half an hour before midnight the moon finally showed herself. The sky was clear with just some clouds floating by. We welcomed her and enjoyed the sight. After goodbyes we all went our ways. The moon accompanied us home, but somewhat later she disappeared in an overcast sky.
It was a great and magical night!

Friday, May 04, 2012


Although I have my own medical complaints I don't dwell on my health daily. We should be (more) thankful for it though. Sometimes it's hard when we are faced with the reality of how fragile one's health can be...
In February I got a call from a dear friend's mother. She told me her daughter Kitty had had a stroke, a cerebral infarct. She had been unconscious for 3 weeks, paralyzed completely on the right side, kidney failure, liver damage and more... I was confused, or rather flabbergasted... She is my age, just a few weeks older, so it hit hard!

When we first visited her that afternoon she was in a nursing home. The average age was 75+ there, but she had to stay there because she needed dialysis. She was slowly getting a bit better, had some feeling in her right side, could speak again (though difficult). The situation made us cry together, but we also laughed a lot.

After a few weeks she was transferred to Heliomare, a health rehabilitation centre in Wijk aan Zee. That was a much better place for her, where she got all kinds of therapy. Every time we visited she had made big steps, real progression! She was walking again, and moving / using her arm a lot better. She shows so much strength and determination... I have deep respect for her, and also for her parents who keep supporting her daily anyway they can.

Last week I sent her another card, promising to come by this week. Wednesday she called us to say she was with her parents for a visit. Ron was stunned when Kitty called, another great step! Yesterday evening we drove to Heliomare for the visit. She had wonderful news: she is going home at the end of this month! She has already been home for weekends, first with her parents and later alone. She can walk the stairs to her bed and help herself around the house. Wow!! I'm so glad for her.

When we first visited her, we joked that she and I would be linedancing again this year. I had my doubts about it, but now I say: who knows? She wants to visit our linedance club so we'll contact the instructor and see what's possible. When she shows so much will to persevere we will do whatever we can to help!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Beltane Blessings to you!
(and Samhain blessings to my friends in the Southern hemisphere)

Beltane is a Celtic word meaning 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is one of the four major sabbats (solar festivals), which lie on the cross-quarters between the Solstices and the Equinoxes. The last of three fertility festivals, it is a celebration of the union of God and Goddess. It is a time to seek blessings of fertility and prosperity, and love is in the air.

The Maypole is a phallic symbol, and as such represents fertility. Men and women dance around it while weaving the ribbons around the pole to bring fertility and good luck.
The Beltane Fire is another significant part of the celebration. It has purifying qualities which cleanse and revitalise. People leap over the Beltane fire to bring good fortune, fertility (of mind, body and spirit) and happiness through the coming year.

Bless, O threefold true and bountiful, 
 Myself, my spouse, my children. 
Bless everything within my dwelling and in my possession, 
Bless the kine and crops, the flocks and corn, 
From Samhain Eve to Beltane Eve, 
With goodly progress and gentle blessing, 
From sea to sea, and every river mouth, 
 From wave to wave, and base of waterfall. 

 Be the Maiden, Mother, and Crone, 
Taking possession of all to me belonging. 
Be the Horned God, the Wild Spirit of the Forest, 
Protecting me in truth and honor. 
Satisfy my soul and shield my loved ones, 
 Blessing every thing and every one, 
All my land and my surroundings. 
Great gods who create and bring life to all, 
I ask for your blessings on this day of fire.

(short adaptation of Am Beannachadh Bealltain (The Beltane Blessing) )