I asked a bunch, or should that perhaps be a 'bibliography' of authors...whatever the collective noun for a group of authors is...a few quick snapshot questions.
This week is...IMELDA ALMQVIST
Website: http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/imelda.almqvist
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/imeldaalmqvist
1. What or who inspires you the most and why?
My greatest creative and artistic inspiration (for painting, writing, teaching and making art videos) comes directly from other worlds, from the spirits and deities I work with. I keep a dream journal. Dream Incubation is my favourite method for learning and healing. It is also a key technique I use with my sacred art students, in workshops all over the world.
In the human realm I am inspired by every single person who has the courage to be their authentic self, people who dare peel off layer after layer of cultural and childhood conditioning to follow their passions and dreams (whatever those may be). That includes all the people who have the courage to heal their life and take 100% responsibility for the events that shaped their life (rather than endless repeating the key traumas in their life and involving others in those karmic replays). I am not saying anyone causes or deserves to experience traumatic events, just that no one will ever heal them on our behalf. And if we don’t heal them, we pass them on to our descendants, as trauma and unresolved issues pool in the ancestral field. They don’t conveniently evaporate when we die. I wish more people understood that.
I also have boundless admiration for people who face serious challenges and restrictions in life: serious illness, disabilities, parenting a child with special needs. These are people the world often pays little attention to (often they are not seen as public figures or ‘influencers’), yet they are the true axis that the world turns on. They make immense (largely invisible) daily contributions to keeping our society afloat. Those extraordinary people are my True Heroes!
2. Do you have any set daily spiritual practices?
First thing in the morning I write my dream journal. In the evening often write a poem or make some sketches in my art diary, as a way of stepping back into the Dreamtime.
After breakfast I chant the runes, speak Sigrdrifa’s Invocation in Old Norse, followed by an ancestral healing prayer and personal prayers for the people and causes in my Prayer Bowl.
I visit my Ancestor Gallery and talk to my ancestors. I share the family news, ask for assistance when a family member needs help, make some offerings (food, drink, flowers).
At lunchtime I visit the seedlings in my greenhouse and talk to the local plants and birds.
For me speaking to my three children is a spiritual practice. I find that simply listening to what they choose to share unfailingly tethers me to the modern world and also gives me key messages for professional decisions or content I am writing.
I try to fit a small segment of creative time into every day, even intense teaching days in far-flung location, even if that means sketching and scribbling in bed at midnight!
Every day I also try to take a moment to visit the moment of my own death (not needing to know the how or when of it!!), making my peace with that moment and allowing it to inform my priorities and decisions while I still have the gift of life.
3. What is your favourite subject to write about and why?
My middle son recently made the argument that writing fiction is the most creative thing an author can do. He is 18 and working on his first novel! My younger self enjoyed writing stories, but today I nearly always write about spiritual matters, in the widest possible sense, non-fiction. I also write poems.
I am a teacher at heart and deeply appreciative of the things the ancestors (biological ancestors, ancestors of spiritual lineage etc.) passed on to me. I see it as a key responsibility to ensure that any knowledge or wisdom I have acquired, along my life’s path, will not die with me. Therefore my books are about subjects I am passionate about: sacred art, ancient Norse and Germanic wisdom teachings, ancestral healing, the power of the human imagination, healing, spiritual toolkit work with children and young people, rites of passage and initiation, ceremonies and powerful group process.
I am glad no one expects me to write engineering manuals – I would fail desperately!
4. Do you have a sacred or spiritual place/area (anywhere in the world) that you feel connected to?
Lockdown has meant our eldest son (who is 20) is now living with us again, 18 months after starting university and living in a student room in another city. I asked him recently: “Where is home?” His answer was: “Home is where I am!” I consider that the perfect answer!
One of my key beliefs is that the whole Earth is sacred (and so are places other than Earth, such as other planets, galaxies or the whole cosmos). From that point of view it is not helpful to describe only some places as sacred and privilege them over others.
Home is quite a charged subject for me: at an early age I discovered that I did not really feel at home in my country of birth (The Netherlands) though I will always be proud to be (and speak) Dutch! I have always felt a profound pull to the Far North. I have had many dreams about being an Inuit or Scandinavian in a previous lifetimes. I speak fluent Swedish!
To me personally Greenland is the most sacred place on our planet. It is my soul’s home. I have been there once and remained homesick ever since. I have a profound yearning to do an artist’s residency there one day and paint by the Northern Lights in the winter time, during the period when the Sun doesn’t rise there.
Thankfully I managed to marry a Swede and we have a house in the Forest in Sweden, for which I am deeply grateful. The land there is training me to be a Forest Witch!
5. Where do you work your magic/practice your faith? Do you have a special room or area set aside?
One of the strangest features of my life is that I work from home yet also travel all over the world, to teach courses (in Sacred Art, Seidr and Spiritual Toolkit Work with Children and Teens) in far-flung locations. So I am either at home or I am “on location”. Like my son I try to feel that I am “at home wherever I find myself”.
In both London UK and Sweden, I use my own home as my school. I have rooms set aside for teaching and healing work. In Sweden the Forest is my favourite classroom! My students and I also sit out on grave mounds and in stone circles.
6. What book/talk/article of yours are you most proud of and why?
Impossible question! I pour my heart into everything I do. I don’t do things by halves, I either dive right in or I say “no thanks”.
If I absolutely have to choose I would say getting my second book written and published: Sacred Art, A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where Art Meets Shamanism). Since attending art school in Amsterdam (between ages 18 – 22) so much of my life has been dedicated to painting, helping others unlock their creativity and artistic abilities, and to actively dissolving (or at least trying to!) long-standing divisions, blocks and prejudices in the mainstream world of (so called) Fine Art.
By extension the following art video, because it marries art, healing and The North (and illustrates almost everything I have tried to explain in this interview):
Menglöð and the Nine Maidens of Lyfjaberg
List of books published, so far:
Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages), Moon Books, 2016
Sacred Art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where Art Meets Shamanism), Moon Books, 2019.
Medicine of the Imagination - Dwelling in possibility (An impassioned plea for fearless imagination), Moon Books, October 2020.
(I am currently working on my fourth book, about the pre-Christian spirituality of The Netherlands and Low Countries)