Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity
Traveller Researcher Connector Inspirator
Study and career
Selma Sevenhuijsen (1948) studied political science and history at the University of Amsterdam, where she also wrote her PhD on the political history of women and family law. From 1989 till 2009 she was a professor of Women’s Studies and the Ethic of Care at Utrecht University. In this period she became one of the founders of the Ethic of Care, an approach to moral life that foregrounds concepts like attention, compassion, responsibility and trust. For her work on this topic she travelled extensively around the world, from Great Britain, the United States to Slovenia, Switzerland and South Africa.
In the year 2000 her life took a big turn. Through some deep experiences the spiritual path opened itself for her. It was the start of an on-going soul journey, in which the inner and the outer are coming closer and closer together. It brought her on many pathways, that in the end all lead to one destination – the heart as a place of connection, wisdom and unconditional love. It’s the place also of the ‘pearl of great price’ that figures in all big spiritual traditions as a place where we can connect with the divine.
From the start on the labyrinth, an ancient tool for the journey towards the Self, guided her. Having discovered the labyrinth in Switzerland, San Francisco and Chartres she founded a practice of working with the labyrinth in the Netherlands. Starting from La Verna, a Franciscan spiritual centre and from the Dominicus church in Amsterdam she introduced the labyrinth in numerous churches and spiritual centres. In 2006, at the occasion of 60 years liberation of the Second World War, she designed a special peace labyrinth for the city of Amsterdam. She also made labyrinths on natural sites and ancient sacred places. For several years she has worked with her own design of a heart labyrinth – a symbol for the way of love. In 2014 she designed a permanent heart labyrinth under Matilda’s castle in Canossa. From 2008 onwards she has provided a training ‘Working with the labyrinth’ at the Jungian Institute in Nijmegen. In 2012 she was one of the founders of ‘Labyrintwerk’, a now flourishing network of labyrinth workers in the Netherlands.
And she continued to travel. She worked with the labyrinth in South Africa, Taiwan, the United States, Peru and – above all – in Italy. In 2006 she went to Tuscany to study the role of the labyrinth in the Etruscan culture. She found a fascinating ancient sacred landscape that enabled her to decipher the archetypal meaning of the labyrinth. This has inspired her to stay in the area: for eight years she has lived part-time in Pitigliano, an old town in the Tuscan Maremme. She published a book on her findings (see below) and numerous articles in its aftermath, all about the sacred places and the survival of ancient traditions in the area. From here she also studied the basics of sacred geography and sacred geometry. And she guided many people along the hidden sacred places there.
Symbols and archetypes
During the years she developed a deep interest in the meaning of the symbols on ancient sacred places. It started with a fascination with the double tailed mermaid (la sirena bicaudata in Italian) that she found on Etruscan temples and tombs, but also on many Christian churches and in the famous Renaissance gardens of Bomarzo. She learned to interpret these as a symbol of the feminine divine, and as an ancient feminine archetype that figures in a wide variety of cultures. But she learned as much from the green man, church mandalas, the flower of life, the vines, the pomegranate and the images of saints from long ago. During the years the sirena revealed more and more of her secrets to her. The sirena guided her closer to ancient traditions of the sacred marriage and balance between the feminine and the masculine in culture and religion. In the end it all paved the way for her interest in the story of Matilda di Canossa.
Workshops, journeys and publications: a matter of co-creation
During these years her work stepwise gained in spiritual depth. As a result she practices in her workshops a multi-method approach. With simple but profound rituals, adapted to the situation and the persons she works with, she guides people through the labyrinth and in journeys along sacred places. Initiated in the Andean tradition she combines the Inka ways of working with the sacred energies with meditations, rituals, prayers, poems, sounds and symbols from diverse traditions. More and more she works with crystals and with a golden sun disk as spiritual tools. She loves to travel alone, but only to then share her experiences with others, in guided tours, lectures, articles in journals and on her website. Her aim is to initiate in this way growing circles of co-creation.
In all this she is inspired by a diversity of readings and experiences. She loves to read Christian mystics and to follow the newest findings on Mary Magdalene, but also the work of Carl Jung and the poems of Rumi inspire her. But she is also inspired by the persons with whom she works. And she is continuously guided by dreams that she received ever since her spiritual path opened. They brought her to Italy and guided her along the discoveries she made there. In the end her dreams also brought her to Matilda di Canossa: it was Matilda herself who showed her in her dreams the way along her sacred places, and the meaning of her journey. It’s all integrated in the book Queen of the Vatican.
Science and spirituality
In her work she seeks to combine spiritual depth with scientific solidity. She isn’t studying the ancient treasures for their own sake, but for the timeless wisdom they carry through the ages. That’s why she called her practice ‘Ancient wisdom for a new age’. In the current times of transformation we dearly need ancient examples, especially about the role of the feminine, the sacredness of the earth and the interconnection of the human and the divine. Matilda’s life story provides such an example. And her castle in Canossa carries the promise of growing into a new meeting place on the road towards more compassion and mutual understanding on a global scale. That is at least the vision that unfolds itself in the book Queen of the Vatican.