Lithuania is one of my soul countries and a place where I feel close to the Goddess. It is a country where the old Goddess tradition has survived unbroken from before the arrival of the Indo-European gods and is the country of the great scholar of the goddess, Marija Gimbutas. I have led six depth workshops in Lithuania over 15 years and had extraordinary encounters with the Goddess tradition here, as described in three of my books The Dreamer's Book of the Dead, Dreaming the Soul Back Home and The Boy Who Died and Came Back.
On my first visit, I led a shamanic group journey to the ancestors through the gateway of an ancient oak, and I found myself in direct contact with a priestess of Žemyna, the great Earth goddess of Lithuania. The žyne (priestess) belonged to an ancient time. She instructed me in methods of healing and visioning involving the use of amber, and gave me symbols and words in old Lithuanian – a language previously unknown to me – that others in the workshop helped me translate.
On a later visit,the priestess came to me in dreams suffused with amber light. She told me “You belong to the People of Amber. Your duty – and that of those you train here – is to build bridges and wooden pathways so people can get across the mud safely. You must remember to call on the power of Light Amber to heal and to guide, and on the power of Dark Amber to remove the darkness.”
A woman healer in my workshops- a woodwitch from Samogitia (bear country in the west of Lithuania) - was inspired by my dreams and visions to invite me to her summer home. She taught me how to use amber and beeswax for healing, spiritual cleansing and soul keeping. She taught me spells in Old Lithuanian handed down in the maternal line for countless generations. She said these had never previously been shared with a man or a non-Lithuanian. I found, yet again, that the right dream can be a visa.
I discovered first-hand that despite the long nightmare of invasion, occupation and persecution, the Goddess lives in the dreaming land, as the fire lives in wood. In my visits to the Baltic, I have been reminded again and again that one of the gifts of dreaming is that it opens authentic connections to the ancestors, offering us the chance to heal the wounds of the past and to perform cultural soul retrieval.
Image: Žemaitiu alka, a shrine to the old gods and goddesses at Palanga, Lithuania.