A beautiful day at Venwoude

posted by Eivind on December 19, 2010, at 5:04 pm

I want to tell you about a day that Peter, Pelle and I recently had at Venwoude, a Dutch retreat center. The three of us had met up to have our quarterly brotherhood touchdown and had already done a lot of deep, penetrating work by the time we made our way through thick, wet snow on the roads nourthbound for Venwoude.

Headed for Venwoude

Venwoude is a retreat center which has increased in my awareness over the last year. Peter and I dropped by in May out of the blue just to check out the place and I felt that I would be back. I have met two great men who are part of that community through this website. One of them, Leon Gras, contacted me after the entire story around the manifesto for conscious men and we had a brief exchange about why that was an important debate and that the approach taken in that manifesto didn't sufficiently honor levels of development.

He proceeded to invite us to drop in on a workshop called 'Sex, Spirit & Sexuality' with Diane Hamilton and Marc Gafni which was being held at the same that we would happen to gather in Holland. It was a generous offer and we accepted.

On the way to Venwoude on Saturday, I was again reminded of just how dull nature is in Holland. I find that a visit to Holland makes me grateful for living so close to "real" nature here in Norway. But in the woods around Venwoude, things change. I recognize how much nature means to me these days; just being amongst the trees leading up to Venwoude makes me breathe more easily. And there was a majestic bird that came swooping down on our car and I just let out a sigh. Thank heavens Holland hasn't been entirely domesticated.

Peter, Pelle and I at Venwoude. Also say hello to Mr Happy - the mascot for our meeting that we left behind to keep the Venwoudians happy.

Triggered by green

Venwoude is a beautiful place. And the hospitality we were shown was incredible. It was great to meet Leon. He was a magnificent host. We also got to meet Diane Hamilton, the zen master who holds such an important role in the integral movement. That was a nice experience – she seemed lovely, even though she did trigger me by saying that the three of us probably needed more Spiral Dynamics green in our lives than does she and Leon.

It was a strange comment, though it was interesting to sense how I reacted to it. Who knows, maybe it's proof that she's right. Why, after all, would I immediately interpret that as an insult? That is saying something about how I still view the people who are "green". Sorry new-agers, feminists and cultural relativists of the world – I will commit to loving you even more in 2011.

Feminine delight at the workshop

Diane Hamilton and Marc Gafni welcomed us into their workshop space with open arms and I felt really included and taken care of there. The lessons that we took part in were fun, especially an exercise where we shared vulnerably about sexuality based on a model of six stages of sexuality that Marc presented for us. We were four in our group, three men and one woman. It was refreshing to speak so openly about sexuality with these great people. I shared about how my ex didn't like it when I started fabricating a way of being in bed that felt inauthentic to her, even though my intention was to go deeper into my masculine to serve her.

The woman shared how much she liked feeling a man's cock get hard in her hand. She blushed a little as she said that and I just soaked up the delicious and fun energy that exuded from her. In closing the group afterwards, I told her how much I had enjoyed hearing her speak about how turned on she would get and she blushed big time and giggled. Just writing about this makes me smile and happy to be alive.

Initiation at Venwoude

Leon shared something with us which had us all excited – they have started initiating boys at Venwoude. Just in simple ways, but they are doing it. This is incredible. I was so happy to hear this. Leon is one of the ritual holders for that process and he should therefore know a thing or two about what is important in a boy's growth to manhood. Granted, their initiatory rites are still in their early stages, but the fact that this is happening on Western soil is very heartening. It was probably Leon's insight into the male psyche and a boy's path to manhood that had him resonate with me in my critique of the manifesto.

I'll be back

It's rare that I have felt so welcomed anywhere and in the car on the way back to Weert, I reflected to Peter and Pelle that I hadn't understood just how welcomed and served we had been there before after I had left. It was very humling and I felt my heart soften and open up afterwards.

I have a sense that some important connections were made there that will manifest in their full potential in the future. Thanks also, Venwoude, for offering me with some delightful meetings with beautiful women. They were brief, but delicious.

  • Hi Eivind, thanks for this beautiful and inspiring story! It was great to have you all at Venwoude, to show you around, to have some exchange of our passions and to see you all enjoying the fantastic workshop (at least a part of it :-)) and all those beautiful people who were in it and made this happening possible! My heart is still filled with joy thinking about all the connections that were made… Welcome back any time at Venwoude.
    With gratitude, Leon Gras

  • Patrick

    Hey Eivind,

    Thanks for sharing your day at Venwoude. This way I was there with you retroactivly :-)

    I’m looking forward meeting you in the near future and it woulde be great at such a beautiful place as Venwoude.

    Warm greetings,


  • Eric

    hi Peter,

    Great account of your visit! Thanks. I love it that Venwoude resonated so much with you. It was great to meet you. Our connection is one of those thrilling memories I have of the weekend, being both from Weert. I look forward to seeing you again, in Weert or at Venwoude, and I hope to continue exploring our common passions and to manifest what needs to be manifested.

    Take care

  • My heart too feels enriched by the experience, Leon. Thank you for your hospitality and your welcome back. I will be sure to take advantage of it sometime in 2011. I would love to tie some tighter bonds to your center.

    My pleasure, Patrick. I was sorry that we missed each other, but there’s always next time.

    I’ll tell Peter about your message, Eric. I understand that you are of the understanding that Peter wrote this, but it was me. And it was good to meet you too :-)


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