This is a delightful and animated conversation between two people who are, in many ways, kindred spirits.
Nina Hirlaender is the founder of Dancing Spirit Tours, a company that leads sacred pilgrimage trips throughout Europe. Nina has a kind of breathless passion for mysticism that, honestly, is quite contagious.
Today we’re talking about some of the indigenous spiritual practices of Indo-European cultures such as Celtic shamanism. Nina shares her surprising journey from her Celtic roots to her love of Catholic mysticism. Once again, the term “pan-Germanic” comes up again on the podcast – it’s becoming a theme!
It’s lovely to hear Nina share her stories of growing up with her grandmother in her native Austria, learning about the nature spirits and faeries. And hedgehogs! So magical!
Nina experienced her spiritual initiation after her cancer diagnosis and recovery. Hearing about her journey is both harrowing and inspiring.
And of course, we can’t have a good conversation about Catholic mysticism without talking about some of our heroes including Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, and Mary Magdalene, and some of its sacred places like Chartres Cathedral. I was also very compelled by Nina’s reminder of the Marian/Goddess tradition within Catholicism.
(A book I highly recommend if you’re interested in Mary Magdalene is The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity by Cynthia Bourgeault)
It was a pleasure to talk to someone who, like me, loves grief and especially someone who declares it so ecstatically – like a true mystic.