Saturday, August 11, 2012
Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold
Hello and Happy Saturday!
I wish to thank Cheryl Petersen for her very interesting interview. I enjoyed learning more of your faith and I thank you for sharing with us Cheryl!
Today we have a new interview so please welcome Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold. Nicholaj is a Mystic and I know you'll enjoy his interview as well!
Here Is Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold's Introduction:
Is a resident of Brazil and a native of Norway. He is an anthropologist, psychologist and traditional astrologer. He is the author of books like Invisible Fire (Capall Bann 2010), Craft of the Untamed (Mandrake of Oxford, 2011), Palo Mayombe; The Garden of Blood and Bones (Scarlet Imprint 2010) Craft of the Untamed (Mandrake of Oxford, 2011) and Pomba Gira and the Quimbanda of Mbumba Nzila (Scarlet Imprint 2011). Nicholaj has dedicated his life to the research of traditional faiths all over the world, but in particular of African origin. He is initiated into several sufi silsilyas, traditional witchcraft streams and African faiths, such as Ifá, Quimbanda and Palo Mayombe.
You can read more of his writings on his blog: www.starrycave.com
1) What religion do you practice?
I can’t really say that I feel the idea of religion is fitting on my spiritual practice and faith. I have a strong leaning towards African faiths, in particular Ifá – and they do not consider what they are doing as ‘religion’, but as ‘the ways of the land’, it is a spiritual philosophy of life, a mystical doctrine more than a religious institution as such. I am a traditionalist solidly rooted in neo-Platonism so I believe I feel more resonance with how the traditional witches Austin Spare and Robert Cochrane perceived their faith, - as Spare said, ‘Be ye Mystic’, and in this I feel a strong resonance with Sufism as well. We might loosely define all this as perennials to give a better approximation of how I understand my spirituality and religiosity. Another example is the traditional witchcraft family Via Vera Cruz in Brazil which demonstrates how a variety of different veins of Traditional Craft comes together and meets in points of power that in turn is reflecting eternal truths over a given theme, namely the essential nature of Traditional Witchcraft. Via Vera Cruz brought together streams of traditional craft from all over the world by focusing on the harmony between and not the differences culture and need brought upon the various conclaves. I feel this is my ‘religion, it is about regrouping primordial harmony into a vibrant field of possibility.
2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
Mysticism is often found as a timeless tradition within the main religions, like with Sufism being the mystical dimensions of Islam. I believe the law as it takes shape in dogmas and rules typical for a religion is useful for many, but to leave one form of truth for another in the form of conversion is perhaps not necessary. As I see it there is no need for conversion to the religion where the mystical dimension is found – as it is not a religion, but a timeless and eternal reflex of divine truths applied upon life. We can see this in Nigeria where the Ifá practitioners can be Christian or Muslim, but this has little bearing on the practice of Ifá. It is simply not the same dimension of the faith.
3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
Again this taxonomy has little bearing on mysticism itself – and I see it more as a orientation of the practitioner itself. So we can find all four classifications taking place within a mystical tradition. For instance, as a traditionalist I would adhere to a conservative orthodoxy of tradition itself, but I also believe that tradition should be approached in a creative way, hence I am also liberal.
4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
I consider myself conservative, but of a creative orientation. With conservative I mean that I am diligent in my traditionalism or perennialism, I share this conservatism with René Guénon who held a massive influence on me. For me it was about recognizing a secure cosmological pattern that in turn makes our life more understandable.
5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
I see everything as cyclical, what is born has to die and what dies has to be reborn in one form or the other. The trauma of birth mimics the trauma of death, it is all about transitions and transmutations. I also believe that our soul is a multiplicity of souls, a gathering of birds if you will. During our life our soul can become more complex and upon death all goes back to its origin. Parts of the soul contain the seed of substantial Self and it returns home to the realm of the divine mind, what we understand as heaven.
6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
Heaven and Hell are metaphors of states of mind and situations. We all make our heaven and hell as we all make our own good fortune and misfortune. Ward’s ‘What Dreams May Come’ from 1998 might be a good movie to watch in this regard.
7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
I have always felt a discomfort with religious institutions, but at the same time humbleness for nature and the starry sky. In all faiths I have received initiation into, be it a variety of African faiths, streams of traditional Craft or Sufism I find the same humbleness and wonder of the world that I always felt, so I see the quest for eternal truth reflected everywhere in traditions of a mystical and perennial orientation.
8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
I tend to give much importance to equinoxes and solstices and these astrological meaningful periods tend to coincide with festivals and celebrations in traditional faiths as well. For instance the Yoruba new year falls close to the summer solstice and is a celebration of ancestry and the arrival of the spirit of wisdom on earth, so such seasonal festivities I do celebrate in the form of prayers, song and offerings.
9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Of course, I have no problem with religions or a religious denomination as such, as always it comes down to the quality of the person, no matter what religious format the person is adhering to. My friends are found in a radical spectrum of religious orientations. Honestly, I see life as a journey and man as divine beings making a human journey, I mean we are all in the same situation and we all try to make sense of the journey. Every meeting with a fellow traveller is a chance to make sense of the journey – it is up to us if we want to be a positive force in the journey of our fellow travellers or being rocks and swamp holes on the path.
10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Certainly, and I at times do, out of respect for the person and the faith itself – after all I believe God is One and if a religious format comes close to God is suitable for my friend who am I to quarrel about my approach being better? I believe most roads lead to Rome and that in Our Father’s house there are indeed many rooms. Religious diversity is a gift, a grace that can help us all to enrich our horizons and become more flexible as human beings.
11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
I know the wearing of burka was demanded in the form of law in the middle ages in Pakistan, Afghanistan and neighbouring lands. I don’t know the reasons for passing this law, but from the perspective of Muslim mysticism, woman is the presence of God and to veil the presence of God might have been at first a token of reverence for her exalted position, but as the world has degenerated the reason behind is lost and a profane diligence for upholding a law might have taken precedence. Sharia Law is clearly related to Muslim eschatology and is a means for keeping people in control to avoid the onset of Judgment day. I have no problems with the Sharia law as such, but interpretation is always delicate – just to return to the question of burka again, Al Quran is actually not going beyond covering the head during service – as I see it, but then we have the various groups of imams that will interpret this differently. Again, me as a Mystic will certainly be able to see a host of dimensions and nuances in the Sharia Law that is alien to Muslim orthodoxy, but the Law in shape of dogma is good for some and bad for others. Quite simply, as I see it, if your religion restricts you and enthrals you in bondage, perhaps it is time to reflect upon Self, Path and Destiny.
12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
In none of my affiliations of faith do we find sexism or racism, in fact women is always exalted and revered in general. I find this to be a good thing and in harmony with the perennial philosophy that I embrace to be the eternal truth of the world.
13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
Not really, for instance in the case of Ifá and the Yoruba faith, we had the trans Atlantic crossing and the slave trade that gave us certain differences in expression of the Yoruba faith. But at the core, Ifá is a faith rooted in traditional doctrine and not dogma and as such this fluid transformation must be understood and not condemned.
14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
I don’t see my spiritual practice and life as separate from my life in general, I live life sacred. This is inedible, because traditional faiths and the mystical inclination provoke a renewed perspective upon world and Self – hence the separation between mundane and religious life is not a reality for me. This is naturally helped by choosing to live in the mountains, quite literally in the jungle where nature is the closest neighbour and not the city. I believe the fusing of dimensions into a unity of being is made difficult by citylife.
15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
I would hope this choice reflects sympathy with a particular divine reflection and be happy on behalf of my children.
16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
Absolutely not, for me it is about good and bad character. A person of good character is someone peaceful, loving and possesses a willingness to understand, this person is its own heaven. A person of bad character will live in a state of bitterness and negativity, hence being its own Hell.
17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
Well there are always those who assume such positions for one reason or the other, but I tend to see it as personal renderings that are more or less mature. I am not really occupying myself with other people’s opinion. Personally I relate to my initiators and respect the succession I am a product of, and of course there are variations born from personal dispositions and geography and culture that give some different views. This being said, I am in general sceptical with any formation of councils and federations that set themselves up to protect a particular religious interest as this always involves exclusion of some in its democratic error. So even if I do not endorse an opinion I do tend to respect it, actually, if people were more respectful with the private world of fellow travellers there would be more harmony in the world. We are not here to convince each other, but to help one another.
18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
I wouldn’t say hate crime, just a few attempts of defamation and they have always had one of three origins, the idiocy of disagreement being the same as enmity, envy and misplaced self importance and clinical insanity. For instance a decade ago, a friend of mine entered a psychological crisis due to an almost inhuman toil in his life, a succession of misfortune and he was committed to a mental institution. Unfortunately he was committed to the mental institution I was working at, at the time and naturally, suffering from schizophrenia of a paranoid type, I was targeted for some time accused of “zombifying my patients because after all I was a satanic Jesuit slave on mission from the Pope”. But it has been very little of this, perhaps because I always desire to understand what is going on and not pass judgments.
19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
Never, it is all about finding your Self and your Path, I have been blessed with fantastic teachers that have always helped me to get closer to source and Self.
20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
Absolutely, for the mystic, peace of mind is the path and the goal. I know both Henry Miller and B.F. Skinner insisted on being the happiest men alive - when they were alive – but I would like to add myself to their declaration.
21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
Yes, because I see everything as cyclical, time, life, creation, and so it is with our life, we are born, we die and rebirth is inedible, not necessary in the same shape and form, because transformation is always implied. This means that the linearity of the modern perception is something I perceive as an illusion, it is as if it were – but is not.