The Secrets of Orpheus’ Lyre - Temple Retreat Spring 2015 - Ina Custers van Bergen

Review:  The Secrets of Orpheus Lyre


Back for a few days from our “Orpheus Lyre” weekend workshop and I am still processing all that happened. By itself that is not a new thing, these workshops are so intense that they tend to release a lot of stuff. Insights into ourselves, our role and mission in Life, but also opportunities for hands-on work to improve ourselves, remove blockages or discover and start healing some recent or not so recent traumas.

The latter was the ongoing theme of this Springtime’s workshop weekend. Our ritual activities were based on the well-known myth of the Greek musician Orpheus, whose wife Eurydice at their wedding is killed by snakebite. Orpheus then descends into the Underworld to retrieve her, manages to persuade the Gods of the Underworld Hades and Persephone with his musical skills, is allowed to bring Eurydice back into the world but fails at the Underworld’s doorstep by looking back. Eurydice is then taken from him irrevocably.


Using this beautiful story we were led through the various caves in the Underworld, looking for our own “Eurydice”: a part of our Soul that we lost as the result of some grief or some emotional trauma. Apart from ritual drama this involved many different techniques: meditations, pathworkings, but also breathing exercises and even dance! All of this happened in the serenity of the consecrated temple space inside the Abbey’s Chapel where we hold these retreats.  As usual, our working space meticulously envisioned by Ina Cüsters-van Bergen and “brought into Being” by the skills and talents of Anke Oudshoorn. And after consecrating our Temple of the Mysteries on Friday evening, it turns into a truly magical place, peaceful, tranquil and charged with an energy that will only increase as the work unfolds.

There are many highlights during a weekend workshop such as these. One of my personal highlights is always the Night’s Vigil, where you sit alone with a companion priest in the temple. Your task is not only to ‘uphold’ the energies of the place during the night, but also to perform certain exercises or do some Inner Work. These are usually the times when profound things happen to people, and usually you are so “busy” with that work that time seems to fly, and those ninety minutes of vigil are over before you know it.


Another highlight is always the outdoor work we do in the Land surrounding the Abbey. Just like individuals, the Land needs healing, and maybe even more so nowadays. Every time we hold one of these retreats, we raise some energy that the Land can use to heal itself from the injuries sustained by overextensive use and –in some cases- abuse. We do this by outdoor ritual, but this time also by performing the menial –but highly important task of physically cleaning up garbage left in Nature. These activities are always good for some unexpected and often surprising effects or events. Imagine standing in the fields, the growing dark creeps up and suddenly, the Full Moon appears for a brief moment through the clouds at the highlight of your ritual. Those are moment you’ll never forget.

A personal highlight for me was to be able to ‘channel’ the powers of Orpheus himself into workshop, using the beautiful translations of the various Greek Orphic Hymns. I really felt connected to this character and whenever it was my turn to say or do something, I felt Orpheus standing behind or beside me and very often simply pouring into me what it was he wanted me to do or say, and how to ‘deliver’ it. This role really enabled me to help ‘open the ways’ for our group to walk this road into the Underworld and back.

Far too soon – time seems to fly by unnoticed at these retreats- we are sitting together reminiscing about what we just witnessed, and this will go on for days or even weeks to come.


I would like to thank everyone who contributed in one way or another to this weekend for your companionship, your love, power and wisdom. An enormous feeling of gratitude goes to Ina Cüsters-van Bergen for envisioning this beautiful retreat and all the hard work she always puts into these. And finally, my sincerest thanks to the great spirit of Orpheus himself, whom I was fortunate enough to 'carry' throughout this weekend, for his help, inspiration and guidance and his 'whispering in my ear'.