Who are we
‘We’ are a dynamic group of about 30 permanent residents and some 15 employees closely working together, coming from an inspired common vision. This group is supported by a surrounding field of sympathizers. Together we manage, run and carry Venwoude forward. In a sustainable and holocratic manner, to the best of our ability.
Mission: Venwoude inspires people ‘to grow up, wake up and show up’, partly in response to the world-wide crises of our times. Or in the words of our mission: “Venwoude is a living laboratory for transforming the human condition, where dedicated professionals and interaction with others facilitate your conscious growth and healing into wholeness on all fronts.”
Living laboratory: Venwoude inspires people to use their unique talents for the benefit of the whole, based on personal leadership. We are committed to daily self-inquiry and other practices from the model of Integral Life Practice (integral in the sense of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual). We have developed various procedures for exploring and consulting ‘beyond the ego’, such as the Creation Table and the Truth Table. And just like life itself, we never stop evolving.
The Venwoude Sangha: A spiritual home for modern seekers and finders where we support and mirror each other on our path of conscious growth. A circle where you are known for who you are, beyond your trials and errors, for better or for worse. The Venwoude Sangha serves as a container where both residents and non-residents strive to embody our motto ‘Interconnected Individuality’. In our gatherings we practice self-inquiry and integral spirituality together, learning to live more and more from our authentic essence.
The Venwoude Levensschool (Life School): Venwoude is a pioneer in the area of Emotional Bodywork, personal leadership, relationship work, shadow work, (trauma) healing and integral coaching. We share our expertise in these areas in all of our workshops and professional trainings.
Venwoude 30th anniversary: In 2018 we celebrate our 30th anniversary! We feel happy and grateful that Venwoude is recognized both nationally and internationally as an inspiring power center for the integral development of both individuals and society as a whole.
Since its official establishment in 1988, the Venwoude Center is a foundation called ‘Stichting Onderwijs Integrale Lichaamstherapie’ (Foundation for Integral Bodywork Education) or SOIL for short. This makes Venwoude a non-profit organization serving the common good.
The name of the foundation now only partly covers Venwoude’s present activities, which have expanded greatly over the years. Still, the Center has always retained its social and idealistic character. The SOIL Foundation also manages the estate.
The Board consists of Marijke Heetveld, Mauk Pieper, Pauline Botden and Leon Gras.
Venwoude’s motto ‘Interconnected Individuality’ has inspired both the (new) structure of the Venwoude management and its way of operating. We work according to holocratic principles, i.e. on the basis of personal leadership in service of the greater whole. This model guarantees that higher organizational units cannot overrule lower ones, unlike how hierarchical organizations typically function.
The management team includes representatives of the departments Retreat Center, General Support, Marketing, Finances, Human Resources and Buildings & Estate.
Executive Director of Venwoude is Eelco Gravendeel.
The Wisdom Council is responsible for the written and unwritten ethical context in which Venwoude operates. It is also responsible for the quality of all our internal and external relationships.
The Wisdom Council appoints an independent Confidential Mediator.
The Truth Table
In case of disagreement, the Wisdom Council has at its disposal the Truth Table procedure. This is a form of consultation from a transpersonal perspective, led by an external facilitator.
For its participants, a Truth Table is an opportunity, after consideration of all aspects of a specific issue, to bring their highest truth to the table, beyond discussion, conflict of interests or opinion-forming. Once the last word has been said, the participants commit themselves to the final statement.
The Wisdom Council consists of Marijke Heetveld, Mauk Pieper and Pauline Botden.
Vrijplaats/Sanctuary and Next Step
People with a special affinity to Venwoude can be invited by the Wisdom Council to take a seat in the Vrijplaats (Sanctuary) and/or Venwoude Next Step. The members of these organs know Venwoude from the inside out, having participated in several trainings and/or our Venwoude residential program.
The Vrijplaats or Sanctuary
The aim of the Vrijplaats/Sanctuary gatherings is to give all people belonging to the wider ‘Venwoude field’ a chance to express their ideas, support or concern about current affairs and/or general developments, whether or not they have any official responsibilities within Venwoude.
The Vrijplaats gathering takes place four times a year.
Venwoude Next Step
Venwoude Next Step is an organ that aims to monitor and promote the interaction between Venwoude and developments in society. It is made up of people with a professional expertise who are working at or outside of Venwoude. Because of the importance of this organ for Venwoude, it has its own mission and vision.
Venwoude Next Step connects conscious pioneers for the healing of social systems into wholeness.
Venwoude is a prominent place where essentials become clear for the solving of complex present-day issues.
The Creation Table
One of the tools of Next Step is the Creation Table. This is a procedure designed to gain insight and get to the truth regarding a specific issue. It makes an appeal to both the expertise and the spiritual depth of the participants, supported by an interactive circle of engaged witnesses.
Next Step comes together four times a year. Additional work groups are formed in order to further realize Next Step’s mission and vision.
Center Venwoude was founded in 1988 by the late Ted Wilson together with a group of trainers/therapists who were using a method for emotional bodywork developed by him and Geert van Coilie, called Emotionaal Lichaamswerk (ELW®). Under Ted’s inspired guidance, a community was formed on the Venwoude estate that explored and practiced new ways of living and working together. Its overall purpose was conscious growth and developing new incentives and alternatives for our increasingly materialistic Western society.
The community was influenced by a wide range of methods and approaches, as well as by the many international spiritual teachers that found their way to Venwoude over the years.
Realizing that Venwoude forms an integral whole and should never become anyone’s personal property, from the very start the estate was incorporated into a foundation called S.O.I.L (Stichting Onderwijs Integrale Lichaamstherapie). Over the next 30 years, a very colorful palette of workshops and trainings would be offered here, first under the name of School for Body & Soul, which in 1999 became the Institute for Emotional Bodywork, offering professional training as well. Since 2015, after a thorough overhaul, this institute has been transformed into the Venwoude Levensschool (Venwoude Life School).
Especially in the starting phase of the community, a lot of exploration and experimental practices took place in areas like personal growth, relationships, intimacy and sexuality, parenting and spiritual development. The experience and expertise the community gained as a result would serve as a source of inspiration for the workshops and group trainings offered to participants from all over the Netherlands, under the motto of ‘practice what you preach’.
After the death of Ted Wilson in 2007, it was decided to continue Venwoude on the basis of collective leadership. This eventually led to a thorough revision of Venwoude’s set-up, management and operations. We also took this as an opportunity to carefully examine Venwoude’s past, in order to process and transcend previous mistakes without throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
Over the years, and especially after the death of Venwoude’s founder Ted Wilson, several women have indicated how much they have suffered, and in some cases still do, from inadmissible sexual behavior of adult members of this former community, especially when they were still teenagers themselves.
Venwoude’s Wisdom Council strongly rejects those practices and has appointed a confidential mediator for such cases.
Anyone with a complaint related to teachers, trainers or other facilitators at Venwoude can contact our independent confidential mediator by means of the form below.
Renée Hablé (1952) is a woman with a great heart for people and their path of growth. After her Pedagogics studies, she worked for many years in the Women’s Studies department of the University of Amsterdam. Later she became a professional coach and mediator.
Partly thanks to her experiences at Venwoude, her own conscious growth and that of others have become central to her life. She has a special interest for relationships between men and women, including the area of sexuality.
In her private life, Renée has had to deal with cancer. Her resulting inner transformation, further supported by her (Buddhist) training and meditation practice, has paved the way to wisdom and deep compassion. This has provided Renée with a keen understanding for people with complaints after stressful periods.
Renée is an independent mediator. She does not talk about individual cases with teachers, trainers, facilitators or other persons at Venwoude. Every complaint is in safe hands with her and will only be discussed with the person involved at the explicit request of the person with the complaint.
For the mediator, it is irrelevant how long ago the complaint originated. She will have a conscientious conversation with the complainant and reach a decision together as to whether further steps are desirable and/or necessary, and if so, which next steps are to be taken.
In dealing with any complaint, the central guideline will be the following question: What is best for the person with the complaint at this time?
Steps for the confidential mediator after receiving a complaint
- After you have registered your complaint with her, the mediator will contact you.
- In an open conversation, your complaint will be fully heard and if so desired, be discussed with you.
- In consultation with you, the mediator will determine what you would like to be the next step.
- She will support you in taking the next step.
Depending on the nature of the complaint and on how the first conversation unfolds, one or more of the following options are possible:
- You regard the conversation as satisfactory and the complaint is considered to have been solved.
- You agree on a solution with the person or organization concerned in an informal way.
- The mediator arranges a (conciliatory) meeting for you with the person involved. At your request, the mediator can be present at this meeting.
- You are referred to professional (therapeutic) support elsewhere.
- You are referred to a professional counselor and if necessary to a lawyer.
You have a final discussion with the mediator.
Venwoude’s Year Cards
Every year on New Year’s Day, Venwoude’s year cards for the coming year are drawn from a deck of Tarot cards. The images below come from Aleister Crowley’s Tarot deck, the explanation is derived from various sources.
The first year card comes from the Major Arcana and is calculated on the basis of the numerological value of the year concerned. A second card, from the Minor Arcana, is drawn by someone from the Venwoude organization.
From Card X onwards, the Major Arcana represents what we encounter when we walk our path of conscious growth. Thus the year 2017 resulted in Card X, Fortune (2+0+1+7 = 10). This card urged us to play the game of life consciously and intentionally: “How committed are you?! What happens naturally (Fortune) and what is your true conscious choice?”
Numerological Year Card 2018: Card XI, Lust or Strength
The numerological value of 2018 is 11 (2+0+1+8 = 11), hence Card XI.
Crowley changed this card’s name from Strength to Lust, which refers more to the vitality, joy and pleasure that is experienced when one’s strength is freely expressed. Lust indicates passion.
The picture shows a woman riding a lion, yet the power she uses to tame the lion is not a forceful imposition of will-power. On the contrary, it is her loving awareness and total acceptance of her own animal nature that is the prerequisite for wholeness and a life lived to the full. The Lion feels honored by her loving attention. This indicates the liberation of the lion’s qualities, of his fire, his power, his instincts and his affinity with the material world.
The woman on the lion’s back is a portrayal of divine ecstasy, connected to both the divine and the animal dimension. She is completely absorbed by the conscious, total surrender inherent in any form of true transformation – the transformation into awareness of the unity of any moment, being receptive to all aspects of life (the Tantric principle).
Lust will reveal its creative potential only when it is fully tasted, drunk and swallowed.
When you are willing to accept anything you encounter in yourself, you are able to proceed on your path with deep sensitivity, awareness, love and understanding.
Drawn year card for Venwoude in 2018: Queen of Swords
The person who will draw this year card first identifies what the theme of the coming year seems to be and invites those present to reflect on this. Once the theme has been clarified, he or she draws a card from the Minor Arcana in order to hear what the Tarot has to say.
The theme of 2018 was ‘giving’. As a living laboratory for the transformation of what it means to be human, at Venwoude we are very transparent in how we do or fail to do things in everyday life. This is part of what makes Venwoude attractive. The card to be drawn will offer us guidance for putting this into practice.
The Queen of Swords does not need to prove anything anymore – she is one with her truth. The sword symbolizes our power of discernment, liberating us by killing whatever old roles and thinking patterns are holding us back. Taking off our own mask implies voluntarily giving up old defense mechanisms, which not only protect us but also keep us separate from ourselves and others. Vigorously cutting loose this old mask is an act of liberation into open space, towards a clarity that will be mirrored in our relationships with people and life itself. As this is preceded by a long maturing process, the Queen of Swords is also related to the need for learning through trial and error.
You are increasingly liberating yourself from old roles and behavior patterns. That may be painful sometimes, but it is worth it! The clarity you gain will liberate you.
Affirmation: “My only duty in life is to remain true to myself.”