Pagan Portals - Dancing with Nemetona

Pagan Portals - Dancing with Nemetona

A Druid's exploration of sanctuary and sacred space

An in-depth look at a little-known goddess that can help bring peace and sanctuary into your life.


Nemetona is an ancient goddess whose song is heard deep within the earth and also deep within the human soul. She is the Lady of Sanctuary, of Sacred Groves and Sacred Spaces.
She is present within the home, within our sacred groves, our rites and in all the spaces that we hold dear to our hearts. She also lies within, allowing us to feel at ease wherever we are in the world through her energy of holding, of transformation. She holds the stillness and quiet of a perfect day; she is the stillness at the end of it, when the blackbird sings to the dusk. She is the energy of sacred space, where we can stretch out our souls and truly come alive, to be who we wish to be, filled with the magic of potential.
Rediscover this ancient goddess and dance with a Druid to the songs of Nemetona. Learn how to reconnect with this goddess in ritual, songs, chants, meditation and more.


"Not only are the exercises simple to do and effective, the greatest mass of the written material reads like poetry, full of elegant and beautiful imagery that flows like clean water... that ability to pain a vivid picture is one of the marks of a really talented writer. This is a beautifully-done book with some excellent exercises and enough material to give an individual the tools to begin a relationship with this obscure but important goddess." ~ Jennifer Lawerence, SageWoman Magazine

Highly recommended. With an ease and lightness of touch, this book reflects on the sacred in relation to physical and subtle space, relationships and boundaries, safety and risk, liminality and letting go. Sacred time too – I liked the author’s definition of ritual as “taking a moment, taking time out, to celebrate or honour a specific moment of time”. A modern Druid, Joanna van der Hoeven uses her personal journey to illustrate her themes and suggests practices to explore them – within the home, within the forest and within the inner world. These practices, and the book as a whole, are accessible to beginners or non-aligned seekers as well as those already grounded in Druid and Pagan tradition. This is helped by the careful arrangement of the book in six chapters: Lady of Boundaries and Edges; Lady of Hearth and Home; Lady of the Sacred Grove; Lady of sanctuary; Lady of Ritual: Lady of Everything and Nothing. The last chapter opens the way to reflections on personal identity and the no self/true self paradox of Zen and other non-dual traditions. To enter into “immersion into the entirety of being … to be at one with existence, to truly experience life”, there seems to be a necessary letting go of our customary self-sense and a finding of true self through being in the moment, returning to the core. In this way the book continues the journey of the author’s earlier and well-received Zen Druidry. ~ James Nichol, Contemplative Druidry

The sanctity of the ‘sacred space’ is an integral part of the majority of pagan beliefs and this celebration of the Celtic goddess Nemetona offers a Druid’s-eye view of the concept. In’ Dancing With Nemetoma’, Joanna van der Hoeven explores the influence of this little-known deity who was probably introduced into Britain by Celtic/Gallic mercenaries serving with the Roman legions. The name is derived from ‘nemeton’, a term designating Gaulish religious spaces and nemetons, or sacred groves and sacred spaces, can be located throughout the Celtic world by that name. The author gives an identity to that strange, otherworldly feeling we experience when coming upon a sacred space, whether spiritual or temporal, with which we can all identify regardless of the Path we travel. Endorsed by many of the leading lights in contemporary Druidry, ‘Dancing With Nemetona’ is a singularly compelling book for those of any pagan persuasion who wish to identify with that unexplained feeling often encountered on both the inner and outer planes. I particularly liked the author’s honesty in stating right from the beginning: “With what little history we have, it is up to us to seek Her out and find Her again, making our own connections. Within these pages are ways in which I have come to know Her, and in which you may as well, if you have not already met with Her. What is found in these pages is not long-standing tradition, but my own journeys of discovery with this goddess that I wish to share with you.” Recommended reading Melusine Draco, Coven of the Scales and author of Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones ~ Melusine Draco, and

A wonderful and well written book covering the rare yet essential subject of creating sacred space and connection the goddess Nemetona. Having loved Nemetona for many years, its a delight to see her here. Joanna provides a trusted and insightful guide to this subject and i heartily recommend this book. I look forward to reading much more from her in future. ~ Danu Forest, Amazon

I've just been introduced to a new goddess. Actually, she's a very old goddess, but one I had only heard of in passing, in discussions of Druid groves. Joanna van der Hoeven's marvelous little book, Pagan Portals Dancing with Nemetona, explores the human relationship not only with this goddess but also with the concepts of sacred space and boundaries. Known as the Lady of the Sacred Grove, Nemetona teaches us that we are each a kind of living, moving sacred space, and the way we interact with other people, animals and the places we visit affects us (and them) at a very deep level. Like the other titles in the Pagan Portals series, this is a fairly short book but it's full of valuable information and exercises - a touching house blessing, a visualization of your own inner sacred grove, and more. I love the way Ms. van der Hoeven dovetails the layers of sacredness in our lives, from our 'insides' (mental and physical), to the people we interact with, the world at large and the deities that inhabit it. I also love the idea of the micro-retreat - what a great way to maintain your sanity in an increasingly insane world! - and the collection of essays that depict other people's experiences with Nemetona demonstrates that she is not only ancient and worldwide, but also fully relevant today. ~ Laura Perry, Amazon

An incisive and insightful treatise on the subject of sacred space; and one that explores the often overlooked dance of ever-changing boundaries between the self and the not-self. A worthy addition to anyone’s library. - Graeme K Talboys, author of The Druid Way Made Easy, and The Path Through the Forest: A Druid Guidebook ~ Graeme K Talboys

Nemetona has been, until recently, a goddess obscured by the passing of time. Joanna’s lovely book gives the reader an entry point into the sacred space that Nemetona embodies, enabling us to touch upon her deeper aspects. With each chapter, Joanna fleshes out the bones of this historically elusive goddess, allowing her to grow before our eyes into an accessible and approachable presence, as close and familiar to us as the homes we dwell in and the bodies we inhabit. - Maria Ede-Weaving , A Druid Thurible Blog ~ Maria Ede-Weaving

This is a wonderful book! By reading it I have rediscovered the importance of findings ones own sanctuary, to come home. Whether in nature, our physical dwelling or simply within. There are lovely suggestions for finding, exploring and creating sacred space, to find and dance with Nemetona. I knew little if this Goddess before reading the book but now I feel I can truly connect to her. I love the connections made with the Goddess Elen too. I feel inspired, let the dance begin. ~ Lisa, Amazon

Joanna takes the concept of personal space and external space and relates them to the Goddess Nemetona, in an inspired and beautiful book. Along the way she discusses the role of ritual and even comments on the authenticity of spirituality. Where the book really succeeds is when she links Druid and Zen practice and finds concrete parallels. I fully recommend this little book for deepening your practice and discovering a new way of looking at things. ~ Dr Brendan Howlin, Amazon

A beautifully written book about one of the illusive but wonderful Goddesses. The author takes you on her own personal journey working with Nemetona and shares experiences that will give the reader a fabulous insight into working with her. This lovely book also contains practical information on rituals and sacred space along with entrancing meditations to try. ~ Rachel Patterson, Amazon

For those of us upon the Druid path, Nemetona is an intriguing goddess. Joanna’s book welcomes us into Nemetona’s sanctuary that we might know her more intimately. With a combination of helpful exercises and the gentle but compelling wisdom born of Joanna’s relationship with this goddess, we discover that the concept of the Grove and the experience of Sacred Space is more rich and complex than we imagined. ~ Philip Carr-Gomm, author of The Druid Way and Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century

This lovely volume teaches us how to re-sacralize our life. In a sad and violent world we need to remember to find the sacred within all things; our room, our hearth, our home, our altar, our garden, and our sacred Grove. By doing this, ultimately we will find the sacred within all creatures; animal, mineral, plant and human. This is the lesson of Nemetona, divine protectress of the sacred enclosure, so wonderfully expressed within this book. ~ Ellen Evert Hopman, author of Priestess of the Forest – A Druid Journey, The Druid Isle, Priestess of the Fire Temple – A Druid’s Tale

Dancing with Nemetona' is engrossing in its simplicity, leading the reader easily down paths that seem welcoming and familiar... until you realize that the hidden complexities mask the Lady Herself, who has been with you all along. Joanna's voice carries the impact and knowledge of the ancestors, combined with the wisdom of contemporary understanding. The beauty of her words merges spiritual feeling and practical activity, drawing the reader into greater understanding of both the Goddess and themselves, no matter what path they may choose to walk. A true gem, which I shall be glad to return to again and again. ~ Cat Treadwell, Druid Priest and author of A Druid's Tale and Facing the Darkness

A rare treat! This book speaks to my heart; it gives an excellent way of finding and following one’s path. Although Joanna walks the way of Druidry this book is not exclusive, you do not have to be a Druid to dance with Nemetona; indeed the book is deeply inclusive and allowing. The exercises and insights she offers call one’s spirit to the surface and engender a deeper knowing of oneself. Joanna’s language is delightful, it lights up the heart with joy, enchanting you to dance with the goddess. She is an enchantress, a sacred singer. Dancing with Nemetona will go onto the bookshelf by my bed and likely become dog-eared as I’ll be dipping into it often to be refreshed and enchanted. It will go on my Kindle so that when I’m out camping in the woods I can lie in my hammock of an evening and read while the owls sing in the trees around me. ~ Elen Sentier, author of Celtic Chakras and Elen of the Ways: British Shamanism - Following the Deer Trods

Joanna van der Hoeven
Joanna van der Hoeven Joanna van der Hoeven is a Druid, Witch, author and teacher. She has written several books on Druidry including the best-selling The Awen Al...
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