Holger Danske & I

Question: Where in the world can you find a Shakespearean castle with a sleeping Dwarf Lord in the basement, an alchemist’s tower flanked with golden orbs and an ancient room holding 90 odd people with a penchant for potential unleashed?

Answer: Kronborg Castle, Helsingor, in a soul-brimming orchestra conducted by manifestation magician, Brian Mayne.

Unlike a meal at a gourmet restaurant where the chef is the alchemist and you – the customer – are served the gold, personal development feasts such as Shine are a two-way creation.

Ideas and content are poured into a cauldron, swirled and mixed with your own individual experience of them.

The result is a take-away of bespoke Wisdoms and Lessons unique to you … and if you are lucky, leaden limitations transformed into precious empowerments.

Brian set the context for this “two way experiential process” early in the event, explaining that the learnings would come – not just from the front of the room – but from each other: overheard conversations, little snippets of wisdom from the participant two rows back or the passing comment of a tourist visiting the castle courtyard outside.

He went on to explain that whilst we were on the event, to consider nothing as casual; nothing as an accident; everything full of meaning and messages. And as I gave an internal nod to play the “Meaning Game”, a velvet bag of Nordic runes was passed into the audience. Each person was required to take one, discover the meaning and then use that as a thread to follow through the programme.

The bag came to me. I dipped my hand in, prodded a few stones, dropped them down, dug deeper.

I wanted a good one.

Wanted one that was going to suggest success and greatest and wonderousness.

Pulled out Ur.

Ur Rune

“Urrh!” I thought, “That’s sucks. That’s really, really, bloody sucks!”

And suddenly I regressed to about five years old.

First I wanted to choose a new rune, because this one was clearly a dud.

I mean, why the hell had I chosen a stone that suggested challenge?

I couldn’t COPE with the idea of challenge.

I was too tired, too exhausted, too ground down by CHALLENGE to have more challenge thrown at me.

Didn’t the Rune God know that this four day trip to Denmark marked the first four FULL NIGHTS SLEEP I’d had since birthing Reid? Didn’t the Rune God know about the peppering of challenges I’ve been swash–buckling off since I was BORN?

I wanted to throw my dummy out of the pram, have a tantrum on the floor and shout “NO MORE CHALLENGES, UNIVERSE! YOU’VE SENT ENOUGH!”

What am I? The Challenge Magnet? The Princess of Challenge-ville? Did I put my hand up for a life of Change With Challenge? Well, take it back. I want the Change With Ease And Fun And … I don’t know … an Espresso Martini.

I want a new rune!!

But the rune bag was gone. And everyone else was milling around, buzzing out, chatting to each other about their rune and their serene and delightful meanings.

I sunk down into my chair. Stared at Urghhhh. And as I stared, the meaning seemed to warp and change into something even worse.

“Oh no,” I thought. “What if it means that all change in my life is going to be hard? What if change is never going to be easy? What if, from now on, everything I do is going be like pushing a boulder up a mountain whilst having my legs caught in a chewing gum reservoir?”

Wearily, I tucked the rune in my pocket.

Folded my arms.

Stared at Change With Challenge through a narrow inner eye.

And Shine continued to unfold

As the day progressed Brian began to talk to the Face Your Fear Challenge that was to happen during the evening.

Straight away I forgot about my dodgy rune. Instead, my focus turned to the quiver of archery arrows that were tucked out of sight with the rest of the seminar resources.

I’d arranged them that morning prior to the delegates arriving.

Arranged them with the quiet enthusiasm of a person who is wondering whether she’s going to make it home.

You see, I’ve completed an arrow break before.

I was 16 years old, at my first Goal Mapping workshop with Brian. The arrow-break challenge had occurred before a fire walk. I had completed both challenges, but frankly the fire-walk was a doddle compared to that bloody arrow break.

I thought I was going to die.

Obviously I didn’t, but the memory of how difficult it had been still haunted me. I’d been the last person to do the challenge … a challenge that involves writing a fear you want to break on the shaft of the arrow.

You then place the feather end of the arrow against a wall, the pointed end against the hollow of your throat … then you lean in hard until the dowling shaft snaps.

And now was my blessed opportunity to nearly die again.

Thanks Brian.


Old friend.

The light outside was starting to fade now, and as the doors of Kronborg closed to the public, Brian wove a tale about the history of the castle. He told us of the various residents of the place, including a story about how in 1629 the whole castle had burned to the ground, excluding the ancient room that we were now in.

He then talked about the dungeons and a great statue that could be found deep below in the darkness.

It would be here, next to the statue of a great sleeping giant, that we would be breaking our arrows.

holger danske


And the moment I saw the photograph of Holger Danske, I knew that everything was going to be okay.

I’d never heard of Holger Danske before, yet the moment I saw his statue I felt like I’d just been reunited with an old, old friend.

“Wow.” I said aloud. Felt like adding, “it’s YOU!” But didn’t.

Gazing at the image I listened to Brian explain how this Danish King, known as Holger the Dane, was taken to Avalon by Morgan le Fay. He then came back, 200 years later and rescued France from danger, before travelling to Kronborg Castle where he sleeps until his service is needed to save the land. This “sleeping king/giant” reminded me of the Sleeping King in Arthurian myth, but there was nothing Knightish about Holger. He was pure Viking, pure Dwarf Lord Gorgeousness and I immediately loved him.

Can not describe the reassurance that surged through my blood.

I knew that as long as I stood nearby him, I was going to break the arrow and face my challenge with power and focus.

“Perhaps that is what Ur means,” I thought. “Perhaps I get to change with this challenge.”

But the thought was fleeting, because now I was handing out arrows and including myself in the receivers. It was with a strange sense of detachment that I waited at the front of the room for the crowds of people to clear so I could select my piece of wool to bind my arrow once the deed was done. By the time I made my way out of the room and into the dark courtyard, the few English speakers in the crowd were way up ahead. Everyone else was huddled close, speaking Danish, as we prepared to descend to Holger Danske’s dark chamber.

And descend we did.

In complete, utter darkness. The floor was cobbled in uneven stones and the ceiling so low that I could feel my hair brushing against damp rock. I could see nothing but the gloomy silhouettes of people inches before me, and their language that I couldn’t understand echoing around me.


There it was.

The moment that now seems imprinted on my brain like the coloured orbs on your eyeballs after gazing briefly at the sun.

The Learning. The Wisdom.

It was this: “Wherever You Are, You Are One Amongst Others.”

Lesson one

And suddenly I understood that one of my greatest fears is to be on my own, feeling unsure, in an unknown environment that is unknown to me.

And here I was, alone in a dark tunnel, under a castle in Denmark, walking towards an 18 year old arrow face-your-fear-challenge-terror and surrounded by dark figures speaking a language I didn’t understand. Yet I was okay.

I was good.

I was simply One Amongst Others.

 Like the meaning on my Ur Rune, this line can be interpreted many way. I know what my personal meaning for this is and it may not be the same meaning for you. Instead I’m going to take the version meant for me, put it in my heart pocket and treasure it there.

So, finally, after what seemed like a labyrinth of tunnels, we spilled out into a chamber. There was a little light, just enough to see, though I’m not sure what the source was.

To my right, at the end of the chamber was Holger, his beard sweeping the ground, leaning over his sword and great round shield. For a moment I stood there, staring at him, feeling a sense of joyful awe sweeping through my being. Then Brian was calling our attention to another wall, where he was about to demonstrate the first arrow break.

I watched from behind the crowd, holding my own arrow up against my chest. My hands were tight. I could feel the heat and sweat on my palms. The room was small. It pressed, claustraphic and cave-like against my chest. Then dust and stone ground against boots as people turned away from the demonstration, murmuring under breath and finding their positions in the room.

For a moment I paused, felt like a lost child. Wanted to go and find someone to help me; a partner or friend. Everyone else seemed to be with someone who spoke their language and knew them …

But all I had was my Self.

I made my way to the left of Holger Danske, positioned myself between two men. The guy to the left seemed to be shaking. He put the arrow up against the wall, leaned in and heaved. Pulled back.

I placed the feather shaft of my own arrow against the wall and lined it up straight. My hands were shaking and breath was short. Behind me, all around me, I heard arrows snapping and soft gasps of relief. I also heard breathing and focus and one person crying. I placed the cold arrow head against the hollow of my throat, tried to focus my mind. Went to lean in, but somehow leaned out and the arrow clattered to the floor. In this moment both men next to me broke their arrows. They walked away.

I repositioned my arrow against the wall. My wrists were loose, like jelly limbs. This time, instead of standing with my feet together, I put one foot a little forward intentionally. In that moment I thought about the fear that I had written on my arrow – a fear that stops me from being my true-Bethan – and I leaned in.

The arrow snapped. Like a cocktail stick. Like a chicken bone. Ping.

So simple.

Then the Second Wisdom hit me: “Focus & Do The Thing.”

It Is The Stories Of Fear We Weave Around The Thing That Dilutes Our Action. Simply Focus On The Thing And Then Do It.

Breaking the arrow had been easy.

It was the 18 years worth of fear based around DOING it that had been the true challenge.

How many other situations in my life could this also be applied to?

I didn’t pause to consider that then though, for I had collected my broken arrow and bound the pieces with wool and was about to enter a further labyrinth of caverns and tunnels in pitch black to walk alone.

The final part of this night could have been little more than strolling around a familiar garden. In pitch black I traced my way around the loops and tunnels of the castle vaults, following a piece of taut wool that had been wrapped around the pillars and archways.

Again, the floor was littered in rubble and the air was cold and dank but inside I was more serene than I have been in years.

I wasn’t afraid of the dark.

How could I be afraid?

I was simply One Moving Through The Other. There was no one I needed to reach to for support or help. Why did I need to? Everything I needed, and I could see this as bright as day, was right here inside me.

And Wisdom Three shone through as if I’d just pulled back further curtains on an already sunny room.

“You Are Your Own Leader. You Are The Leader Of Your Life. Lead Yourself Boldly and Courageously Forward Towards Love, Joy, Challenge and Change.”

All of this happened 11 days ago and today here I am in England, snuggled on my sofa with two children who are watching a documentary on OCD Cleaners (even though one of them should be in bed … the child, not the OCD Cleaner).

When I started to write this blog post five days ago, I intended to publish the notes that I scribbled during the days … but the story of Holger Danske and I is what I felt compelled to share.

And then I thought that maybe, if we extend the Meaning Game from Shine onto this piece of writing, perhaps the fact that you are reading it means that the Wisdoms of Holger Danske are for you too.

Perhaps you are exhausted with challenge and are looking for change.

Perhaps you are trying to do something good but getting there is like dragging a half dead horse to water in the hope it might drink.

Perhaps you look at the statue of Holger Danske and think, “that dude would be in my army any day.”

Or perhaps the story just spoke to you.

Who knows …

But whatever Rune you might pull from the bag of Life Meaning at this moment, I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing this adventure and I hope the essence of the Ur Challenge Wisdoms infiltrate whatever challenges you are currently facing …

… and that they break like a chicken bone …

… a thin one …

not like, a drum stick bone, because that would require a hacksaw …

And that would seriously lack finesse.


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