Several weeks ago I came across a new oracle deck with a very watery nature. It was just a little preview of the deck which would soon to be released. The preview of the cards intrigued me, they were square, painted with beautiful colors and had an energy I was really drawn to. I decided to reach out and contact the creator of the deck, Bela Síol to find out more about this mysterious watery deck and the Goddess it was named for Nehalennia.
Hi Bela! I love your new deck, before we get started talking about it, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi! Thank you! I’m Bela Síol I am Brazilian and work as a lawyer, author of oracle decks and psychic reader. I have been living in NY since 2015. I’m also a pagan priestess and I started my path in 2009 by first joining a coven while in Brazil. Since then I’ve been a solitary witch and practitioner of natural magic since 2012.
What would you consider your path to be?
I’ve been working with natural magic, especially magic that focuses around water, but the main part of my practices is my priestess work with certain female deities like Nehalennia, Morrighan, Arianrhod and Freya. I have connected to them and honor them by developing oracle decks. These are all Goddesses associated with oracular work and prophecies.
Do you consider yourself to be a Water Witch? Water Priestess? What is your connection with water?
My connection with water magic is a consequence of my connection with my Goddesses. In 2016, when I was working on The Oracle of Nehalennia, I discovered sea magic while honoring Nehalennia in front of the ocean. I then had my first contact with Arianrhod and got a deeper connection with Freya, both have a connection to the ocean/shore. Then, I observed that Morrighan and Oshun, a Goddess who came to my path recently, are connected to rivers, and naturally water magic took an important place in my life.
Not many people have heard of her, can you tell us more about Nehalenia?
Nehalennia is a Dutch goddess, Celtic or Germanic, who was adopted by the Romans who crossed the North Sea from Netherlands to United Kingdom to sell their goods. There is evidence they worshiped her and she was asked for protection and prosperity. In the third century C.E. after a storm, the sea level increased and covered the temple and the shrines with ocean water. Her name had disappeared under the water lost to time. However, after 13 centuries, in 1645 the erosion on the dunes revealed the ruins of her temple and hundreds of her shrines. Unfortunately, we don’t have much in the way of mythology about her, but we have a lot of archaeological finds as proof of her cult. An incredible development is that in 2005 a new temple was built in Domburg, Netherlands. The shrines are sculpted in sandstone where votive offerings were left to her by the Roman to thank for a safe trip and good business. You can find out more about her new temple here
How is Nehalennia connected to water?
Most of the shrines in her temple depict Nehalennia seated in a high chair with a dog on her side and baskets of fruits on her lap or on her other side. At the top of the shrines there is always a big shell, a kind of scallop shell is what some scholars believe, shows Nehalennia as born from the sea in addition we know the Romans worshiped her by the sea and often asked for good travel while upon the sea. Few of shrines depict her standing up with one of the feet resting on the prow of a boat, in a very clear commanding position. For all these details, Nehalennia is considered not only a Goddess that protects during oceanic trips, but the steerswoman, the one that conducts the boat. She was also worshiped by the local fishermen for abundance on fishing and protection from storms. Some archaeological finds suggest her temple was shared with Jupiter.
Do you think that Nehalennia has a connection to Aphrodite?
No, Nehalennia doesn’t have any connection to Aphrodite. Not that I know of. Few people consider her to be related to sexuality but in the archaeological finds there is nothing proving that. Also in my gnosis I never felt any relation between her and sexuality. Nehalennia was adopted by the Roman as a matron goddess. She is related to movement, guidance, protection, death and the transition to the otherworld, prosperity, wellness, fertility of the land and abundance on fishing.
How did you first connect with Nehalennia?
This is a very interesting story. In 2009, I discovered the paganism and joined to a coven in Brazil. Even though I’ve always been very interested in different spiritual paths, paganism was very unique compared to everything I’ve experienced before. Paganism was completely new for me. The coven had a practice to dedicate each new member to a deity and to my surprise I received Nehalennia as my patron goddess. It was hard to me because I had no idea what meant to have a patron goddess and plus she was unknown, even to the other members of the coven.
It was very difficult to get any information about Nehalennia. I tried as much as I could and I remember setting up an altar with sand, ocean water and sea shells. I used to dance to her, but no connection had begun. It was like this for one year or so and all I got was a half-page information about her in a book about Norse religion. At the same time, I was studying tarot and runes and it was frustrating because I struggled to learn them. One day, I was under the shower and I closed my eyes and mentally complained to Nehalennia about my poor connection with her and my inability to learn an oracle. Immediately I had an insight to pick up the shells from the altar and put some symbols related to the ocean on them, and so I did. The first version was an oracle of 21 seashells and I tried with friends and it worked. That was my first close contact with her. Later the oracle had developed to 33 symbols.
The first 21 shells just happened. The version with 33 I worked a little bit to keep 3+3 (6) that is a number I link to Nehalennia. There are no numbers related to her, but the first book I found about her, said that in January 6, 1645 , her archaeological finds where discovered, so I started honoring her on January 6… so I kept 33 cards…
I also often get profound messages while in the shower do you have any other experiences with Nehalennia you would like to share?
Not under the shower but my connection with other Goddess started when I was close to water. Arianrhod and Freya started the connection when I was on the beach. Arianrhod (Spring 2017), sunset, I made a prayer in front of the ocean to Nehalennia and offered her some rose petals. Immediately a chant I composed to Arianrhod in 2012 came to my mind. I never had any contact with Arianrhod before…. I never met anybody working with her…. so I just looked at the sky and asked what she wanted from me and I saw a falling star. When I returned home I started researching about her and few days later I discovered she used to contact people on the beach at sunset. In a couple weeks I had created an oracle to her as well.
Are you dedicated to Nehalennia? Any other deities or spirits? Do you have any experiences with her you would like to share?
I dedicated to Nehalennia in 2009 when I joined a coven. In 2010, I had an initiation to her and Heimdall. I also worship other Celtic, Norse and African deities, with a closer connection with Arianrhod, Morrighan, Freya, Oya and Oshun. I really believe that Nehalennia, in a very subtle way, lead me to discover my gift on creating oracles. If I had learned tarot and runes I would be just reading them and I would never been interested in creating my own oracles. I feel Nehalennia has a lot to reveal to people and in somehow, she found me in Brazil and gave me the task to spread her name through the oracle deck. An interesting fact I recently had experienced, happened when I was visiting a holistic fair and a psychic medium without any information about me, and just looking at and touching my sample of the oracle deck, told me that in a past life I was given to Nehalennia when I was a baby, to be her priestess. True or not, I always felt like being her child.
I feel there was a purpose for me not to learn a traditional oracle or tarot deck it was as if Nehalennia was just intending to guide me through this journey. It was 8 years, between having the insight and self-publishing the oracle, and I can see how much knowledge I got from her during this period. I believe the inspiration came from a frustration. Something like if you can’t learn a traditional oracle, do an original, yourself! Only when I was finishing the book, I discovered some scholars who believe that the position Nehalennia is depicted, seated on a high chair, suggests her connection with oracles and prophecies. It was only after my book was ready and in production, I discovered that her high seat suggests oracle/seidr sessions. I was just glad for the confirmation Nehalennia has connection to oracles.
How did you find your artist? Can you tell us more about him?
I put a request for illustrator on Facebook and Igor Alexandre popped up! He is an incredible magician and artist, with a beautiful and deep work with Hecate. Since we talked about the Oracle of Nehalennia, he used all his sensitivity to connect with Nehalennia and get inspired by her. And I can tell I had a little participation on the cards. Most of them, Igor showed me when they were pretty much done and I had almost nothing to add. You can find more about him by cicking here and here
Did you have a specific medium in mind or did you let the artist decide?
Igor and I decided to use aquarelle pencils technique. They are much like watercolor pencils we wanted this to have the power of water element. After meditation Igor came out with the first card, which depicts Nehalennia. Once I saw it, I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it was and then we started discussing the other cards, but I worked more on the concepts and Igor on the designs.
Did you choose the card designs? Help with the design?
I gave a list of my description of each card to the artist, but I can say the cards took a higher level in Igor’s hands. There were many synchronicities that happened all the time, we would often have the same insights about specific details at the same time, even though I was in NY and he was in Brazil. Also, I had a professional designer doing the frame and back of the cards.
Can you tell me more about the process of working with the artist and creating the cards?
My experience with Igor was magic, it was such an easy flow of energy between us. We have an incredible connection and used to get the same insights practically at the same time. It was not unusual to call each other and share the same insights. Now, we are working on The Oracle of Morrighan.
What type of cards can people expect to find when they purchase this deck?
It’s an original deck, colorful, smooth and easy to learn. It’s a deck of 33 cards in aquarelle art, with high quality printing. The cards are also unique because of their square shape. Most of the cards are related to the archaeological finds of Nehalennia and their meanings are as obvious as possible. A few cards depict symbols such as The Boat meaning movement, The Rudder meaning direction and control and The Harbor meaning safety and stability, etc.
I am sure that you love the entire deck, but we all end up with a few cards in a deck we are particularly drawn to or connect with, which 3 cards do you connect with the most?
Only 3? Hahaha. In my opinion, the card Nehalennia is the most beautiful one because the colors, and because she is depicted standing up on a scallop shell with a motherly expression holding a basket of apples. Another favorite one is The Throne because she is seated on a chair that is a beautiful yellow shell and The Cloak depicts Nehalennia from the back, naked in the ocean, raising her arms under the full moon and using a cloak that is in fact made from the waves.
What is included in the deck?
The Oracle of Nehalennia is a deck of 33 cards in aquarelle art, colorful user guide in English and Portuguese, cotton pouch bag with logo and a box. The cards are square (4×4 inches).
Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers about the deck?
In my experience offering readings with this deck, is unanimous that people consider the answers very clear, simple and assertive, and I credit this easy flow as a result of the water energy in the deck. Because Nehalennia is associated to travel protection and used to be worshiped by traders, I indicate this oracle especially for questions involving making decisions, finding directions and for business affairs.
Do you think this deck works well with other Deities or Water Spirits?
I cannot see it working with other deity because it’s very specific. If it was not based on a goddess, maybe it would work good with closer archetypes, but because all the oracle is based on Nehalennia, I don’t believe it would work in other way. I believe each goddess has her own symbols, mysteries, language, energy, etc.
Is there anything else about Nehalennia you would like to share?
My point of view is that Nehalennia remained 13 centuries unknown, forgotten, under the North Sea. Once she emerged, she wants to share her blessings and wisdom. My oracle is one of the many forms she found to say: Hi! I’m here! Everyday, new people discover about her in many different places in Europe, in USA, Brazil, Australia, just to list some. I hope that this deck not only inspires others to work with her, but to bring her voice to the world and draw her followers closer to her.
Can you tell us of any other projects you will be working on in the future?
In the Summer of 2017, I was basking in the beauty of an amazing experience with Freya, when I was on the beach with my husband. It was a Sunday and the beach was full of people and a ladybug perched on my right arm. I love ladybugs. I enjoyed the connection and it left. A few minutes later it came back, stayed and I asked my husband to take a picture. It flew away and came back one more time. 3 times I had the ladybug on me, on a beach completely full of people. To me it was an omen, so I went home and started to research in my books and online about the ladybug magic and the result lead me to Freya. And so, the Oracle of Freya was inspired days later. I used to make jokes about it. I cannot go to the beach that I give birth to a new oracle… hahaha. I expect to have one or two decks ready on 2019, I have no idea which ones, and my experience shows no matter how hard I rush to have everything done, it happens only at the right time. My decks are dedicated to deities, so they have a lot of spiritual energy that I do not control. I do my best, but the patroness of each oracle also interferes on the process. Perhaps there will be a Morrigan, Freya or Arianrhod deck! Only time and the spirits will tell!
Thank you Bela for sharing about yourself, your deck and process with the readers! I have personally held each card and loved the energy and shape of each card. Thank you so much for being Nehalennia’s Priestess and doing the great work of bring this beautiful deck to other witches, pagans and priestess out there!
It’s my pleasure to share Nehalennia’s wisdom and good guidance!
If you would like to buy the oracle deck or to book a reading with the author, please visit: www.belasiol.com
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Follow on Instagram: @oracleofnehalennia
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