An interview with Tanja Faber. Conducted and edited by Marlies van Exter.
When she set up her company ‘the Sacred Voyage’ with her husband in 2005, she created one of the only three organizations offering ceremonies with the mother plant in the Netherlands at that time. Now, 17 years later, Tanja Faber looks back on a dazzling and rewarding career.
She’s still at the head of her now large-sized company, leads plant medicine retreats back home and abroad, drives national and international training courses to future facilitators and guides, and, last but not least, runs her company ‘Sacred Lotus’, where she incorporates individual coaching, couples sessions and ceremonies, and her Heartdancing® training. This year, Tanja organized a women-only retreat again. It was the first one in many years. Tanja: “I’m in a period in my life where I want to work more with women. I want to connect more with them and with my own feminine energy. My age is also part of that, as I’m entering the state of the Crone, the elderly, wise woman”. She continues: “I had 22 women participating during the retreat. We spoke about feminine topics, like sexual trauma, sensuality, and connecting with our breasts. We did a breast meditation, which was the most beautiful thing of the whole retreat, even better than the ceremony. It felt so empowering and healing to talk about our breasts and meditate with them. It was amazing, very safe, respectful and delicate as well. That's something you can only do with women."
Tanja’s first experience with plant medicine
Tanja’s life has not always been set in the world of personal development and spiritualism. Her father was a businessman, and when she was at the age to choose a career, it was logical for her to follow in his footsteps. Tanja: “I worked in Corporate Business for a couple of years. After that, I switched to Human Resources.” She started to work at a governmental organization, where she met Lars, her husband. “That was the total change of everything in my life. Because it was then that I discovered a whole world besides mine. One I didn't know about.”
Lars had already been experimenting a lot with plant medicine, magic mushrooms at that time. Tanja was curious but didn’t experiment herself. Yet. She says that it took a year before she felt the calling. "My first experience was with magic mushrooms. It was amazing because it connected me to my inner girl, who really loves dancing. It was a wonderful discovery.”
The plant medicine’s message
Soon after, her husband wanted to try ayahuasca. “It was 2004, and ayahuasca was sold under the counter in the Netherlands. Everybody discouraged Lars from doing it; they all said it was too intense. But he felt he needed to experience it, so he did it, guided by a friend and me.”
Tanja had only guided magic mushroom ceremonies before, but never ayahuasca, but, according to her, it all went very naturally. “I think I was also guided from above to facilitate lovingly. I really loved being there for Lars in this vulnerable process. It was beautiful.” And it was during this first ayahuasca ceremony, that the plant medicine gave Lars the message that he needed to work with this. Tanja: “But first, he needed to write a book.”
The turning point sabbatical
In the meantime, Tanja was still working in Human Resources. The turning point came when she had two burnouts in a row. “Lars said: ‘I think we need to quit.' He also felt he was not doing the work he wanted. We were earning a lot of money, and we could do whatever we wanted, but it wasn’t making us happy. That's when we decided to take a sabbatical.”
The couple left for Costa Rica, and in the year and a half that followed, things started to develop by
themselves. Lars wrote ‘The Sacred Voyage’ - a book that teaches people how to provide a safe setting at home when doing plant medicine. But as for the rest, Tanja and Lars didn’t know what their future would hold. Tanja: “We strongly felt that we wanted to work with people. What, how, when, where - we didn't know. But from there, it all went up. We had to trust whatever came and follow every sign - and we did. We followed our hearts.”
She continues. “When we returned from Costa Rica, Lars’ book came out, and people started coming to him. Everybody felt it was important to do plant medicine in a safe setting - with someone who knows about it. That’s where I also started to guide, connecting with my essence more and more and developing myself.”
Guided and protected
In the subsequent years, Tanja followed many training courses and workshops to professionalize herself, such as Stanislav Grof’s Holotropic Breathwork®, Voice Dialogue, intuitive development, focusing, tantra, the Wheel of Consent, full body de-armoring, and dance.
In the meantime, she professionalized The Sacred Voyage into the company it is today. She has supported and guided more than 15,000 people in their process of becoming whole and reconnecting with themselves, with and without plant medicine. During this, she says, she has always felt guided and protected.
Rediscover the sparkle
Tanja’s most essential learning point has been that she’s free to do the things she wants to do the way she likes. Not how she was taught, following certain rules or structures, but finding her own way and creating her own work from all the knowledge and experience she has gained.
Dance has always been an enormous part of her work - since she connected to her inner girl during that first experience with magic mushrooms 15 years ago. Tanja: “Dance feeds me. When I dance, I connect with myself and my body. I become aware of how and why I do things the way I do. I feel playful, open-minded, and alive. Dance made me rediscover the sparkle in my own being.
Feel the call from inside
On being asked if she has any advice for women who want to try plant medicine for the first time, Tanja says: “First, and most importantly, you need to feel the call from inside - that this is something you want to do yourself, not because another person tells you to. Stay true to yourself. That's how it also happened to me. I learned about it, saw Lars doing it, and, at a certain point, my own curiosity came up - and wanted to experience that scary shit too.”
In the last couple of years, Tanja has seen more and more people becoming interested in this kind of healing. “People want to learn about themselves, to heal, and gain insights from plant medicine, breathwork and Heartdancing®. And the participants have become younger to start this process of personal development. Young people nowadays are more aware and conscious than I was when I was 34,” she states.
Help to heal each other
Today, she’s 53 years old. Busy bee Tanja loves her work and has always given 150% of herself. “I do this work because it's my purpose in life," she says. But since she’s been entering the phase of the Crone, she also feels the time has come to make choices and slow down a bit. She can’t do everything anymore, so, from 2023 on, Tanja will solely focus on running her ‘Sacred Lotus’ and training others to become Soul Coaches - facilitators and guides in inner child work and plant medicine ceremonies. Tanja: “So that more people can start facilitating this beautiful work and support others in their deep inner processes. I hope that more women join this field, educate each other, support each other, and help heal each other. And breathwork, dance and plant medicine are beautiful ways of achieving that.”
Are you curious to know more about Tanja’s work? Check out her websites www.thesacredvoyage.com (where you can download the free e-book The Sacred Voyage) and www.sacredlotus.nl (Dutch). About the author: Marlies van Exter is a Dutch writer, storyteller, and communications consultant who loves to explore and inspire. She is one of WOOP's regular writers. Through her work, she wants to contribute to a world where everyone understands, respects and builds on their different perspectives. She believes that by digging deeper and going beyond cultural conditioning, it’s possible to create real connections and a better world. Marlies has always had an insatiable curiosity and eagerness to get the most out of life. In psychedelics, she found a travel companion for this and a guide to know herself on a deeper level. Want to know more about Marlies’ work? Check out her website Magpie Communications.