Travel Journal

Author: Nina Hirlaender

Nina is the Founder and Dream Activator of Dancing Spirit Tours. Her strong background in live performing arts and management of both independent and large theatre companies support her work as a group leader and facilitator. Notable positions include General Manager of Theatre Terrific Society, a company dedicated to bringing together artists with diverse physical and mental health issues, Managing Producer of November Theatre, committed to creating alternative musicals with a heightened performance style, and Operations Coordinator of Theatre Under The Stars, entertaining families with popular musicals while providing a vibrant training ground to developing performers. Nina's passionate quest for knowledge perpetually keeps her in the classroom. She attended York University, and continued to study theatrical production at the prestigious Studio 58 Conservatory to complete her Bachelor of Fine Arts. Nina received training at the University of Catalunya in Barcelona, earning a diploma in Designing Sustainable Human Settlements and Ecovillages. She trained at The Four Winds Light Body School as a certified energy medicine practitioner in the Peruvian shamanic tradition. Currently, Nina is working on a Masters degree in Theology and International Ethics. Her combined studies and passion for exploratory community building have lead to the unique creation of Dancing Spirit Tours. Nina is passionate about fostering cross-cultural understanding through travel. She believes that by immersing oneself in diverse communities, we learn to appreciate that all humans are more the same than we are different. This attitude of compassion bridges gaps between nations and is foundational to creating peace. Nina's personal mission is to serve humanity by lovingly empowering people to connect with their authentic selves and open their hearts to the awe-some glory of life. Nina's inner child has a life-long fascination with joyful movement. She began her relationship with yoga as a child and became a certified yoga instructor in 2006. In her spare time, Nina enjoys painting her dreams, dancing with the moon, whispering to the trees, knitting cozy sweaters, and sipping tea in sunny windowsills. Her newest creative adventure is learning the art of acro-balance gymnastics.

Voices of Iceland: Male Choirs

I have a riddle for you… What could possibly be more Icelandic than PUFFINS?

Blonde hair? … Nope.
Waterfalls? … Nope.
Skyr? … Nope.

Male choirs? BINGO!


Ok ok! Blonde hair, waterfalls and skyr are quintessentially Icelandic, but one of Iceland’s greatest hidden treasures is its choral music.

In the 1850s a progressive art collective thought it was important for the cultural expansion of the country to switch from

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Blending Cultures: Paganism in Iceland


Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Valgerdur Bjarnadottir, an expert scholar on all things Icelandic. Ms. Bjarnadottir holds a Masters Degree in theology & dreamwork. She’s an expert in the fields of philosophy, religion & women’s spirituality.

Needless to say, our conversation was fascinating. I learn so much from her!

For example:

Did you know that most women in Iceland have British ancestry whereas most men have Scandinavian ancestry?

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Odin The Crucified Shaman


I’d like to introduce you to my new friend Odin.

He’s a wisdom keeper, a Norse God from the shamanic tradition of the Indo-Europeans. Lately I’ve been contemplating what it means to live wisely, so getting to know Odin has been a HUGE GIFT!

In most version of the myth Odin hangs himself on the World Tree to attain “runes of wisdom.” After an epic journey to the Underworld he is reborn as a wise healer. He spends the rest of his life devoted to helping others.


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Icelandic Spirituality: 3 Ice Age Roots


It turns out that 4% of Europeans today carry genetic material from this haplogroup. (U and I). There is a chance you might belong to this lineage if you have European ancestry, especially if your ancestors are from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Turkey or Spain.

Who were these First People?
How did they live?
What did they believe?

Fortunately, we can trace their stories and memories by studying fringe European cul

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A Celtic Lent: 3 Ways To Spiritual Spring Cleaning


I avoid many popular spiritual movements, they seem to come and go like a breeze, devoid of substance and sometimes lacking authenticity. But Celtic Spiritualty is not one of these fads. Celtic shamanism is deeply rooted in my spiritual heritage. I am drawn to its emphasis on nature as an awake, vital, fecund expression of the Divine.

I remember standing under the cherry tree as a small girl in my Oma’s backyard on a crisp winter night. Living on the edge of an Austrian village yo

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Win A Trip To France


Hi Dancing Spirits!

I am REALLY excited to share this new project with you. We are looking for vibrant personalities with compelling personal stories to cast in a documentary travel TV episode!

If you have an incredible story and are ready to embark on a deeply personal quest for meaning, we want to hear from you! Maybe you recently experienced divorce, death of a loved one, addiction recovery, or have a terminal illness and need a reflective retreat. Maybe you are on the brink

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How To Live Your Purpose


We are constantly trying to find our purpose. People are always saying to me: “Wow, you found your purpose and made your dream a reality! How do you do it!?”

That’s not true for me. I haven’t discovered the ultimate answer to this existential question. The truth is, I think “finding” your purpose is a myth. We can’t go looking for our purpose “out there.” When we externalize our happiness through the fabrication of an idea outside ourselves, we ine

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5 Reasons To See Vienna Before Christmas

Vienna, Austria’s capital, lying on the banks Danube River, is one of Europe’s most romantic, imperial cities and a place where the Christmas spectacle is second to none.

For the month of December, beginning with the onset of the most magical of times, advent events are held across the city, that allow a glimpse into the age old and often forgotten real meaning of Christmas.

From beautiful Christkindl markets set amidst the backdrop of Baroque architecture to concerts at some of the mo

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The Well of Grief

“Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief

turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.”
– by David Whyte

I lost someone 5 weeks ago. It has truly been the most painful experience of

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