It is now 18 years since I first started teaching Stav outside the family

I was born at the end of the Second World War in Drammen in the County of Buskerud in Norway, where we have lived for around 1,500 years according to family legend. From an early age I was educated in my family's way of viewing the world, first through rune stances, then through the use of herbs and other healing methods that were still common in Norway in the middle of last century. When I was a little older I was trained in the use of weapons, mainly the walking stick and the hiking staff, and mostly by my granduncle Svend, though also by several other older members of the family. I also learnt to ride horses, to fly birds of prey, to sail, to fish, to grow crops, to harvest from nature and to preserve food for the winter. During the long winter months, I listened to stories of the old gods, of the land spirits and of our ancestry. Through the changing times of the year, I saw how we celebrated the seasonal festivals.

After finishing my University education I travelled the world, and finally stayed for 14 years in my wife's homeland, Japan. Here I studied Japanese Martial Arts, mainly Shintō Musō-ryū Jō-jutsu and Takeda-ryū Aiki-jutsu. During this time I also had contact and long discussions with Shinto priests through my wife's family. All of this taught me a deeper understanding of what I had learnt from my family in my childhood.

The Heimbu garden The Heimbu garden

When I was 46 years old I felt that I was ready to teach what I had learnt. At that time we moved to Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire as our children were in school in England, and I took 4 students, Graham Butcher, David Watkinson, Kolbjorn Märtens and Shaun Brassfield-Thorpe, who were taught different aspects of my family's education system according to their ability and interest. These 4 students have now founded their own schools of Stav and their own lineages.

When I started teaching there was one problem that soon became obvious. When I learned Stav there was never any organized teaching; Stav was just transmitted through everyday life. But teaching people who were not living with me, the traditional way, proved difficult. So gradually a form of curriculum was created, which has become what is known as Heimbu-Stav − somewhat different to Hafskjold-Stav which is taught inside the family. This does not mean that there are secrets that are only taught inside the family; but rather that − of necessity − different methods are used for teaching Stav inside and outside the family.

The Heimbu garden The Heimbu garden

The name Heimbu, meaning Home Farm in Norwegian, started as a joke paraphrasing Hombu dojo in many Japanese Martial Arts, but it stuck, and our property in Beverly is now generally known as Stav Heimbu. Here my wife and I live in semi-retirement, trying to create a form of traditional Scandinavian »Hov» dedicated to our ancestors and to the spirits of the land; where insects, birds and animals are welcomed; where we grow a great deal of our own food and where anyone who is seriously interested in Stav can come.

Written by Ivar Hafskjold at Heimbu in the Summer of 2009