A few weeks ago we hosted our very first ever retreat. We called it Through the Looking Glass and, of course, used the theme of the Alice story of the same name. Mirrors, or more accurately, the way we see ourselves, figured prominently in the work that we did.
This work was based on a kaleidoscope of things that I experienced, learned, read, and figured out over the past two years or so. So many things worked together to create this transformative experience in my life, an experience that changed so much about me, including allowing me to dream big enough to create this event. I wanted to pull together all those elements in a coherent way and present it to others in the hopes that even one of them has the same incredible experience that I did. It was something that I knew could not be done in a single workshop. It required days, so a retreat seemed like the best method.
We took over Orchard House, a house on the grounds of Buttermilk Farm in Wisconsin. We brought in curtains and pictures and all kinds of things, making it into our own temporary wonderland. The three main bedrooms for the guests and the common area (where we did most of our work) each had an altar, one for each element. The picture above is the Earth altar.
In the large grassy field outside of the house, we made a huge labyrinth using flour. The labyrinth was part of our very moving, hour-long closing ritual on Sunday morning, but it was also used by our guests Saturday under a nearly full moon. The dew glistened in the moonlight like stars laying on the ground and the floor shone bright white. It was really magical. Lisa (my wife) and Michelle (my sister) made the labyrinth on Friday afternoon and each day I "fed" it by adding more flour and keeping the lines clear. As I fed it, I prayed that whoever walked it would leave behind what they needed to and take away a special message.
Friday and Saturday, I taught, led the guests on journeys, and gave them time to do readings using spreads created to support the journeys and the lectures. The goal was to create a ritual that they will do on the Winter Solstice, to release what hides their divinity from themselves and the world and to shine their authentic truths through their thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds. Between now and then, they have work to do to prepare. Because contrary to what many thing, transformation doesn't begin and end in one instant. Transformation requires a cauldron or a crucible that will not react with the process, so the work between now and then prepares their inner cauldron. After the ritual, more work (and support) is required because once you are transformed, your changes ripple out into your life. Conflicts may occur. Relationships may alter or even explode. You may decide to do crazy things like start a One Year Teaching program or host a retreat.
It wasn't all work, though. Everyone bonded so quickly and it was like we all became fast friends immediately. On Saturday night, we had a bonfire and one wonderful guest brought a guitar and we sang under the stars. On Sunday we had a Mad Tea Party Brunch (there is a photo of the table below).
The retreat was more amazing than I could have dreamed and I can't wait to offer it next year.
My wish for you, my friends, is that you always see your shiny, beautiful, divine selves and do what you can to nurture and support that precious gift that is completely you!