What Makes a Retreat Sacred?

In a nature setting, West invites people to celebrate, contemplate, and restore the soul. Days are free to walk, think, sing, dance, encounter wildlife, enjoy flora, reconnect with nature and experience freedom from urban fatigue. Late night dark time is reserved for spiritual ceremonies. In the ceremonial circle, participants give individual prayers. Then West leads the group in three nights of ceremony, each night’s building on the one conducted the night before. Stamina is required in order to go to the wee hours of each night, but it is a traditional way of giving away, or sacrificing, a creature comfort for spiritual blessings. Specific settings and areas of ceremonial re-creation are described below.

A Weekend Celebration of Women

This Circle of women only, please, will explore a number of topics from various seminars that are most appropriate for practicing the feminine spiritual arts. Friday evening will include a cleansing ceremony and each of the following days will  build ceremonial connections to the soft, gentle spirit of woman that is pervasive across the universe. Information will be shared about the passages from one stage of a woman’s life to another, particularly the transition of menopause. Of course, the power of woman will be highlighted, along with healing the heart and other aspects of femininity that are so often ignored in modern times. The weekend is a women’s retreat with mornings free to enjoy nature, or rest and relax. Participants will share a communal kitchen and sleep in dormitory fashion.

Among the Trees: In a Forest of ‘Standing People’

The first Earth temples were Circles in the woods or forest clearings surrounded by stands of tall majestic trees. Native Tribes call trees ‘the Standing People.’ Revisit ancient experiences through this series of ceremonies as high and loving emotions of the plant kingdom are invited into the circle. During the three nights of Ceremony participants begin to feel deeplrooted to the Earth.The celebration of trees allows people to feel old energy blocks fall away like autumn leaves, so the soul springs to life with new and invigorating spiritual light.

At the Seaside: The Heart of Earth

In this series of three ceremonies, the Circle explores Earth changes as an ebbing and flowing of transforming life waters. Transmutation and growth are highlighted in such a manner that it may be felt to the very core of the soul. Participants are helped to imagine what it was like to leave the sea and first come upon the land.

Celebrating Beltane’s Sun Light — A Weekend Retreat

Beltane is an old Celtic Fire Ceremony that is celebrated, at the most fundamental level, to mark the end of winter and the beginning of the warmer, lighter half of the year. It is the counterpart to All Hallow’s Eve, which marks the beginning of a new year and celebrates ancestors. Beltane, on the other hand, celebrates life. For the Celts, it was a festival that insured fertility and growth. Another use of the Beltane fires was for purification—an important part of our Circle’s preparation for the next All Hallow’s Eve!

Beltane’s traditional date, May 1st of the Lunar calendar, was chosen as the midway point between spring equinox and summer solstice. Traditionally, Beltane festivities began when villagers traveled into the woods to gather the nine sacred woods needed to build the Beltane fires. The tradition of “Boughing” or “Birching” involved young people fastening garlands of greens and flowers on the windows and doors before the fires are lit Beltane night. No better place to be for the festivities than in the wooded area of the Ardennes.

Beltane, like All Hallow’s Eve, is a time when the veil between the worlds is thought to be thin, a time when magic is possible. Whereas on All Hallow’s Eve we may see or sense wandering souls of the dead, during Beltane we watch for Fairies. Beltane is the night when the queen of the fairies rides the astral on her white steed, hoping to entice humans away to Faeryland. If you hear the bells of the Fairy Queen’s horse, you are advised to look away, so she will pass you by.

Eagle Alchemy: Out on the Prairie

This ceremonial sequence reinforces the human connection to the Golden Eagle, who shows how to keep balance in the natural world. The Eagle models for us improved relationships by demonstrating how you can fly just as well alone as with another. The experience is a reconnecting to nature so participants feel nurtured by the Earth and gain a sense of renewal that spreads into daily life. Honoring Eagle as an ally for three nights gives members of the group an expanded capacity of spiritual insight.

In the Mountains: The Backbone of Earth

This ceremonial sequence helps clear and cleanse the spirit body, both for individual participants and the Earth as well. Purification is necessary before new energy can come to us and nurture our growth. The skeleton and veins of the Earth are explored as metaphor to the human body. By the end of the cycle of three ceremonies, group members fill with lightness and love, ready to return with new found willpower to the everyday world.

Moon Time: Celebrating Lunar Tides

Wash away the ego and resonate with the moon cycle through this series of three ceremonies. From the dark to the full moon, we are less influenced by masculine solar energy and reborn into the healing feminine spirit of the night. When shielded from the energy of our own star, we are more open to what is coming in from other stars. The ceremonial series pulls in energy from the Moon and stars beyond. In this ceremonial series we are reminded to give up fear in order to experience the love and trust offered in our world.