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Looking Ahead

Our Ojai 2016 altar. 

Our Ojai 2016 altar. 

After five magical gatherings, we've decided to keep our calendars clear for just a wee bit to ponder new possibilities, ideas, and inspirations. Be the first to know about any retreats in 2017 and beyond by joining our email list.

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Owning My Love Affair: A Multi-Decade Topophilia with New Orleans

Each time I return to her, ache and ecstasy etched on my honeycomb heart, she enfolds me in her otherworldly arms, as if to whisper: Welcome back to your soul home-away-from-home, darlin’.  You’re back in the Big Easy, cher.  Laissez les bon temps rouler.  

She swallows me whole, my hard edges melting and my senses electrifying.  She rolls me around in her humid moist mouth, her sticky tongue spitting me back out with a moan and cackle that amplify my alertness and soothe my vigilance.  She is the mighty Both/And: both suffocation and liberation, both provoking and protective, both fragile and tough as shit.  She’s both the push and the pull.  Whole and shredded.  Intact and dismantled.  

My deep rooted and endless love for New Orleans and her fluid boundaries, her unfathomable and inexhaustible complexities, tugs me back relentlessly, thankfully.  Upon my returns to her, as I examine my expectations and lay them aside, she rises up to meet me at the crossroads of contradiction and predicability, where fascination street and civil avenue intersect in an ancient juxtaposition so perfectly suited to this weird and wonderful place.  Just below her surface, her palpable immortal pulse, pounds and pumps, invoking a tactile and spiritual essence that kisses your succulent skin and sends shivers up your goose-bumped spine.  She and I have a magnetic bond, refined and elevated in this lifetime, reincarnated from an initiation a million moons ago, centripetal in nature, finding me hypnotic and absorbed.  I proudly own the fact that she’s shaped my senses and memory, influenced and impacted me in ways I couldn’t possibly shake off if I’d liked or dared to.  And she owns me.  My recollection of her odors, noises, landmarks, tastes, textures, scents, sounds, and sights act on me like an incessant child in a candy store: must.  have.  more.  

In New Orleans you can waltz into a timeworn bookstore, the musty stacks venerable and circuitous, shimmy around a dappled golden hour corner, and find a copy of your favorite book, splayed out on the crusty floor, gleaming dust settling all around you, signed by the author, first edition, waiting for you as if it knew you were on your way to covet it, like the buried Barataria treasure of Jean Lafitte’s pirates, forever more.  

In New Orleans, at Cafe Du Monde, you can hork down a plate of hot beignets, piled hazardously high and engulfed with a normal persons year supply of powdered sugar, in the middle of the night, half naked in public because of the it-don’t-quit heat, sipping on bitter but milky cold chicory coffee, under the green and white awnings, served by uniformed and paper hatted innocents, while you attempt to get your sweet tooth soothed and your buzz under control.  

In New Orleans, where voodoo and esoteric Catholicism are the real deal, you can have your saltwater heart uncrossed, unhinged, and unarmored by the professional and serious slew of clairvoyants, seers, psychics, fortune tellers, mediums, and diviners who call NOLA home, all while hyper cultivating your very own intuition, gut instinct, inklings, notions and hunches, fully realizing you are an oracle talisman inscribed with healing and transformation, because she bends over backwards to avail herself to your eminent growth and expansion.  She just does.  It’s a fact. 

When I can get to her, I go.  One day I will live amongst her grit and grime, curiosity shops and magic cabinets, moonlit bayous, creole tunes, magnolias in june, because I do know what it means to miss New Orleans when that’s where you left your heart.  She is vivid, poor, beautiful, sad, extraordinary, peculiar, rich and real.  She’s full of mystery, history, spirit, ancestors, and soul; I’ll take her any way I can get her.  She inspired me to be a honey drenched maker, wild seeker, close with mother nature, a haunted huntress, a sacred gatherer, a magic forager, an enchanted mystic and a vagabond wanderer.  She opened my eyes wide to my very own brand of feral, ambrosial, strange-ness.  Her genius loci is the mana I crave; she exudes a spirit of place unlike any other.  She is the mirror and the container.  Watch out, you might find yourself there, owning it, held and reflected.  Both/and.  

Details on our upcoming New Orleans retreat are right here. We have FOUR additional twin beds available!! We look forward to sharing this adventure with you!

{This piece was written by Jennette Nielsen and originally published in Mabel magazine.}

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Sharpening Our Pencils

Medicine and messages come from all kinds of unusual places...

Medicine and messages come from all kinds of unusual places...

We've just dramatically reduced the cost of our NOLA retreat. Here's why...

Last year, on the day I flew to New Orleans for our WRSW retreat, I received a text message from Jen that the box of retreat supplies I'd shipped hadn't arrived as scheduled. While my husband navigated us along the Pacific Coast Highway on our way to LAX, I was frantically communicating with Jen and UPS as to the whereabouts of my package.

Another way to put it:  I was freaking out.

I planned it so carefully! So rationally! So methodically! But my plans were still all falling apart!

Except that they weren't. I didn't manage to retrieve the box until a few weeks after the retreat, but it actually all worked out fine. It wasn't the disaster I'd made it out to be.

This incident immediately came to be known as our very own Box Medicine.

It's so easy for me - for all three of us - to forget sometimes that this is exactly, precisely what being a creative entrepreneur is about. It's about navigating the twists and turns that come with a job that has no employee manual, established protocols or guarantees.

This job is about flexibility, freedom and the fun that can be had when we allow ourselves to be carried by the dream of our gatherings rather than attempt to control (and constipate) the entire process.

With that in mind, we came together this morning and talked about our plans for our upcoming NOLA retreat. We discussed what was truly important to us, and how we can best serve you - our sisters. We shared what we've distilled from your recent messages, feedback and questions, and we realized what we had in front of us was an opportunity to put the lessons from our Box Medicine into practice - mindfully, joyfully, in celebration of the fact that this is our job! These are the beautiful puzzles we get to figure out.

Without further ado, we're thrilled to share that the costs of our NOLA retreat have just been significantly reduced. The previous price range was $2595 - $2995, and it is now $1995 - $2395. And if you'd like to save an additional $250 to use towards airfare or meals, you can share a king bed with your bestie and both of you will receive the discount.

Thank you for trusting us, supporting us and joining us on these adventures. We hope you feel like we've heard you, and seen you and extended our invitation for you to join us even further.

All the updated information about our upcoming NOLA retreat is right here.

 

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Here's What You Need to Know...

We have planted the seeds and now it's time to watch them grow. The first details on our 2016 dates and locations are now available on our website - New Orleans and Ojai, here we come! 

Mark your calendars for the retreat dates, as well as our registration dates:

January 1, 2016:  All final retreat details, including prices, will be announced on this website.

January 7, 2016:  Early Bird Registration will be open to everyone on our email list. So if you want first dibs, sign up today!!

January 8, 2016:  Registration will be open to the public.

A couple of other details you might like to keep in mind...

Last year's New Orleans retreat sold out on the first day.

We've always kept our retreat plans pretty well under wraps, but this year we're offering more details on what we'll be doing, especially in Ojai, where our theme will be Sacred Botanical Adornments. With all the goodies we have in store for next year, we expect this one to sell out quickly as well. See our Ojai page for more juicy tidbits about what we're scheming.

Any questions? Let us know!!

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Autumnal Siren Call

Autumn. I can feel her cool touch on the inside of my wrists and the back of my neck already. She’s swirling in with an offering, a bedazzled carpet of jewel tones, the fallen deciduous leaves arranged by her billowy breath. Her brisk kisses prompt me to order our winter wood delivery and I stack it all neatly in our shed, ensuring we’ll have warmth that stretches beyond these last days of summer.  She signals the need to buy new school supplies, attend parent meetings and purchase new school clothes as twice weekly soccer practice kicks in.  She indicates the ensuing hustle and bustle after the ease and looseness of summer. She hints at the return to alarm clocks, schedules, routines, chauffeuring, school lunches, crockpot dinners, Saturday morning soccer games, and homework.  

Autumn is my favorite season for spiritual reasons, but her alignment with the beginning of a new school year always throws me off my self-care game. It’s the whirlwind of *go, do, go, more, go, now* that topples me into survival mode, where I’m left grasping at straws trying to regain my self-care footing. Even in the conscious care-taking of my beloveds, I sometimes forget to put on my own oxygen mask first. How easily I forget that if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

In light of my own pitfalls and entanglements, I thought I would just reach out and offer a light at the end of the school frenzy tunnel. It’s no accident that Jen, Christine and I timed or Wild Roots Sacred Wings gathering in Ojai to coincide with that sweet spot of autumn, after the hullabaloo of school starting and before the mania of the big fall/winter holidays.  It's the perfect extra-long weekend for you to have a timeout, a break, a respite from the daily grind.

Believe me sister, we know it’s not easy to leave your family, to ask your partner to double up on duties, to ask friends and relatives to cover for all the tasks of love you perform every single day. But we also know what happens when strong, full-tilt women take a breather and chillax for a few days: magic happens.  And you deserve the mellow magic - yes, YOU. It’s an auspicious time as well, to realign with your sacred and trusted self care strategies, while you are held fully in a safe circle of sisters, who are all doing the same - reveling in self-care, immersed in *me* time.

October 9-14 we will gather in Ojai, at a luxury oasis in the hills, where our nourishing gourmet meals will be prepared for us while we restore and remember ourselves.  We have sacred crafting activities planned, all of which are optional, and we have built in plenty of free time to wander the nearby trails, sleep in, float in the pool, have a massage or shop in town at your leisure.

On this retreat you won't be cooking for anyone, driving carpool, doing laundry, grocery shopping or changing the cat litter box.  You wont have to use an alarm, take a shower, get out of your pajamas or brush your hair if you don't want to! You can relax or get wild, you can nap or dance, you can sing or be silent, it’s up to you.  We will provide the expansive space and atmosphere for you to rejuvenate, and you do with it what your heart and soul longs for. It’s that simple!


We have just two spots left and are gobsmacked by the spectacular coven of delightful ladybirds we have gathering so far! There is room by our fire for you too if your wild roots and sacred wings are called to gather.  Info and registration can be found here, and if the timing for this retreat isn’t right for you, consider joining our email list to be notified when our 2016 offerings are released.  We have some uncommon gatherings for adventurous souls in the works!  Stay tuned!

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The Journey is About to Begin

We have been in a flurry of sparkly activity as we prepare for the opening of our New Orleans retreat registration THIS WEEK! What better place to dive deep into the wild unknown of your very own soul and spirit - against a backdrop of mystery, magic and just a little bit of voodoo.

Registration will open at 7:00am pacific time Wednesday, October 1st. ONLY 10 SPACES AVAILABLE, and we already know for certain a line is forming. Pitch your digital tent so you can be there when the portal to your adventure officially opens.

Any questions? Don't hesitate to drop us a line.

UPDATE: We are SOLD OUT, but experience has taught us that there is usually some re-shuffling on our roster, so be sure to register for our waiting list if you're eager to join us.

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Looking ahead...

We are beginning to lay down plans for 2015, and all we can say for now is GET READY. We're brewing all kinds of magic and letting our imaginations run wild.

Details will be revealed SOON.

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That's a Wrap

We've all just landed safely back home after five days of blissed out creativity, connection and restoration. More stories to come, but for now we'd like to say thank you, thank you and thank you again - to our circle, to each other, to the spirit guides that guided and took care of us from the moment the spark of this idea burst forth. We are grateful and blessed and happy.

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Travel As Ceremony

{Photo by Jen Gray Blackburn}

{Photo by Jen Gray Blackburn}

Deep within me is a fiery glow – a passion for travel that leaves me feeling wild and breathless. It’s a quickening zeal that demands to be feed, and I am a cumulus of sinew, blood and bones that must move, go, get there, see, feel and experience.  I am a pyre - my head and heart combustible, aroused and ignited toward the end of wanderlust.  The impulse to venture, seek and explore - alive and accelerating - simultaneously possesses and unfurls me.  Travel is no longer an extra-curricular activity; it’s not exploration as an afterthought, it doesn’t lie outside of my regular duties and routine.  My explorations have become deliberate and calculated, intentional and reflective, methodical and premeditated.  I create ritual in the movement; it is travel as ceremony.

Travel as ceremony has the power to not only cradle my curiosity, but also uplift, amplify and magnify my inquisitiveness.  My eager wonderment, unchecked, grows exponentially, pulsing beyond my heart’s capacity as a space holder.  But travel, like a scared rite, cultivates and elevates my reverence, my ardent devotion to adventure, with all its mind-bending and heart-expanding edges, ballooning me to zeppelin size and bursting me wide open, my confetti insides drifting, floating and scattering on zephyrs worldwide.  Investigating new surroundings or familiar and beloved intimate spaces again through the lens of travel as ceremony offers layer after layer of intrigue, stimulation, re-membering and enchantment.  When I channel and intend travel as ceremony, I effectively knock off conventional standards while confirming my unique sense of identity, allowing me to deepen and sink into my incomparable purpose, unleashing my greater wholeness.

You may be brought to your knees when you travel as ceremony but you will when you make your wish, say your prayer and leave your offering, your journey to the next act of adventurous worship will have already begun – the journey to your spirit and your soul’s deepest calling.

o...Jennette

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Now is the Time to Say Yes

{Photo by Jen Gray Blackburn}

{Photo by Jen Gray Blackburn}

"The problem is, you think you have time." -Buddha

Registration for Wild Roots Sacred Wings closes in two weeks with two spaces still available.

Are you feeling called to spend five days in the supportive, nurturing circle of an extraordinary group of women against the stunning backdrop that is Ojai, California?

Yes, we thought so.

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Thank You

The time for our gathering in Ojai is drawing near - six weeks from Thursday we will convene at Villa Ojai for five days of creating, connecting and restoring. There will be time for soulful conversations as well as solitude; time for unabashed creativity as well as exquisite pampering. There will be time - for your soul, spirit and body to celebrate, rest and get comfortable in its own fullest expression. We cannot wait to share this experience with you, to see all the ways you shine.

For those of you who have already come on board, we owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you for trusting us. We are so excited about all we know will transpire under the stars and all we can't imagine or predict that will unfold during our time together. It is that sense of mystery we love most - the same mystery that compelled you to say YES, perhaps; the same sense of wonder and awe that brought the three of us together in the first place and say YES to each other, our vision and our passion for creative, soulful transformation.

We will be closing registration on Friday, June 27th, and we still have 2 spots left. One of them belongs to you. Yes, YOU.

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Radical RADICAL Self-Care

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NEWS FLASH:  Only 3 spaces are available! If you've been pondering joining us in July, now is the time to say YES!

Your Invitation to Our Radical Radical Self-Care Coven…

What are you yearning for and craving?  That elusive extra hour of morning sleep or a guilt-free mid-day nap?  The gentle heat of the sun kissing your bare skin while no one demands a thing from you?  Beautifully catered, nourishing meals that you don’t have to cook or clean up after? Comic relief and doubling over in laughter with a side of giggle-snort?  

What will refresh and restore you?  A luxurious massage followed by a hot tub soak? A vigorous solo sunrise hike?  Time and space to spread out, be creative, and deep dive with a circle of ever lovin’ wild women? A late night kitchen dance party sing-along amongst magic makers (dark chocolate included!)? 

You may say I’m a radical.  But I’m not the only one. If you nodded your head vigorously “YES” in response to any of the above questions (especially if to the point of potential whiplash) well then, you’re a radical too lovebug! And I would bet lots of dollars and all my pennies that you’d both advocate for and subscribe to experiencing these scenarios as an enjoyable, pleasurable and compassionate way to tend to your own well-being.   Just sayin.   Lookie here…

rad – i – cal 

noun: a person who advocates thorough or complete social reform; a member of a party or part of a party pursuing such aims. (self-care isn’t selfish or self-indulgent, it’s self-preservation)
synonyms: revolutionary, progressive, reformer, revisionist; militant, zealot, extremist, fanatic, diehard; informal: ultra “the woman taking a nap was a radical”

adjective: (esp. of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough. (overwhelm yourself with love)                                                       synonyms: thoroughgoing, thorough, complete, total, comprehensive, exhaustive, sweeping, far-reaching, wide-ranging, extensive, across the board, profound, major, stringent, rigorous “radical self-care”

So, what do you think about joining our Wild Roots Sacred Wings Radical Radical Self-Care Coven?!  Our assembly is full of wise zealots, silly fanatics and stunning diehards who are experimenting with the controversial social reform that women’s self-care is a top notch priority.  We are a tender rabble who are well aware that if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. And we all swing and sway along the spectrum of self-care as a matter of primary concern, not as an afterthought once everyone else has been served, tucked in or taken care of.  We are a determined and committed gang who dare to be profoundly revolutionary by taking care of ourselves the way we take care of others – compassionately, generously and unashamedly. 

If you find yourself wearing thin, burnt out, overwhelmed or exhausted consider joining our troop for a week of rigorous sweeping radical radical self-care.  And if you are already a radical radical self-care pro, come share your tips with us! Show us how it’s done!  We plan to thoroughly and rightfully indulge in a rush-free, stress-free, nourishing space of connection, creation and restoration, leaving us more centered, loving, and patient, enabling us to head home feeling more joyous, nurtured and grounded.  Our time together will be a healing balm for mind, body and spirit.  Come be radical with us, and relax.

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“You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind."  

{Anne Lamott}

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The Mystery

The three of us have talked quite a bit about our reticence to provide a full, detailed outline of everything that's in store for those who choose to gather with us this July in Ojai. On the one hand, we know having more information sometimes means the decision-making process is easier; on the other hand, we love the idea of creating a small, 15-member community with a magic concoction of experience, trust, well-honed intentions and a wee dash of mystery. Over the course of a wide array of experiences we've had as space-holders and retreat mavens, we have developed a powerful appreciation of and devotion to the magic, unknown element that always ends up being the real driving force behind these gatherings. In other words, we can outline, plan and organize all day long - and we can share or not share as many details in our publicity material as we see fit - but at the end of the day, the life force behind our circles doesn't really wake up until we are all together. And it is that particularity we want to express, promote and convey more than any other, which means the choice to be just a tiny bit vague about the specific activities and goodies we have in store for everyone is a very conscious act. 

Time and again, we have each witnessed and experienced the wildly unexpected connections, revelations, transformations and epiphanies that take place when a small group of women devoted to the care of their soul gather for five days in a safe, comfortable, creative environment. We are each well aware that while we provide the foundation and the framework, the real work of creating a more permanent home for the sisterhood the comes together happens for reasons we could have never ever predicted or anticipated.

We create these retreats because we believe in them - we know the potential they hold, and that we can't take all the credit for the powerful ways they transform and inspire. That honor goes to everyone who makes the leap, shows up and is fully present to whatever bubbles forth while we're together. Should you choose to join us, we want you to come with the knowledge that your presence is going to make a difference, and have an impact that will likely surprise you. You will make a connection you weren't expecting, and find a new perspective you might not even have been seeking. We only have a few spots left, and one of them just might be for you. Whoever you are, we can't wait to meet you, and watch your spirit soar.

Take a leap. Register right here.

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Beginning

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REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. This is our blessing for today...

May your new work excite your heart,
Kindle in your mind creativity
To journey beyond the old limits
Of all that has become wearisome.

May this work challenge you toward
New frontiers that will emerge
As you begin to approach them,
Calling forth from you the full force
And depth of your undiscovered gifts.

May the work fit the rhythms of your soul,
Enabling you to draw from the invisible
New ideas and a vision that will inspire.

Remember to be kind
To those who work for you,
Endeavor to remain aware
Of the quiet world
That lives behind each face.

Be fair in your expectations,
Compassionate in your criticism.
May you have the grace of encouragement
To awaken the gift in the other’s heart,
Building in them the confidence
To follow the call of the gift.

May you come to know that work
Which emerges from the mind of love
Will have beauty and form.

May this new work be worthy
Of the energy of your heart
And the light of your thought.

May your work assume
A proper space in your life;
Instead of owning or using you,
May it challenge and refine you,
Bringing you every day further
Into the wonder of your heart.

- John O'Donohue, "Blessings for a New Position," To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (2008)

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On Gossamer Wings...

Are you one of us…part of our tender rabble of merry misfit ladybirds, our karmic magical swarm, floating in on gossamer wings from the four directions, medicine pouch needing a refill, desiring recharging, hands longing to manifest a creative and visual self-expressive narrative to heal your patched heart and soul? Come sit by the fire loves, cocooned in friendship with a coven of imaginative, inspired, luminescent butterflies, relax or get wild, lay your sweet head down and rest, or create and explore, sing a song with the rest of us welcoming fireflies. Bring your Wild Roots and Sacred Wings. You belong here.  

>>> Only 15 spaces available. Registration opens February 14, 2014 <<<

Want an email reminder? Drop us a note right here.

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