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Orcas Island: The Heartbeat Retreat

It really is hard to express into words the essence and magic that this journey encompassed. I have been attempting to sit down and write about it for weeks now only to find myself trailing off into a fantasy of imagery and heart felt juiciness- how does one even explain that? 

I guess starting from the beginning is always a good place...

 I remember standing in my tent at SpiritWeavers one afternoon when Mila came in and asked if she could share a vision of something she wanted to create! She went on to express that she had been so inspired by making her drum that weekend that she felt really called to share it with others. She envisioned holding a women's retreat at the Raven Song Sanctuary on Orcas Island, the land she had been residing on. I immediately felt so excited for her, so when she asked if I would want to facilitate with her, holding the morning Tea ceremonies and co-creating our Ceremonies & Song circles, I jumped for joy!!! This is exactly what I will to say YES to! YES YES YES! 

Months flew by as Heartbeat of the Mother unfolded, as each sister heard the call to join us my excitement grew and grew. Everything fell in to place so gracefully and some of my closest sisters, old and new were going to come. I arrived at the Seattle airport and Jackie Rose, swooped me up. I was so beyond happy to see her and ride with her to the ferry. The magic already beginning as she tells me to reach into the backseat for the Tahini/Oat/raisin "cookies". Holy moly, yummmmmmm. She had been the "kitchen goddess" at the 2 previous Spirit Weavers gatherings, and I had really missed her food! She was to cook all of our meals for us during the retreat and my tummy was really excited.

The next day was spent in preparation for all the ladies to arrive. I found myself feeling the internal "rush" to get everything ready and quickly realized that I had to slow down, let go, trust, and sink into the flow and pace of the Island. I followed Mila's pace and then the day looked more like... picking blackberries on the roadside after having picked up fresh raw goat's and cow's milk from the neighbor's house, and our sweet angel Melissa reading my mind, doing everything I was thinking before I even had a chance to ask. Rain sprinkled down, cleansing the land, as sisters started to arrive. From then on we were just in this dreamy flow. I would rise every morning at 5:15 am to sound the drum, calling the first group to sit in silence for morning tea. We ate together, shared our stories with one another, set intentions for our drums, and sang into the fire that evening.  

They day we wove our drums was a day of joyful hard work! My heart sang as as my body ached. I felt honored, sitting there by the pond with all my sisters, weaving this beautiful deer hide together with the maple tree. I really dropped into a meditation while weaving, feeling it important to be as present in my hands and body as possible, giving reverence to this ancient craft. It was so beautiful to see each sister's drum develop and take on the characteristics of their individual personalities. I felt so grateful to all those who came before us, paving the path that led us to that moment. 

On our last morning together, Mila led us on a pilgrimage to a medicine wheel that sat atop Turtleback mountain. We were to walk in silence, gently marking each step with the beat of our drums. My drum was to carry the unifying heart beat, so I began to prepare it to be sounded for the first time. I rubbed my drum softly with the palm of my hand, warming it up, took a deep breathe, and brought the mallet down to meet it. I was so shocked at the beautiful tone that rose up! Deep, powerful, resonant. I made this... With my own two hands; inside it carries my voice, my prayers, my dreams, magic; the past, present, and the future. Through it I can pray, connect, and remember. At the medicine wheel we did just that.  We sounded our drums together and poured love into the earth. We sang to the land and the water, praying for healing. We sang for our ancestors, for each other. Together as a collective of women were drumming and awakening our heartbeats to the mother.

for more information on upcoming workshops and retreats please visit:                                                                                            Heartbeat of the Mother website

All of these photos were taken by our dear sister - Renata Chebel

mandala offering by daughter of the sun

mandala offering by daughter of the sun

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