Coming Home to Taos

Walking the Taos pueblo lands
Walking the Taos pueblo lands

Since my first visit to Taos, Santa Fe, and Ghost Ranch in the summer of 2011, New Mexico has taken firm root in my heart. Perhaps it’s because the natural beauty there is so different from our Northwestern beauty. Perhaps it’s because the colors are rich and intense, and because the fragrance of juniper, sage, and piñon permeates the air. Perhaps it’s the ever-changing cloudscapes you can watch all day. Perhaps it’s the angle of the light that makes everything shimmer.

Or maybe it’s the ever-present caws and cries of crows, hawks, and magpies, and the cooing of mourning doves.

Prayers in the wind.
Prayers in the wind.

Last week, I came home to Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos for Jen Louden’s annual Women Writers’ Retreat.  When I was here in 2011, I didn’t have a project, but went out and interacted with the natural world each day, then wrote about it. This time, I brought my current project with me — an oracle deck and book tentatively called Shapeshifter: Wheel of a Woman’s Life  — and was pleased to get quite a lot of work done on it. But, just like last time, the land tugged at my heart, whispered secrets into my ear, shook me up and shook me down . . . and then I wrote about it.

Writing spot at Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, NM
Writing spot at Mabel Dodge Luhan House.

On the morning of the last day of the retreat, Jen gave each of us in the circle 3 minutes to answer the question: “What was the heart of the retreat experience for you?”  My answer was something like this:

I felt so nurtured being held in this circle of 27 women, then in the smaller circle of my group of 4, then in the even smaller circle of 2 with my roommate, CrowsFoxes. And I was also held in the larger circle of the sky, clouds, rain, sun, mountains, and pueblo lands. All these created a place out of place, a time out of time, where creative magic could happen. The heart of my retreat experience was my midweek pilgrimage to the cross on the pueblo, the intensely personal experience I had there, then writing about it, then being vulnerable enough to read it to a small group that night and have it witnessed. Finally, having a few people pull me aside the next day to say how much it moved them. Oh yes. Time out of time. Magic. The heart.

Labyrinth at Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Labyrinth at Mabel Dodge Luhan House.

I am still halfway back in retreat-time, so I think I’ll let some of the photos I took speak for the rest of my time there.

Blessed be.

Pueblo cross
Cross on pueblo lands, painted many times by Georgia O’Keeffe.
Altar in our room.
Altar in our room.
Morning window, dining room at Mabel's.
Morning window, dining room at Mabel’s.
Marianne and me at breakfast.
Marianne and me at breakfast. So many wonderful women!
Ceramic rooster at Mabel Dodge Luhan House.
Ceramic rooster at Mabel Dodge Luhan House.
I fell in love with the scent of piñon.
Singing "One Voice" with Peg, Christina, & Amy. Photo by Ruth McCully.
Singing “One Voice” with Peg, Christina, & Amy. Photo by Ruth McCully.
"This is the sound of all of us . . ." Photo by Ruth McCully.
“This is the sound of all of us . . .” Photo by Ruth McCully.
old moon
The old Crone Moon, waning to darkness, just before dawn.

P.S. Jen wrote this wonderful post about our time on retreat.

15 thoughts on “Coming Home to Taos

    1. I agree! I’m coming back next year! Thank you Jen for all you do, and most especially for the Taos retreats. Love.

  1. Your pictures and words perfectly define the reasons I was called to make Santa Fe my home. Attending Jen’s conference is on my bucket list – *sigh*

    1. I know you would love it, Kat. She is doing two sessions next summer. And you won’t even have to pay for airfare!

  2. There’s an energy between the lines in this piece that is profoundly moving, Joanna. The photographs say a lot, too. The title of your project is beautiful. Thank you for opening the window for us to see a bit of this piece of your life at this time.

    1. Thank you, my friend. Yes, there is much more to say, but I am still keeping much of the experience quiet, within my heart. Love.

  3. Joanna, I was wondering something. I noticed the same thing about pictures that James Wells posts. Most of the people going to retreats and meet-ups seem to be older.

    I am a bit worried that, similar to quilting (another passion of mine), many young people are by-passing tarot. Is it that do you think or is it a matter of cost, older people being more comfortable financially and thus able to spend the money going to the Reader’s Studio et al.?

    I am 57, so older myself, but not really in-the-know about workshops and meetings. What do you think about the age factor? Am I seeing it as it really is?

    1. Hi Judith. Well this retreat was not a tarot retreat . . . it was a retreat for women writers, and I would say that the ages ranged from 30 to 70, with at least a third of the women in the 35-45 range. At tarot conferences, most people are in midlife, it’s true. I do think that cost is a big factor when it comes to conferences and retreats. I know that I did not start going to events like these until I was in my mid-40s and I no longer had dependent children. Our local tarot meet-up, which is free, has a number of 20-somethings that attend. I do think that younger people are interested in tarot (if that is your question), but they don’t always show up at these events. I think they are going to festivals like Burning Man or the Oregon Country Fair or music festivals — and there are often tarot practitioners at those events.

  4. Yes, I understood the retreat was for writers but it triggered the memory for me of other events related to tarot. Shiny, happy people across the board.

    Ah, dependent children–I often forget that. Festivals as opposed to retreats is also a good point. Thanks.

  5. I totally enjoyed your post, thank you. And you are so right, Taos is a magic place, magic and inspiring. My husband and me we lived 2 years in Taos und 2 years in Santa Fe. Now we try to find a place in Taos again. We just belong there, both writers and nature lovers. If you know somebody renting a house or looking for a house sitter, I’d be glad to be contacted. Thank you all so much.

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