EarthDreaming at Aldermarsh


At sunset the night before the retreat started, I walked the medicine wheel in the meadow of Aldermarsh, and called in the blessings of the four directions on our time together.

I’ve had a couple of quiet re-entry days after coming home from Aldermarsh, where I co-hosted my first retreat for both women and men with my good friend James Wells. I have been dedicated to women’s space for many years. In the weeks leading up to the retreat, I did have some concerns about the quality of the interaction between participants. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the men who attended were open-hearted and respectful of women’s leadership and that the structure of circle process held. Thirteen women and four men went deep together, sharing dreams and epiphanies.

I love the big festivals and conferences,
but I am convinced that it is in small circles like these
that we truly begin to change the world.

James first visited Aldermarsh in 2007, and had a profound sense of homecoming, especially when he greeted Grandparent Fir.

James & Grandparent Fir

Through dreamwork, tarot, nature connection, sacred art, and wisdom council, we bonded with each other and dreamed of ways to change the world.


women tree

marsh in summer

Photo by Mellissae Lucia


Elaine’s food was a delight, as always. Maurie and James went back for seconds on the raw chocolate dessert!

raw dessert

Lee led us in a drum circle on Saturday night that got shamanic very, very quickly. We danced and drummed and rattled as the sun went down and the council fire in the center of the circle grew brighter.

Photo by Mellissae Lucia

We delighted in each other’s company, even though most of us had just met . . .

janhavi deb elaine


friends path

silly selfie

Mellissae Lucia, creator of the Oracle of Initiation, had this to say about the retreat:

Joanna and James wove a generous, sacred container to explore how the earth and our sleeping and waking dreams are calling us to unleash our unique gifts. The retreat was a wonderful mix of both men and women offering deeper levels of insights and integration to many beautiful processes. Joanna and James modeled embodied circle leadership throughout the event sharing themselves in authentic and gracious ways. The location of the retreat, Aldermarsh sanctuary is nearly impossible to relate with words. The sacred is alive there, and the trees and the marsh and all of the creatures glow with the knowing of their beloved place in the web of life. We glow brighter when we step into that field. Elaine nourished us deeply with her food magic and I go home deeply fed having found more of the tribe of my heart. Thank you again for the beauty we all co-created. 

Mellissae, James, Joanna
Mellissae, James, Joanna. Photo by Mellissae Lucia.

Mellissae shared more of her wonderful photos of the retreat here.

GreenWoman Maurie Kirschner wrote about weaving magic and mischief.

Ilin wrote about finding communion with the feminine divine.

And Saewynn, our resident Viking, wrote a moving account of her inner experience of the retreat here.

I find myself once again deeply grateful for a life that continually surprises and amazes me. Deep gratitude to James and to every person who joined us at Aldermarsh. (And yes! I will host retreats for women and men again.)

Are you interested in joining us at future retreats? If you are, please sign up for the Early Bird List.  The September 2015 retreat is already full, but you can email me to be put on the waiting list. Registration for next March will begin in the fall.

Posts about earlier Gaian Soul Retreats can be found here:
March 2015 • September 2014March 2014 • September 2013 • February 2013 • September 2012

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