Lisa the Pilgrim

I’m still in that liminal, in-between place that we inhabit during retreat, after being tucked away in the magic land of Aldermarsh for the better part of a week. I’m easing into re-entry slowly, savoring the memory of images, bits of conversation, and the lullabye of frogsong. I’m napping a lot too, and reading, and answering mountains of email a little bit at a time.

lyn, joanna, marsh

This “Grateful Plenty” retreat was the sixth Gaian Soul Retreat I have hosted, and I am grateful beyond measure to Lyn Belisle for being my first collaborator and guest teacher. It was also the first retreat with an extra day, to allow for plenty of art time as well as all the other activities we have come to love — telling our stories in council circle, tarot play, ceremony, and (most importantly) visiting Mama Ocean and connecting with the nature spirits of Aldermarsh.

garden & altar

Lyn taught us to make collages on canvas, sharing her special techniques, encouraging us and giving us feedback when we asked.

making art

She taught us about creative constraints — using only two colors (one cool, one warm) plus white for the backgrounds of our collages.

two colors plus white

We used photographs we had brought with us, Gaian Tarot cards I provided, Lyn’s wonderful EarthShard faces, and lots of things we picked up from the beach, woods, and meadows on our walks.

marsh & beach

Lyn daubed a cup rim with paint, then turned it upside down on her canvas and left a few impressions. “Circles unify,” she commented, and I was struck by the metaphor.  Circles unify, indeed, in art and in life.

lyn sewing

Do you think we were pleased with our finished collages?



joanna & collageOn Saturday morning, I posted on Instagram and Facebook:

Our retreat‬ so far:

  • Nature heals.
  • Art heals.
  • Tarot heals.
  • Circle heals.
  • Telling our stories heals.
  • Spontaneous ritual heals.
  • Delicious, nourishing food heals.
  • Drumming and singing heals.
  • Big belly laughter heals.
  • Sauna sweat heals.
  • Frogsong heals.


Every retreat is different.

I suppose that’s an obvious statement, but it is absolutely true. Even with the same structure, every retreat is different depending on the season, the retreat theme, and most importantly, who shows up. The people who come together at each retreat create a kind of synergy that will never be repeated. Bonds grow and conversation deepens as the days unfold. Some of us will never see each other again, but others will become lifelong friends.

Grateful grateful grateful.


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