CREATIVE RETREATS FOR WOMEN
All of my creative retreats for women now fall under the umbrella title of ‘Sisters of the Wells’. (They were formerly known as ‘Sisterhood of the Bones’ retreats.) The name ‘Sisters of the Wells’ derives from the many old Celtic myths and stories about well-maidens: women who came from the Otherworld and who tended the waters of the world. They would offer to passing travellers the gift of food, and a drink of well-water from their golden grails. These women in many senses were the spirits of the earth, of its life-giving abundance. One powerful story tells that, when the well-maidens were raped by a king who did not care to cherish and protect them, as was the custom, the ‘Voices of the Wells’ were lost, and the once-fertile land became a Wasteland. These are the stories which recognise the necessary place of women in the world. The stories which remind us who we are. These are the kinds of stories which will be our inspiration during ‘Sisters of the Wells’ retreats.
‘Sisters of the Wells’ creative retreats are for women who are between stories; for women who see that the world is challenged, changing, and are wondering about their place in it. During all these retreats we explore the ways in which we can bring into being our uniquely female wisdom, which so often remains unawakened or suppressed. We do this by working with wild myth and story, and by mapping and deepening our connections with place, and the natural world.
Whilst all retreats are structured around this overall focus, the specific stories we work with will vary according to the retreat’s theme and location. I’ve studied the native literature and mythologies we’ll be exploring to Master’s level, and have delved deeply into the stories and their meanings and interconnections as part of my psychology and writing practices. And so, during each retreat, I’ll offer you stories and together we’ll explore their deeper meanings and the ways in which they can lead us to a deeper sense of belonging, both to the world and to our wilder selves. In this way, our own stories begin to merge with the stories of the land. We fall into the land’s story; we become a part of the land’s dreaming, and the dreamings of the non-human others who inhabit it along with us.
The emphasis on ‘Sisters of the Wells’ retreats is primarily on writing as a mode of expression, but all forms of creative expression are welcome and encouraged. The retreats will offer inspiration for anyone who is interested in exploring the power of myth and story in their lives and their work: writers and storytellers, artists and craftspeople, those who want to incorporate narrative into their therapy work. Although these are not ‘how to write’ programmes, and do not focus on technique (and nor do we ‘workshop’ our writing), we will spend some time delving into the construction of myths and fairytales, and explore the ways in which we can begin to create our own.
‘Sisters of the Wells’ retreats are also founded on our immersion in the Celtic lands in which they take place: lands whose ancient flesh and bones I know and love, and all of which I have lived in and am deeply connected to. This is not just an imaginal immersion, but a physical one too: we will be actively experiencing the land and its plants and creatures. My approach, then, is deeply grounded, rooted in sensory experience as well as in creative imagination work. I aim to create a warm, supportive but creatively challenging and transformative atmosphere in which we spend time indoors and outdoors, exploring a unique combination of practices to deepen our connectedness, catalyse our own personal metamorphoses, and enrichen our creative practice.
On all retreats, afternoons are free for private creative work, walking, and relaxation, and most evenings after dinner are devoted to conversation, readings and to myth- and storytelling by the fire.
These retreats usually fill up well in advance, and participants travel from all over the world — America, Canada, Australia, Europe — so please book early if you are able. Because by design my retreats are intimate, and intensive, when you contact me (by email, please) to enquire about booking a place, please let me know a little bit about yourself, and what you hope to gain from the week. This isn’t a formal ‘application’ process — just a way of ensuring that all of those who sign up have a compatible set of expectations, and are committed to the work we’ll be doing together and to creating a gentle, nurturing and supportive sisterhood for the duration. Please be prepared to go outdoors (even if only for short periods) in all weathers; if you have an aversion to rain and wind, then retreats on the west coasts of Ireland, Scotland and Wales which are focused on deepening our relationship with place might not be for you!
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Islands and Otherworlds, Connemara, Ireland
Sunday 15 to Saturday 21 October, 2017 (fully booked, waiting list available). For more information about this retreat, locations and costs, please visit this page.
Sunday 14 to Saturday 20 October, 2018 (one place remaining). For more information about this retreat, locations and costs, please visit this page.
Dancing with the Cailleach, Argyll, Scotland
For more information about the themes of these retreats, locations and costs, please visit this page.
Saturday 23 to Friday 29 September, 2017 (fully booked, waiting list available)
Saturday 14 to Friday 20 April, 2018 (fully booked, waiting list available)
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