Home » Archives for March 2023

Month: March 2023

Summer in an Ecofeminist Retreat : a suprisingly liberating experience

This summer I had the joy of co-facilitating a Work that Reconnects retreat for Shelter, a French ecofeminist association. While I was familiar with the concept of ecofeminism and what I had read about it made a lot of sense to me, I was definitely in for a surprise being immersed in a 100% ecofeminist gathering for 2 weeks …

Ecofeminism is a movement linking the oppression of women, minority groups & indigenous culture & the degradation of the environment as consequences of capitalist patriarchy. 

It is impossible to describe in words and in a short post my experience but let me begin by saying it was intense and I came back from it a changed woman.

The ecofeminist gathering was in beautiful nature in the middle of nowhere, a hidden refuge nestled in the hilltops of the Aude region, the landscape a mix of pine forest and what they call “la guarrigue” locally. The place we met is a sanctuary for women, men aren’t welcome there. Initially I had quite some resistance to this, it felt really polarising to exclude men. If we want to build a more harmonious future, surely we need to do this together.

But I had signed up for this experiment, co-hosting with my dear soul sisters, so I just let go and saw it as an exploration of something new. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed, what an experiment in letting go of layers and layers of conditioning…

It was special to be in a land that had only been touched and walked upon by women and witness how little had been done to the land. There were a few wooden cabins, built by lesbian women who had lived there from the 70s onwards, completely crooked, imperfect and absolutely charming. There was no electricity, no source of water and “the shitter” wasn’t the place you want to hang around. We would collect water from a source at the village nearby, we needed to drive there and carry it by foot for the last meters up a hill during the summer heatwave. The whole symbolic of women carrying the water was special and the appreciation that stemmed from enjoying it for drinking or a rudimentary shower was immense.

I didn’t miss any of the comforts of modern life though during my time there. I discovered the joy of sleeping under the stars every night, of seeing the sun and moon rising and setting. I became really connected with these rhythms, it felt like all was in place and after a few days and would not miss one. I discovered what it was like to be in total darkness in the forest and how surprisingly safe and comfortable I felt especially knowing there was not any male presence or dangerous animals around, I didn’t feel like prey. It was so magical not to have artificial light for those weeks and no sign of civilisation anywhere close, how precious to see the night sky clearly, to experience and enjoy the darkness. I enjoyed sisterhood like seldom before, in profound and deep sharing in circles filled with words of wisdom and truth, hugging, tears, love, softness, fierceness, pain, power and rage. It was raw, moving, intense, peeling of layer after layer.

We were naked in every way, also physically, it was so hot and there were no men, so clothes were mostly superfluous. Initially as a retreat co-facilitator, I had some resistance being half naked but after so much intimacy and depth in our sharing, I felt totally comfortable in that nakedness. I never thought I would be facilitating a grief circle in my underwear with 18 women but it just happened and I completely surrendered…

I discovered what it was like to walk through my days without the male gaze, how suddenly it was totally safe to be completely naked. Being around this special group of women and without men gave me so much more space to be, so much freedom to express my sensuality, all of me. I experienced a freedom I had seldom experienced. It was blissful…

We had long walks under the moonlight in nature, walks in silence, singing songs, telling stories, laughing and howling with the wind in our hair and on our bare skin. I treasure images of our half nude bodies walking for hours in the moonlight and bathing and singing in the river down below.

I experienced the wild woman in me I had longed for, dreamt of, had glimpses of here and there. And the whole experience felt so sensual, playful, soft and powerful, with ann intense, feeling of aliveness and intimacy with nature. It was so liberating to be me so fully in this magical place surrounded by beautiful women and a couple of my dear soul sisters to share this experience with. Most of these women were healers, mothers, massage therapists, dancers, writers, artists, activists, etc.

It gave me a glimpse of what it feels like to be completely safe to be free, to be in a symbiotic state with the Earth and with a community of women. I carry this experience preciously in my heart and it motivates me to create and contribute to safe places for women to show up in their full power.


Living in Harmony with the Seasons

There was a time when our ancestors lived much closer to nature and honoured the seasons … They honoured the Wheel of the Year connected to celebrations bringing together spirituality and nature.

After the establishment of Christianity in the Roman Empire, these traditions and beliefs were persecuted and largely disappeared (my 12 year old daughter is currently learning about this in her history class).

Regardless of whether you practice Christianity, our Western European calendar today is significantly influenced by Christian celebrations be it Christmas, Easter, All Saints Day, Ascension day, often public holidays with specific traditions.

Most of these celebrations originated from ancient Celtic celebrations that have been banned or strategically transformed to fit the dogma of Christianity.

Nowadays these pagan celebrations are re-emerging as feminine wisdom is on the a rise and there is an increased awareness of the importance to live in harmony with nature for our own survival as a species. We can draw on this ancient wisdom and the powerful energetic portals of the seasons to navigate life today in a more grounded, balanced and wise way.

Regardless of labels, what is particularly interesting with Celtic celebrations, is how connected they are to nature, to the rhythm of the seasons, to agriculture and the trajectory of the Sun and the Moon which is echoed in our biorhythms.

Celtic Wheel of the Year – Kristen Fox

In the Northern hemisphere, the Celtic or pagan calendar (of which the New Year starts on 1st November, the day after Samhain) marks 8 key celebrations or sabbaths : Samhain (between 31 Oct to 2 Nov) that has become Halloween/All Saints Day, Yule / Winter Solstice (between 19 and 23 December) becoming Christmas, Imbolc (1 0r 2 February becoming Candlemas), Ostara / Spring Equinox (between 20 and 23 March) becoming Easter, Beltane (1st May), Litha / Summer Solstice (19 to 23 June) , Lugmasadh (1 and 2 August) and Mabon / Autumn Equinox (between 19 to 23 September). Days differ depending on the year and the inclination of the Earth.

Each of these celebrations were associated to rituals practiced at home or in community. Celtic traditions are closest to home but many traditions honoured and continue to honour this cyclical wisdom. Native Americans live by the Wheel of the Year in harmony with the seasons, each associated to a direction representing the stages of human Life (Winter is North, Spring is East, Summer is South, Autumn is West). I find it fascinating to discover more about these different traditions anchored in nature and use this wisdom as a navigation compass for life as it unfolds.

Becoming aware and honouring the rhythms of the Earth is healing and beneficial at many levels. Living with the wheel of the seasons and the year supports our awakening and connects us to Life. It invites us to live more in harmony with nature, to bring appreciation to each moment of the year and its gifts. To become aware of how these processes mirror our own evolution. Through the wheel of the seasons, we honour the cyclical nature of all Life, including our own cyclical nature, we too are cyclical beings. Everything is in balance through this year wheel: day and night, light and darkness, life and death, woman and man.

To bring balance to how we evolve on this planet today as human beings, it is wise to draw inspiration from this cyclical rhythm. It is impossible for us to disregard it, as we evolve on a planet that revolves around these cycles and that means we need to be in sync with these rhythms to ensure our own survival. This is such a simple truth. It is an illusion that we can disregard this fundamental physiological fact. And we’ve been living in this illusion for quite some years, major blind spot. Modern society has evolved in a linear and accelerated way since the industrial age and it is clear nowadays that this is no longer sustainable without great threats to existence. It is time to start to integrate the wisdom of nature’s circularity into our daily lives be it intimately or professionally.

It’s certainly a long way to go towards that transition and it can be daunting even where to begin. This involves gradually changing our belief system, our routines, our relationships, our behaviours, ….

Being out in nature, listening and feeling into these rhythms and how they are echoed in our bodies, honouring these cycles of Life and drawing wisdom from them is a wonderful and joyful place to start.

I will continue to offer gatherings and ceremonies to support us to remember, integrate and embody this natural and seasonal wisdom.  Join me on that journey for a Spring Equinox ceremony and morning walk on 20th March.