As I rest in between collaborating on the Museflower Life Festival Retreat and Soul Bliss Retreat I am reminded of the power of collaboration. When women who are centred in their power come together and join forces with the sole intention of celebrating life they give birth to something extraordinary – an energy is born that is greater than the sum of their parts, a living breathing thing in itself that gives an identity to the group. We named this group the Soul Sisterhood and this is the name I also attribute to the supportive energy we created together.
Soul Sisterhood Energy is a feminine energy – which does not mean that men cannot join – for the two men who joined were very much part of this Soul Birth. They too were working from the feminine aspects of themselves, collaborating rather than competing, listening to the voice within and the voice in Nature, rather than the more masculine energy of assertion with the intention to lead. This is not to say that feminine leadership and individual voices were not heard and asserted – they very much were, but there was inclusivity, harmony and a flow where hierarchy has no place. Each woman’s individual voice came forward at the appropriate time and then gave space for the next. We were seven sisters delivering the Life Festival Retreat – seven is indeed a magic number!
Shamanic Journey with Tania Ho
Tania, Owner & Founder of Museflower Spa and Intuitive Guide brought us together. Tania is also a Shamanic guide and led us on an intuitive journey to meet our spirit animals. I have met my power or spirit animals in previous journeys with Tania and it was good to be reunited with them. One of the participants reminded us that power animals can change when we are no longer in need of that energy. This journey into ourselves to connect to the characteristics of the animals that can help us on our journey through life is very healing. I have two power animals at this phase in my life. One of mine is the snake, which in many cultures, including early Christian culture represents wisdom – or it did before the Nicene (Catholic) bishops rampaged the ancient world destroying ancient wisdom and burning books which I wrote about in my novel Rufius. The snake reminded me: “be wise with your thoughts.” Thoughts become beliefs and beliefs become actions and so this is common wisdom for everyone. This is the power of working is circles of likeminded people – what needs to be expressed is uttered from one mouth, but speaks to more than one mind. If group circles had a spirit animal it would be a leopard I think – one animal, but each unique spot on its coat being necessary to complete the whole.
Dance through your Heart Meditation & Balancing Chi with A
A (Watchararat Srichamroen) is a resistant wellness practitioner represented the spirit body of the sisterhood. I know A’s work as I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced her energy healing work before. The Pavilion was dark as we entered and A’s soft voice instructed us,
“Please choose a coloured scarf from the selection on the floor –
this is your heart. Tonight you will dance with your heart.”
I went for orange, but the Godmother beat me to it – of course I know better than to get into a fight with the Godmother! (haha!) So I went for red – either would have done. Reds, yellows and oranges were the colours of the Dance of the Seven Veils – a dance the main character of my book (Sophia’s Tale – which will be published this winter) performs for the Emperor.
As soon as I saw the scarves I regretted the enormous amount I’d eaten at dinnertime. I felt the urge to dance but I guessed I would just have to lie on my back on the wooden floor and let my arms do the dancing as I closed my eyes and listened to the music. It started slow and as it sped up into a wild beat I began to see images of the Dance of the Seven Veils rise up from my root chakra and pulsate up through my spine. When the music hit a crescendo I was pulled up as if by some invisible chord and lost myself in Bacchic abandon, swaying, eyes closed feeling the breeze from the open windows on my skin and the energy pulsating every cell in my body. A’s deeply spiritual workshop cemented the spirit of the group.
“Seven Veils for Seven Sisters,”
I thought as I walked back to my cottage
in the tamed jungle that night with the wholeness of the dance
vibrating in every cell.
Diva Luna with Susanna Eduini
Wellness Activist & Coach & Author (who I named in a joke “the Godmother” as she’s Italian and represents for me divine feminine, the polar opposite aspect to the controlling, murderous narcissist in the Godfather movies. Of course we all found this very amusing, not least Susanna, who adopted her new role with humour and fun as is her nature. The nickname also evokes the magic wisdom of the fairy godmother and reminded me of the Godmother in Sophia’s Tale, the adult fairy tale I’ve just finished writing. Fairy tales need a godmother. She is the one who represents the ancient wisdom of the group and Susanna was ours.
Diva Luna (Divine Moon) brought back my schoolgirl Latin and the ancient Western tradition that birthed Rufius awoke. Susanna used the La Luna (Moon) card of the Marseilles tarot deck as a visual trigger to tune us into the archetypal power of this card. I’m a tarot reader and the Moon card is one I often associate with Soul Writing as it represents the intuition.
Susanna read us a story from Women Who Run With the Wolves to further connect us to our intuition. Jennifer Berezan’s Returning played in the background (a song that reminds me of coming home). I think of the intuition as home so this very much resonated with me. The story is about a women who roams the world collecting animal bones. She lays out the white bones of a wolf on the ground under the Moon and sings into the skeleton. Susanna sung a Native American song and as she did something extraordinary began to happen – I identified more and more with the bones of the wolf –
‘I felt I was the wolf,
Felt my muscles come back to life
And I remembered how it felt to run wild the woods
I felt it in my lupin body’
I drive a VW Lupo, so I’ll always remember this feeling of running in my wolf body through the woods when I’m driving from now on!
Susanna reminded us that the healing power of stories bring us into the present – so true!
Susanna led us through a series questions of self-enquiry aligned to the four elements. We arrived at a series of beliefs we would let go of – for the ceremony was performed under the waning Moon, a time to let go of what no longer serves us. We then were instructed to create positive beliefs.
Four Rules for positive thoughts:
- They must be positive (as the mind doesn’t understand negatives)
- Present tense
- Compelling (you need to feel genuinely excited by it)
- Be the thought (imagine how you’ll feel when it manifests)
As I was going to facilitate a storytelling evening around the sacred fire the following evening which also required us to identify beliefs that were holding us back and offer them to the fire for transformation, we decided to combine this exercise – read more about the Storytelling around the Sacred Fire here.
Forest Therapy with You Min Yap
You Min represented the connective force within nature. She reminded us that circles can be completed by trees and objects. You Min invited us to take a silent walk around the grounds. You Min closed the communion with Nature with a flower tea ceremony.
‘Now I invite you to find an Earth Phone’ – You Min took hold of a tall plant and put it to her ear. We all laughed. ‘Hello Mother Earth.’ We all looked at Dharani (one of the participants whose name means Mother Earth in Sanskrit) and laughed, expecting her to answer. ‘Have a conversation with Mother Earth. You can say whatever you feel to, you can ask a question if you like and listen for the answer.’
I took the long stem of the plant in my hand and put my ear to the earpiece. ‘How can I love you?’ I asked. Then I turned around to continue my walk and was instantly drawn towards a beautiful white tree. I looked at my feet intending to ground next to the tree and there I was my answer from Mother Earth: ‘Hug Me.’ I stepped up to the tree like I was taking an old friend in my arms and gave it such a warm hug my whole heart expanded and opened. That hug lasted an eternity.
Inner Dance with Mabel NG
Mabel sees her role as a catalyst to assist people to embrace their spirituality from the inside through hypnotherapy, light language and chakra balancing.
The pavilion on the lake was dark as we all filed in not sure exactly what to expect from the Inner Dance session. Tea light candles were scattered around and the only sound was the splash of water from the fountain in the lake. Mabel instructed us to lie down, get comfortable and listen to the music and then do, or not do whatever we want. The music would do the rest, taking the inner dancers through the full spectrum of brain waves. She learnt this method from the creator of it – Pi who teaches it in the Philippines. Here’s a quote from Pi’s website:
‘Inner dance evolved as it did because of sound.
Sound as a way of bringing awareness
into a very specific chemistry of brain wave oscillations
that is able to open the spiritual doorway of the mind
that leads to the realms beyond our mental limits.’
Emotions moved through me as I swayed slowly with big gestures and grand movements that made circles from the floor to the ceiling and I had the sensation when one of my favourite songs (Hallelujah) came on that I had grown so tall that I could touch the pavilion ceiling and my enormous body was vibrating with joy.
Some people had deep emotional responses to the dance. Gentle tears of joy and separation came for me during the last song. I’d just said goodbye that day to my little brother for another year and I felt acutely the reality of our existence – it is one of entrances and exits, of joyful meetings and the grief of separations. In a few days these beautiful souls I’d shared the dance floor with would go our separate ways. Shakespeare’s description of Paulina’s mixed feelings in A Winter’s Tale summed up how I must have looked:
‘she had one eye declined for the loss of her husband,
another elevated that the oracle was fulfilled.’
Such an odd physical description, but it has stuck with me since school as I am often impressed by the variety of opposing emotions a human being can hold simultaneously.
There were moments I felt as though we were all dancing together as one being, at the same time dancing in unique expression of our souls. We shared our experiences afterwards. All were unique. All were powerful. Many experienced emotional release.
Body Alignment to Improve your Posture with Jang
Jang (Kanlayanee Martthuean), resident wellness & yoga practitioner, represented the physical, the part of us as we age that can create a sense of limitation and inhibit freedom. Jang believes that we can take back the power of our bodies, which many of us have given away to doctors and heal ourselves of some conditions if we know how – as well as preventing others.
The first exercise was a laughter exercise to open up our diaphragm. We didn’t stop laughing the rest of the way through the class. Jang went on (mid giggle) to show us the pressure points on the soles of the feet and how to press each area so that it massaged the internal organs. It seemed a bit like Catholic flagellation and brutal when she took out the stick and instructed us to hit ourselves with it … this was the workshop where The Godmother was baptised!
We all felt more poised, aligned and relaxed afterwards. I’ve been lucky enough to experience Jang’s massage and know her knowledge of the body is guided by her intuition when I’m on the table with her I know I’m going to jump off with the elasticity of youth.
Soul Writing – Write yourself Whole with Sarah Walton
My contribution to the group was to take participants on the journey into their souls to create their Soul Sanctuary. So I guess you could say I offered the energy of creativity to the collective energy of the group.
It was a breezy sunny afternoon on the lake and the curtains were flapping about around the open windows of the pavilion. Everyone sat in a circle on our cushions. I opened by making a statement I often make:
‘Everyone can write.
If we have a mother tongue we can write.
But sometimes the voices we have internalised tell us we can’t write.
Don’t listen to these voices. They do not belong to you.’
We are all natural storytellers. From a young age we all tell stories – about the day we’ve had at school, what we did at the weekend, the ordeal we had at the hospital or the drama with the man on the fruit stall at the market.
As ever there were people in the group who did not believe they could write.
Blocks don’t just prevent people from getting started. Professional authors also get blocked. Whatever the reason or the story attached to it, the root cause of blocks is usually fear. The voices of society, parents, teachers get internalised and become the voice that stops us from putting pen to paper.
At school we’re taught to think first, then write. I took the group through a series of exercises that are designed to free up their creativity by switching off their thinking and the chattering (conscious or subconscious) voices that block writers and get beyond thinking. Thinking is great for editing, but it’s not so great when you want to get going. To start you need a sense of safety and freedom.
For the first exercise I took the group into meditation to find their safe creative space inside and get people connected with their imaginations. The second exercise got people in contact with what their soul, or their intuition wanted to write. It was wonderful to hear those Soul Writers who doubted their natural ability to write declare with joy,
‘Of course I can write!’
We finished up talking about how writing can be used as a form of healing to bring you back to wholeness.
Then there were the lovely participants. During You Min’s tea ceremony one participant put it perfectly when she gave a deep heartfelt,
‘Thank you to the beautiful souls
Gathered here in this idyllic spot on earth.’
Like so many of us she had a challenging journey to arrive here in this very nurturing but active version of Eden. Paradise must have been something like Museflower: peaceful with the constant soothing sound of water in the background. But at Museflower we don’t get so bored we have to resort to apple eating to gain inner knowledge. Instead our inner work to heal ourselves from the inside out is an adventure performed with humour and fed with the most sumptuous veggie and vegan food by Da the genius Museflower chef. The Godmother had a favourite Italian recipe to share to accompany every meal and as The Godmother and I share Irish roots and a love of good salt we doused all our food with Pink Himalayan salt, consciously aware our bodies were being fed as well as our Celtic taste buds!
Dharini, a medical doctor and YogaLife Magazine representative who we nicknamed Mother Earth as that is what her name means in Sanskrit. Dharini represented the nurturing wisdom in the group and when she stood in the bowl of abundance at the closing ceremony we all found ourselves naturally bowing in worship to the Great Mother. Not coincidently, Dharani is pregnant and so deep in the wisdom of feminine creative and carrying power. Dharini was a guest participant, but I felt she had such a strong role to play in the group in forging this energy that she must be mentioned. Dharini reminded me of the importance of a name and a meditation I sometimes use to connect people to their individual power. More of that in the Storytelling Around the Sacred Fire Blog.
The two men who joined us – a medical doctor and a nature lover both had a deep respect for the feminine and natural world. I mention them to emphasise that Soul Sisterhood energy is not just created from the coming together of women. We are all made up of masculine and feminine energies. Knowing which energy to embrace and act from for which purpose is a life skill. These Soul Brothers had clearly acquired that skill.
One other person stood out as an essential ingredient for the Soul Sister group vibe was a young women in her early twenties. Emily has been a Soul Writing and Soul Living (life coaching for the soul) client for a year and has completed the Foundation Freedom Program and is in the middle of the Abundant Living Program. At her age I was a comitted meditator but I partied in the Balearic Islands or at Full Moon parties on holiday, which is certainly something I advocate for fun – fun being healing in itself. Instead she had chosen to come on retreat. She’s recently qualified as a yoga teacher and is an exceptional Soul Writer. I was impressed by her willingness to step on to the path and delve into her soul and share what she discovered.
There was also a participant in her seventies so the age spectrum was broad. The Soul Path is a life long one which we all start at different points in our lives. I started mine at fifteen years of age when I first moved the kundalini up through my chakra channel. But I realised a long time ago that it is not a journey with a destination, but a continual spiral of progression, like the shape of the movement the life force energy takes up the spine – the spiritual path is not a straight road, but a meandering path that leads off down interesting alleys and through hidden doorways and shows us unexpected vistas. The Life Festival Retreat was one of those unexpected surprises.
We gave birth to a Soul Sisterhood on the Museflower Life Festival this year. Like the Soul’s Journey, it sometimes moved back on itself taking us into past traumas and hurts like a labyrinth, but was always moving us towards the centre, always guiding us home.
The Soul Sisterhood energy was created, not only by the seven practitioners who held the circle but also the participants and as You Min reminded us, the natural world around us. Museflower is a place I’ve been drawn to work in because of the safe, peaceful haven that Tania has created. To release past trauma and create new stories we need to have a place of safety and abundance. Museflower delivers on both. An enormous thank you to Tania Ho and the Museflower team for creating the environment within which deep inner transformation can happen. It was a great honour to work with my Seven Soul Sisters. I make strong wishes that we come together again – and may the light we generated extended out to heal Mother Earth, for whom this blog is dedicated.
By healing ourselves we heal our Home
If you would like to know more or contact the Soul Sisters, here’s how to contact The Soul Sisters:
Tania Ho – Owner & Founder of Museflower Retreat & Spa, Intuitive Guide.
Mabel NG – Spiritual Catayst, Hong Kong, China
Mobile: +852 5348 2303
Susanna Eduini – Wellness Activist, Coach & Author, Phuket, Thailand.
Mobile: +66 (0) 992344171
Facebook: Susanna Eduini
You Min Yap – Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, Singapore.
Mobile: +65 91164208
Sea Flow Yoga, Brighton, UK – Emily Campbell
Mobile: +44 7507844348
YogaLife Magazine – www.magzter.com
Sarah Walton – Founder of Soul Writing Workshops, Author & Life Coach, UK.
Mobile: +44 7581470443
Categories: Creative Writing