The lasting impressions of a weekend retreat and the connection and transformation created.
The metallic band of gold still shone just above my knee as I sat in the afternoon sun. The tattoo (a remnant of an after dark ritual of transformation and acceptance) was fake, and had lasted much longer on my body than expected. I hoped its lingering would mirror the transformation and movement I felt from the events of the past weekend.
I had gathered with sixteen women in Ojai, CA. Sometimes called Shangri-La, it was apparent why when I reached the location of our meeting. The Topa Topa Mountains embraced the valley surrounding us. Known to glow pink in the setting sun, the energy hinted at the alchemy to come. Yet I could not have imagined then the pure and utter magic that was to unfold from the community and connection we women created over a few short days.
The first time we sat in circle together, each perched on a yoga bolster around a beautiful alter built with intention and love, it became clear how perfectly distinct the women were, yet entirely complimentary. Throughout the days, and the vulnerability and rawness that cracked our hearts open even wider, we awakened the power we each have within us-and I enlivened my own voice to bring that power forth.
I pushed myself to speak in circle when I could easily have remained silent. I wanted to not only express my thoughts, but to give a humble offering to the women willing to share the deepest parts of themselves with unabashed honesty. I returned in kind-giving voice to the shadows filling my head and holding me back, of which I had often felt ashamed. The shifting began there; when we refused to keep those parts of us in darkness, not only acknowledging them to ourselves but admitting them to others. We trekked forth together, seeing the possibilities, encouraging one another forward, and ensuring no one fell back.
There were warriors and leaders who paved this path with their free-flowing hearts and tears and truths. There were hopes and dreams and laughter celebrated among this glorious circle of women. With each share and insight into feeling and the depths of ourselves- all raw and beautiful and jubilant in their all-encompassing spectrum of expression- we became connected.
Like the spider who weaves her web with intention, creating a support for her spirit to rest, we, too, created a container for each other where all was welcome and encouraged. We moved mountains and memories with the shrieks that escaped us; waves of joy and sorrow and pent-up pain just waiting to be released, all part of the divine claiming (and reclaiming) of our true and authentic selves. Our bodies moved gracefully and ecstatically, in response to the energy flowing outward. We heard and saw and rejoiced in the essence and gifts we each hold. We each shone brightly with an internal fire that had not been lit but rather stoked and rekindled, for it had been within us all along.
Our eyes glistened with a wonder and knowing of our truth and power as we alighted down the porch steps on our final day, ready to share and be in a world that sparkled with a new kind of powerful magic.