Women’s Retreat Recipe

Quarterly, I get together with some of my friends and we have a women’s retreat. We had our summer retreat this past Sunday and I thought I’d share the outline and our activities as a “retreat recipe” that others may use if they wish to do so. Since my friends do not necessarily share specific religious beliefs, the retreats are spiritual in a somewhat generic “womanspirit” sort of way and you can obviously customize your own retreat to best suit the spiritual beliefs/backgrounds of your own friendship group.

Circle up—we stand in a circle, place our hands on eachother’s backs and hum together three times to raise the energy of the circle.

Invocation to directions. This time we used an invocation by Judith Laura:

We honor the East
Home of air
March wind
Morning’s song
Eagle’s flight
Aurora’s breath
Welcome East

We honor the South
Home of fire
Noon sun
Flame of change
Heat of passion
Pele’s power
Welcome South

We honor the West
Home of water
River’s flow
Font of feelings
World’s womb
Kwan Yin’s love
Welcome West

We honor the North
Home of Earth
Root of life
Shaded mystery
Ground of being
Gaia’s growth
Welcome North.

Light candle/opening quote

“I see the wise woman. And she sees me. She smiles

from shrines in thousands of places. She is buried

in the ground of every country. She flows in every

river and pulses in the oceans. The wise woman’s

robe flows down your back, centering you in the

ever-changing, ever-spiraling mystery.

Everywhere I look, the wise woman looks back.

And she smiles.”

–Susun Weed quoted in Birthing Ourselves Into Being

Check-in–we take turns “passing the rattle” and each woman has about two minutes to share what’s been on her mind.

Since we are close to summer solstice, I then chose to do this solstice prayer of healing from the United Nations as a responsive reading as a group:

A Prayer of Healing
From the United Nations Environmental Sabbath

We join with the earth and with each other.
To celebrate the seas.
To rejoice the sunlight.
To sing the song of the stars.

We join with the earth and with each other.
To recall our destiny.
To renew our spirits.
To reinvigorate our bodies.

We join with the earth and with each other.
To create the human community.
To promote justice and peace.
To remember our children.

We join together as many and diverse expressions of one loving mystery: for the healing of the earth and the renewal of all life. We join with the earth and with each other.
To bring new life to the land.
To restore the waters.
To refresh the air.

We join with the earth and with each other.
To renew the forests.
To care for the plants.
To protect the creatures.

Guided visualization/meditation/relaxation (for this particular retreat, I used a nice full body relaxation from the book Birthing Ourselves into Being. This one isn’t available online that I can find, but you can find others online, like this one for example.)

We followed the relaxation with a muse questions and journaling using one of the questions from Shiloh Sophia’s Museletter:

Your Muse would like to show you something you haven’t been able to see.

She wants to invite you to have a thought you haven’t had yet…isn’t that an enticing thought in and of itself?

A thought that has lingered on the edge of your consciousness for maybe even a few years, or months….tell her…

I want to know what it is I am not seeing.

Then automatic write whatever comes up until you have to put the pen down.

Immediately following this question, it began to rain. Blissful, blessed, healing, glorious rain for which we were in so much need.

Discuss responses/experiences to relaxation/journaling.

Listen to songs/perhaps drum (this time, went outside together and stood in the rain)

Closing circle: Sing Woman Am I (recording of my friends singing it together is here).

Closing quote and extinguish candle

“A circle! No sharp edges, no hierarchy, just a circle of women…We are mothers. We are the portals. The next generation comes through our bodies.” –Annie Lennox

and one of my all-time favorites:

“I believe that these circles of women around us weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we’re weak and sing with us when we’re strong.” –SARK, Succulent Wild Woman

When reading a 1988 back issue of SageWoman magazine, I fell in love with Womanrunes by Shekhinah Mountainwater (originally in her book Ariadne’s Thread, which I then purchased) and so I made copies of the images to share with my friends. We are going to make some sets of runes at our next retreat. (And, after much scouring of the interwebz, I found a pronunciation guide for the runes here).

I also made a handout packet for them of various moon wheels/circular calendars for tracking your cycles, or simply for planning and thinking in circles rather than in lines. In the packets were:

And, then it was time for a craft, so as we snacked and chatted, I showed everyone how to make a small, hardbound pocket journal. You can find instructions for a simple book here, or, to make it even more simple, use this kit from Blick Art Supplies.

It was a delightful afternoon of connection and celebration—my original vision for holding these retreats was to bring some blessingway spirit into our regular lives, rather than only centered on being pregnant and I think that purpose was achieved.

This post is crossposted at Woodspriestess.

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