Before Taos, chop wood, carry water.
After Taos, chop wood, carry water.
There was the land, the Place. A cerulean sky filled with billowing white clouds. The scent of sagebrush and a whiff of rain. Shades of terra cotta, burnt ochre and pale jade. Thunderclouds sculpted by unseen hands. Ever-shifting light on hills, now golden-orange, now blood-red, now pale lemon. Dry, dusty, rocky. Surprisingly green.
Magpies and pigeons roosting in cottonwoods. Coos and hoots and caws. Dogs and coyotes yipping at night. Curved adobe walls, wooden posts and beams, lace curtains lifted by the breeze. The ghosts of Mabel, Georgia, Ansel and so many more walked among us, peering over our shoulders, nodding in approval.
There was the retreat container, or cauldron, as I like to think of it — shaped and tended skillfully by Jen and Michele. A little ritual for beginnings and endings. The teaching and the receiving. Small groups to check in with, every day. Assignments, required and optional. Times of silence and times of socializing.
There were the women. Conscious, creative, courageous women! They ran the gamut from journal-keepers to published authors and entrepreneurs. They came to fan the flames of a dream, to get past roadblocks, to support and be supported. Kate and Christa and Marianne. Kathy and Heather and Patience and Kaycee. Debra, Diana, Tara, Christina, Jane. So many more. We wept and applauded when each woman read her work aloud in the evenings — poetry, fantasy, erotica, how-to, nature meditations, memoir. I had the privilege of reading the Gaian cards for many women who had never had their cards read before, and who later told me it was a highlight of their week. Bonding. Beautiful women.
There was the food! Lovingly prepared and presented by the staff at Mabel’s, apparently carrying on a long tradition. Locally sourced, fresh, organic. An abundance of fruits and vegetables and gluten-free goodies. We sighed with pleasure after each meal.
There was the writing. I went there asking for a new “assignment,” and I got it, Wednesday morning while brushing my teeth. I ran to get a notebook and wrote down the divine download, before it all slipped away into the ethers. Later I broadened it and refined it and went to Jen for counsel on structure and title ideas. She handed me a key: “The vignettes are transmissions . . .” This new assignment of mine is part how-to, but mainly a series of illustrated vignettes about my encounters with the natural world. It’s not about tarot; it’s all about Mama Gaia. That’s all I have to share about it for now, as it’s still new and tender. Very 4 of Air.
Before Taos . . . after Taos. Chopping wood, carrying water, carving out blocks of time for creative practice, creating a new rhythm for my days.
The scent of sagebrush lingers in my hair.
(Thanks to my new soul-sister friend, Christa Gallopoulos, for allowing me to post some of her gorgeous photos. You’ll find more on her blog, Carry It Forward. Any photos not marked as Christa’s were taken by me.)