I found myself traveling back to Orcas Island last weekend, this time with my mermaid sisters. Eight of us gathered there for the weekend, leaving partners and children and jobs and worries behind. We are a circle that used to gather at least once a month for many years, as we studied the priestess path together. Our initiations and ordinations took place each year at Candlemas, and so this retreat also happened in that season. Although we’ve spent time with each other at festivals, weddings and small gatherings over the past few years, we we were long overdue for some heart-connection time.
So we gathered by the water, as mermaids love to do. The waves lapped ten feet or so from our cabin, creating a lullaby that rocked us and soothed us all weekend. We nested, lit the fire, built a beautiful sea altar and gathered to tell our stories.
Some years back, we learned the basic principles of holistic peer counseling, and so we know how to give good attention. Each woman in turn spoke about her life over the last few years, with its joys and challenges and sorrows. Each placed a branch or flower or stick in a vase to mark a passage in her life, creating an amazing bouquet. We listened, we held each other, we cheered, we offered counsel and feedback and support.
We walked on the beach gathering stones and beach glass. We hiked through the woods. We splashed in the frigid February water. We cooked fabulous meals and ate them with gusto. We talked, and talked, and talked some more.
When women tell the truth about their lives, hearts crack open. Mountains move. The landscape shifts, and nothing is ever the same again.