Since my first visit to Taos, Santa Fe, and Ghost Ranch in the summer of 2011, New Mexico has taken firm root in my heart. Perhaps it’s because the natural beauty there is so different from our Northwestern beauty. Perhaps it’s because the colors are rich and intense, and because the fragrance of juniper, sage, and piñon permeates the air. Perhaps it’s the ever-changing cloudscapes you can watch all day. Perhaps it’s the angle of the light that makes everything shimmer.
Or maybe it’s the ever-present caws and cries of crows, hawks, and magpies, and the cooing of mourning doves.
Last week, I came home to Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos for Jen Louden’s annual Women Writers’ Retreat. When I was here in 2011, I didn’t have a project, but went out and interacted with the natural world each day, then wrote about it. This time, I brought my current project with me — an oracle deck and book tentatively called Shapeshifter: Wheel of a Woman’s Life — and was pleased to get quite a lot of work done on it. But, just like last time, the land tugged at my heart, whispered secrets into my ear, shook me up and shook me down . . . and then I wrote about it.
On the morning of the last day of the retreat, Jen gave each of us in the circle 3 minutes to answer the question: “What was the heart of the retreat experience for you?” My answer was something like this:
I felt so nurtured being held in this circle of 27 women, then in the smaller circle of my group of 4, then in the even smaller circle of 2 with my roommate, CrowsFoxes. And I was also held in the larger circle of the sky, clouds, rain, sun, mountains, and pueblo lands. All these created a place out of place, a time out of time, where creative magic could happen. The heart of my retreat experience was my midweek pilgrimage to the cross on the pueblo, the intensely personal experience I had there, then writing about it, then being vulnerable enough to read it to a small group that night and have it witnessed. Finally, having a few people pull me aside the next day to say how much it moved them. Oh yes. Time out of time. Magic. The heart.
I am still halfway back in retreat-time, so I think I’ll let some of the photos I took speak for the rest of my time there.
P.S. Jen wrote this wonderful post about our time on retreat.