New Retreat Weekends available!

Mongolian smallSanctuary Retreat 27-29 September 2013 

What is the basis of this weekend retreat?

This weekend retreat will focus entirely on the idea of Sanctuary.  From Friday 27th September through to midday on Sunday 29th this retreat is set in some of the most beautiful Suffolk countryside; it is as peaceful and as tranquil as you could possibly imagine. There will be talks, workshops, great vegetarian and vegan food – as well as your “own time” for you to explore the surrounding countryside through walks or even borrowing one of the bikes to cycle down the country lanes!

Everyone needs Sanctuary every now and then – a safe place where they can simple “be”.  The aim of this weekend is to explore the many definitions of sanctuary, and how to create that in our everyday life.  We will look at our own personal “space”, as well as the other spaces that we create, such as our home space and sacred space.  We will learn to acknowledge all the times in our lives when we are given sanctuary, thus establishing a deeper relationship with the concept and furthermore being able to bring it to the forefront of our lives.

Sanctuary gives us that space where we are allowed to be ourselves, fully without fear.  It is a temple, a sacred space, both within and without.  A goddess, Nemetona, is known here in the British Isles as well as in Gaul for being the Lady of Sanctuary.  She was celebrated in forest groves, the classical sources tell us, but she is to be found everywhere.  Sinking deep into her temple, dancing freely in the twilight, letting go of notions of that self that we have created, we have time to simply BE.  We return to the selfless source, if we so desire.  And yet, we must come back and define our edges once more, but this time they are perhaps softened, allowing more in, allowing sanctuary and compassion to those that need it. Though we may discriminate, Nemetona doesn’t.  That is why she is a goddess.

Explore where your edges meet with another, whether it be human, cat or tree.  Let go into the embrace of this Lady, to find out who you truly are.  In her temple, we are all perfectly who we are at this given moment.  Dance with her, and know what it means to be truly free.

What is the accommodation like?

In a beautiful part of rural Suffolk, just outside of Halesworth is a little gem – five acres of land owned by two wonderful people who are committed to sharing their passion for enjoying the outdoors in comfort, style and with full green credentials.

We will be sleeping in yurts; gorgeous and lush Mongolian tents.  Inside, there are real beds, futons, tables, chairs, dresser drawers and vanity mirrors – pure luxury camping!  Each yurt has its own log burner and comes with tea and coffee making facilities, as well as everything you would need – plates, cutlery, cups, mugs and more.  You will be sharing your yurt with one or two other people.  If you are coming with a friend, and would like to stay in the same tent, then please let us know.  Otherwise, we will draw straws and let the fates decide – you could end up with a new lifelong friend!

The owners, Kim and Nick, have created a space where you will be catered for fully – all you have to bring is yourself, and your own bedsheet and towel.  Everything else is taken care of for you.

There is a Main Barn where, if the weather is uncooperative, we will meet for the workshops, talks, evening chats, meals and more.  Inside the Main Barn is also an indoor kitchen, showers and loos.  There is also an outdoor kitchen, as well as outdoor hot showers – these are pretty special, and a normal shower will never again be able to compare!

How much is it?

Booking for this retreat weekend is £150 per person, which includes all activities, accommodation and food.

What is the schedule like?

Arrival is from 3pm onwards on the Friday night.  We will give you time to settle into your yurts, and then have a communal meal around 5.30 – 6pm.  After that, we will gather together around the fire or inside the main barn and go through what Sanctuary means to us.  We will have a talk from the event organiser, Joanna van der Hoeven, on how as a Druid the idea of sanctuary and sacred space is integral to her way of life.  We will look at Nemetona, the goddess of Sanctuary, as well as how in Druid and pagan ritual we create sacred space.  We will also look at how we can carry that sacred space within us at all times, allowing us to be truly free in our own self-expression, with honour and integrity. We will then do a short vocal exercise, where we can share the same space and let our voices blend together to create a sacred space.  Afterwards, we can then chat, have some hot chocolate or other drinks and then retire for the evening.

The following Saturday morning we will again meet for a communal breakfast.  After that we will gather together for a guided meditation session on how to ground and centre yourself.  Then we will have a workshop on learning to find where our edges are, and how they meet and interact with other people’s edges.  We will discuss the ethics of how we interact with others, and how we can allow our true selves to shine through with empathy and compassion.

After a communal lunch, we will then look at how we can create our own sacred spaces, in our homes, at our work desk, in our bedrooms and bathrooms and in our own mind.  We will then build our own altar which will act as a focus for the rest of the weekend and for the ritual later that evening, with things that we feel represent our true selves and our ideas of sanctuary.  We will also come up with a ritual for that evening, using our ideas of sacred space and sanctuary and working together to develop something that will be meaningful and profound for all.

From 3.30pm onwards is “free time”, where you will have a couple of hours to explore the ideas you have come across in talks and workshops, or chat with a new friend, go for a walk, bike ride, meditate – the choice is yours!  We will gather again at around 5.30 – 6pm for our evening meal.

After the meal we will have our ritual that we have created.  There will most likely be singing, drumming and dancing as well!  We will then retire for the evening.

Sunday morning we will gather for our last communal meal at breakfast.  We will have a short discussion on how we can bring what we have learned and ideas that we have come across over the weekend into our everyday lives.  We will again perform a short vocal sharing, allowing our voices to blend together in celebration of sacred space and sanctuary.  Then, it’s time to go home and allow Sanctuary to permeate into your life.

How do I book?

Simply email Joanna van der Hoeven at to receive your booking form.  A £50 deposit will be required to secure your booking.  This deposit is non-refundable if you cancel your booking within four weeks of the event. The remainder of the booking fee will be due four weeks prior to the event (however if you want to pay it all up front then please feel free).  We can set up a payment plan of three instalments if you would prefer – please enquire.  If we are fully booked, we will have a waiting list available for any last-minute cancellations.

How can I find out more?

Simply email if you would like more information on this weekend retreat.  For more information about the organiser, Joanna van der Hoeven, please visit her website at  Places are limited, so book early to reserve your space.

*  *  *

chalicwell1The Little Pagan Monastery, 11 – 13 April 2014 at Chalice Well Gardens, Glastonbury, is a weekend retreat that will follow and incorporate monastic traditions such as daily prayers, meditation, talks, lectures, chores and ritual for the Pagan.

Set in the beautiful and sacred Chalice Well Gardens, this three day, two night weekend will follow a strict routine and regime that hopes to inspire you to incorporate more spirituality in your daily practice at home.  Take what inspires you and run with it!

We have booked St Michael’s Lodge, which is a lovely guesthouse designed for peace and relaxation in mind.  Rooms are either single or shared, so be prepared to possibly share with a new friend!  There is a library where books may be borrowed, but please return them at the end of the weekend. There is also a lovely kitchen, and a meditation room for daily practice and connection.

The Meeting Room set right up against the gardens is where most of the weekend’s events will take place.  We also plan to do some work in the garden, as well as take trips out to Glastonbury Tor and the White Spring, weather permitting.  Come and experience the beauty of land, sea and sky atop the Tor, or take a healing plunge into the sacred pools of the White Spring, or simply come to enjoy the beauty of the Red Spring and the serenity of Chalice Well. The weekend will end with a ritual (if possible) by Chalice Well.

All food, drink and accommodation are included in the weekend retreat price.  A £50 deposit must be made up front to guarantee your booking, and will be non-refundable if you cancel within four weeks of the booking date.

If you desire to taste the monastic life, to pray, meditate, work and enjoy the silence in a special holy site with like-minded people, then this is the weekend for you!

£180 per person, cheque or paypal payment only. Please email to book your place. If you are booking for more than one person please let me know and we will allocate you the double rooms first.

Many blessings!

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