My retreat journal Part 2 of 6: Into the labyrinth

I experienced a life-changing weekend as I co-facilitated Creativity and Connection Retreat October 17-19, 2014 on Bowen Island with Laura Mack at Xenia Retreat


Here are some journal excerpts so you can get a small glimpse as to how powerful the experience was for me.

Recall: PART 1 October 17, 2014 FRIDAY INTO SILENCE

Part 2 October 18, 2014 SATURDAY MORNING:

Photo credit: Xenia on Bowen Island
Photo credit: Xenia on Bowen Island

6:30 AM The darkness did not overwhelm me last night.  The porch lights from next door were enough to illuminate to make me feel calm.  At times my heart wanted to race but I breathed through it.  Amazing.  

My sleep was like skipping stones though.  Perhaps tonight I will feel safe to fully fall asleep.  

Laura woke everyone up with a GONG!  We are still in silence.  The breath I felt in the sanctuary was one of the best moments of silence- felt like the deepest heart-est breaths.  

Laura just came back with a surprise cup of coffee. Bliss.  

At 7 am we have breakfast in silence then at 8 meet for walking to the labyrinth (still in silence) then to the yurt for opening circle…  

Before breakfast I walked with my coffee to the yurt.  I keep being pulled to it.  Set up the archetypes using iPhone compass to fully align with NSEW directions.

I then stood for a long time leaning on the fence looking out over the meadow, feeling Mamma and Pappa.  


Ready to let go of pain and unhappiness.  Just allow the joy of my childhood to be what now lifts me.  I am loved and I am deserving.  I am a daughter.  A woman in very aspect.  I am “the mother.”  There is no power or fear in that.  I full step into me.  Let go and start fresh yet carry on.  To be in this childhood summerhouse-type setting is powerful.  I have a ball in my throat and tears behind my eyes that need to burst forth but sitting at breakfast now.  

Kitchen in the lodge.  Photo by Laura Mack.
Saria at work in the kitchen in the lodge. Photo by Laura Mack.

Recalling dinner by Saria last night.  Exquisite.  Shepherd’s pie, mixed salad (with everything from the garden), beets in orange juice and vinegar… baked glazed pears with whipped cream, fresh muffins.  I just want to keep writing but I need to pause.  Grab a cup of coffee and make sure I eat.  The breakfast spread: everything including grilled avocados with egg.  I had muffins, granola, yoghurt, fresh fruit.  A participant sits beside me.  Voraciously reading about the history of the property.  I love her curiosity, and tireless quest for knowledge.  A kindred spirit that needs to ingest, to feed on life through research.  

This experience is intensely safe.  Comforting.  Excited about the day ahead.

"Xenia Retreat. Feeling full. Awed. Peaceful. Expanded. On purpose." - Laura (Walking to labyrinth, we paused at Opa.  Photo by Laura Mack.)
“Xenia Retreat. Feeling full. Awed. Peaceful. Expanded. On purpose.”
– Laura (Walking to labyrinth, we paused at Opa. Photo by Laura Mack.)

The labyrinth walk in silence.  Profound.  The walk in, I had scattered thoughts, breathing into this early morning musings by the meadow.  In the centre, I felt peace and clarity and white light.  I cried throughout the walk outward, grieving, mourning, letting go.  Holding, releasing, allowing.  


 “The poet Marianne Moore famously wrote of ‘real toads in imaginary gardens,’ and the labyrinth offers us the possibility of being real creatures in symbolic space…In such spaces as the labyrinth we cross over [between real and imaginary spaces]; we are really travelling, even if the destination is only symbolic.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Photo by Laura Mack
Photo by Laura Mack

I picked up two mottled leaves as I started to walk outward.  They represent Mamma and Pappa as they entered the last few days before their hearts stopped.  


But did they stop?  Did the family not just pick up the beat as we synchronized with them?  I had my ear to mom’s chest as her heart stopped.  But I beat with it and carried it on for her.  

How could I not consider this life that I have truly miraculous and worth living?  Truly miraculous and always worth living.


Opening circle and breaking silence in the yurt at 9 AM.  We reflected on our dreams, our experience in the sanctuary and at the labyrinth.  Laura introduced the Symbols Way and the 4 archetypes that we will focus on this weekend- encouraging us to ask ourselves: 

Where are you now?  

What archetype are you not so in touch with? 

Our first art-making session included mark-making and revisiting the labyrinth by tracing our steps on top of my drawing.  Delicious.  


“Show not what has been done, but what can be. How beautiful the world would be if there were a procedure for moving through labyrinths.”
― Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose



Stay tuned for Part 3: Saturday late morning- Cyclops Goddess and the Matrilineal question to set the stage for Symbols Way…

“THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP is at the headwaters of every woman’s health. Our bodies and our beliefs about them were formed in the soil of our mother’s emotions, beliefs, and behaviors. To become optimally healthy and happy, each of us must get clear about the ways in which our mother’s history both influenced and continues to inform our state of health, our beliefs, and how we live our lives. Every woman who heals herself helps heal all the women who came before her and all those who will come after her.” – Dr. Christiane Northup


And for information on more workshops and retreats!


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Kat, this is my introduction to the Xenia Retreat Centre. It reminds me of growing up in rural Ontario, I always picture a labyrinth there even though it’s still an idea in my head. Love the quote by Christiane Northrup. So deeply true and a great reminder of why we do what we do.

    1. Kat Thorsen says:

      Thank you Nathalie for your thoughtful words. I hope to visit Ontario one day! I sense ut will feel familiar!

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