Walking through the forest more slowly than usual
feeling the crunch of every stone beneath my boots
with the weight of everything I required to meet my basic needs resting firmly on the width of my hips
started to expand
reaching for the trees around me.
At first I wondered if I was walking through a gauntlet of gossamer spiderwebs,
but a quick brush of my tingling forearms confirmed that I hadn’t.
that I was feeling gratitude
as though my every pore were reaching out like a gospel singer
toward the woods
The feeling went on for four days, even as we trekked up forty-five degree inclines,
even as the heat of July high noon began to close in around us.
I’ve led two reWILD retreats now, one slow, quiet gathering in which myself and the women present all toed our way closer to the discomfort and freedom of being before doing,
and this one,
each woman with her own unique intention
a desire to find answers to long-held questions in footsteps-on-earth, silence, openness, and wonder.
I’ve become wise enough to let Mother Earth and the force of women gathering take the lead
(holding little agenda other than safety, the promise of space held and good food)
in doing so,
have been just as transformed by the magic of the experience as the women themselves.
What lingers most for me
after I and the women whose lives and hearts I’ve kept close for a few short but intense days part ways
is the way we held our needs sacred with a simple mantra
– ask for what you need; offer what you can –
and how, once given permission to ask
and the surety of being well-met
that mantra became the air that moved around us; a group culture with a life of its own
that began to re-weave each woman’s self-trust.
And though the trail had different lessons for each of us,
what every woman (including me) experienced
an unshakeable connection
with the strength and ability of her own body and the spirit that quickens inside it
with her place in the arms of Mother Earth: a sense of belonging and safe haven that is both feet-on-earth and hair standing-on-end
blurring the lines between
what is Her
and what is Wild.
The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!
This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.
Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.
Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:
> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity
> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape
> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published
> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”
> How to build community when you’re under-resourced
> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote
Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book
The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview
Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops
Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging
Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes. That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews! Thank you so much!