Using our Passion to Heal the Animals and the Land
September 8 - 10, Missoula, Montana
We are safe, we are grateful. But in recent weeks, over 31,000 acres have been decimated by the Lolo Peak wildfire that is still burning not far from Dunrovin Ranch where my upcoming retreat is being held.
Left: photo of Dunrovin's horse Rocket with Lolo Peak fire in background by John Ashley
Just a few days ago, I was part of a Sacred Listening gathering in central Minnesota. There I had the privilege of meditating as I held the hide of a small black bear. As I sat quietly and listened to her spirit, she showed me an image of the Montana fires and said, “My brothers and sisters are distressed. The wild animals are dying. We are having to leave our homes. More is being lost in the fires than you human beings can imagine. Instead of the retreat you had planned, you must go and offer medicine -- to the animals, the earth and the people.”
In this way, I’ve been guided to change the nature of the Living with Passion retreat I had originally planned for September 8 - 10 to respond to what is actually happening. Instead I am doing Fire Medicine, and I invite all who live near and far to come and use your passion to heal the animals and the land.
We will start with our stories – of animals saved or lost, our stories of grief and the grace that is present within our losses as well. We'll end the weekend with a medicine wheel we build together on the land, In ceremony, anchored at the four directions by the Dunrovin horses, we will offer our prayers and intentions for the animals and the earth.
Costs and Logistics:
SuzAnne Miller, the ranch owner, and I are waiving the fee for the three days. We are substituting love offerings to help defray costs. Our suggestion is $25 for each day. If you can’t afford that, offer what you can. Anything you choose to donate over that will be given to local organizations that help protect and evacuate pets and livestock during the fires.
You may come one, two or all three days. See "How the Weekend Will Go" below to see what each day holds.
If you wish to stay at Dunrovin Ranch Friday and Saturday nights, you can do so for $60 per night. For reservations call (406) 273-7745 or email email@example.com
If you wish to go on a horseback ride Sunday afternoon, you can sign up for that for $75. The ride will be on gentle ground. no climbing, so as to keep the horses breathing easy in the smoke. For reservations call (406) 273-7745 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Left: Keeper of the Forest doll by Jeanne Wiger
How the weekend will go:
FRIDAY 6 - 8:30 (Indoors)
Friday evening we will come together at 6 p.m. and make talking sticks in preparation for the stories people come to share. Each person who attends Friday night will be asked to bring a stick from your land, yard or from a part of the forest that has been burned. We’ll quiet our minds and decorate the talking sticks for the community to use the next day. Decorating materials provided. We can also make prayer ties to hold your intentions for yourself, your animals and the land.
The talking stick is an indigenous tool to help us speak honestly and listen from our hearts. In a circle, only the one holding the talking stick speaks. All others listen. With the talking stick, we make room for all voices, outgoing and shy alike. You can speak or not when the stick comes to you, and you will know if there is something there for you to say.
$25 for Friday evening
(Please eat dinner before arriving. Snacks and water provided.)
SATURDAY 10 - 4:30 ( Outdoors from 10 - 11:30. Indoors from 11:30 on)
We will gather to walk among the horses, sit with them in a wooded area by the river, and listen to the heartbeat of animal and earth. We’ll spend some time “just being,” like the animals, attending to what we are experiencing in the present moment. We’ll do some journal writing as we reflect on the thoughts and feelings that come up.
Next, our special guest, Missoula author Danica Winters, will offer Creative Healing through Writing and Art. Participants can write or make art to tell a story, either true or fictional, about the impact of the fires.
Bring a bag lunch
Danica will invite those who want to share their writing and art with the group to do so.
After that, we'll break into small groups and tell our personal stories of animals saved and lost, land loved and changed. Each group will be given a talking stick to pass as a reminder to speak honestly and listen to self and others from the heart. When each group is done, a spokesperson will share gems with the larger group.
The listening is as important as the telling. To close, we’ll ask for shares about what people learned about self and others from hearing each other’s stories.
Snacks and water provided.
$25 for Saturday
SUNDAY 10 - 12:30 (Outdoors)
Sunday morning we’ll create a Medicine Wheel on the Dunrovin land. You will learn medicine wheel teachings and experience a Medicine Wheel Ceremony, bringing your own prayers and intentions for healing in community with others. The horses will be present to teach and guide us.
$25 for Sunday Medicine Wheel Ceremony
If you wish, you can bring a bag lunch and eat together after the ceremony.
Optional horseback ride, $75. Call (406) 273-7745 or email email@example.com