Bone Song, A Retreat

A view at the Richardson Family Cabin

While I’ve taken a break from social media and outreach for the last year and a half, I’ve been focusing on getting myself to a healthier place emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically, psychologically–in every way, essentially. Life has presented me with an opportunity that I’m very excited about in the interim. I’m going to be moving to the East Coast in the winter. I wanted to plant a few good seeds here in the Intermountain West, before I go. Share some of what I’ve been ruminating on during my solitude.

Bone Song has grown out of my desire to relocate myself. The first time I read Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run With the Wolves in 2018, it had a profoundly medicinal effect on me. Every time I’ve returned to it since then it has continued to help me see and heal the fragmentation of my psyche. At my most recent passes I’ve wondered about that word relocate. To be a wild woman, truly, must mean you feel some sense of location, some sense of belonging to the Earth. In moments of quiet, I recognize that I do not feel this way.

So, at these retreats we’ll explore these inclinations together. We’ll see what we can locate within when we look far back enough through (not around) our identities as granddaughters of colonizers, frontiersmen, and pioneers into our origins as daughters of the Earth. Hopefully, as we focus our gaze on our genesis, nestled as it is among the fronds and tall grasses, we’ll even catch a glimpse of our wild Mother as she bounds by.

My parents have very generously offered their mountain cabin outside of Idaho City for three weekends this fall, for me to host women who want to gather in person and discuss and explore the archetype of the wild woman, and what she can offer our healing as individuals and as a collective. (If you’d like to hear more about my approach to the wild woman archetype, please listen to the podcast I recorded with Bristlecone Firesides and Kathryn Knight Sonntag on the subject last year!)

With the help of some subscribers to my email list who offered feedback and suggestions, I’ve collated resources and created itineraries for Bone Song, a wild woman retreat. Thanks to my parents’ generosity I’m able to offer this experience in three different sessions, and at an extremely affordable rate. A retreat I attended last April cost me about six times as much.

September 23-25. This 2 night retreat will be for women who are still active or semi-active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The organization and activity list will be the same as for the event below, but the discussions will be of a slightly different nature and tone. The boundary here is in place to help people who need extra support finding safety in their bodies to receive that safety.

October 14-16. This 2 night retreat will be for women who identify as Post-Mormon or ex-Mormon. The boundary here is gently in place for the same reasons you read about above. If you don’t know exactly where you fall on this spectrum, and you think you’d be able to find and give a blessing in a space like this, you’re invited! 

October 26-30. This retreat will be an immersive, instead of a weekend event. 4 nights instead of 2. Anyone who was or is now Mormon is invited to attend. The extra two nights will allow us to travel deeper into the wound together, so be warned. This gathering will include all of the discussions, ritual practices, and excursions of the 2 day retreats plus extra down time and an ancestor dinner! This is a tradition I’ve been developing over the last few years among friends. At the end of October our Celtic progenitors celebrated Samhain. Many cultures across the world believe that in the fall the veils between worlds thin, that it is the time for connecting with the spirits of the dead. The ancestor dinner is my answer to that.

I have six spots available for each of these sessions (three spots have already sold for the immersive retreat). If you’re interested in attending one, and available of course, please fill out this Google Form. Because we’ll be staying at a private residence, this retreat is by application only. I’ll need you to fill out the form by September 10th if you’d like to attend!

We’ll be using Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ seminal work Women Who Run With the Wolves to guide our time together. I’m planning somatic work, rituals, conversations, and delicious meals geared around the archetype. We’ll practice grounding her through our ancestral stories into the Earth itself, and we’ll take everything very slowly.

Idaho City, the township nearest my parents’ cabin, is like a time capsule. In 1864, at the height of the gold rush, it was actually the largest city in the Northwest–bigger than Salt Lake City or Portland. Eventually people moved on and away, but those who stayed preserved the town meticulously. It’s basically a film set! The Wild West in the flesh. But of course, that’s a different kind of wild, now isn’t it?

So, at these retreats we’d be exploring a few things:
1. How to uncage the wild woman as she lives inside of us.
2. How our pioneer/colonizer ancestors contributed to her caging, and gave us an inheritance of dominance over/disconnection from the land of the Intermountain West.
3. How to see the truth of these inheritances while standing in full awe of our divine/wild identities.

I don’t want to reveal too much more than that, because I dearly love surprises. However, if you’d like to see more detailed itineraries for the events you can click here to see the itinerary for the 2 night retreats or here to preview the itinerary for the 4 night immersive. You’ll find prices at the Google Form I mentioned earlier! Feel free to message me with any questions.

All my gratitude,

Amber

Advertisement

A Brief Intermission

Listen in for a six minute update on On Sovereign Wings. Amber will discuss where the project has been and where it is heading. If you’d like to send Amber a monetary ‘thank you’ for the work she’s done over the last three years with this podcast we’d invite you to send a donation to her Venmo. Her username is @onsovereignwings.

Another option for getting involved would be taking Erin Rackham’s (PhD) survey for Mormon survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Listen to the episode for more on that! Here is the link to her Qualtrics study.

Erotic Innocence

Join Tasha and Amber, and new guest Jaime as they wrap up their response to Cassandra’s story. In this, the fourteenth episode of On Sovereign Wings, they’ll discuss some of the behavioral addictions that often shadow survivors of sexual trauma, and how inner child work can help alleviate those addictions. Also on the table? Storytelling and conversation about reclaiming the innocence that lives at the heart of healthy sexuality.

Listen here, or on Apple Podcasts!

Befriending Your Anger

After another long hiatus, Amber and Tasha return to build on one of the themes that appeared in Amber’s interview with Cassandra. In the thirteenth episode of On Sovereign Wings anger will be both discussed and modeled, so buckle up! Our prayer is that through listening you’ll be able to make a little bit more space for your anger, and hopefully release any old pent up rage that is ready to be let go of.

Thank you, as always, for continuing along with us, even though our publication schedule has been unpredictable. Given that this project rides on where Amber’s healing takes her from week to week and month to month the publication of this episode represents a major and happy breakthrough. We’re grateful to you for honoring the radio silence while she has worked towards voicing these thoughts publicly. 

Listen here, or on Apple Podcasts!

Join us at our next retreat!

lottr

We have another event coming up, and I know I haven’t given you much notice, but we figured with coronavirus most of you would be deciding close to the registration deadline if you wanted to come anyways. We do have a robust COVID plan in place for Lady of the Torch, and we are confident that we will be able to keep everyone safe, respected, and healthy during our time together.

No more than 30 of us will be gathering at the Blacks Fork River Lodge the weekend of September 11th to open our eyes, move with our hurts, and use the collective power of community to claim the power that has always lived inside of us to tear down beliefs, systems, and stories that keep us small. Let’s be big instead.

As with the other retreats that we have co-hosted with WOMB, there will be lectures, discussion, movement, great food, nature, and sacred ritual. Amber will be leading a HerStory discussion on the biblical prophetess, Deborah. The rest of the retreat team—including the WOMB sisters, Anna Peterson, and Kathryn Knight Sonntag—will be tracking the themes of Deborah’s story (prophecy, identifying oppression, power, liberation, the feminine divine) through the other workshops, which have been designed to support retreat guests in their desires to find and claim their inherent power.

The cost for this retreat starts at $350 for two nights, meals, and instruction. Check out the registration webpage to see the different packages that are available. Registration deadline for this event is this upcoming Monday September 7th.

We are expecting that this will be a powerful, healing weekend, and if you feel called to come you are invited! Let us know if there is anything we can do on our end to make this more feasible for you.

Words from Tasha

OSW Podcast Brand Shoot
Tasha Diaz LMFT, one of our co-hosts, shares her pain and wisdom with us today. We hope you’ll take a moment to read how she is navigating this traumatic time as a woman of color, and that you will find power, healing, and insight in her words.

“I’ve been debating whether to talk about my response to George Floyd, and have really been going back and forth. I recognized today that there’s a part of me numbing out and closing off and just not wanting to ‘go there.’ Then someone wrote something to me so kind and empathetic that made my feeling and experience visible in a way that cracked a little of my numbing. That part of me needs to be heard even if it’s hard. So I’m going to share a little of what’s been running through my head.

For those that know me, they know that I have a ton of siblings that look very different from me. One side looks more phenotypically white and one side black. Having both in my life, over the years I’ve gotten to see several moments that highlighted some of the differences in how general society sees them. I won’t go into details, but it’s enough for me to say that there is a difference and that difference often changes some of the lessons and things my siblings have learned.

I still remember as I watched my brothers process the same experiences of police violence to black young people in their mutually middle class communities in very different ways. For one it was an emotionally distant wrong; similar to reading about a problem in another country or to a friend of a friend. For another it taught that their person was at risk of harm or death… that they could be next one day if they weren’t vigilant and careful. There was a sense of helplessness as I couldn’t give a message or word that would change that reality for my black sibling. I couldn’t hand him my whiter siblings’ privilege. I couldn’t promise that the things my black sibling was as an individual would outweigh their color and physique in these situations. I couldn’t lie and say that justice and due process would be equally likely to happen if they were suspected of doing something wrong.

Along with this is a narrative that follows a shooting. There’s the initial shock of the video, photo, whatever (IF it gets traction in news outlets). That is followed with pointing out or questioning the black person’s motive, actions, etc. if there wasn’t video or photos, witnesses are often ignored for the narratives the police can write about the circumstance. There is always a feeling of threat in these narratives by the cops. There is always a suspected aggressive action. There is always a need to shoot in these narratives. If the person wasn’t squeaky clean, their failings as a human are highlighted and subtly used to justify their murder. People defend the cops and their work in the same breath. The protests are never the right types of protests. And IF there’s a trial the police are rarely convicted for wrong-doing due to a difficult standard to reach for manslaughter. The problems that led to a wrongful death in many ways go unfixed. And in time another story surfaces and the cycle repeats.

What isn’t talked about is that each case each experience carries emotional weight for POC. The fear, weariness, frustration, and pain of a community when justice and fairness is so consistently out of reach, build up. To never have such a pain validated augments pain. It doesn’t heal, instead it creates chronic trauma and hurt like an open wound. There is power in having problems addressed and understood. In naming one’s experience and having those names accepted as true. And there is power in then having that truth lead to significant change. That is empowerment.

When it doesn’t it leads to what to some seem like unfathomable actions. Like rioting. But in the micro it simply leads to an unfair burden and crazy-making as one part of a community is given push-back whenever their reality becomes uncomfortable or questionable to the majority.

So here is my truth for a moment: when this happens… each time it feels like a mini 9-11. I can see the bodies falling from a senseless act, the world shift to a place I love and know to one of uncertainty and fear. I feel anger unnamed. I feel my skin tone. I feel on edge around police. And depending around my neighbor. I feel moments of solidarity from those who’ve seen and experienced and feel the same thing.

[I feel] glimmers of hopes when there is at least some justice brought and mild frustration that even breadcrumbs of justice feels like progress. And a little emptiness when being fired or put on leave for murdering someone is seen as enough. I feel myself coming back to my grounding places, my carefully gathered safety of my husband and daughter and garden and friends and loved ones and God who know me well. But then I feel the wait… because with this one there’s always another act of violence around the corner that will start this process over again.

When you see the anger and frustration on the streets and on varying platforms this week, remember this is where it comes from. It’s not just the faces of those lost in the last couple weeks. It’s not just George Floyd on the ground begging for his life. It is that this isn’t the first time, or the second time, or the eightieth time this violence has happened. It is the frantic desire to be heard and for this insane cycle to stop.”

Reading/Watch List for COVID-19

Screen Shot 2020-04-02 at 10.40.17 AM
Author of ‘Know My Name’ Chanel Miller.

Social distancing and sheltering in place can be really challenging, but they can also create an opportunity to keep working on your healing after sexual trauma. Amber has compiled a list of books and films that have helped her along her healing path. Almost all of these will be triggering in some way, but that’s kind of the point isn’t it? If you feel like you’d like to use this time to move your healing along, perhaps one of these resources could help you do that!

Self Help Books

Memoirs

Spirituality

Documentaries

Narrative Films

  • Water (2005) directed by Deepha Mehtha (Stream on YouTube or iTunes)
  • Tangled (2010) directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard (Stream on Disney+)

Adjustments to New Moon Schedule

IMG_6691

Trying to harmonize with all of Utah’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, we have decided to cancel our next New Moon circle, which was scheduled for Wednesday March 25th.We’re going to bump everything back by one month. If by the time we get to April social distancing is still in full swing we will offer the navel chakra workshop using a digital format!

Here is the adjusted schedule:

Wednesday, March 25th     CANCELED
Wednesday, April 22nd       NAVEL CHAKRA             7:00 pm
Friday, May 22nd                  HEART CHAKRA            7:00 pm
Saturday, June 20th              THROAT CHAKRA          TBD
Monday, July 20th                 THIRD EYE CHAKRA     TBD
Tuesday, August 18th            CROWN CHAKRA           TBD

Hoping to connect with you all soon! Make sure to love on yourself during this time and be so kind and gentle.

 

Cassandra

OSW Podcast Brand Shoot

This episode introduces Cassandra, or Cassy, who was sexually assault by an older female peer when they were both still children. As you listen you’ll hear some specifics regarding how Cassy recovered the traumatic memory of this incident, how she discovered that her lifelong battle with pornography was actually the proverbial tip of the trauma iceberg, and how she has learned to harness her anger as fuel in that continuing battle.

Cassandra offers many grounding, empowering, heartbreaking, and energizing perspectives in our twelfth episode of On Sovereign Wings. We are grateful for her obvious and palpable courage.

Listen here, or on Apple Podcasts!

2020 Event Schedule

For Instagram

We are excited to announce our event calendar for 2020! Once a month, on the night of the new moon, we will be meeting to do trauma-based yoga, community building, and meditation.

With the help of Miriam Solen—the yoga instructor you met in Episode 05—we will be using the chakras, which are the seven energy centers of the body according to the Vedic tradition, to guide each experience.

We are charging $15 per event, or $100 if you register in advance for all seven classes. Send in your reservations to our Venmo account! The username is @onsovereignwings.

Here is the schedule:

Friday, January 24th            ROOT CHAKRA                7:00 pm
Sunday, February 23rd        SACRAL CHAKRA            7:00 pm
Wednesday, March 25th      NAVEL CHAKRA              7:00 pm
Wednesday, April 22nd       HEART CHAKRA               7:00 pm
Friday, May 22nd                  THROAT CHAKRA            7:00 pm
Saturday, June 20th              THIRD EYE CHAKRA        TBD
Monday, July 20th                 CROWN CHAKRA             TBD

We will also be hosting a big fundraiser the weekend of May 15th, and another retreat with WOMB in the middle of September. We invite you to any and all gatherings that appeal to you, and hope these in person gatherings will aid and support your healing.

With love,
Amber Richardson
Host of On Sovereign Wings