Monkey Valley Retreat Centre has hosted vision fasts, medicine wheel teachings, teachings of ecopsychology practices, medicine walks, inquiry groups, a yoga and ChiRunning retreat, and, of course, many gatherings of family and friends, too.
For a brief account of the amazingly awesome Chirunning and yoga retreat with Angela James (summer 2010), see here.
In the summer of 2009, we held the second vision fast at Monkey Valley for a solo faster. The valley rang out with the mournful notes of saxophone and the lowing of cows.
The previous year, in the summer of 2008, the grandmothers and grandfathers of this land greeted a vision faster, perhaps for the first time in many years. It is known that the Upper Similkameen First Nation travelled through the valley seasonally, gathering plants. Did the elders of the community put youths out on the land to fast while they sojourned here? I have seen a hilltop that might have been a spot for sacred ceremony…
Kim and I were very pleased that our plans to host a vision fast came to fruition August 1-4, 2008, with a two-day fast. The retreat began with a day of preparing the faster for the solo time. While the guides remained in basecamp, the faster went out into wild nature and spent her solo time with the land and her creatures. The final day was a celebration and time for the faster to tell her story and have it received by her people. Many thanks to the spirits of the seven directions for keeping the faster safe and returning her to us.
In the summer of 2005, the retreat centre hosted a four-day medicine wheel gathering, taught by Joyce Lyke and Tracy Leach. We built a medicine wheel together, and learned how to walk the four spokes of the wheel and work with the spirits of the seven directions (South, West, North, East, Earth Mother, Sky Father, and Centre). Since this gathering, the wheel has been open, available to those seeking guidance from the spirits of the land and the spirits of our ancestors.
The retreat centre has hosted numerous meditation and inquiry gatherings for students of the Diamond Approach, a spiritual path for inner realization. Inquiry is a method for sensing into one’s direct experience in the moment, as deeply as possible. Sensing physical sensations, as well as emotions and thoughts, can lead us to deeper, more subtle experiences of our soul.
Practicing inquiry outdoors in wild nature can open us to different kinds of experiences than occur indoors. We have explored inquiring with each other and with nature beings such as trees and rocks. Several New Years inquiry celebrations at Monkey Valley have involved dancing, sacred ceremony, and inquiry in the snow!