Listening for Her Song:
A Northern Sound, Movement & Writing Retreat

October 8-16, Finland

This gathering is an invitation for womyn who love Earth/Gaia... who feel called to listen and serve the unfolding potential of peace, during these times of great change.

I call to you everywhere -
in the cool peacefulness of forests
and the crumbling heat of cities.
Do not be overwhelmed
by the difference of my many voices.
Tune your listening to what
you alone must hear.
Be still and open carefully.
Through the full length of your body
you will hear the long trembling
of my song.
It pulled you to this earth.
It still sings true in you.

- From Gaia's Invitation - 120 Poems from the Sacred Earth by Andrea Mathieson, 2005

As we pause to listen, a new story is revealed...

Photo: Lapland, Finland

I sit, resting my flesh upon the Earth.
She meets me skin to skin,
the slow hum of the stone nation
resonates with the minerals in my bones.

I have shed many tears in Her name,
for I am in love with her wild expressions;
Arctic fox, roaring river, barren tundra and butterfly.

She holds me in both my grief and my love.
She soothes me with 1000 shades of green
and the smell of fresh water and willow.

Her intelligence is beyond my capacity to understand,
yet my body is alive with her animal instincts and wisdom.
I take time to breathe with her,
my belly softens, shoulders surrender, senses heighten...

As I sit and listen, tuning my body to her song
a new story emerges.
I offer my service at the Earth Altar.

- Elisha MacMillan, 2019

During our retreat, we'll have daily quiet time for deep listening and communing with Gaia. She has called us together to hear Her song, and to 'sing' with Her.

Our entry point to hear Gaia is through our own flesh. I will guide us in movement practices that help us to stir creativity and dive into presence, creating fertile ground for receptivity and dialogue with the more-than-human world.

Dance Medicine: Alchemy of our Ancestors

Photo credit: the amazing Gregory Colbert

Artist credit: the divine Dimitra Milan

Through movement we connect to the Earth of our bodies and re-member our essence. Our ancestors knew how to use dance medicine to honour the Earth, heal, mark transitions and celebrate.

Dance helps us to access the truth of our bones, the knowing of our flesh, the depth of our heart and the wisdom of our soul. The movement practices in this retreat can support you to deepen your relationship to the Earth of your body, and listen to the instincts and language that your body uses to guide you.

Your body is a living animal that expresses your soul and can help you track your destiny, regulate your rhythms and align your actions with Earth's living systems.

Our flesh is composed of the very Earth that is undergoing so much devastation at this time. As we restore ourselves we restore the Earth. As we restore the Earth we restore ourselves.

During daily movement I'll guide you to explore what feels nourishing and opening to your body, while finding movements that soften tension and create space. There may also be spontaneous dance parties and body percussion jams on the giant back terrace of our Country home!

Retreat Themes

The following themes will be woven throughout our retreat:

Communing with Nature: We explore different techniques for deepening intimacy with Gaia, in her varied expressions; sea waves, birch, chanterelle, woodpecker... We will honour the Earth through our listening, which also tends to the wilderness within.

Movement: We journey for 9 days with movement as medicine, connecting to our earthly bodies, aligning through movement, becoming curious about tension or discomfort, while finding what is ripe to be released or shifted. From a place of embodiment we express through word and sound.

The Power of Word: We'll track what emerges through writing, a creative time to reflect, journal, record your truth and emerging Earth wisdom. You may also write songs, or work on a project dear to your heart. We can shift our reality when we change the words we speak and re-write our stories.

Cleansing/Ceremony: We offer our sweat in the sauna, we cleanse in the lake and gather around the fire, to honour ourselves and the Land. We weave ceremony with song, prayer, poetry, movement, in a container of grounded presence to speak our truths, witness and be witnessed.

Sound/Song/Celebration: We explore sounding techniques that harmonize with Earth's resonance, support inner alignment and nourish the animal and plant kingdoms. Through sound and song we amplify the Earth's essence and vitality. I will bring songs that honour Gaia and can be sung in rounds, and welcome you to bring your voice, songs and/or small percussion.

Why Finland?

There's something about the North that's hard to put into words. Helsinki shares the same latitude as Whitehorse, Yukon and the Kenai Peninisula in Alaska. Within the space of one year, Finland has called me three times, through strange and wonderful synchronicities. I have trekked the Arctic in the darkness of winter and the endless daylight of Summer.

I fell in love with Helsinki and brought 10 women there this Summer, who found the same energetic attraction for Finland and the Baltic Sea (one woman is considering moving there!).

I believe it's the stones and deep elemental energies (some would call dragon energy) who continue to call me back. The stones hold ancient wisdom, and their song is alchemical to those who listen. I have learned about letting go, becoming 'empty' and then full of the wilderness...

The quiet power and harmonics of peace that the Land sings, has supported me to shed and shed and shed; to become evermore centred in my essence and clear in my path. I trust you will hear if the land is calling you...

Our Helsinki home...

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a vibrant seaside city of beautiful islands and great green parks. I remember the first moment I touched my feet down on Finnish soil... I felt a sense of ease and clarity, something about the purity of the air and vibration of the land - calm and yet full of quiet power.

The city has a laid back rhythm, while being full of creativity and incredibly efficient - every kind of plastic can be recycled there, and that's skimming the surface of green living in Finland. There are several tiny home villages on islands and also in the heart of the city!

Our Helsinki home-base is in Ullanlinna, a part of the city known for it's waterfront promenades, sea-view cafes and bistros. We're about a 15 minute walk to both the open air market (full of local artisanal crafts, fresh food and Finnish street cuisine) and beautiful green parks along the Baltic Sea.

There will be time for exploration and enjoyment in Helsinki, as well as settling in and diving into listening and movement. We'll stay in Helsinki for 3 nights before travelling to our country home location in Raasepori, one hour from the city.

Our Country Home...

Our country home is simple, spacious and beautiful. Indoors we have great open space for movement, sweet nooks for writing, and inspiring views of the lake and forest through our floor to ceiling windows. We'll be here for 5 nights!

We have a massive 60 ft. long deck where we can dance, rest, read, write, reflect... We have our own personal beach and dock, with lots of forest to explore - with the opportunity to harvest fresh mushrooms if we can find them!

Traditionally Finnish saunas were a sacred community space for birth, cleansing, connection and ceremony. The sauna offers many healing and detoxification benefits, along with the opportunity for deep relaxation.

When in Finland, I savour being bathed in the löyly (steam) of the sauna, and the process of taking breaks to cool off between 'rounds', similar to what I've experienced in sweat lodges and temazcales, when the door is opened. The sauna culture feels wholesome to me, and offers a sacred window of time for presence with my soul and the elements - fire, air, water and earth. I experience deep nourishment and a sense of connection to the Earth. We have a beautiful sauna in our country home.

Your Facilitator

I'm honoured to co-facilitate this journey, alongside the Land that has called us together.

Elisha MacMillan, BA Hons, CPCC, is a Sociologist, Women's Embodiment Coach, Filmmaker and Dance Alchemist. With a focus on healing, self-discovery and tracking destiny, she supports women in deepening their connection with the wise Earth of their bodies, through movement, sound and communing with nature. Through her business ( Elisha offers private coaching, mentoring, workshops and retreats, both locally and internationally. Over the past 10 years she's worked with women across Canada, USA, Europe, India and Australia. Woven throughout her work is the medicine of drum and dance, which was an integral part of life for her ancestors from Jamaica, Scotland and Ivory Coast.

Before her coaching business launched, Elisha had a full-time career performing African dance alongside established artists from across the African continent. For 6 years Elisha starred in award-winning performances, touring nationally and internationally. Her experiences of healing and transformation while studying dance in Guinea, Mali, Ethiopia and Brazil inform her current philosophy of Dance Medicine.

Writing has been an outlet of creative expression for Elisha since childhood. Poetry, short stories, blogs, film scripts, dance curriculum and websites are among her most current writing works. Her essay writing and thesis earned her final ranking in the top 5% at Concordia University, out of 30,000 students.

Elisha has studied sound, wild movement and the subtleties of communing with nature with her mentor, colleague and friend, Andrea Mathieson, for 8 years. She's assisted mentor and soul mama, Queen Hollins, in Canada & USA over the past 5 years, teaching the alchemical properties of West African dance and earth medicine. Freshly back from a retreat in Oslo with David Abram (Author of Becoming Animal, The Spell of the Sensuous) Elisha is steeped in the world of the wild and instinctual, the realm where we remember the more-than-human nations, and can hear their song!

I look forward to sharing some of my favourite places with you!

What does the retreat include?

Accommodations in our beautiful retreat homes
We'll spend 3 nights in our historic Helsinki location, and then travel one hour to our beautiful country home for 5 nights! To keep costs low, double-beds will be shared between two people, or your welcome to bring your own air mattress.
Delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner 
Fresh meals are created with local and organic ingredients wherever possible. Vegan & gluten-free options available. We'll begin our retreat with dinner together on the 8th, and close after breakfast on the 16th. We'll dine out for two dinners, this is not included.Daily movement & embodiment, writing time and sauna
This is a journey of embodiment, creative expression and connection. There will be a nice balance of structure and flow, with room for you to rest or explore! Finnish saunas offer an incredible way to cleanse and detox... if you haven't been to saunas with steam or a sweat lodge - this is a whole new experience!Pre-retreat Tuning In Session with Elisha
In this 20-minute phone call, I'll guide you into your own embodied wisdom to receive any information about the role of the retreat in your soul evolution journey, before we actually travel to Helsinki. This pre-trip call will help prepare the energies for our shared time together.



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