I was asked elsewhere if I could write a bit more about the practicalities of doing a home retreat following on from my last post. The simple answer is yes, the more complicated one is I can tell you what I did and what I learnt from it but this was something planned solely for me so various aspects may not transfer well to others.
The first thing I did after making the decision to have a home based retreat was to plan out what I could do and when. My first initial thoughts had been to just do a day but I felt this wouldn’t really give me enough time to really benefit from the whole process. I think I was right in that. I decided to do a three day retreat. I felt that would be enough time to feel the benefit but not so much I would start having difficulties in focus while at home. I didn’t get that quite right but life has ways of throwing up things you don’t anticipate.
Here is the plan I developed:
Aim: To reset mind, emotion and spirit in a busy world
Minimal technology use – no facebook or email checking. Meals to be eaten, and chores to be done, more mindfully. Reading to be spiritually focussed.
Planned daily routine
- Morning devotional mediation before breakfast honouring Brigantia
- Morning prayer and chanting in honour of Maponnos
- Mindful chores
- Devotions to and communing with the Herd Mothers
- Devotions to and communing with the water beings
- Afternoon exercise – walking or yoga type stretching
- Reading or devotional craft work
- Mid afternoon devotions to and communing with Gofannon
- Reflection time – may include journaling or blogging
- Devotions to and communing with Loki
- Evening activities – could include reading, crafting or divination
- Late evening devotions to and communing with An Cailleach
As you can see the routine above includes several periods of prayer/communing with different beings. These are the beings I have regular devotional practices with at the current time.
So that was the plan. It didn’t work out quite like that in practice although it wasn’t far off it. I learnt I made a pretty big mistake putting exercise in the early afternoon. It was too soon after lunch and I had to tweak that so I did some reading or craft work after my post lunch devotions in order to let my lunch digest a bit more before doing exercise. I also usually ended up sitting down and doing a bit of reading after my chores and before doing my pre lunch devotions to the Herd Mothers partially to relax a bit physically after the chores and partially because I had more time available than I anticipated.
In addition to the devotions of the retreat routine I also felt I needed to incorporate my usual daily devotions which include a libation to the being/s I focus on that day. The retreat devotions did not include libations or other physical offerings. As my retreat took place on a Tuesday to Thursday that meant the first day there was an evening devotional to Brigantia, the second day I honoured my ancestors and the third day I did my evening devotions to Gofannon.
I was pretty good at restricting my online time but I did have the odd quick look at facebook or emails if I was looking for something in particular, for example on Thursday, where I usually join a zoom singing session with Sing aLoud.
Thursday, the last day of the retreat was a more difficult day to keep the retreat focus going. There were a couple of unanticipated interruptions. One was a brief visit from my kids who were staying the week with their dad. Lovely to see them but unexpected and it knocked me off the routine a bit. The other was news from my husband family down south that his mum had taken a turn for the worse and she wanted to him to visit. We had known she wasn’t well but this sounded much worse. Fortunately travel restrictions in Scotland were just lifting and we decided to travel down that weekend to see her. If the travel restrictions hadn’t lifted I think we would have still gone anyway under the circumstances but we didn’t have to make that call. I still completed the retreat but as you can imagine my mind was much less focussed after that news. It did seem apt that I needed to work harder on a day where my daily devotions were honouring Gofannon who UPG tells me appreciates hard work and perseverance.
Things I missed from a home retreat included simply being somewhere else which can help in distancing yourself from your usual routines and interactions with other people. I’m lucky in having a pagan and Druid husband as talking bout some of the things I was reading or thinking about was helpful. If I did this again I think I’d try and set up a zoom/skype session or two with others I could talk to and reflect on some of my retreat experiences with so probably fellow druid types.
Overall the home retreat did help me with a spiritual reset and I came out of it feeling more strongly connected with the beings I honour. I also came out of it with a desire to re-kindle the druid aspects of my path and signed up for the British Druid Order (BDO) distance bardic course. I’m also trying to be a bit more active in the Scottish Druids Facebook Group I set up and admin.
Hopefully if you are considering doing some form of home retreat this will give you some ideas to consider in your own planning.