We are passionate about the empowerment of women that arises through awakening to the sacred feminine.
The spaces we create allow each woman to meet her Self in sacred womanhood as
Women & Gaia
A Yearly Spiral of Retreats for Women
created with love and spirit by Suzy Saunders
& Jane Alexander held by Sunny Brow Farm
Our retreats harness the energy of the cycle of the year to create soul deep transformation and support awakening women. Each retreat is entirely unique and is called into being by the energy of the Earth, the mystery of the moment and the women who answer the pull to come. They are a beautiful mixture of nurture and challenge. Shaped space and free time. The wonderful accommodation, food and land at Sunny Brow is the container for the work, it holds and nourishes the body allowing for spiritual breakthrough and emotional release. Our retreats use yoga, meditation techniques, shamanic practices, ritual, ceremony, sound, drumming, holistic treatments and draw from our wide ranging skill sets and spiritual experience.
The planning process begins a couple of months before the retreat as the bookings start to flow. We come together in guidance to find out what Gaia is cooking up this time. We then begin to gather the herbs, crystals, sacred objects, cloths and other random things we need and ideas for ceremonies and rituals begin to build. Our kids help us collect feathers and stones; we panic about the logics of water for rebirthing ceremonies in the Yurt; we worry about just how the women will feel about being barefoot or if they will have a sacred teapot they could bring; we laugh at ourselves and hold space for each other as the planning process brings up pains and memories for us to process; we witness our relationship deepening as we move through challenges together; and then we meet a few days before and the download for the retreat really starts to flow. A last minute booking can have us reworking a ritual or adding in something new as the soul energy of each woman who comes co-creates the retreats with us. Often we start the retreat without completely knowing what the final ceremony will be. We have objects and a rough idea but the actual meat and meaning of it comes through the process that leads up to it making sure it is 'right' for the specific women.
All this allows us to facilitate from the moment, in a responsive, immediate way from the place of knowing within us, which ensures that all the women who come get what they need. Often at the end, as we come together to share, and we look around the circle at our sisters who look as changed by the experience as we feel, the fullness of what has happened hits us. It is amazing, sacred work and we feel blessed to offer it. Women often say at this point that they don’t know how we did it. It works because we don’t force the space, we try not to control or shape what is trying to speak from that place of Divine Knowing that we all have. We trust that Divinity knows what we need so much better than we do and we seek to honour that in every thing we do.
Each space we create throughout each retreat is an invitation to the women who come. We don’t expect or need anything from you. We’re not forcing any type of experience nor are we asking you to explain what is happening for you. We are just inviting you to be you. Our retreats will let you come to your edge and show you the potential for transformation in the moment but the choice to change remains yours. In the 5 or 6 years we have been doing this work one thing has become very clear: women are incredibly brave. If you show any woman where her limitations lie, she will always, always move beyond them. If you bring women together in sacred space, they will always, always hold their sisters until they fly.
We create a magical spiritual tapestry woven with love from fragments of myth, legend, story, female experience and spiritual traditions. Each retreat is a journey allowing your transformation, supporting you to open your heart, release your past and embrace your future. Our retreats empower you to listen to your intuition, connect deeply with your soul and rediscover your true voice.
Our Personal Journeys with Ceremony & Ritual
When I was pregnant with my second son, I was introduced to ritual. With support from my doula I sat by the water and released some old wounds that enabled the welcoming of this second child, a smoother birth, and an expansion into motherhood. It was a powerful process that also now marks a beginning of my journey with ritual and ceremony work; and this year, over 8 years later, I am almost ready to complete my mentorship in the sweat lodge ceremony.
When I first began I am not even sure I realised what was happening, now as I sit in lodge or other ceremony, I can often feel the process at work, with deep awareness and soul connection . My journey has grown and flourished and my life reflects this; and now I know this tool as a deep transformational method. Over and above discussion about our wounding, stepping into ritual space allows the release in the conscious and sub conscious levels. We can shift with, and on, a Soul level.
Meeting Jane was huge step in my journey. Her love for this work reflects my own and together our mutual ceremony work deepens. There is infinite ritual and ceremony, after 5 years together in this work, the spaces still keep unfolding in the moment, as we create each unique retreat.
Ceremony and ritual involves creating intention, form, and sacred space; it involves using objects, and elements; it is a special moment in time that welcomes growth and an opportunity to releases old patterns and wounds. The deeper you trust the process, the deeper your process will go. I now never doubt the impact, even if my consciousness is not always in full awareness.
They vary immensely, can take hours to prepare, and be very elaborate such as sweat lodge, or minutes to prepare and be very simple, such as sitting under a star lit sky or full moon with intension, or lighting a candle to bring light to something.
Create poignancy of the ceremony to reflect something you want from your life and stepping into this space welcome all that you are. Create love and depth, friendship and transformation. Create deep connection with your soul and weave what you wish for.
So why not join Jane and I on our special Women & Gaia retreats as we weave ceremony and ritual for empowerment, emergence, and embodiment into all that we are.
My husband always laughs at me because he remembers a comment I made years ago about ‘not really being a ritual kind of person.’ Definitely, a classic case of self denial... I expect I spoke from a place before I understood the amazing potential of ceremony to create spaces of empowerment, creativity, self-expression and deep connection with our sense of the Sacred. For me, sacredness is simply the appreciating the true value of life, ourselves and those we share our lives with.
The truth is that I love weaving ceremonies and rituals. I love the way ceremony allows us to magically journey through our hearts, to make decisions, and to create safe spaces where we can come face-to-face with our true selves, release emotion and glimpse more about what we offer the world. I have come to believe that when we lost the ritual habit as a culture, we lost a powerful way of making sense of the challenges and deeply celebrating the joys of everyday life. We lost a valuable, instinctive tool kit for navigating rites of passage and for coming together as community which celebrates each of us as unique and precious. Whenever I weave ceremony, it feels like a remembering of an old way of being alive. I feel like my ancestors are reaching out across space and time and that I am reaching out to the descendants I will never meet. I love to create ceremony which has our relationship with the Earth and the rhythms of our lives at its heart. It feels like a natural spirituality which places our natural Divinity at its centre without getting too formal or inaccessible to people whatever their personal beliefs and values. I find it deeply transformational and healing too.
I found ceremony accidentally through following my guidance and my inner remembering. I started creating them spontaneously as part of my self healing journey and spiritual practice. My ceremonial sense grew from my drama teaching background, through my Reiki Practice into the weaving of healing spaces for others which became my full time work over ten years ago. I was lucky enough to meet Suzy and to have the blessed opportunity to share in ceremony with her and to evolve these beautiful retreats together. Its been such a gift to deepen my practice alongside her at Sunny Brow. Thanks to Suzy and her family, Sunny Brow is an amazing example of how conscious living awakens the consciousness in the landscape and this adds even more depth to the rituals and ceremonies here. I am currently training as an interfaith celebrant to deepen my knowledge of ceremonial and spiritual practices from many faiths and traditions.
There is a place I go inside ceremonial spaces where I feel deeply connected to the whole of life. Its an incredible place – everything is possible there. It feels really clear what is important and what can be easily released and left behind. I find it so supportive to be able to really hear myself clearly and yet be in a space that is so deeply shared with others. I find that when I return to my everyday life after time in ceremony; I feel renewed, stronger, more able to connect with those I love with a greater appreciation of my value and purpose.
Its a huge privilege to hold others as they find their own sacred place and come to new understandings of themselves and their lives. Its amazing to witness. Transformations are awesome. I really hope to share with you soon
So much love,