Portals to the Self
Retreats for Women Seeking Grounding and Grace
the circle sisters news

Newsletter December 2014
Happy holidays to all our circle sisters! As we enter this time of holidays, holy days and rituals, the common theme across all traditions is light … the lighting of candles, the marking of intention and anticipation, and the abiding faith in the power of light, even when the world literally and figuratively is very dark.
We have been reflecting lately on light and darkness and their inextricably woven relationship. If we were living more tribally and in synchrony with the earth and her rhythms, we would be spending much time around fire these days … time with the hearth as well as the bonfire, with our immediate families and our larger community. The fire would sustain us with its warmth, the hearth would cook our food, and our stories and kinship would sustain our hearts and spirits. 
As we gaze into the firelight, at first we tend to see only the flames, but after a little while we see the interplay between light and dark. Then, we see what inhabits the dark: shapes and movement that may begin to emerge into our consciousness. Rather than encouraging us to banish the dark, we begin to see it's inextricable with the light, and the beautiful dance they create. It becomes possible to simultaneously hold the light and darkness together, literally one image holding both fields. It is also possible because the dark is held in the light. The penumbra of light helps us tolerate seeing our dark, hard-to-bear thoughts, feelings, and wishes. As we hold our darkest parts, surrounded by light, the shame is bearable and literally melts into lightness and warmth, creating self acceptance and compassion. Shame grows in the dark, in secret, in the refusal to name and recognize. The soft light of the fire, the company of our kin and elders makes it possible to see and recognize those parts of ourselves that we have dismembered and that need to be reclaimed and transformed.
Fire pits are selling like hotcakes as the urge to sit around the fire is powerful and wise. Let's avoid the conflagration of our overstimulated nervous systems while we sit at the edge of the fire. Instead, gather yourself and your people, dream and dance by the fire, tell stories, make music and make love. Offer yourself the gift of self forgiveness and compassion this holy season. In healing ourselves, we heal the world.
Love and light,

Ceci & Karen



I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that’s wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a gravesite
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots 

a dream once lost
among sorrows and song

                                - Rainer Maria Rilke

Register Now!  Isla Women's Retreat in  2015

March 14- 21, 2015

Portals to the Self: A Women's Circle by the Sea
Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Space is limited
We invite women to gather for retreat and replenishment on Isla Mujeres, an island in the tranquil turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean. This island is sacred to Ixchel, the Mayan Moon Goddess and historically a place for healing rituals among the Mayan people. We will create a circle of abundance, compassion and support as we weave together our stories and wisdom. By honoring Ixchel’s tradition, we become midwives of our dreams and visions. Storytelling, yoga, journaling, poetry, guided imagery, and more…will serve as forms to access the blessings and beauty that flow in each of us. Participants stay at Na Balam, an intimate, boutique hotel on the beach where landscaped trails, tropical gardens and the beauty of the ocean will provide a perfect abode for the retreat. 

Please visit our website for pictures of our retreats and more information. Our Facebook page is Portals to the Self. 
Feel free to email us also!




Taller Lenateros is a cultural society, an alliance of Mayan and mestizo women and men, founded in 1975 by the Mexican poet Ambar Past. Among its multiple objectives is praise and dissemination of Amerindian and popular cultural values: song, literature and art; the rescue of old and endangered techniques such as the extraction of dyes from wild plants; and generating worthwhile and decently-paid employment for women and men who have no studies, no career, no future.
This inspiring group has created a multi-ethnic space for artists and becoming-artists. They foment artistic creation among the most marginalized communities. The Woodlanders invent, teach and exercise the art of hand-made paper, binding, solar silkscreen, woodcuts and natural dyes. They benefit the ecology by recycling agricultural and industrial wastes in order to create crafts and objects of art. Taller Lenateros survives thanks to the sale of artist books, postcards, posters, and printed shirts.
The taller cultivates a group environment in which all the members of the Workshop participate in decisions, contributing ideas, solutions and work-proposals in order to benefit the individual and the group. Although not all from one same culture and they speak different languages, they are putting together a common project. The members were once servants, washer-women, wandering vendors and unemployed, and now they own their own business.
In our retreat set in the ancient Mayan Island of Women, Isla Mujeres, we read from their first published book, Incantations: Song, Spells and Images by Mayan Women…the fruit of the work of 150 people across 30 years … the first book written, illustrated and put together by the Mayan people in more than a thousand years, since the First Motherfathers made their sacred codices.  We encourage you to read more about this amazing collective and visit their website.



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Isla Women's Retreat | 2460 Fairmount Blvd. Suite 320 | Cleveland Heights | OH | 44106