We had our last retreat 5 month ago - and we're having our next one this weekend. We (being my wife Nina Manolson and co-facilitator Linda Davis) had to push it forward a month, to October of this year. The reason for that was that since the May Gathering - opening an actual storefront (something I haven't had in 25 years) - became a possibility...and then a reality!
"Traditionally" (our first was last Fall, of 2016), these events are supposed to happen every 4 months, at the big seasonal shifts: Spring/Summer (the Growing Time); Fall (the Time of Harvest & Preparation); and Winter (the Time of Dormancy and Regeneration). I pride myself in capturing a summary, a review for you (and also for me!), to feel "digested" and processed around the last one, so I can prepare (and put into perspective) the following event.
"G1" (my simple nickname for each Retreat) - our first Gathering - was originally conceived as a Conference, but I soon realized (in the planning stages) that turning it into a symposium with different presenters, etc. was not where it was headed. What folks were looking for - and us too - was a coming together...something more intimate...less academic.
That kickoff event (in September of 2016) was logically focused on my Chakra / "Energy Zones" paradigm, and a fantastic spiral layout (or "constellation") was configured to show off the big players in each vibrational category.
Come G2 (January of 2017) we honed in on the Heart Chakra (it being near Valentine's Day, when I usually host some such Heart-oriented event).
That second Gathering, we didn't repeat the Crystal Labyrinth, which was such a success at the first Gathering (but we were okay letting it go). Each time has to be different. Still, there are continuities we enjoy threading into the events, time to time.
"G2" (my abbreviated title for the 2nd Gathering) - like the first - featured Spirit Stations, whereby attendees were rotated through what turned out to be a hard to craft (and shepherd along) schedule of 7-10 minute mini-sessions - with myself - and the other practitioners (including guest massage people, who came in specifically for that purpose, during the longer, 2 hour segment of the afternoon).
Ultimately, we decided that type of agenda might best be served during a total-receiving Spa Day, to be scheduled in the future, between Gatherings...maybe in later 2017...but more likely into 2018.
To the right we have a particularly fabulous photo of Nina (from G2), leading mindful Yoga. We've always felt that movement is a key ingredient of this experience, as without it, we tend to forget that we are in a body (complete with all its limitations and astounding capabilities).
Without our body, what have we? We cannot ignore it, we must engage, embrace, and be with it. That is somewhat the specific message of G4, our Fall 2017 Gathering, which is focused on Body and Self.
During the Gatherings, instead of being passively served (or taking in exclusively), we are asked to "work" - to participate more actively (and not just physically, as mentioned above), both in the learning process - but also in terms of Sharing oneself with others.
Every time we come together, we are blessed with the company of extraordinary people, not (necessarily) famous, and certainly not showy - but real and sincere - and willing to be present 100%. We are reliably enriched as a result. If you think this is all about you, you're wrong.
It is - of course (and ultimately) about you (without you, what have you?) - but by hearing others' experiences, we gain valuable perspective, and transcend our often myopic world view.
In two primary ways, G3 (May of 2017), took us in new directions - both in terms of self expression - and also in terms of group activity. One such opening came towards the end, when I knew I wanted folks to "work out" with one another, maybe in pairs...but I wasn't sure exactly how it would come together. After an early attendee left (to go to another obligation, in the afternoon), I did some quick math and realized I could group everyone into threes. We did that, and everybody worked on each other (within the context of their little trios).
What happened in each of those sessions was that two took turns to work on the third person, who simply received, but not till after "the receiver" told the others what it was they wanted to have worked on (based on some earlier introspection). I had picked out 3 types of stones you could work with - one from Foundation (Dragon Quartz); a multi-chakra stone (Auralite) - and (our first time working with these)...a Channel stone (in this case, Lemurian Quartz points).
Basically, everyone found this exercise mind blowing, because they experienced the gentle generosity and immense healing powers of their fellow attendees. After having given everyone direction, and gone around to check in from a distance, I realized I'd unleashed a healing juggernaut - the specifics of which I could not even hear - never mind partake in, as I wanted to keep my distance from the magical process that was unfolding.
Another major departure (or embarkment) for us - in G3 - was the opportunity to tap right into our subconscious using artwork. We'd had some colored pencils last time, and folks were invited to draw in their journals. In fact, journaling was also an option during "private" time (it really helps with introspection), but folks unanimously gravitated towards our active and engrossing art making opportunity.
Kyle had been inspired by Inner Circle member Katie Crommett's extraordinary artistic abilities, and they'd met to explore what this could look like. As usual - what we plan, and what happens - are two different things. One of the great things about these Gatherings, is that they take on a dynamic of their own.
Without over thinking or micro-managing, fantastic things happen.
I've realized that my whole approach to Crystals reflects both a drive to reason, to logic, to consistency AND a healthy respect for, and openness to Inspiration, Intuition, Channelling, and the Irrational.
A main way I provide context for each event, is through the primary stones chosen to represent the overarching topic at hand. Above, towards the top of this blog, you'll see the first spiral pictured, which showcases the primary stones of the Energy Zone continuum that begins "beneath" (or around) us - courses up through our bodies - and reached up into the Astral Realms of Open Space. The second spiral image above mimics this progression, but with smaller stones, which I find more useful in working on individuals.
At our Heart Centered Gathering, the major players were Nephrite Jade and Lepidolite (furthest from me, in the photo); Smoky Quartz and Malachite (to the right); Rose Quartz and Kunzite (to the left); and in the center: Milky Quartz and Bloodstone.
These variously have to do with the qualities of Soothing (Mama Gaia's embrace); Connection / Relationship; Forgiveness and Emotional Expressiveness; Universal Love and Higher Love. The stones in the center reflect Nurturance / Compassion; and Self in Community. I chose to also include - closest to me - a large Green Fluorite sphere, to represent Spirit Community (a higher echo of the Bloodstone); and also an enormous double terminated Tangerine Quartz (since sold)...and I honestly forget why...it's more of a Belly stone (but must have had a reason for being there, at the time).
Wonders of Quartz is always a tremendously more ambitious undertaking (I've put it on a few times), because it involves SO many more stones. I'd previously (at the earlier Gatherings) made a laminated "cheat sheet" with key Crystals of the various energy zones. It was one sided. This time, I had to create a two sided sheet because I had to feature nearly a hundred varieties of Quartz (and plug them all into their respective Energy Zone designations).
From the photo above, you can see some sub-groupings. There's Vision and Source over to the left; next (around the sphere) is Channel. On the far side (with the big Citrine) is Self, with Voice diminutively in the middle. Closest to us is Heart, with Healing opposite, on the far side. Multi-Chakra stones are in the center right. And at the bottom, we have Foundation, Root, and Belly featured.
Mentioned above are 2 types of stones we'd never worked with - at a Gathering - specifically Channel stones (which clear Quartz generally is considered to be, by me); and also Multi-Chakra stones (like Auralite, which combines "high" and "low" energies).
There was a LOT going on - MUCH to learn and assimilate - but I trimmed it down for the afternoon hands on sessions. Between art projects and breakaway groups, everyone was able to make it real, and apply the general knowledge to themselves. In fact, the response was so positive that everyone was wanting more, and feeling like they could have gone even deeper...which why we have follow up events...so whether you've never done one of these before, or you've done all of them, you can jump right in and get to the core of the matter at hand.
To close out this Blog, I'll leave you with a few non-rock pictures. Here to the right is a wonderful Kale salad. After the 1st Gathering, we decided to keep everyone on premises - helps with time and bonding - so we brought in food: breakfast, snacks, and lunch...all thanks to Nina's natural food gourmet talents.
Another aspect of the event, which kept us from getting too heady, and nourished us on a different level, was Linda Davis' Soundscaping, portrayed here to the left. Linda accompanied us through Meditations, private times of introspection, making art, group sessions. Hers was the soundtrack of our experience. Linda also is a wonderful facilitator and speaker of Truth - great to coordinate - and actualize with!
We're looking forward with anticipation to this Sunday's Retreat - the "G4" - about "Body: Image, Peace, and Progress." Continuity will include Linda's soundscapes; Nina's extraordinarily nourishing and natural food; art, sharing and mutual healing. New will be the group of stones we work with - at first I'd thought also to include Self and Root - but I think we'll focus more on Foundation and Belly. Nina's bringing in a new composite Body-Current movement form for us to enjoy (first thing in the morning).
AND...we'll be in the new space! Portal Crystal Gallery will be closed for the day, as we take over and do our thing. I foresee a real progression - from what we talk about and explore in the AM - through how we resolve the day in the afternoon. Once again, we'll have met the Season head on, and come to our own terms with it, and ourselves. Looking forward to this and future - now daily (with the new shop) opportunities - to engage people and facilitate transformation!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kyle Russell has been working with Crystals for exactly 30 years - not a geologist - but certainly an expert, in variety and quality, a guide to many, and now more. The recent opening, just weeks ago, of the Portal Crystal Gallery in Arlington Center (Metro-Boston, MA) has given Kyle a major leg up on sharing what he has to offer with an ever larger circle of Crystal lovers and casual enthusiasts. Astoundingly, the Gallery is also home to Art, featuring new creators monthly, and now also a steady stream of classes on topics from Feng Shui and Reiki, to Crystals, Tantra, Body Image, and Shamanic Healing. Feel free to visit www.PortalCrystalGallery.com, and sign up for our store specific newsletters athttp://bit.ly/PORTALNEWS. CrystalConcentrics you can get right here, by Subcribing on this site.
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