I was walking Magnus the dog when I had the intuitive knowing that I would be taking a trip. Hmm. What was this about? Where was I going?, I lightly wondered, and let it go. Later that night, I knew. I experienced a feeling of psychic shock move through my system, a feeling I’ve come to identify as an intuitive communication of Truth, perhaps something I’d denied myself for too long, now demanding my acknowledgement and honoring.  I allowed the uncomfortable waves to move through my energy body, waited for the sensations to reveal their deeper message.

You’ve held space for others’ journeys. You want to take your own.

Oh, okay, here’s the trip from earlier. But where, when, how?…

My Ego chimed in with very reasonable suggestions: Isn’t Liz Gilbert teaching something in Bali, soon? No, no more teachers, you are the master teacher now. What about signing up for one of those artist-in-residence things you’ve seen? No, too people-y. Silence. Solitude. Stillness. Nothingness, emptiness and everything-ness. This is what my Soul asked for. It was a very specific request. 

I imagined the life of my favorite solitary artist– myself as her. Sitting in the Sun, long walks in nature, drawing, writing in my journal, cooking for one, reading by candlelight, watching the Moon rise.  I realized I’d always wanted to do this, this was a strong wish of mine, to be that alone. To go deeper into the I AM.

The personal retreat is a forgotten spiritual art. When we willingly let go of responsibility to anyone other than our Divinity, sensitivities, desires, yearnings, knowings submerged in the demands of everyday life, and relationship, can emerge. Mystics used retreat to get closer to the God, within. We, too, can retreat from the world, temporarily or regularly, to get closer to our Divine Self, and experience a deeper sense of alignment and presence. When we slough off identities, roles we play to others, other people’s energies, responsibilities, WE emerge.

Going deep into our bones is a way of rediscovering, gaining intimacy with, our deepest self. It is deeply restorative, nourishing, nurturing, a refilling of the well, and something all but lost and forgotten, even shamed, in our modern times.

Intuition, Sun, Mercury in Pisces and The Gem of Solitude

Mercury is retrograde 12 Pis-28 Aqu from 2/16-3/10/20. The Sun enters Pisces on 2/18/20. Pisces is the sign of the fishes, surrender, letting go and letting God/Spirit/Soul take the lead- something the mind typically finds challenging. Pisces also rules retreat, of course, because what better way to connect to Divine Consciousness than remove all distractions to that?

I was talking with a colleague recently about listening to that irrational inner knowing. Just as my intuition told me “you are going on a trip,” and then insisted that it happen without any external influences, intuition defies logic. At a time when your brain tells you that you should be more externally oriented – like needing/getting a new job, moving to a new community, or publishing a book (!)- your Soul tells you to retreat. To take a step back. Not move forward. Take a break. Have a nap. To not walk through that open doorway, no matter how attractive it looks to the Ego.

Listening to the irrational knowing within…forgoing “how it’s supposed to be done” and following the winding moonlit path, instead, to see what feels authentic for you… intentionally claiming solitude and privacy…Why are these traditionally feminine pursuits often so difficult for us to honor?

Because it’s not how our society is structured. From early on, every day we are put it classrooms with lots of people, taught how we should think (logically) and the right way to behave (conform to the group).

In Follow the Moonlit Path I talk about the necessity of stepping away from others and society, claiming privacy and solitude, for recentering into our fourth house energies.  But in the extroverted culture we live in, this is often discouraged, shamed even.  Stepping away from responsibility, “shoulds”, survival fears, tuning out external noise and our orientation toward tending to others in order to listen to and support the voice within… None of this is culturally or socially supported, generally.

More than a handful of introverted people have shared this particular guilt, with me: I should be more social, more compliant in socially superficial interactions, have more friends (not just one or two), I should like doing things, jobs, that “everyone else” seems to enjoy, I should get out of the house more…

I will always argue for way more self-acceptance, in this regard. Solitude is a precious gem. Without solitude, we cannot be healers, artists, writers, poets and wise teachers of Soul. We cannot become who we are.  For us, it fuels not one thing but everything.  Our solitude is worth protecting and cherishing.

Thoreau went into the woods because he wished to live deliberately, intentionally. I believe one of the reasons why people are in conflict in themselves is because the values they are living from are not of the Soul’s making, yet they don’t realize it. It’s like a fish who never cannot ever see that she’s swimming in dirty water because she has never not been in that water — which is an apt Mercury in Pisces metaphor. How can we feel truly purposeful, if we believe our purposeful life must look and behave in a certain way?  How can we feel successful, if we consistently view success through the Ego’s fear of lack? How can we value our deeply feeling and intuitive nature, if we feel it has no place or value in the world? How can we honor our grief, wounds or dark feelings, if we don’t give them the space to be felt?…

So, we retreat, to receive new perspective, gain clarity and a foster a deeper connection to our selves.

How to Retreat:

Decide to embrace your desire for solitude.  It really is a decision. You may feel social pressure around this choice, and that is important to name and feel. Yet: Will you be true to yourself, or placate others?

Follow your whimsy toward the right way to retreat, for you. I had a secret dream to live deliberately, in a certain way. It had tugged at me before. Your secret dreams can be very powerful. Likewise, what you feel has been forbidden, wrong, equally so; our secret dreams can be shamed into submission. Your retreat can be deep in nature or deep in the city. Solitude, time away and alone, without external stimulation or demands, is the key ingredient for going deep into oneself. How you do that is up to you.

-Make it comfortable and nurturing, for you. The thought of taking, say, a meditation retreat at a Buddhist retreat center sends me into waves of anxiety, not exactly enlightenment- inducing, because its not right for me. There is no “should” on how retreat is done. Your retreat may be in a posh hotel room for a weekend. Everyone has different comfort levels, but finding a level of comfort that’s feels authentic & right for you, is not only necessary in order for your nervous system to calm down – it’s loving and kind.

Be intentional. What separates a personal retreat from a holiday? Intention. Otherwise it is called a vacation. Hold an intention for your time, allow it to guide your daily choices, activities. Intentionality is a form of prayer. It’s a way of expressing our deep desire to be in alignment with Self. You might try: “Thank you for helping me recenter. Thank you for showing me how to connect more deeply with Divinity. Thank you for helping me to tune into my inner knowing, in this and in every moment.” 

-Let go of expectations. You may or may not walk away with an understanding of the big picture, or your life questions, answered. Making space in your consciousness for new awareness is kind of like cleaning your house, eliminating dust devils. It may just feel empty, at first. Trust you are creating space, and that it will yield something of value – perhaps when your perception has altered enough to see and value it.

-Jessica