In support of emerging centers, we’re delighted to share the first in a series of posts from Joanne Station, participant in the 2016 Gathering in Quebec, as we follow her unfolding journey.
Bell Mare Village: A Place to Meet, A Place to Retreat in Southern Idaho
(sometime in the future…)
By Joanne Station, Founding Visionary
It all began a year ago, when I embarked upon intensive spiritual work with my teacher Eliah Sentah in Boise, Idaho, in the US Pacific Northwest. In her 20th year of leading the 10-month process of Heartfire, Eliah Sentah guided the cultivation of relationships with our planet, our ancestors, our Christ consciousness and our own inherent power.
I familied with a diverse tribe of ten other seekers and surprised myself by committing to something I swore I’d never do again (i.e.; sweat lodges). I partook in other activities that, had I given them due consideration, would have scared the bejeebers out of me…I exposed my deepest hopes, flaws and fears (in a sweat lodge), wandered the desert welcoming snakes emerging from crawl holes, sat alone on a mountainside for days repeating vows to Great Spirit and humankind, and trusted in the process of learning my soul’s purpose.
By one month in—September 2015—the idea of creating a holistic center began to feel very real. My earth teacher, the horse, was revealed to me (in a sweat lodge). I became known to Tribe as South Horse Woman of the Wind Nation. I learned of the attributes of the bell mare—the mature alpha mare to whom the herd looks for nourishment and guidance. Bell Mare Village had its name.
Hold on…it may have started a few years earlier, when I was seeking a local retreat space for my Legacy of the Heart workshop. I learned that the Boise area was woefully lacking in conducive nature space for deep work. Maybe that’s when my little engine that could first began to think about chugging.
No, no, wait…it really all started in 2011, the fruit of study with my teacher James O’Dea, renowned peacemaker and advocate for social healing. During a four-day O’Dea-facilitated Peace Ambassador workshop in Crestone, CO (one of the most energetically juicy lands I’ve ever lain upon), I named my gift and wrote my soul’s job description:
“In a time of great discord and disconnection from self, family, community, Mother Earth and from our primordial core and ancient wisdom, I am called to be in service of reconnection. My work is to create and hold space—space for deep thought, deeper non-thought, reflection, expression, sharing and understanding. So that we may reconnect with ourselves, our families, our communities and Mother Earth. So that we may reunite with our primordial core and our vast, rich and guiding ancient wisdom that resides within. So that we may each become whole and loving, and enlightened toward our own highest divine purpose.”
Wow! Really? Okay, then…
Actually, I think it began prior, while working in corporate communications for a Fortune 50 food retailer. I was consigned to strategize and execute employee communications around the tough stuff happening in the business: reorganizations, downsizing, benefit changes, labor relations, merger integration, etc.
I found myself both intellectually and ethically unable to craft communications without fully understanding, “How does this affect the people?” I’d “What about…” the heck out of everything, which was not always welcomed, rarely invited, but generally appreciated in the end. In the course of my work, it became clear to me how incongruous corporatism can be with care for humankind and the Mother and peace and true prosperity.
Over the past 35 years I’ve worked with businesses comprised of teams of three to teams of 200,000, from startups to 100+ years of operation. Within those waters, I’ve too often seen companies being steered toward the motherlode of bottom-line profit, while good people in leadership positions mourned the demise of principles that were heaved overboard, because they simply weighed too much. This must change. And this is why Bell Mare Village will place strong emphasis on engaging corporations and other businesses as guests and participants in the exploration of how business serves humanity.
You know, maybe it first lit back in my rebellious fifth grade days at St. Peter’s Catholic school in Port Washington, Wisconsin. Two friends and I snuck off at recess and slithered our way into a dilapidated pioneer-era cabin adjacent to the schoolyard. Strictly off-limits, but sooooo alluring. It was all dust and mouse poop and splintered boards. All it needed was a good sweeping out, a few curtains, a couple of chairs and it would be the perfect place to get away, go back to a simpler, quieter time. It could be such a great place to retreat to…
Until we heard kids shouting and peered out a boarded up window to see the diminutive Sister Justina swiftly cutting through the field straight toward us, her punitive index finger tracing expletives towards heaven.
My first plans for a retreat space crushed, but not my dream.