Winter Solstice 2012 – Ceremony and Retreat in Scotland

Ws2012The Winter Solstice and the New Year retreat was the first retreat I attended that lasted for nearly 2 weeks. Before I came to the Esoteric Retreat Centre in Scotland I decided that the purpose of my visit will be to fortify the understanding of why I’m doing the inner work. The objective of the retreat was that every day each one of us would have the opportunity to organize daily activities and practices. Retreat started with intensive preparation for the Winter Solstice.

The Winter Solstice ceremony is very symbolic. Every aspect of the ceremonial circle and people attending have its own meaning. Externally, the event represents the creation emerging from the chaos at the Dawn of Creation. Internally it is about the birth of the spiritual child within. This Child is a spiritual force permeating the Cosmos, known by different names in different cultures, one of the most famous name being the Christ (for more information on how to do this ceremony and the symbolism behind it, click here) . The entire Winter Solstice is about tuning with and understanding the eternal cosmic principles related to this time of the year. Visit the following link for more information on the mysteries of the Winter Solstice.

After the Solstice we did different practices, mostly focusing on astral projection and utilizing meditation for self-knowledge. On Christmas we had a song night and after that a person was guiding a very good visualization practice of the Nativity scene. For The New Year’s Eve we had a very nice gathering around a bone-fire. As most of us were from different countries around Europe, some were singing the event-themed song in their own language. It was nice and joyful event.

Another event that was very good was a night dedicated to mantras. Eight or so of us were in the lounge and we decided to do mantras for the evening. The session was guided by a professional flute player. We chanted mantras for activating the faculty of clairaudience so to have deeper experience with listening to the sounds. We did mantras E, EN and ENRE. At the end we did mantra Aum Chi Va Tun E while the person was playing a Sufi improvisation on flute at the same time, guiding us through the musical octaves. We started with lower ones while the person played higher, and then eventually we reached high octaves while he played the lower ones. I was immersed in the sound. The room had the radiance of high energy and spiritual vibrancy. I felt that all of us are experiencing something profound and deep, which enabled us to stay focused on the sound. It was an incredible experience during which I felt a spiritual energy within me, giving peace and inspiration. We stopped with chanting, and the silence inundated the room. I was enjoying that silence so much, feeling ecstatic in the inner feeling of spiritual energy and peace.

The entire stay in Scotland brought me something I never thought I would gain. Internally speaking, it was  difficult due to various egos, but the learning and strength I gained made it all very worthwhile. This new learning has modified some of my goals, and I have also achieved the initial purpose of going there in the first place – I feel more serious about spiritual work and understand more the necessity of awakening. I also feel more connected to some of the people that were there, and understand more the value of time and how precious it is. It’s quite an experience to live with people with whom you share the same goals. Purifying oneself of all the inner illusion and darkness is very difficult, but you can get much strength when you see others doing it too, striving for the same thing as you do. I’m very grateful for the gained experience, and I hope that in some ways I helped others as well.

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Memories from Slovakian retreat

It is now over a year since the retreat of the Gnostic movement took place in Slovakia. It was my first big spiritual retreat which had about 50 participants from different places around the world, such as Canada, Australia, Greece, UK etc. We were accommodated in chalets in the middle of the Carpathian mountain. Close to us flowed a big stream which added a lot to the atmosphere of the place. As we arrived a teacher gave us a room schedule, and after we were accommodated the retreat has officially started. We set our main subject of practical investigation for the duration of the retreat. That subject was astral travel and the goal was to investigate astral projection and to increase chances of having it through methods such as waking up in astral from dreams and projecting directly to the astral.

The next day we went for an awareness walk in the morning in an amazing natural area. We soon arrived at a big meadow surrounded by mountains full of trees, with a stream flowing close to us. After sitting in a circle we commenced with a meditative practice followed by a discussion about some practical aspects of the esoteric teachings. The walk continued and we set a goal to do at least fifty reality checks. (Reality checks are checks where one questions the reality in which one is in, with the purpose of waking up in a dream.)

I have found this particular walk to be very strong. I was uplifted by the group strength and group effort to be aware of the present moment, which made it easier for me to be aware. I felt peaceful and in tune with the nature around me. After that we had practical discussions and practices such as mantras, concentration and astral projection.

On a third day a teacher who organized the retreat surprised us when he arrived to the retreat with Edith Pritchard. She is the wife of Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub) and has many years of experience of teaching and practicing esoteric teachings. Edith started by giving us an inspirational talk about astral projection and how to achieve it. At that time we were in the main hall of our accommodation centre where we gathered throughout the retreat for talks and some practices.

The next morning at breakfast Edith told us some insightful things about awareness and its relation to spiritual work and astral projection. After that we met in our meeting hall that I previously mentioned. This was a very interesting moment. All fifty of us were there, sitting in silence and doing our best to be aware. Soon Edith came and commented how the energy of the room is now much better. I found this interesting because there really is a lot to our internal state and its influence on environment.

That day we dedicated our entire focus to increasing chances of astral projection, whether through regular practices, reality checks, awareness etc. At the evening we gathered around a bon fire. Teachers that came all the way from Australia guided practices and gave us some insights about astral projection. At one point during that evening we vocalized a mantra which helped me enormously to overcome some negative internal state that I was experiencing. Mantras can be really powerful and can clear our internal emotional and mental mess so that we can see things clearly and objectively.

The fifth and the last day was the most powerful day for me. It was a sunny and pleasantly warm day. We started by having an awareness walk in nature, guided by Edith. Before lunch Edith guided a practice which entailed visualizing ourselves flying out of the planet Earth, into space, flying out of our solar system, through our galaxy and out of it, and then trying to fly beyond all galaxies, with intention to see what is there. We did that while laying down in a meadow. Even though I didn’t have any substantial results from it, I felt something very nice by doing this practice.

Throughout that day we did various practices and had discussions and talks. Edith explained to us some important thing about spiritual path, and those who had questions about it asked her. After dinner she guided a practice which entailed laying in a meadow and looking at the stars. She told us that when we feel down or overwhelmed by our inner negativity, we can look at the stars on a clear night, which can give us strength to move on along the path.

After that we went back to our hall where she gave the last official talk for the retreat. The talk was about the spiritual journey and our spiritual potential, and some other things related to it. After that we all gathered around the bon fire, and just contemplated the fire and reflected on this retreat experience. I cannot put into words how positive was the effect that this evening had on me. Positive is not an adequate word, but I don’t know any word which would describe how I felt then. I noticed that everyone was spiritually affected. There was silence around the fire. It seemed like words were unnecessary at that moment, the moment which I believe was for all of us so alive and filled with deep mystery.

On the next morning we went back to Vienna and Bratislava, from which people caught their airplanes, trains and buses back home. The retreat was over, but the feeling of it stays. Hopefully we can all use what we have gained from that retreat so that we can get closer to that which is real. I’m very grateful to everyone who participated in this retreat, without whom this retreat wouldn’t be what it was, and also to Edith for her precious talks and guidance.