Experiencing a Mystical Scotland Yoga Retreat – A Journey Inside + Out
August 11, 2015
Even the sideways rain that marked our arrival could not dampen the group’s enthusiasm.
It is supposed to be the height of summer, so all the locals are apologizing for the rain. In response, the common refrain is that if sunshine were the priority we’d have traveled elsewhere.
Instead, we come to Scotland as pilgrims, as a group of individuals intent on journeying into the mystic. Therefore, it’ll take more than a spot of downpour to stop us.
The greenness of the land is central to its mystical history and living magic. Jagged rocks grow soft with moss. Wee streams trickle through secret spaces where faeries surely play. Golf suddenly makes sense, as putting green quality turf is, pardon the pun, par for the course. The glens tremble and glow with a thousand verdant hues, in steep contrast with the clean black water of bottomless lochs which lick across the geography like flashes flowing from an ancient flame.
As our yoga host and resident Celtic priestess, Abby Tucker reminds us: nothing can be so green without an abundance of water. Quite a few of us have traveled from California, where these days the hills are a barren yellow-brown, and the rivers run nearly dry. To arrive in such a liquid country then, is a revelation.
The rain penetrates endlessly, its intensity waxing and waning in waves one can watch course across the land. The land, as obvious an incarnation of the Goddess as exists, is receptive to all the sky has to give and offers only softness and leafy nourishment in return.
The majesty of the land has been enhanced and fit to human needs by the visionary creators of ecoYoga. At first glance, one might be deceived into believing this is just another beautiful retreat center – a large central lawn with accommodations to the West, kitchen and dining room to the North, gathering space to the East, and overlooking Lochgilphead to the South.
Closer inspection reveals architecture that integrates the landscape from which it’s made (or is it vice versa?). To the North, there is a cozy yurt, and a geodesic dome that houses showers and a hot tub. To the West is a pristine yoga room from which you can hear lambs bleating over the roar of the waterfall.
There are two outdoor baths – upper and lower – fed by water from the stream, heated using solar and hydro-electric power. Turns out the entire compound is powered by solar and hydro, completely energy independent, off the grid.
Gardens to the South overflow with greens, berries and freshly laid eggs. There is a zip line for kids (of all ages). There is a sauna built into the hill like a hobbit-hole, and the stream running right outside its door is diverted into a cold plunge tub for when the heat becomes too much.
Harmonization of opposites – hot and cold, rain and sun – is a major theme this week. How the divine masculine engages with and supports the immanent divine feminine is a constant topic of conversation. Abby is weaving a unique blend of elemental Celtic (not to say Pagan) wisdom into tantra-informed yoga asana sessions.
The dance of the five elements is inextricable from the experience here. For example, the first full day of retreat took us across spectacular land, over soothing sea to a wind-whipped beach and a Celtic church where the presence of ethereal spirits is palpable.
There, we bore witness to a stained glass window depicting a pregnant Mary Magdalena holding hands with Jeshua, the Christ figure. This image is apparently quite controversial in certain circles, as Magdalen is usually thought of as a prostitute, whereas here she is shown in a position of honor, being supported by the one and only Son.
Some consider it radical to even represent the divine feminine, much less suggest that the masculine might serve Her, but indeed, such an understanding aligns with the timeless traditions of this place.
In the Druidic era (akin to the Vedic era, somewhere roughly between 5,000 and 20,000 years ago), the land as mother goddess was the sovereign, and she chose a king to serve as her consort. When the land ceased to thrive and be fertile, a new king was required to revitalize and serve the imminent goddess with fresh energy. Thus, it was understood that the divine feminine holds the power of creation, and the divine masculine is served and supports that process. They are equals playing complementary roles. Thankfully, this wisdom is arising around the world once again.
The genius of YOGASCAPES is that they make yoga the access point for so much more.
Twice daily 90-minute asana sessions can invigorate any body anywhere, but the potent alignment of teacher and location lends a sense of larger significance to the practice.
We have traveled a long way, and though we may have arrived for now, the pilgrimage is ongoing.
This time and place of retreat create a container for the journey inward.
We are all pilgrims in this world, continuously longing for a home that has been lost or taken away. Sometimes we must carry the body far off from its earthly residence in order to connect more clearly to that unmoving home which travels around with us, lives unchanging within us as we roam across time and traverse space.