Finally, the van starts to slow. It’s time.
You look excitedly out the window, even though you can barely see a thing without any streetlights.
You’ve successfully wrangled on all your necessary layers for the hike, your feet are toasty warm in your winter boots, and your legs are begging for a stretch after a long day of travel.
You step out of the van, and the cold tickles your nose as you reach to your forehead and click on your headlamp. Light illuminates your path. You’ve arrived.
It’s funny. You’re smiling — and excited! And it doesn’t even cross your mind that you’re thousands of miles from home, above the arctic circle in a tiny village with people you just met during the darkest week of the year.
This is the magic of Winter’s Womb.
The 20-minute walk to Arctic Hive goes by quicker than you’d imagined. Perhaps it’s the fact you’re impressed with the layers you brought… they’re actually keeping you warm! Or how you’re pleasantly surprised you made fast friends with fellow retreat guests on the journey north.
Or perhaps you’re just in awe of the courage it took to get to this moment... because you have absolutely no idea where you’re going because it’s completely dark outside, aside from a sliver of a moon and the light of your collective headlamps.
Suddenly, you notice a glow in the distance...
As you get closer, you notice that there are twinkle lights, strung through the trees, illuminating a world that just minutes ago, was completely dark. The group goes quiet, with only the crunch crunch crunch of snow under-foot. Arctic Hive’s yoga studio, wilderness lodge and cabins come into view, as faint outlines of towering mountains become visible in the distance as your eyes adjust.
“This is magic in real life,” you think to yourself.
This is the magic of Winter’s Womb.
I had to tell this story because that moment is one that I look forward to all year. Admittedly, I feel that vibe with every retreat we host. But Winter’s Womb always hits different — a little extra magic, being the darkest week of the year with the turn of a new chapter just a few days away.
And to answer your next question:
No, it's not completely dark all day!
Over the Winter Solstice, when Winter's Womb is happening, we have four hours of "twilight" every day without the sun coming over the horizon. It's hard to put into words — you just need to experience it for yourself! We spend much of those four “daytime” hours outside exploring, and then as the darkness sets in, we’re usually winding down with restorative yoga and a delicious meal together.
For reference, all the photos I've put in this email were taken during an actual Winter's Womb retreat.
As the days goes on, I love seeing the camaraderie our guests feel with a group of women they’ve just met... their child-like wonder to see “Arctic Mascara” — which is when ice crystals from our breath stick to our eyelashes in the cold temps, making it seem like we have white mascara on!
If all goes according to our master plan, the Northern Lights silently paint the sky out the window each night.
And something that might surprise you about this retreat (and our REWild retreats) is that as much as half our attendees have little-to-no experience with yoga. They are open to it, and here for the experience... but they arrive as a blank slate.
I say all this because we’re headed into the “season of stuff.” Candy, mountains of food, gifts, parties and big ticket sales at every store. There will be money that needs to be spent, money that needs to be saved, and — perhaps — there will be resources carelessly spent because, well... ’tis the season.
The more time I spend living in the arctic, the more I’m reminded of an important truth:
We don’t take any stuff with us when we die.
Morbid, sure... but true. The magic I feel when I put on a snazzy new item of clothing can fade overnight, just as the vibrancy of the fabric fades after a few washes.
On the other hand, the magic of the things we see and the adventures we take? Those stick with us if they’re meaningful enough.
Those are the things that cause a welling up in our heart — that put life into perspective — and that feed our soul with the simplicity of being at ease in nature.
And if you’re anything like the guests who’ve visited before you: A visit to the Brooks Range will leave an imprint on your heart that will last a lifetime. If not this year, perhaps 2024 or 2025. We’re not going anywhere.
(Although, scientists do predict this winter will be the best Northern Lights in 20 years so…)
If you have any questions and you're on the fence, don't ever hesitate to shoot me an email! Just a few thoughts I’m grateful to share with you today.
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