Ritual + Practice for the Urban Homestead

WHAT: Ritual + Practice for the Urban Homestead
WHEN: September 28 – October 3, 2018
WHERE: Hollyhock Lifelong Learning Centre, Cortes Island, BC

HOW MUCH: $575 CDN + food and accommodation
(Registration must be made directly through Hollyhock)

This workshop is for people facing the world as it is, staring wide-eyed and reaching sideways for another’s hand.

It is for people seeking emancipation from the myth of progress. It’s for those who need to gather and grieve a lack (or the disappointments) of community and the difficulties of collective action.

It’s for the disaffected among us who are mourning and burying what is, and feel ready to start birthing and nurturing what’s to come.

This program is for collapse-aware people who haven’t thought much about spiritual bereftness, and for spiritual seekers who haven’t thought much about climate change and societal decline.

This program is for those who wonder how we’re going to repair what’s worth keeping of this world; those who believe there is a way, and suspect it’s not the path of technology or innovation.

The skills we need to repair our relationships with each other, with the natural world, with the non-earthly worlds, are learnable.

They are uncomfortable to learn and difficult to practice, but do this we must.

And we must do this together.

So together we’ll work gently to resolve relational trauma caused by western culture – the trauma we carry that affects our partnering, our parenting, the wild, the workplace, and our worldview.

We’ll attune and attend to the land.

We’ll labour together in ways both sacred and mundane.

We’ll bring ritual to our relationships and live together as though we depend on each other, void of optionality, and supported by forces larger than ourselves.

We’ll explore not-new-but-unfamiliar ways of responding to shared predicaments like climate change, colonialism and patriarchy. We’ll share the grief and rage and despair and weight, and also the radiant warmth that comes from being witnessed.

This program is a time to integrate the rustic and the noble, marvel at the sublime shit show of it all, and remember what it means to become fully human, in this world, at this moment, wherever we are.


People always want to know what the deliverables will be when they invest this much time and money.

We’re a bit resistant to that metric, but we can guarantee:

grieving outcomes

raging outcomes

discomfort outcomes

sauerkraut outcomes

connecting-the-dots outcomes

re-thinking your life choices outcomes

stretching your capacity to inhabit your body and your life outcomes

increasing your tolerance for intimacy outcomes

defanging toxic masculinity outcomes

feeling the weight of our armour outcomes

allowing yourself to feel your love for the world again outcomes

permitting others to see your fear and fatigue outcomes

acknowledging the settler within outcomes

acknowledging fragility outcomes

illuminating patriarchy outcomes

commiseration outcomes

being with collapse-aware people who still experience joy within late capitalism outcomes

healing into secure attachment outcomes

communing with the other-than-human realms in a non-appropriative way outcomes


And bonuses!

There’s also a high likelihood of new friends outcomes and drinking late into the night with voices hoarse from weeping and singing outcomes, though that we can’t guarantee. (But wouldn’t that be great?) You’re going to have to bring at least some of that into the mix with you, but we’ll do our part.

And although there is, of course, a heavy emphasis on delivering a deep in-class experience full of rich, toothsome content…


We think the out of class time is just as important.

During the week, we’ll be holding space for conversations, musing, noodling, and muddling through challenging territories.

We’ll contemplate over breakfast with you and integrate over dinner with you and walk it off in the forest with you. We’re here for it. Bring your questions and conundrums.

We have the ears to hear. We have hearts that can hold the tension of no-easy-solution.

We’re happy to be there with you, really in the thick of it.

This program incorporates:

  • morning sessions in-class
  • afternoon sessions in contact with our bodies and/or the natural world
  • some evenings by candlelight with soft voices and soothsaying and myths from the very, very, very old times
  • learning basic concepts and tools for systems thinking
  • a flexible framework for resilience through the collapse-regeneration cycle (whether personal, spiritual or societal)
  • a primer session on attachment theory applied to partner, family and community systems
  • and more…

Carmen Spagnola is a Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist, a licensed wilderness guide, and professional intuitive. She’s currently training with Diane Poole Heller in trauma recovery and attachment re-patterning.

Ruben Anderson has a degree in sculpture, an Industrial Design degree, decades’ experience working in and teaching Sustainability, is a sought-after Behaviour Change Consultant, and a thoughtful gardener/farmer. You can learn more about his work on his blog, The Small And Delicious Life.

Who is this program for?

  • people trying to hold themselves and/or their family together while things fall apart
  • disaffected Millenials who know they’ve not been given the eldering they need to manage the mental, emotional, and spiritual strain of the world they’re inheriting
  • those beginning to wonder if maybe hope is bullshit but don’t want to feel hopeless
  • and also those who believe hope is not necessary to proceed
  • people wanting a life connected to the earth and food system but aren’t wanting/ready to go off grid
  • folks who squirm when things get a bit too permaculture-will-save-the-world-y
  • parents concerned that they might not have the knowledge their kids are going to need to survive
  • elders now learning the stories they were told were wrong, and don’t want to die with the wrong stories
  • people who’ve thought about resource depletion but not so much about spiritual bereftness

Taking a big-picture view for just a moment: we’re pretty serious preppers.

Meaning, we’re studious, detail-oriented, and prepared for any eventuality. (Care to take a look at our earthquake preparedness plan?)

We’re happy to share with you all of our knowledge, experience, research, skills, failures and triumphs, presence and caring, and sometimes embarrassingly intimate details of how we craft a small and delicious life while coping with the constant stress of living at the end of empire.


Hollyhock is a not-for-profit educational institute dedicated to lifelong learning and cultural transformation, through courses, conference and community.

We are grateful to gather on the traditional territories of the We Wai Kai, Kwiakah, Homalco, and Klahoose First Nations. Cortes Island is a tiny jewel on Canada’s wild west coast. We think the pilgrimage to and from the island is part of the magic.


Photography credits for this page: Amanda McNaughton


Hollyhock Lifelong Learning Centre will be happy to receive your deposit.

Register Here

Or call them at 1-800-933-6339

What They Say…

I have participated in two retreats with Carmen and Ruben and it is difficult to describe the effects it has had on my life, but they are all encompassing in the most wonderful way. Their knowledge and expertise is off the charts, but it is their authenticity and compassion that make you fall in love with them. There aren't enough accolades to do them justice. Do yourself and your loved ones a tremendous favour by participating in their workshop. You will not regret it.
Phyllis M.
Carmen and Ruben are skilled and prepared facilitators. They excel at creating a space where participants feel safe to share beliefs, experiences and information. I have retreated with Carmen and Ruben three times and I always leave feeling inspired, connected and cared for.
Cathy P.