May 112016



A workshop with Toko-pa

Date: June 26th, 2016
Place: Red Cloud Yurt, Duncan, BC

Most of us think of belonging as a place, that if we keep searching, we might one day come upon it, wholly intact. But what if belonging is not a place at all but a skill, or set of competencies? In this workshop,Toko-pa explores what she calls the ‘competencies of belonging’ with a focus on dreamwork as an active practice which brings us back into relationship with the parts of ourselves from which we’ve become estranged.

“To make a courtship of a dream, we must sit near it and learn what it loves and what it longs for. If we can make an invitation of ourselves, wildness might decide to approach us.”

This workshop is a blend of instruction and embodied practice. Participants are encouraged to bring a dream they’d like to work on. (10 am – 4pm bring your own lunch)

LOCATION: Red Cloud Yurt


Workshop is limited to 25 participants

$120 Earlybird (before June 10th) $140 (after June 10th)

Cancellation Policy: Any registration cancellations before June 10th will receive a full refund minus a $20 administration fee. After June 10th you will receive a 50% refund minus a $20 administration fee. Because we have limited space, no refunds can be issued for cancellations after June 20th.

Duncan Workshop (June 26, 2016)
Apr 092016

Illustration by Ilonka Karasz

We all lose our bearing from time to time. Whether precipitated by a major event, or a gradual becoming lost, this is when the horizon you had been following disappears – and in its place, a persistent anxiety searches for the new direction of our lives.

But from what have we become lost, or dis-located, and how can come into location again? The first thing lostness makes obvious is that whatever we’d been following, though it may have provided a seasonal purpose, has now fallen away. It has completed its resonance with our lives, taken what it needs of our service, and we must now come into relationship with our next becoming.

But we can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we stand. In our lostness we have a chance at coming to know our enduring values, and learning to stand behind them unequivocally. This way, when something inferior comes calling for your sponsorship, you’ll know it instantly and turn it away. Because to settle for halfway love is to drift further into dislocation.

We also can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know from what we originate. The loss of purpose that so many of us feel is greater than the trajectory of our careers and personal lives, it is a cultural ailment which arises out of forgetting. Our lives are like the fruit of a heritage seed: Each of the generations that has preceded us has contributed to our life’s survival. There is an ancestral momentum to which we are beholden, and which carries us forward when we are in step with it.

To hear this momentum, we must turn towards the soul. There, in our dreams, are the clues to what we love and what our lives long for. So drop your maps and listen to your lostness like a sacred calling into presence. Here, where you may be tempted to take up false belonging, ask instead for an introduction to that which endures. This place without a foothold is the province of grace. It is the questing field, most responsive to magic and fluent in myth. Here, where there is nothing left to lose, sing out of necessity that your ragged heart be heard. Send out your holy signal and listen for the echo back.

To participate in one of Toko-pa’s upcoming courses on Dreams, please visit the calendar of events.

Apr 062016

Embodying the Dream: 2nd Annual Dreaming Retreat

Dates: November 16-20th, 2016
Place: Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

Last year, women came from all over the world to this magical island in the sea with the shared intention of dreaming together in council. It was such a meaningful experience for us, that I vowed to make this an annual retreat. Embodying the Dream is a place of reunion for those of us who crave community with other women dreamers. Whether meeting for the first time or weaving in deeper, we practice at belonging together through embodied dreamwork.

To give you a sense of how a retreat day unfolds, the mornings are magic as we tend to our dream journals and sacred altar in shared silence, while the mottled sky bathes us in diffuse light. After a yummy organic breakfast, we dive right into dreamsharing. Throughout the day, we dance, grieve, laugh and play with our dreams! We feast under Stowel Lake Farm’s vaulted roofs and luxuriate in the land’s many other generosities. And in the evenings we gather for ceremony around the sacred fire, singing and drumming our longing into the smoke until we collapse again into the dreaming.

Stowel Lake Farm is located in the gorgeous south end of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. This breathtaking retreat centre offers a variety of in-residence accommodation and is a short ferry ride from Swartz Bay, Victoria (Victoria is on Vancouver Island). Registration includes 3 gorgeously crafted meals a day, using mostly locally grown and organic foods. Stowel Lake Farm is an extraordinary living example of community and heart.

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For more information about the farm, visit


Stowel Lake farm has a number of beautiful buildings including heated yurts to accommodate us. There are 4 private rooms available at an extra cost (as availability permits) and the rest are shared spaces with 1-3 women. To see the selection of rooms, please download this brochure of Accommodation (8MB pdf file). You will be given an opportunity to express your room preference on the registration form, but keep in mind it is first-come-first-serve.



Driving: Use this address for Google maps: 190 Reynolds Rd, Salt Spring Island B.C.

Air: There are two airports nearby – in Victoria and Vancouver – but both require a ferry ride to Salt Spring Island. It is recommended that you fly into Victoria if possible, because it’s just one short sail to Salt Spring from there.

Ferries: The sail from Victoria (Swartz Bay) to Salt Spring Island (Fulford Harbour) is 35 minutes, whereas the ferry from Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to Swartz Bay is 1:35 minutes, after which you’ll need to make a 2nd connection to Fulford Harbour. Please make sure to plan ahead for your sailing time, so you can arrive for our check-in time between 3-5pm on Friday. For a full list of fares & schedules, please visit

Shuttle:  If you need a ride to the retreat centre to & from the Fulford Ferry terminal, please let us know in advance and we’ll arrange to fetch you.

Timing: Check in time will be on Wednesday, November 16th (between 3-5 pm) and check out will be on Sunday, Nov 20th after lunch (12:30-1:30 pm). Please be sure to arrive on time because our opening feast will be at 5:30pm!


Pre-requisite: It is recommended that you take a workshop or the online Dreamwalking Course before attending retreats, to learn about Toko-pa and her approach to Dreamwork.

Includes: Includes 3 luscious vegetarian Meals/Day and 4 Nights Accommodations

Does not include: Airfare to Canada, Ferries to/from Salt Spring Island, additional activities and outings.

Before September 1st: $895

After September 1st:    $995

*Commuter Rate: $795

(*for locals staying off-site with meals included)

Space is limited to 20 women for this event

Cancellation Policy: All deposits are non-refundable. Any registration cancellations before July 10th will receive a full refund, minus a $50 administration fee. After July 10th you will receive a 50% refund, minus a $50 administration fee. Because this is a residential workshop with individualized meal and accommodation planning, no refunds can be issued for cancellations after August 1st.

We are financially responsible for the retreat so we ask you kindly to respect that we cannot make any exceptions to this agreement.


Mar 122016
Artwork by Jiwoon Pak

Artwork by Jiwoon Pak

We tend to think of magic as something that, in times of doubt or lostness, might intervene upon us. We listen for its clarion call, an oracular declaration, the prophetic dream, the jungle medicine that, like a tsunami, sweeps us out of the stuckness of our lives.

But if we take a more rigorous look, we find at the core of this yearning is the belief that something knows better than we do what our vocation is, what our direction should be, where our people live, and so on.

Certainly there are times in everyone’s life when something greater pushes you in the direction of your destiny, but these things can’t exactly be sought out. They must be invited to reach us in their own time. If we want magic to come alive in our lives, we must tend to our everyday relationship with it.

One of my favourite lines in a David Whyte poem is, “Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.” In other words, there is a practice we can engage in which brings us down in the subtle world where magic waits and dwells. For me, this practice is dreamwork. Dreams provide a wellspring of normiracles in the form of symbolic guidance which strengthens our instinctual response; the key to our sense of location in the family of things.

But once we receive the dream, we must take symbolic steps towards that which knows our true name. This can be as simple as keeping a daily list of those beautiful things which conspire in your favour, recognising the tiny triumphs that are keeping you from downspiraling, or exalting in some physically symbolic way the life you are calling towards you.

Magic is a relationship forged in the ordinary. It is our endurance through the unknown, unyielding times. It is faith in the as yet unmanifest. It is the invocation of the large, but while praising the small. Magic is the redoubling of our vow when disappointment befalls us, a shoulder to the wheel of our intent.

To read more from Toko-pa, sign up for her free newsletter here:

Mar 092016
Painting by Autumn Skye Morrison

Painting by Autumn Skye Morrison

Because dreams take us right into the heart of the question for our lives, being in a Dream Lodge is the first time many of us experience true intimacy in community. For this reason, it can be terrifying. We are so used to keeping our inner life a secret that we become distant even from ourselves, suspicious of the images that appear in our dreams. We may believe that we have some particular darkness that, if shared with others, might alienate us for good. Ironically, it is this fear itself which so often keeps us outside of belonging.

We are more alike than different, yet we rarely touch this awareness because we practice at excluding ourselves. To varying degrees, we all split our soul-life off from the face we share in public. But perhaps more insidious is how we distance ourselves from those aspects of the Self which are devalued in our families and culture-at-large.

The moment we step into the sacred container of a Dream Lodge, it is understood that our purpose is to welcome these refugee aspects of the Self back into belonging. And in the act of sharing this process in community, we instantly create a healing field for others’ lost life to come into inclusion. One by one, as we welcome them into the conversation, the so-called negative emotions have a chance at manifesting their concealed goodness. Shame welcomed allows dignity to emerge, betrayal’s hidden medicine is true loyalty, isolation hides a longing for intimacy, and so on.

As we share the medicine of our dreams, we come into the larger familiarity which coheres us. It is an ancient memory that lives in our bones – that our dream is needed. That it is an essential strand in our shared web. And as we listen to each other’s sacred dreamstuff, we recognise ourselves as weaving something meaningful together, strengthening in community those places we are weak, and allowing our own strengths to be finally of use to our sisters and brothers.

And while we may sometimes forget, this is the long, great work of building an invisible temple together, where those practices and values which have been exiled in our world have a chance at coming alive again. And even when we return to our separate lives, this temple lives on as a shelter for others who have yet to sit in, and practice at, belonging together.

Excerpted from the forthcoming book on “Belonging” © Toko-pa Turner 2016. To learn more about the book’s release, sign up for Toko-pa’s free newsletter here:

Mar 032016


A Workshop with Toko-pa

Date: May 28th, 2016
Place: Courtenay, British Columbia

In this workshop, Toko-pa will be offering a deeper look at and demonstration of some of the core practices in her approach to dreamwork. “To make a courtship of a dream, we must sit near it and learn what it loves and what it longs for. If we can make an invitation of ourselves, wildness might decide to approach us.” This workshop is a blend of instruction and practice. Participants are encouraged to bring a dream they’d like to work on. (9:30am – 3:30pm organic lunch available)


This workshop will be held in a gorgeous yurt on a lovely piece of private land. For driving instructions, please click on ‘view larger map’.


Workshop is limited to 25 participants

$120 Earlybird (before April 15th)

$140 (after April 15th)

Cancellation Policy: Any registration cancellations before April 15th will receive a full refund minus a $20 administration fee. After April 15th you will receive a 50% refund minus a $20 administration fee. Because this is a catered workshop, no refunds can be issued for cancellations after May 13th.




Mar 022016
Artwork by Irene Hardwicke Olivieri

Artwork by Irene Hardwicke Olivieri

We must each in our own way resist the pull of apathy. Not only in relationship to the troubled world around us, but towards our own hearts. That icy spread around our hurt which protects us too well when it keeps grief frozen. That shrug towards our own wounding which regards our pain as common, and says, “what else is new?”

We may have difficulty recognising it as oppression because we’ve never learned to give voice to the wound. But there is a song that needs to be sung from there. And anything that silences it, like the underestimation of our pain, the dismissal which says nobody wants to listen, or the inner cajoling with tells us to get over it already – all of these strategies which once protected us eventually become our own oppressions.

It is the other voice – the one which has never been given encouragement, the one who is burdened with shame, who is terrified of emerging – this is the one we need to lend courage to. This means standing up defiantly and repeatedly to the invalidations we’ve grown familiar with, demanding the right with which we have been gifted, inherent to our life, to sing.

Give up your vows of silence which only serve to protect the old and the stale. Air out that exhaustion and holding, unspiral your bracing and sing the truth you long to hear. Be the champion of your own right to be here.

Excerpted from the forthcoming book on “Belonging” © Toko-pa Turner 2016. To read more, sign up for Toko-pa’s free newsletter here:

Feb 072016
Artwork by Matthew Woodson
Artwork by Matthew Woodson

Artwork by Matthew Woodson

For all the times someone has asked you how you are, and you felt pressured to say “I am well” when well wasn’t your whole truth. I offer you this, my wish that this writing finds you not just well, but all the things that being human asks of us. And to remind you that your being alive, in all its magnificent and complicated colours, is more than enough for love.

This month I came across a powerful piece of writing by Johanna Hedva called Sick Woman Theory which seriously rocked my world. The article (soon to be a book!) is Hedva’s personal story of living with chronic pain and illness, but it’s also the story of anyone who is wrestling to find relevance in a world that aggrandises wellness.

Hedva lucidly articulates how ‘wellness’ and ‘sickness’ are treated as a binary of opposites in our culture. And those who fall on the wrong side of those tracks are considered unproductive and therefore excluded from the collective conversation. But perhaps more insidious is how this estranges us from our own pain, our wretched illness, our terrible grief. We are so driven to ‘get well’ that we rarely show any welcoming kindness to these unexpected guests in our lives.

One of the great competencies of Belonging is the willingness to give our discomforts and misfortunes a home. Rather than this endless seeking to get well,  or yearning for ‘how things used to be’ or ‘may be one day again’  we must be willing to walk with our pain. Or at least be willing to be willing to say, “This too is welcome. This too belongs”

In the end, so much of the conflict we feel in our hearts is because we’ve split ourselves off from the very life we are living. We partition ourselves from the things with which we are at odds, treating them as unbelonging even as we live them. We vaguely imagine some other body, some better career, some other lover – but the irony is that so much of what makes us unhappy is our own rejection of the life we have made. Eventually we must take our life into our arms and call it our own. We must look at it squarely with all its unbecoming qualities and find a way to love it anyway. Only from that complete embrace can a life begin to grow into what it is meant to become.

To read more, sign up for Toko-pa’s free newsletter here.

Click here to watch Johanna Hedva’s phenomenal talk (1:26) from which her article was adapted: “My Body Is a Prison of Pain so I Want to Leave It Like a Mystic But I Also Love It & Want it to Matter Politically”

Jan 122016
Photograph by Olego Prisco

Photograph by Olego Prisco

The longing to handmake things overtook me some years ago when I was gifted a deerskin medicine pouch by a friend in ceremony. She had learned to skin & tan the hide herself, working it until the tassels hung gently and the slipknot moved gracefully along its braided path. Instantly, I felt a longing in me to know things with my hands as she did, since music, writing and dreamwork are all intangible arts.

Since then, I’ve set about accumulating skills in basketry, lightsculpture, knotwork, and recently crochet (!) finding myself inextinguishably thrilled by how the objects I make seemed to live a life of their own once they leave my hands. I think it’s because when we put in the long efforts into bringing beauty into the world, we are honouring that which made us by creating as we have been created.

We are taught to respect the slow, attentive piecing together of the life we yearn for. Stitch by stitch, we apprentice the craft. We work in tandem with mystery, feeling its rhythms awaken in our bone-memory. And we realise the patience it takes to make a life materialise. There are no shortcuts, and it can’t be done cheaply, or en masse. The work is small, the work is slow and all we can do is stay with it.

As Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, “the shortcut, the easy way, always falls apart. Then one returns to the handmade life. One has to pick it up painfully, and piece it back together, holding the overall pattern in one’s mind, but working patiently, piece by piece.”

May your hands be blessed. May they know the magic they make. May everything they touch, touch them in return. May your exquisite efforts soon show their shape.

To read more, sign up for Toko-pa’s free newsletter here.

Dec 142015

A few years ago, I posted about Birthing New Traditions during the holiday time, and when I shared a photo of my DIY Solstice Tree, made entirely from bits found on the forest floor,  I was amazed to see it go viral! I’ve had so many requests since then to explain how the tree is made so with the help of my sweet friend Luma, here is a step-by-step process for anyone who might like to try one for themselves.


Step 1:


We start with a teepee structure, using 4 thin logs of around 7 or 8 feet in length. We saw off the ends to get them roughly even, then create a cross-brace the width we want the tree to stand, binding it with sturdy string at the joints and the peak.

Step 2:


Then comes the spiral technology, a messy but strangely satisfying business for two curlyheads. Here on the west coast, you can find these dried honeysuckle vines dangling from the fir and cedar trees. We just weave them organically around the structure, tucking it into itself and occasionally fastening with string.


When all is said and done, the spiraling creates a perfect weave to then tuck the boughs into.

Step Three:


We harvest whatever greenery we can find from the forest floor. We lucked out with a big windstorm last week, so this year’s tree is a lot bushier than previous years. With a terrific frame, we don’t even need fasteners to weave in the boughs. The fir is usually pretty moist from the rain and lives a long time inside. Makes great firestarter later too, but please don’t leave your lights unattended because it’s still dry tinder!



Decorate and TA DA!


As you can see the result is lush, vibrant, and sustainable! The tree often gets mistaken for the real deal. The only difference is ours has our prayers, laughter and creativity woven into it. Enjoy and please feel free to share your tree pictures with me and others!