A photo of the Pedernal at dawn! A daily gift at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted - AND where I will be once again leading

A photo of the Cerro Pedernal at dawn! A daily gift at Ghost Ranch where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted. It is also where I will once again be leading "Healing Grief Around the Sacred Wheel" this fall - October 15-20, 2023! The excitement to be on the land is already building, and the energy is gathering for an illuminating and nurturing grief-healing trip around the wheel.

DATES SET FOR 2023: 'HEALING GRIEF AROUND THE SACRED WHEEL" OCTOBER 15-20 at Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center in Abiquiu, New Mexico

Welcome to "Healing Grief Around the Sacred Wheel" - a course for empowering those finding it difficult to move forward in life due to past or present pain of grief and loss. My name is Cheryl Downey and I am your leader, guide and companion through this week of safe, gentle yet potentially deep and powerful grief-healing meditations and experiences.

 I have supported those who are grieving life changes from illness, dying, and death to loss of home, family, career or community for over 35 years as a hospital, hospice and palliative care chaplain. Since 1985 I have also trained, practiced, and mentored spiritual healing and sacred arts from within shamanic teachings that are rooted in the ancient power of Woman and the Earth. After retiring from hospice work, I founded Sacred Wheel Center for Grief and Healing to empower those suffering with past or present loss to find healing and release through exploring the deeper life-giving mysteries of their grief. Since 2014 my work has included private sessions, classes and workshops in the Twin Cities (MN) area, and grief-healing retreats in Florida, Minnesota, Colorado and at Ghost Ranch. 

I have been attending training events and painting workshops at Ghost Ranch since 2003 - sometimes staying twice a year!  I fell in love with the warmth of the ranch staff and the light, colors and power of the land and sky!!  To this day there is nowhere I would rather come to reconnect with my inner self, and with the power of the Earth, to let go, heal and regenerate my spirit - alone or with others. Spirit speaks in all ways at Ghost Ranch - it is the perfect place to heal the pain of grief!

This course is entitled "Healing Grief Around the Sacred Wheel" for many reasons. The Sacred Wheel and the powers of the four directions are ancient and profound tools for deepening self-awareness and bringing healing balance to the flow of life energies. Movement around the Wheel honors each one's uniqueness of culture, personality, and faith perspective; and is a powerful non-judgmental guide for exploring and understanding one's personal energies of grief - whether old or young, experiencing current or past loss, or anticipating future life transitions. The Wheel is meant to move - and so is grief! - and both will do so at the pace that is right for each of us. There is no right or wrong way to do this, as there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

The course will bring participants into the four major healing aspects of their own grief experience by spending a day in each direction: South (Physical/Earth); West (Emotional/Dreaming/Water); North (Spirit/Air/Wind); East (Mind/Fire) ending in the Center (Heart). Group teachings, reflections and guided visualizations will fill the mornings 9:00 - noon, followed by personal free time/ work on the land after lunch until dinner (5:30 - 6:30). We will do our West work by traveling to Lake Abiquiu and Rio Chama for a morning field trip with the additional possibility of going to the hot springs of Ojo Caliente for the afternoon (there is a $50 individual day use fee for each participant to enter the hot springs).  

Participants will gather for evening sessions from 7-8:30 pm for circle-sharing and artwork. Throughout the week participants will be creating their personal sacred art ongoing, including a small pouch to be decorated in a sacred way each day to hold symbols of release gathered from the work. The pouches with their sacred contents will be given away - released - to the Sacred Fire on Thursday evening. Additionally, each participant with instruction will break and re-create/repair a bowl in a sacred way to free what needs to change and to embody a new way of holding their grief. The bowl will be re-created throughout the week's experiences, and will hold the power of their healing when back at home. 

No pre-requisite knowledge or preparation is necessary for this work. Participants may be any age (18+) having experienced any loss(es) - including loss of a loved one through death or illness, loss of relationship through break-up or divorce, home, job, career, health, community - and need only to be willing to start the journey around the Sacred Wheel!

 What participants may gain from this course:

 - The discovery of the four directional aspects around the Sacred Wheel and the grief energies held within each of them

- An understanding that grief is not something to be cured but simply accepted and allowed as healing movement 

- An awakening to energy we get from the earth to help us feel and heal the ways we hold grief in our bodies

- An experience of the power of water for grief movement and release

- Empowerment of personal spirit connections and healing wisdom through inner conversation, ceremony, listening to the wind, prayer, dreams, meditation and journaling 

- Discovery of ways to shift negative and constricting thoughts about grief

- The power of sacred art for healing and wisdom-keeping

- The blessings of love and gratitude! 

What to bring:

  - comfortable clothing for layering and warm socks for both indoor and outdoor work

- comfortable hiking or walking shoes - covered toes

- umbrella/rain gear/warm jacket/light gloves for walking in potentially cool or inclement weather

- swimsuit 

- sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, insect repellant, small carrying pack, refillable water container for being out on the land

- blanket, mat or cushion for meditating, indoors and outdoors

- notebook, pens 

- several sharpie fine-point markers - various inspiring colors 

- inexpensive watercolors (check children's aisles in stores)

- pad of 12 X 16 watercolor paper (at least 10 sheets)

- 1 1-inch wide paintbrush

- object of personal remembrance or memento for the group altar, such as photo, jewelry, handkerchief, coin, etc - to return home with you

- a personal sacred symbol/inspirational object for the group altar, such as a special stone or crystal, feather, fetish, bowl etc - will return home with you

- flashlight 

- small 5" clay pot (like the kind used for potting a plant)

 Course will supply

- pouches

- modeling clay

- paint and other decorating supplies for pouch and pot

- glue

.IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT PROGRAM COSTS, INCLUDING LODGING AND MEALS, OR IF YOU WISH TO REGISTER, go to www.ghostranch.org. If you have questions about the retreat itself, contact me: sacredfire44@gmail.com.

I honor you for having the courage to follow your heart to this healing time together! I am excited to meet you!

From my heart to yours ~


Cheryl L. Downey, MDiv

Shamanic Grief-Healing Practitioner/Minister of Sacred Arts

Sacred Wheel Center for Grief & Healing





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