Friday, August 24, 2007

Thanks Michael!!

If you did not see this I thought I would share it here. Michael Aaron of Q Salt Lake Paper did a beautiful job of promoting and educating our community for the retreat. I wanted to share it with you now.

Queer Spirit Retreat Helps Gay Men Shed 'Old Stories,' Build New

by Michael Aaron

Building on the successes of their previous two Queer Spirit Retreats, Jerry
Buie and John Cottrell have announced a third retreat the weekend of Sept.
7-9 at the Windwalker Ranch in Spring City.

The pair admit that upon hearing a title such as "queer spirit," many gay
men are turned off since spirituality is often used as a weapon against
them. The spirituality offered at these retreats, however, is based around
ancient native American themes and rituals - most of which embrace and
cherish queer identities.

"Queer Spirit is about finding the 'queer self' and integrating this into
our lives with pride, honor and confidence," Jerry Buie wrote in a statement
about the event. "We find that ceremony and ritual can be a powerful way to
create intention and focus."

The event begins on a Friday evening as participants dine at the ranch and
set out for a bonfire under the star-lit Spring City skies.

"We use [the fire] to release and let go of stories of shame, doubt, fear or
anything else that binds/restricts us. We create the sacred fire to release
the issues and inhibitions that domesticate our thinking and the expressions
of who we are," continued Buie. "This fire will be fun, meditative and
invigorating. It is not uncommon for someone to bring a guitar or for a
cowboy singer/poet to show up and share his talent."

Saturday is an individual's time to explore his reasons for being there,
what he hopes to get out of the weekend and get in tune with his body, his
mind and his spirit. An early morning yoga session introduces breathing as a
way to connect with the body. Meditative techniques used by many cultures
center around conscious breathing to move inward.

Saturday is also an opportunity to explore the ranch, seen by many Native
Americans as a sacred place. Indeed, an old cedar, referred to as a
grandmother tree, just outside the property boundaries is covered in red
prayer ties and offerings. Many of the men who have participated, says Buie,
have found the trip to the grandmother tree as the most moving, important
part of the weekend.

Most, however, see the sweat lodge Saturday night as the most rewarding and
revealing part of the Queer Spirit experience. The lodge, built by Buie
several years ago and used by many who visit the ranch, is a traditional
wood and canvas structure with a fire pit in the middle. In native
tradition, the ceremony proceeds in four parts. With each, more rocks, which
have been heating in a fire for hours, are brought into the lodge, bringing
the temperature up dramatically. The lodge is pitch black but for an
occasional glow from embers burning on the rock. Water is poured on the
rocks, filling the lodge with steam.

Many of those who have experienced a lodge often say they find new things
about themselves, some have visions in the darkness, others find simply
making it through and overcoming fears of darkness or tight places as a
triumph. Few will say that they leave the lodge the same as they enter it.
Last April's retreat drew 13 men plus the organizers. Buie and Cottrell hope
to expand that number in this upcoming retreat. "We can accommodate 20 or 25
people, and we're getting a lot of interest for September," Buie said.

The April weekend far exceeded any expectations that Cottrell or Buie held
as they were planning the event.

"At best we had hoped to get the men together to talk and to experiment with
a new story," Buie explained. "Instead each man courageously and beautifully
stepped into a magical place, stepped outside of the old story and created a
new one for them."

"As we considered the implication of self-love, self-joy, self-nurturing and
our own individual process of creating that new story, we stepped into a
very powerful and rewarding place," Buie continued. "The 13 strangers who
came together, left as brothers embracing each other, promising future
connections, correspondences and, respecting and engaging each other in a
joyous place. The weekend was beautiful and there are no other words to
describe it."

Registration for the weekend includes all meals and comfortable lodging.
This is a nonprofit event. Any proceeds from the event are turned back into
funding future reterats. More information and registration forms are
available at or by emailing Buie at or Cottrell at

Michael Aaron
PO Box 511247
Salt Lake City UT 84151-1247
tel: 801-649-6663
tel2:1-800-806-7357 X10
fax: 1-866-840-5232
mobile: 801-856-5655

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