Tribal Alliance Retreat 2015
It was quite the impromptu decision, and only 4 days before it started when I booked my shuttle and ticket to the 2015 Tribal Alliance Retreat 2015: Visionary Leadership Immersion. After some narrow and seemingly treacherous road conditions, our shuttle arrived in Verdenergia in Pacifica, Costa Rica and we were ushered in to an open yoga space with a freshwater pool and extremely warm and friendly organizers dousing us with sage.
Tribal Alliance housed approximately 115-130 people that weekend. Meals were served buffet style, and workshops were held throughout the retreat stemming from yoga, to community building, permaculture, fermentation, expressive singing to gender alchemy, and so much more.
One of my favorite talks was by Jamaica Stevens, one of the organizers of the festival. During her presentation she spoke about creating intentional community in our every day spaces, about being kind to our neighbors and paying it forward so as to evoke compassion and empathy in our waking lives. In this we can teach children and adults alike that this world is to be trusted, and that we are truly co-creating a global village. She then touched upon compromise as a means to creating a unified community. Are you willing to compromise with what you believe to be meaning or definition in order to create unified values? This lead into a sort of blueprint of the true “we” that we are becoming as we ask ourselves,“How can I love you today?” In compromising the attachment the ego has with labels and definitions, we can come into a space that is a middle ground but that is also constantly shifting. By releasing attachments to “knowing”, as well as our environment, we can come into the present and give love to exactly who that person is in every moment.
Kambo is an Amazonian medicine obtained from the venom of Phyllomedusa bi-color frogs and used for cleansing and purification. The medicine was administered as is traditionally in various Amazonian Tribes- burned into the skin and absorbed directly into the body. Sweat lodges were also held every day of the festival, providing a different yet equally powerful opportunity for intense purging. Donnie Blaikie graced us with the Little Boy Water Drum style of sweat, while Grandmother Karina held a women’s lodge, and Adam Yellowbird held the men’s lodge. Sweats took place right next to one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever had the pleasure to swim in. Crisp, clean, and extremely healing in the thick humidity of the Costa Rican jungle, it was a perfect place for a midday lounge or a cool, refreshing place to bathe.
At night there were various musical performances, along with an alliance-wide cacao ceremony graced by acoustic Suns of the Earth. Music that weekend included Amani of Desert Dwellers, Lulacruza, DJ Dakini, Suns of the Earth, Cualli, Pachakroma, Colin You Home, Compersion, and Liquid Bloom. Unlike music festivals, the music was not the main focus of this gathering, only starting after 8 pm and usually ending by 1-2 am. The focus was truly on immersion into workshops and social interaction.
The name of the event, Tribal Alliance Retreat seemed interesting. There were Native North and South American teachings, Amazonian medicines, traditional garb and ceremonial instruments, and yet tribes that cultivated these methods were absent, except for a few teachers. If we are to adopt these practices outside of their legacies and create an alliance between tribes, the presence of these tribes is important to make sure we are interpreting, practicing, and teaching their methods appropriately and with right intention. The question of “sacred responsibility” came up quite a bit for me that week, of learning and practicing with cultural awareness. It’s necessary not only to show respect for the original form of practice, but also to prevent calling into our lives and our spaces that which was uninvited and found its way in through naïve ceremonial engagement. As this gathering continues to grow, it will be exciting to see where they take the idea of a Tribal Alliance, the gold and silver of the old and new.
With so much to do and only a few days to do it all, how can one fit in everything on their list of wants? As with all festivals these events are a microcosm of the macrocosm- we can’t always do everything and be everywhere. However, being truly present and learning as much as possible from the present illuminates the infinity of a moment and the beauty of presence.