Newsletter #8

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Not only is today New Year’s Day, but tomorrow Sunday Jan 2nd is the New Moon—a time known for cultivating new beginnings, intentions & seeds, unlimited possibilities.  I’ve had a few new directions for the labyrinth percolating (details below). I would be grateful if you can take a few minutes to read about what’s planned. Some of it I could really use a bit of advice on to make a reality (notes shown in purple).

I hope your coming year includes good health, happiness and gentle peace,

“Build it and they will come.”

I had a strong drive to create the forest labyrinth in 2019. It was a major project of my first year of retirement and though I wasn’t quite clear what I would “do” with it, I did know I wanted to share it with people in my local community, and beyond. Through word-of-mouth and listings on the Worldwide (Veriditas) and Ontario labyrinth locators, folks have come to walk the labyrinth—a few of them repeat visitors, the labyrinth having become one of their special places. I am pleased and honoured.

And not only did visitors walk the labyrinth, many of them left donations of gratitude. This year a total of $320 accumulated and a couple days ago I sent that amount onward via Canada Helps to Chapman House Hospice and M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre. Thank you so very much for your appreciation.

The labyrinth is a tool, and tools are meant to be used.

While it is heartening to see on average a handful or so of visitors come to the labyrinth each month, it has not escaped me that this “hidden gem” (as one visitor described it) is perhaps still a bit too hidden and could be having more impact. One of the repeat visitors, a trusted acquaintance for whom I have much respect for her own community-building initiatives, has indirectly challenged me to do more with the labyrinth… in particular when it comes to its engagement in the service of peace.

Peace… both the broad notion of human peace and the concrete experience of peacefulness… sure seems like something we could use more of these days, and I am taking up that challenge to do more with the labyrinth as one of my intentions for the New Year.

Coming soon: new web site, improved newsletter & mailing list

So far, has simply existed as a page within my Off Grid Retreat web site. All the basic info plus some pics are there, but it’s kinda crammed together and not easily navigated, nor readily picked-up by search engines. Sometime ahead of the Equinox, I will launch a dedicated web site with additional information, background resources, and more.

The new site will integrate a blog format for the newsletter, which will also function as an archive. Newsletters like this one (few and far between as they have been) are simply standard emails to large number of Bcc’d recipients, which has meant some likely end up in Junk Mail, some don’t display well depending on the device, plus they’re not available to read anywhere unless you received it through the list.

Coming next: social media… of some sort… um, I think

Those of you who know me will be thinking, huh… Neil… social media… has hell frozen over?!? For those who don’t know me, let me introduce myself: My name is Neil. I am an introverty… sometimes bordering on hermity… guy living off-grid who took early retirement from 27 years work as a Counsellor, and called it “repurposement” to follow my passions and interests, live more healthily in the country, and do something different.

Thus far, I have proclaimed (proudly, and perhaps too much so LOL) that “I’m not on Facebook” or any other social media. And, in terms of me personally, I still don’t want to be “on”.  But I can see that to reach people in my community and for the labyrinth to have more impact it needs that exposure and connection. The challenge, however, is that I really don’t have much of a clue about any of it!

If you are a seasoned social media user, could you offer me a bit of your time for a chat to offer suggestions on which platforms might be best value for my time and effort and a few first steps forward? Oh and perhaps a heads-up on the social media faux-pas likely to afflict a newcomer like me 😉

Coming eventually: EVENTS!

The bottom line of all this is to see the Forest Labyrinth more used, more alive, more impactful. This applies to individual visits but also to adding some events that bring people (and the unique energies which accompany each of us) together. On the one hand, the COVID scenario which began just 6 months after completing the labyrinth has hindered such possibilities. But on the other hand, I think we have a better grasp on the situation now and, despite the current infection surge, I am hopeful that some form of stability will emerge in 2022. What’s more, this is a large outdoor labyrinth covering about 1/3 acre, with wide paths, and in the middle of sizeable woodland area … I think there must be ways to responsibly employ its use with groups.

Do you have ideas/suggestions for happenings, themes, rituals, that could take place at the forest labyrinth? Don’t limit yourself just to things that are “labyrinth focused”. Think also about activities for which the labyrinth could be the “container”… music, meditation, chant, mindfulness, art, and more.

Day Retreat, free for front-line Health Care Workers

SoulTrail is my endeavour offering personal development services (e.g., forest therapy, yoga, labyrinth facilitation, breath work) here at Off Grid Retreat. I have developed a press-the-reset-button Day Retreat option which will launch on January 10th. It is essentially about having use of a bright & airy yurt, surrounded by trees and just steps from the labyrinth to enjoy a refreshing change of scenery, the healthful vibe of the forest, and a day-long dose of peace and quietude. It is largely self-directed but includes the option to build in a session of one of those services into the day. In wanting to make some contribution to acknowledging the ongoing sacrifice health care workers are making for the common good, the Day Retreat will be available to them at no cost. Others may book it for a fee (sliding scale available). Watch for details at

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