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Sacred Retreat

Using Natural Cycles to Recharge Your Life

Foreword by Barbara Hand Clow
Published by Bear & Company
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

Restoring our biological cycles to heal ourselves, our culture, and our planet

• 2017 Nautilus Gold Award

• Shows how, just like the tides and the moon phases, both women and men have biological cycles of growth and renewal necessary for healthy bodies and minds

• Explains how the seclusion of women during menstruation and of men during vision quests offers a cleansing process for body and mind to awaken innate creativity and sensitivity, re-attune us with the deeper rhythms of the body and nature, and restore harmony between the divine feminine and divine masculine

• Reveals how the need for sacred retreat was forgotten when the divine feminine was suppressed by patriarchal culture

All of life is interwoven into a living system of cycles, from Earth’s seasons to the enzymatic pathways that provide energy to a cell. Waxing and waning from times of growth to times of rest, renewal, and healing, cycles map the most auspicious time for everything in life. Both women and men have biological cycles of active growth and quiet renewal, led by our hormones. By understanding how everything in life moves in cycles, you can become more aware of and comfortable with your own cyclic nature, something that has been forgotten by the modern world’s linear views of time.

Drawing on the wisdom of ancient cultures, the natural cycles of life, and her own groundbreaking research, Pia Orleane, Ph.D., offers a template for how we can restore balance to our emotions and health, ease tensions between the sexes, and heal our fractured culture by honoring divine feminine consciousness and re-embracing natural cycles, including our innate need for rest and retreat. She explains the biology of how our bodies operate by hormones released in cycles and shows how balanced hormones help eliminate anger, depression, insomnia, anxiety, and fatigue. Exploring ancient traditions and rituals surrounding blood and sacred retreat, she explains how the seclusion of women during menstruation and of men during vision quests offered a cleansing process for body and mind, alone time to clear suppressed emotions, awaken our innate creativity and sensitivity, re-attune us with the deeper rhythms of the body and nature, and restore harmony between the genders and balance between the divine feminine and masculine.

Outlining the sacred retreat process, the author explores dream cycles, divine sexuality, and practices for reconnecting to nature, increasing creativity and intuition, and clearing suppressed emotions. She also looks at the benefits for women and men of separate sleeping during menstruation. Through this wisdom, we can restore our natural cycles, allow the divine feminine to once again blossom alongside the divine masculine, and, with the return of balance, heal our world and our hearts.


Chapter 7

Deep Listening

Each of us has our own beliefs about receiving spiritual help. Some believe in guardian angels or spirit teachers; some believe help comes from Christ or the divine feminine; some believe guidance is simply the wisdom of our own intuition. I interchange the terms guides and intuition, for they are intimately connected. But whether we attribute the guidance we receive to angels or our own intuitive powers, we cannot hear it if we do not slow down and listen. Listening, really listening, is a holy experience.

Deeper awareness of our cyclical nature gives us better access to connection with our intuition. Understanding timing helps us to know when to listen and when to speak. It is obvious how out of balance our daily conversations are, as we frequently interrupt one another to express our own thoughts. Often we do not allow room for a pause to consider what has been said before we hasten to express our own ideas. We have lost the natural rhythm of communication, reflecting as increased misunderstandings even in our most cherished and important communications.

Even when we understand that we need to slow down, demands of living often scream much louder than the soft voice of inner wisdom. Nature gives women a biological opportunity to slow down each month and listen to their inner guidance. However, this biological urge has been culturally dismissed, while women have been programmed to put their own needs last in order to care for others.

Feminism arose as an effort to reestablish balance between women and men. Yet the feminist movement has actually played a part in the suppression of women’s inner guidance as women strive to be more like men in order to be considered equal. We have forgotten that equal does not mean the same. Radical feminists, seeking to compete with men, have insisted that women can do everything that men can do at any time of the month. That may or may not be true, but that isn’t the point. The point is, should we?

If we insist on moving through our days as if they are all the same, continually doing, we forfeit the gifts of simply being. This is a lesson women once shared with men, but now most all of us have lost this wisdom. We cannot dwell in the space of sacred listening when we live like this. If we do not slow down to listen during the biological time we have been given for rebalancing, we imbalance ourselves by being too active, too full, too outspoken without the benefit of listening to inner guidance. Deep listening during bleeding allows our intuition to guide us in creating greater harmony, new ideas, solutions to problems, and inspirations through dreams. Men, too, need to create regular times for deep listening.

The importance of cycles can be extended to our understanding of the breath. We cannot live without breathing. We breathe in air for life, change it through chemical interactions, and breathe it out again along with our energy. The breaths we release become the air of others, so we need to be very, very careful of the energy we expel. Is it full of love and acceptance, or is it full of sighs and judgment? Each of us has the same opportunity to be careful of what we release through our breathing. Positive treatment of women’s cycles can model the care that is necessary when we release something no longer needed. We are all part of the cycle of life, and we need to be conscious of what we release, doing it responsibly, whether we are discharging menstrual blood, breath, words, thoughts, or everyday litter.

With the introduction of electric lights, calendar-based schedules, and more choices about whether or not to have children, women's bodies have sped up to keep pace with the complexities of modern life. Men suffer from the same fast pace of living. In many ways, our species has become more fragile; we are often more easily upset because we are so affected by the imbalances we face every day. Toxins in our air and water, hormones in our food, overuse of pharmaceuticals, and the pressure to live our lives at too fast a pace take a toll on all of us. We honor cultural demands of our external environment at the expense of our inner environmental needs. Yet as imbalanced as modern life has become, there are avenues open for change, if we only slow down and listen.

I am not suggesting that extreme seclusion is appropriate today, yet designated retreat time, whether sleeping alone or simply slowing one’s daily pace during a bleeding cycle, has proven beneficial to women and their families worldwide. Ritual seclusion practiced by women in indigenous cultures was something chosen by women for women. It was not a cruel discipline forced on women by men but rather an opportunity women chose to deepen their understanding of the mysteries of life. The wisdom of biology supports ritual separation for women during the time of flow. It is well recognized that women’s hormones (FSH, LH, estrogen, and progesterone) fluctuate monthly and are low during menses. The relationship between biochemical lows and the need to be alone may affect spiritual experiences. The psychological break of time apart during menses offers opportunities to see things with a fresh perspective.

The connection between spirituality and the body is missing in modern culture. In fact, the spiritual component has gone missing from most of our interactions, leaving a secular and insipid shell of what once were deeply meaningful connections or rituals. We have retained graduation ceremonies and church weddings, but even these are sometimes more a matter of form, lasting a very short time, rather than being lengthy experiences designated for real inward change. Slowing down to receive guidance is important for all of us. Our intuition can arise from our body-awareness, from patterns that our brains recognize, or from whispers and nudges from our guides or guardian angels.

About The Author

Pia Orleane, Ph.D., is an author, lecturer, and former practicing psychologist. The recipient of an international award from Saybrook University for her research on the importance of natural cycles for life, she travels the world giving talks on the value of the divine feminine and natural cycles. She lives in Europe.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Bear & Company (September 12, 2017)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781591437925

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Raves and Reviews

“The minute I started reading this book, I got chills. My body said a big ‘yes’ to this information. Yours will too! Every mother and every daughter should read this book.”

– Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

“We simply cannot secede from nature, and to believe otherwise is madness. Orleane shows how we can remain in nature’s flow and reap the benefits that are a part of this inescapable oneness.”

– Larry Dossey, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of One Mind

“This gentle, deeply reflective book offers us another way of seeing the world--through the eyes of feminine vision. With penetrating insight, it recovers for us a long lost wisdom and offers a template of how we might restore balance to our driven, radically unbalanced society and our stress-filled lives. Anyone reading Sacred Retreat will have their understanding of life deepened and enhanced, leading them into a more conscious way of living, a closer relationship with their body, and an interweaving of their life with the rhythms of the natural world, the planet, and beyond that, the cosmos. A hugely valuable book.”

– Anne Baring, author of The Dream of the Cosmos

“Orleane’s well-documented and well-written book is full of wisdom. An antidote for these fractured times, it is a call for us to return to the natural wisdom of our bodies, to reclaim our innate power, and to reconnect with the cycles of the natural world.”

– Erica Elliott, M.D., physician, speaker, and coauthor of Prescriptions for a Healthy House

“Pia Orleane, Ph.D., is a talented researcher and writer with a feel for people and their lives. I strongly encourage you to consider her book. Here is a strong, unusual, and inspiring study valuable for many. Pia helps open magic to us.”

– Ruth Richards, M.D., Ph.D., author of Everyday Creativity

Sacred Retreat gets to the root of the current planetary crisis and how we can transform it. This book is an accessible and practical guide to bringing the feminine back online by starting with our own bodies and cycles. I immediately put the insights from this book into practice and felt richly rewarded with increased intuition and empowerment. Any woman or man who desires to realign with the rhythms of nature will receive great benefit from the practical wisdom offered here.”

– Emily Trinkaus, author of Creating with the Cosmos

“Pia Orleane, Ph.D., writes with passion and conviction. Sacred Retreat is an antidote for the stress and depression so prevalent in today’s tattered cultures.”

– Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., coauthor of Extraordinary Dreams and How to Work with Them

“Every day we witness the great imbalance in the world that our current story and ways of living have brought us. This book offers an insightful guide on how humanity can return again to balance. Pia Orleane’s book is a profound instruction manual.”

– Marianne Marstrand, executive director of the Global Peace Initiative of Women

Sacred Retreat is not only an important book, it is vital for humanity! Every mother should put this book in the hands of her sons and daughters. Every teacher should teach from this book in schools all over the world. And war would end. This is a vibrant book with important wisdom for both men and women. The divine feminine is sending the message to change NOW!!”

– Erika Mikaelsson, journalist and CEO of Nordic Light Media

“Pia Orleane, Ph.D., well deserves the accolades she has received for her original research, much of which is eloquently expressed in her unique comprehension of the natural cycles of life, especially as it relates to women and the reclamation of the divine feminine. This unique, informative, and process-oriented book is greatly needed to empower women and rebalance the current patriarchal dominance the world over.”

– Nicki Scully, author of Sekhmet

“Throughout the world, there is a real problem with gender inequality and our relationship with Mother Earth. These are challenging times and we need people that can give us wisdom and hope in the struggle. Orleane does just this in her book Sacred Retreat. Everyone wishing for social change and peace in the world should read this excellent book.”

– Roy Bourgeois, former Catholic priest and founder of School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch)

“Pia Orleane has made an important contribution to the growing recognition of the importance of feminine values in our unbalanced society. This book provides a desperately needed corrective to our growing malaise and is well worth reading. It offers immediate practical and ultimately spiritual suggestions for both women and men.”

– Gus diZerega, Ph.D., author of Pagans & Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience

“An invaluable reminder to get our lives back in sync with the undeniable wisdom of Nature--including our own physiological, emotional, and spiritual rhythms and synchronicity with all beings with whom we share and co-create our world.”

– Adam Gainsburg, author of Sacred Marriage Astrology and founder of

“The power of Orleane’s writing has far-reaching implications as modern women continue their ancient Earth cycles during these tumultuous times. In a readable and completely fascinating way, we are brought to reconfirming ourselves as vessels of wonder and awe.”

– Emilie Conrad, founder of Continuum Movement and author of Life on Land

“This rich, timely work clearly rises from the depths of a woman’s soul. It is, indeed, an invitation into life’s mystery. This work is a ‘must’ for all those who seek the healing of the human condition.”

– Kenneth Hamilton, M.D., author of SoulCircling

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