The Soul Maven Retreat, Somerset, England
Reawaken your joy for life with healing energy work & visits to sacred sites
Best for: Women at a crossroads in their life who haven’t necessarily done much work on themselves and want to find a way to move forward and develop spiritually.
Not for: People looking for hardcore hikes or a focus on fitness and detoxing. Anyone allergic to the idea of spirit guides and fortune tellers.
This annual women-only 7 night retreat at a cosy organic farm in scenic countryside just outside Glastonbury is led by enthusiastic and energeticAmerican ‘soul coach’ Maeve Northcross. It’s great for those who want to dip their toe into spirituality without feeling overwhelmed by it and who are interested in connecting to cultural and spiritual history. Visit the ancient sacred sites of Glastonbury with expert guides and enjoy tailor-made sessions of breathwork, energy work and sound healing with hand-picked experts. There’s also chef-prepared meals, an indoor pool, country walks and the chance to visit Thermae Bath Spa. Bespoke retreats are also available.
The energy work is excellent, and led to some profound emotional shifts for our (quite cynical) reviewer. This is also a great chance to discover the unique spiritual sights and history of Glastonbury while being looked after in a comfortable setting. The town lies on energetically important leylines and is purported to be the ‘heart chakra’ of the earth, and the retreat includes visits to the ancient stone circle at Avebury (1 hour away), The Chalice Well, The Holy Thorn, Glastonbury Tor and many other magical places.
As many of the activities and treatments are off-sight, there’s a fair amount of tooing and froing to Glastonbury in taxis (about a 10 minute taxi ride away), which may not suit some people.
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The retreat includes healing energy workshops along with visits to the sacred sights of Glastonbury and a trip to Bath. There’s an indoor pool and steam room for you to use whenever you want too. You are encouraged to keep a journal and focus on yourself for the duration of your stay. You have one 90 minute treatment included in your week, and can book extra treatments such as aromatherapy massages should you wish.
Group energy workshops during the retreat include deeply relaxing and healing sound baths with local Music Therapist Dean Carter, and marvellous Transformational Breath therapy sessions with local expert Julie Ann Horrax, when you deep breathe through a dynamic and accelerated healing process that uses specific breathing techniques to work on the subconscious mind to clear negativity and feel more positive and energetic.
You’ll also have two group sessions of the ancient Chinese healing art of qigong with local veteran teacher Diana Barnard, who has been practicing for 25 years. The technique involves meditation, controlled breathing and gentle movement exercises to clear trauma and ‘debris’ trapped in the body.
If feeling energetic, there are lots of excellent walks to the Tor, Glastonbury and beyond you can do alone. There’s also a 3 hour group walking tour included in the retreat with self-confessed ‘wizard’ and rune reader (fortune teller) Jeremy White (Shaman) and Rune Reading. This will help you discover the magic, legend and spiritual sites of Glastonbury including St Margaret’s Chapel, Wearyall Hill, The Holy Thorn and a jaunt through Jesus Field and Avalon Orchard to Glastonbury Tor. You’ll drink mead and Jeremy will read your ‘rune stones’ (which are ancient tools of divination used as a way to predict one’s future much like Tarot cards) and take you on a group vision quest, which is much like a guided meditation and helps clarify your path forward through messages from spirit guides.
Glastonbury lies on energetically important laylines and is purported to be the ‘heart chakra’ of the earth. Your retreat includes visits to magical places such as Glastonbury Abbey (purportedly the site of the first British Christian church), The Chalice Well (one of the best known holy wells in the UK) and to the White Spring. There’s a day trip to Ancient Avebury, the less well known but much more accessible stone circle than Stonehenge, when you’ll also get a tour of National Trust site Avebury Manor and be able to indulge in a classic British cream tea if you so choose!
If you fancy shopping for crystals, tarot cards, magic potions and every sort of spiritual nic nak, then Glastonbury highstreet is your place. There’s time to do some last minute shopping after your spa visit in Bath too!
The last day is spent in the historic town of Bath with a visit to the Thermae Bath Spa, where you can bathe in Britain’s only naturally warm, mineral-rich waters, just like the Romans did 2000 years ago. Don’t miss the rooftop thermal pool and the wellness suite with multiple steam and sauna options including the Celestial Relaxation room.
Bedrooms: There’s plenty of room to stretch out in the cosy accommodation at organic farm Middlewick Holiday Cottages, where you’ll get a whole apartment to yourself or for you and your friend, complete with kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom. Set up for family holidays, the site includes 12 cottages (sleeping 2-6 people), and there’s also glamping if you so wish.
Expect a home-away-from-home, comfortable rather than luxurious vibe, with homely country decor and basic toiletries (body wash and hand wash) by natural organic British brand Face in Nature. Our room, Bramley, had floral curtains and bedcover, pictures of countryside scenes, a warming electric stove in the living room and pleasant views over the surrounding countryside (some of the rooms have views up to Glastonbury Tor).
Take a dawn trip up to Glastonbury Tor (about 30 minutes walk from Middlewick farm) for spectacular views over the countryside and the early morning mists. Meditate and connect to the ancient magic of the area at the healing Chalice Well. Pick up crystals, tinctures, tarot cards and a myriad of spiritual paraphernalia in Glastonbury.
When to Go
October can be a beautiful mild month in the British countryside; this is when you’re likely to get the best of the autumn weather and be able to enjoy the full colours and smells of the trees and shrubs, with some lovely sunny days. Being England, it can also be grey and wet, so pack accordingly!
The dining area is set in a large comfortable function room with beautiful views over the countryside. A private chef caters to your every need whether you prefer vegan, vegetarian or meat/fish, and all food is organic and seasonal, where possible.
Feast on a cooked breakfast of Eggs Benedict or help yourself to delicious local yoghurt, porridge, muesli and fruits along with coffee, tea and herbal tea. Lunch and evening meals are substantial – don’t expect to lose weight on this retreat – but these hearty home cooked offerings, with dishes like salmon quiche, quinoa salad and apple cake, provide warming sustenance through the autumnal days. No alcohol is provided but if you want a tipple, alcohol is available from the well stocked farm shop on site.
Food is organic and locally sourced where possible, and there’s a farm shop selling locally sourced, organic, natural and eco friendly products. Heating is supplied by a Bio Mass system, using locally sourced wood pellets from Forest Fuels. Solar panels supply all daytime electricity. All waste is recycled and Middlewick uses British made and eco friendly cleaning products. There are 2 electric car charging points.
Middlewick Cottages Wick Lane, Glastonbury BA6 8JW
Train station: Castle Cary with a 20 minute transfer time
Transfer time: 40 minutes