Going on retreat usually means beating a preternaturally swift path through the woods to our dream lodge. There awaits a cabin forged of 14-inch, dovetail-jointed redwood timbers. A rustic door closes behind us, and a deepening blanket of silence rises and encircles the soul. Amid a potpourri of crisp clean air, aromatic mountain pine and heady tang of wood smoke, we find paradise!

Nothing could be better, we opine. In fact, there is something better: the persistent, comforting presence of my own personal retreat — the diurnal, hermetic existence through which I move.

I live with my “XHBFF.” I know, it’s a seeming anomaly. My ex-husband is my best friend, roommate and spiritual teacher. He is always out rendering assistance to people on the spiritual path, a regimen he lovingly refers to as his “appointed rounds.” His constant walkabouts confer upon me the ideal gift: peace, solitude, personal retreat. I essentially have the place to myself. I don’t have to sojourn to the Northwoods. Retreat is my status quo, and it has changed my life every moment of every day that I choose to live consciously, in full awareness.

Our fourth-floor apartment integrates both personal styles and fosters a meditative atmosphere and focus. Spirituality and psychic vision are major themes. There are altars in every corner, atop bookshelves and headboards. There’s one for the Ancestors, for creativity, for the Captain (one of my Guides), Buddha, Babaji’s lineage and the Wanagis (Ghosts). Among my psychic pursuits, I have been reading Tarot cards since the age of 18 when I “discovered” them in London’s Penguin Bookstore. I have since filled shelves with various types of Tarot, along with a coterie of books on Tarot history, symbols and methods of divination. Cedric has his own oracles that he keeps securely tucked away.

We’re inveterate readers, so we are home to handsome rows of books tucked in wardrobes, cupboards, closets and bookshelves. Our combined interests embrace crystals, angels, faeries, personal transformation, healing, herbs, wellness, channeling, past life and psychic experience. It’s as though I’m living inside my own comfy, private, beautiful and voluminous library; except, unlike the public library, I can read as leisurely as I like and never have to return the books.

We use oils and incense to welcome the Ancestors, so we live in a rarified and beautiful smelling atmosphere. It’s like wandering into the shop of friendly mystics. I’m fond of Frankincense with Cinnamon, Faerie Dust, and Celestial Incense; Cedric’s favorite is Nag Champa. I have an aromatherapy diffuser and a small collection of essential oils that freshen with mist. Our space becomes a heavenly spa where scents mingle, for the air becomes moist, sweet and calming.

There are salt lamps in every room. Their soft orange glow reminds us that light can be gentle, positive and illuminating, rather than harsh and blinding. We can feel the positive ionization they afford. I have two pairs of aragonite discs full of glimmering metals and variegated stones, nestled beside the combination TV/DVD player. Instead of cable or satellite, I watch movies at will. Aragonite helps diffuse the buzz from electronic devices in the room: cell phones, tablet, laptop, printer and CD player. We use a boombox with headphones and Dick Sutphen meditation tapes nightly to transport our spirits to their own Beta Wave Elysium.

Initially, I was brought up thinking life consisted chiefly in securing a profession, donning bike tights for marathons, hiking mountain trails with friends, and hosting weekend dinner parties. As it turned out, I divorced all my spouses, bore no children, failed to wear bike tights, never quite trailblazed with friends and, to this day, I still can’t cook worth a lick. My life ultimately did not comport with earlier imprints and imaginings.

Happily, its design steadily changed with guidance from Angels, Spirit Helpers and my Higher Self. Some may view this landscape and judge my life to be lonely, empty or even slightly tragic. In point of fact, I am actually among the more fortunate people on the planet. I love my life, and the space I inhabit — quiet, sealed and hermitic — forms a perpetual, life-changing retreat.

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Janet Michele Red Feather
Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.

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