Phew, it’s been a busy month or two what with spending two weeks in the US on a family holiday and before that, going to a wonderful retreat in Morocco. I actually had a week at home with no plans last week and I spent most of it in bed with a chest infection. I definitely needed to rest and recuperate.
On the US trip, the days were so crammed with sightseeing and theme parks that I fell out of my usual self-care routine; neglecting my daily card reading and crystal work, and I didn’t even make time for a little daily reading, nor my rose baths. The busyness was great, in many ways, and it felt good to have a technology detox, but I absolutely learned that I need downtime to recharge otherwise my immune system takes a real battering. Although all the junk food I filled my face with was no doubt a contributing factor. Take note: theme parks are sugar factories!
When I rewind back to my time in Marrakech however, I instantly feel calm, and my days there were perfectly structured to accommodate self-care. Although the souks and the medina were certainly at times overwhelming, and an assault on the senses, daily life at the riad was just so relaxing. The Radical Self-Love Temple: Marrakech was a spiritual retreat run by my favourite magical babes Gala Darling and Veronica Varlow. Everything they do is gold, and when I heard back in November that they were holding this retreat together I didn’t waste any time in signing up. Of course, the exotic location was a huge cherry on top.
I flew from Gatwick airport with two British lovelies into Marrakech Menara airport. From there we were taken to the main square in the city where we were led on foot to the riad through the narrow labyrinthine souks. In contrast to the bustling streets, the riad was wonderfully peaceful with its central water feature in the fragrant courtyard, drifting rose petals, cool colourful tiles, and rooftop chill area with a hot tub. It was truly a delight every day to see every goddess on the retreat enter the courtyard, resplendent in jewel-tones and adornments (and glitter, called, I kid you not, Unicorn Snot – perfection!). Any initial awkwardness at spending time with a group of strangers (although I did know a couple of ladies already) soon melted away and we soon formed a tight girl gang, always looking out for each other.
Every morning after gathering for a breakfast of pastries, fruit and delectable strong coffee (with accompanying birdsong), we’d sit basking in the light and listen to one of Jessica Snow’s dreamy meditations. I’m not a natural meditation-er – I can’t just sit and close my eyes and clear my mind – I tend to drift off to sleep or have a nagging need to mentally go over my to-do list, but with guided meditation I really reap the benefits, and I loved Jessica’s so much that I’ve subscribed to her website.
After meditation, we then delved into Gala’s Radical Self-Love class. Gala’s approach to self-development and healing really is my favourite, and I highly recommend visiting her website and reading her book, Radical Self-Love, published by Hay House. Gala has a way of digging deep and exposing you to realisations about yourself, but most importantly she provides you with ways to move forward in your life, feel confident and truly love yourself.
Our afternoons were free to explore our surroundings, which often meant following our noses around the souks to stock up on rose oil or incense, drink sweet mint tea, try on pashminas and kaftans in a rainbow array of colours, or haggle for rugs and other home items. It’s amazing how pricey Moroccan style interiors are in US and UK stores, and how cheap they are in comparison in Morocco. No wonder Gala advised us to bring plenty of space in our luggage for our purchases. There were also fabulous rooftop restaurants where we had lunch, and on the last day, I was surprised to see the Atlas Mountains rising like some kind of mirage above the city.
We were also treated to a Feng Shui 101 class with Amanda Gibby Peters, where we learned the fundamentals of the feng shui elements, and how to apply them to our homes and work spaces. Check out Amanda’s website here. I loved delving more into this subject as it’s definitely something I’m interested in but always felt a little confused by.
Our evenings were spent together under the guidance of the Love Witch, Veronica Varlow, and if you have read my blog before then you know I am a frequent visitor to Veronica’s fabulous witchy retreats in the enchanting Catskills in Upstate New York. Veronica led us in rituals designed to unleash our sensuality and goddess magic. For more info on her magical classes and retreats visit her website here. These candlelit rituals always inspired me, making me feel like a true high priestess and left me ready to drift off to sleep on a bed of rose petals.
On two afternoons we had wonderful excursions, first to the Jardin de Majorelle which is a magnificent botanical garden owned by the late Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé since 1980. The gardens are stunning and provide the perfect selfie backdrops with fountains and vivid hues of bright cobalt blue and yellow. We had all fun posing for photos there. Our other outing was to the Hammam de la Rose, a traditional Moroccan spa in the heart of Marrakech. I’ve been to spas before and even Turkish baths, but this was a whole new experience. After being scrubbed, washed, oiled and massaged, I felt like a new me, as well as deeply relaxed.
On our final evening, we went for a delicious dinner at a courtyard restaurant, laughing and talking under the stars. I left this beautiful city with significantly heavier suitcases (I bought a long lusted after traditional wedding blanket and silver pouffe) but with a newer outlook on life. This trip has inspired me to wear more colour and adornments, to meditate regularly and through Gala and Veronica’s classes, provided me with the tools to practice self-love, self-development, awareness, magic and sensuality. I had never really considered visiting Morocco, or indeed North Africa before, but I am so glad that I did, and through such a wonderful trip curated by lovely Gala and Veronica, and with such fantastic ladies who are now magical sisters for life. It has also encouraged in me a sense of gratitude, especially for simple pleasures, and to making every day feel decadent with colours, smells, and dancing.
Weirdly, just over a week later, I was wandering around a fake Marrakech at Disney’s Epcot in Orlando, Florida. It was certainly surreal!