Ep1 Gaia Harvey Jackson and Alana Hyde Bloom from True Nature

9th May 2024 Gemini 1.5 Pro

This is a summary of the first episode of the Dandelion podcast, featuring a conversation with Gaia and Alana, the founders of True Nature, an organization that runs retreats, trainings, and events primarily for women, emphasizing ecological awakening, empowered relationships, and self-healing.

From Theatre to Transformational Work

Both Gaia and Alana have backgrounds in theatre, which has deeply informed their approach to their current work. Alana's journey began with physical theatre, circus arts, and a fascination with ritual, Greek archetypes, and mythology, particularly the goddess Artemis, the archetype of the wild woman. Through her performances and creative residencies, Alana discovered the healing power of creative expression and embodiment.

"What I found in all of that was how being with the creative expression would often create a lot of healing for people. And so I became more interested in that, of how through our physical world, through letting ourselves be creative and in the creative process, how actually a lot of healing happens."

Gaia's theatrical background revolved around site-specific, immersive, interactive performances that challenged societal norms and explored dystopian themes. Her exploration of Buddhism, Tantra, and other spiritual practices led her to shift her focus from what was wrong with the world to what was amazing and how things could be done differently. The principles of improvisation, presence, and audience interaction from her theatre work naturally translated into her facilitation of workshops and retreats. Meeting at a party, Gaia and Alana bonded over their shared love of mythology, embodiment, and Clarissa Pinkola Estés's work, Women Who Run With the Wolves, which resonated deeply with their desire to help women connect with their wild, untamed selves.

Embracing the Wild Feminine

True Nature primarily works with women, recognizing the suppression of the feminine in a patriarchal society. Alana emphasizes the need for women to reclaim their power, step into leadership roles, and challenge the limiting norms that prevent them from fully expressing their authentic selves.

"We're really able to start to shift this culture and start to kind of unfurl the patriarchy from these harmful constructs and actually unfold them and unfurl them into something that is much more life-giving and that supports all people to thrive, not just women, not just men, not just non-binary folks and trans folks."

While recognizing the importance of women-centered spaces, True Nature has also begun offering mixed-gender retreats, acknowledging that everyone is affected by patriarchal conditioning and can benefit from the healing and transformative experiences they offer. They believe that fostering qualities like sensitivity, deep listening, and slowing down can benefit all genders.

Three Pillars of Transformation

True Nature's work is built on three core principles: ecological awakening, empowered relationships, and self-healing. Ecological awakening involves shifting from an egocentric worldview to an eco-centric one, recognizing our interconnectedness with all living things. Gaia emphasizes the importance of immersing oneself in nature to facilitate this shift, allowing nature to become a co-guide in the awakening process.

Empowered relationships are essential for healing and growth, particularly in a society that often fosters disconnection and loneliness. Gaia and Alana emphasize the power of collective healing, where individuals can feel seen, heard, and supported within a community.

"And part of what makes our struggle so difficult is feeling alone with it. And when you stop feeling alone with it, suddenly it feels like it's difficult, but actually I can hold it and I don't have to be holding it alone. There are other people who are here and they've got me and they see me and they understand me and they love me."

Self-healing arises naturally from the other two pillars, allowing individuals to connect with their bodies, emotions, and sensations without judgment. Through practices like embodiment, meditation, and ritual, participants can release stored emotions and move through difficult feelings in a safe and supportive environment.

Dartmoor: A Landscape of Transformation

The setting for most True Nature retreats is Brimps Farm on Dartmoor, a landscape chosen for its ancient spirit, wild beauty, and ability to foster a sense of connection with nature. Alana describes Dartmoor as a "co-guide," its rugged terrain and powerful energy amplifying the transformative work done during the retreats.

"If the invitation is to awaken the wild woman, that's what these retreats are called, the name of them. If that is the invitation, we can't really do that in a city, can we?"

While recognizing the importance of the physical setting, True Nature also offers online events and a membership program, Women's Fire, to provide support and community for those unable to attend in-person retreats. These online offerings allow participants to deepen their understanding of specific themes, connect with like-minded individuals, and integrate the work into their daily lives.

A Collaborative Journey of Growth

The transformative work of True Nature extends beyond the participants to Gaia and Alana themselves. They have learned to navigate their own personal challenges, strengthen their collaboration, and deepen their understanding of their individual gifts and passions.

"And actually what's beautiful is that we're very, very different. And a lot of people will comment on this about how different we are and what a great balance it is. And yeah, learning how to coexist and how to co-facilitate with those differences being strengths rather than in opposition to each other."

Looking towards the future, Gaia and Alana are committed to following the aliveness, trusting their intuition, and remaining open to new possibilities. They envision expanding their offerings, reaching wider audiences, and continuing to create spaces where individuals can connect with their wildness, heal old wounds, and step into their full potential.