March 23rd-26th 2023
Singing The Bones Retreat:
Find Healing, Connection, and Meaning Through Cultural Self-Discovery.
With Lydia Violet Harutoonian and Leah Song of Rising Appalachia
Lydia Violet and Leah Song joyfully accompany you in reconnecting to ancestral lineage through myth, story, and song…
To be diasporic means to be a member of any group of people who have been dispersed outside their traditional homeland, either involuntarily or by migration. Many of the world’s population, including the majority of North American residents, exist within a diaspora. Our histories, in some way, are characterized by the social phenomenon of dispersion, constant mobility, or rootlessness. At the same time, there is also an overarching phenomenon of ancestral cultural separation and amnesia that many of us inherit.
With this separation can come disorientation from land, language, and tradition and assimilation into modern cultures based on capitalism, materialism, and white supremacy. Wherever we are from, and whatever our nearness or distance from our roots cultures within the spectrum of the diaspora, when we learn about the cultures of our ancestors, both lessons and blessings, we root down into who we are and consciously choose what we bring forward as we shape culture with our lives. To do this brings ancestral healing, cultural repair, profound nourishment, and breaking patterns that have become toxic to us.
To root in stories and songs also helps to balance and heal the challenges of ancestral connection. Many times the medicine for the adversities our ancestors faced is in that very culture itself. All humans gathered around imagination and creativity, confessing their life stories, wonderings, and prayers. Their humanity often came forward through these outlets, creating medicine for the hardships of life.
Through studying the stories and mythologies of these cultures, we have an opportunity to connect to the psychic, spiritual, and material landscapes of our ancestors. These stories tell us the flora and fauna they were surrounded by, the fundamental patterns of daily life they engaged in, the foods they shared, and the celebrations they marked.
In addition to these more literal truths, stories connect us with the psyches of our ancestors, the mythic worlds that engaged their thoughts that they passed their prayers through. Learning their cosmologies allows us to reconnect to the cosmos they painted around themselves, while inspiring us to reflect on who we truly are and what we are made of. This type of cultural learning is a powerful tool and a pivotal step in the journey to connecting to our authentic selves and spiritual depth.
Gather at the Wellspring of Ancestral Celebration, Story and Song!
Lydia and Leah are thrilled to combine their powers in-person, creating a grounded and mystical learning environment. By diving into this exploration of your cultural heritage, both lessons from shortcomings and wisdom from life-enhancing traditions. We hope to create a space for healing parts that feel orphaned and facilitate personal growth.
During this retreat, we will take you through an interactive and immersive journey of cultural self-discovery. You’ll participate in lectures, group discussions, folk singing and dancing, evening storytelling celebrations, and extended Q&A sessions with.
You will dive into learning about the instruments and music styles singing in your blood. You will see the connections and differentiations across cultures. And most importantly, you will practice reconnection within the diaspora, defining what a relationship with your ancestors means for you.
This retreat will be limited to 35 participants, ensuring an opportunity to build meaningful connections with others and create a sense of belonging and community. In a world that can feel isolating, this opportunity to weave our ancestral healing work as a coherent tapestry can soothe the pangs of that isolation.
We are excited for all of us to take a break from our daily routine and fully immerse ourselves in our Singing the Bones retreat experience, what a gift! We will have the whole of the Prama Retreat Center for our use, located on 150 acres in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. These mountains have given birth to many indigenous and settler folk traditional cultures, offering serenity and beauty as our backdrop.
This Retreat is for you if…
- You’d love to learn about your ancestral culture and traditions. (in a supportive, immersive, and in-person environment!)
- It excites you to have uninterrupted time as you gain knowledge in a healing container. (with practices that engage somatically, intellectually, creatively, and spiritually)
- You’d love to build meaningful connections with others in the diaspora and create a greater sense of belonging.
- You seek to improve your well-being through the healing power of cultural reconnection
- You’re curious about harvesting wisdom and finding meaning by exploring your cultural heritage.
- You’re curious about discovering the ancestral instruments and music styles singing in your blood.
- You’d love to get nourished by the nervous-system-regulating vitamins of singing, sharing stories, dancing, and celebrating life together!
Your Groovy Facilitators
Lydia Violet Harutoonian (she/her)
Lydia Violet brings with her a robust scholarship in cosmology, archetypal psychology, and group work facilitation aimed at individual and community repair. Through compassionate and grounded facilitation, Lydia’ is able to move her groups through both intellectual study, somatic tending, and emotional mending in a way that balances mind, spirit, and heart.
Leah Song brings with her 15+ years as the frontwoman of internationally-renowned folk group Rising Appalachia, born from her own lifetime immersion in a variety of folk music traditions. Leah is also passionate about somatic healing, offering groups her own unique synthesis of yoga, dance, meditation, and vocal exploration.
Kind Words From Students
“This class felt like the opening ceremony for the rest of my life…”
“I feel somatically altered from the experience as the intelligence and wisdom of my Lithuanian pagan ancestors has been awakened within my bones…”
“Sending you BIG, BIG, love, gratitude, and appreciation. What you are doing with Singing the Bones is remarkable. I have long sensed that our people are always near to us and show themselves in a plethora of ways. In this class I have been able to foster that idea and begin to see a path towards sharing it. It has been so uplifting to see your work in action and connect with kindred spirits.”
“Participating in this course has brought more love, meaning, and vitality into my heart. This journey felt as if I was falling in love for the first time, staying up late researching wanting more, more, more!”
Preparing for the Retreat
Before the retreat, you will get access to a series of 4 online live workshops about the foundation of this work.
We will walk you through researching your ancestral cultures, and working with folkloric stories, mythology, and archetypical psychology. Plus, you’ll learn other common avenues for diasporic healing and connect with the community.
This will help you feel oriented toward the retreat and equipped with great wisdom from your ancestors.
Attending this series live is not required and you’ll be able to watch the recordings at your own pace.
Community Welcome Dinner!
Sofreh Altar building with ancestral objects.
Meet your cohort and set your intentions.
Community Singing Lullaby Session.
Session 1: Why We Start with Story: Psyche, Soul, and the Nature of Archetypes
Healing in the Diaspora
Session 2: Archetypal Story Figures from Around the World, The Patterns Humanity Shares, Connecting to the Psyches of Our Ancestors Through Story
Meet with Small Counsel Group
The Literal Truths and Mythic Truths Found in Folk Stories and Mythologies, and What They Can Tell Us About the Lives of Our Ancestors
Stories from Around the World: Ancestral Reconnection Oral Storytelling Circle
Session 1: Folk Music Traditions: Drums, Winds, and Strings from Around the World!
Session 2: Vocal Workshop with Leah Song: explore sound vibration and body movement as tools for self-awareness.
Embody the physical art of making sound from all the many resonators in the body, and expand your voice.
Meet with Counsel Group
Session 1: Music As Medicine: Why All Peoples Make Music, and Learning A Song In Your Blood.
Session 2: Songs from Around the World!
Songs from Around the World: Oral Songshare
Lads of Trad: A Traditional Irish and Old Time Dance Party, from the Heart Of Appalachia
The Retreat Center:
Prama Institute & Wellness Center
Prama, meaning “dynamic balance” in Sanskrit, is a sustainable community providing holistic education for people and planet. The is located on 150 acres of forest, meadows, streams and farmlands in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. With plenty of hiking trails and areas to explore, the center borders the scenic French Broad River and is only 25 min from downtown Asheville, 5 min from historic Marshall NC and 2 hours from Charlotte.
If you live locally or would like to find your own accommodations, you are welcome to attend the retreat during the days only, for a reduced fee!
If you would like to stay with us on-site, Prama Institute has a few housing options: 3 private rooms with 2 beds in each, as well as 4 dorm rooms: 2 with 6 bunk beds and 2 with 8 bunk beds. All of the bathrooms are shared in this building.
Prama Wellness Center, an adjacent building to where we our gathering space is, has 3 rooms with a double bed, 1 room with 2 beds and 1 room with 4 smaller twin beds. All these rooms have bathrooms.
When you fill out your application, you’ll indicate your first and second choices for the type of room you’d like to stay in.
All our food is vegetarian with a strong leaning to vegan.
Prama is well known for serving delicious and nutritious vegetarian meals incorporating as much seasonal, local and organic food as possible. They can also meet many diets such as gluten free, vegan and more, and you will have a chance to specify any dietary preference on your retreat application. Your registration feel includes dinner Thursday, 3 meals Friday and Saturday, and breakfast and lunch on Sunday.
There is a ramp that enters the main dome where we meet through the kitchen. There are two rooms on the main level with no stairs, but do not have bathrooms. The bathrooms for those rooms have a 3inch step into the shower .
In the Wellness center, there is one room with a shower room suitable for disabilities and an accessible pathway to the main dome. If you need this room, please indicate so on the application.
There are also 4 rooms at the wellness center available without stairs, however, those bathrooms are not accessible.
If you have any other questions about anything including accessibility and accommodations, please contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cost & Registration
$825, including your online orientation.
Program fee is excluding accommodation if you are staying on-site. You will also have access to more room choices the earlier you sign up!
We have all the room and board options listed for you on the application.
Payment Plans & Reduced Spots
3-month payment plans are available for you! Please just choose this option on the application to let us know if you’d like a payment plan.
When accepted, we will send you a payment link based on the accommodations you chose.
Due to high interest, our barrier-reduced registration spots are now full! We apologize for this limitation, and hope that our payment-plan option can help support more access to our retreat
For questions , please email care@
The Covid-19 pandemic is a shifting landscape, and we do our best to navigate the variety of needs present in our communities.
For this workshop, everyone will be asked to do an antigen-rapid-test within 48 hours of our start time, and then we will also be testing everyone upon arrival to Prama Retreat Center. We also require that participants wear masks while on public transportation to our retreat, which includes planes, buses, trains, etc. We do this to try to ensure as much as possible so that at the retreat itself, we can be mask optional.
To ensure as much collective care as we can, we take these precautions very seriously, especially the request to mask up while traveling. We are doing our best with the resources we have access to to create an internal space with as much freedom as possible. Thank you for helping us to this end.
Right now mask use during our retreat will be optional, but we are also open to adapting as needed. We will do our best to tune into the desires within the group and accommodate as we can.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When does the Retreat start and finish?
Participants are welcome to come anytime after 4pm on Thursday, March 23rd, have dinner provided by the retreat center, and our first group session will start at 7pm on Thursday, March 23rd. Our final retreat session will end at 12:30pm Sunday, March 26th, with participants welcome to stay for lunch before leave the center.
Can I pay on a payment plan?
Yes, 3-month payment plans are available for all payment tiers.
Is there a deadline to register?
The early bird pricing deadline is 30th of January, besides that we will close the door when we reach 35 participants but there is no specific deadline for registration.
What should I bring to the retreat?
Comfortable clothing, and layers for the early-Spring Blue Ridge Mountain weather!
Hot Drink Mug
Journal and Writing Untensils
Dance Party Outfit
Sleep Aids (ear plugs, eye mask)
How far is Prama from the nearest airport?
Asheville is a 35 minute drive from Asheville Regional Airport, and 2 hours 20 minutes from Charlotte International Airport. We will do our best to put participants in touch with each other to arrange carpools.
How many people will be at this retreat?
Prama can accommodate 35 participants at full capacity, so we will be an intimate group, with plenty of time and space for connection!
Is it okay if I have to arrive late or leave early?
While this isn’t preferable, we can accommodate folks who may need to miss a session in the beginning or end of the retreat.
What is the cancellation or refund policy?
100% refund until February 23rd, 50% refund after Febraury 23rd.
By the end of this retreat, through diving deeper into archetypes, psyche, and soul (the deepest patterns of human functioning). And, celebrating life with us, you’ll take home a greater sense of meaning, connection to your authentic self, and a toolkit of ancestral medicine that will help you thrive through the adversities of life.
Will you join us?
We cherish this opportunity to meet all of you in person, and continue this dedication to healing and learning. Let’s sing over the bones, and in doing so hear the song of healing coming through all of us in these times.
So if you’d like to join us, please complete our simple application by clicking the button below. We are capping the participants at 35 to ensure an opportunity to build meaningful connections with others and create a sense of community.