Singing The Bones Retreat
With Lydia Violet Harutoonian
And Leah Song of Rising Appalachia
Prama Retreat Center Blue Ridge Mountains
March 23rd-26th 2023
Pre-Requisite Required: Singing the Bones Online Immersion.
Having previously taken the Singing the Bones online course is a necessary pre-requisite for this retreat!
In this first-of-its-kind retreat, Iranian-American artist-scholar Lydia Violet Harutoonian and activist-artist Leah Song of Rising Appalachia are excited to gather in person around the wellspring that has become Singing the Bones. This retreat will build on the work students have already undertaken in studying the cultural inheritance of one of their ancestries through researching myths, folktales, archetypes, about musical instrumentation, and song.
In the first part of our retreat, we will look at the way myths and folklore unveil the archetypes and worldviews some of our ancestors lived in reference to. This will lead us into deepening our studies of the relationship between cosmology, archetypes, and psyche, cosmology being the story (logos) a person or group of people tell to paint the cosmos around them, including the nature of reality, humanity, and creation. As we look at both similarities and differences between archetypes across cultures, we also engage in the process of decolonizing these archetypes from assimilation and erasure.
By the end of this retreat, you will have a deeper understanding of the cultural artifacts held within your lineage(s), a deeply medicinal endeavour in our time. You will explore how story gives way to culture, which in turn gives way to tradition, and how this tradition melts into diasporic identities.
You will also delve into learning about the instruments and musical 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 feature lectures, question and answer sessions, singing, evening storytelling celebrations, folk songs, and the magic of people gathering together to uncover symbolism and sounds from the past.
You do not need to have musical experience to attend this retreat! Lydia and Leah use their musical talent to invite others into community singing spaces that are inviting and nourishing, no matter your musical background. Leah will also lead a vocal workshop, exploring the capacity of sounds we have and how we can hear that range in different forms of folk music.
As was your homework in our online course, we will be inviting all participants to bring with them one folktale, mythological story, or a figure from either, with an optional online session offered before our gathering to grease the wheels and field any questions about this homework.
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.
Prama Institute has 3 private rooms with 2 beds in each. There are 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.
All our food is vegetarian with a strong leaning to vegan.
If you have any other questions about anything including accessibility and accommodations, please contact Emily at email@example.com
Cost & Registration
EARLY BIRD PRICE: $585 until JANUARY 5th
The base cost for the workshop is $650 which does not include room and board.
Your room & board depends on the room you choose. To know the options, please view them on the application.
Payment plans are available. Please 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.
Barrier-reduced registration spots are made possible through donations from organizations and members of our community. Priority for barrier-reduced spots will be given to Black and Indigenous people, and people from other racialized communities.
To apply for a barrier-reduced spot, please fill out this form:
For questions or inquiries, 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.
Having just experienced our first retreat with a Covid outbreak, which led to 7 people contracting Covid, 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.
Facilitators and Guides
Lydia Violet Harutoonian (she/her)
Lydia Violet Farshid-Harutoonian, M.A., has studied dedicatedly with deep ecology…
Lydia is also an Iranian-Armenian-American multi-instrumentalist weaving together Southern blues, American roots, and Iranian folk music traditions. With her live band she combines fiddle, banjo, and luscious harmonies to offer a soul-folk revival experience. In the past year she has collaborated with world-renowned artists Climbing PoeTree, Rising Appalachia, and Lyla June. ♬http://www.lydiafiddle.com♬
Leah Song is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumental musician, storyteller, poet, and activist…
…known for her role as front woman in Rising Appalachia, with her sister Chloe Smith, incorporating sultry vocals, rhythm, banjo, guitar, ballads, dance, spoken-word and storytelling into her work. Her music is based in the traditions of Southern soul and international roots music. Song engages in social activism and is involved with the environment, food justice, human rights and prisons.
She has studied and worked alongside some of the greatest teachers of our time, including Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Martin Shaw, Joanna Macy, Winona LaDuke, Sobunfu Some, and Rosemary Gladstar, gathering tools and teachings of resilience, mythology, grief work, creative ritual, and rewilding.
Logistics & Program Manager
Emily Coralyne will join assisting in facilitation, program delivery, and group care.
The synthesis of her studies in eco-psychology, sociology, and coaching (and tech savvy-social entrepreneurship skills) manifests through her work as an international facilitator of the Work That Reconnects (since 2016) and being in service as a coach and business assistant for organizations contributing to the Great Turning, like School for the Great Turning and Rooted Global Village.
BRING US TO YOUR COMMUNITY
If you are interested in bringing this work to your area, we would love to hear from you.
Please fill out this short survey, and we will be in touch soon!
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What Folks are Saying About
School of the Great Turning
“...thank you, for your work, your music, the songs (my voice is slowly coming back after years of silence and I’m writing one-line songs of gratitude thanks to you)!!”
“Thank you so much for this class and all of your sharing. Yesterday was an accumulation of so many emotions, but I am so happy to have shared my story. I truly believe in the Music As Medicine project and excited to see it grow.”
“I am lingering in the joy of our time together…I loved being in community with everyone y’all gathered. Thank you! With tears and solidarity in everything we are doing…”