“My name is Kirsty Marshall and I was born in a land of glaciers and icebergs where beautiful white snow lined the streets and the crisp autumn leaves drifted to the ground with the promise of new beginnings” (My Story, 2017)
When I saw that a Radical Self Love Retreat was being offered to goddesses from around the Globe by the author of my all-time favourite self-help book, that a world famous Burlesque dancer and the self-appointed #lovewitch would be running classes and then that it was being run in the gorgeous and culturally diverse city of Marrakesh, Morocco I had no other response than ‘take my money and sign me up NOW!’ Opportunities such as this do not appear every day and my intuition screamed at me that this was exactly what my mind, body and soul was craving instinctively. I am not going to deny that the prospect of travelling alone to a foreign land, meeting two of my idols in person, delving deep into my psyche, unravelling my spirituality to its fullest extent and spending the week with a group of 20 other women that I had never met in my life was nerve wracking to say the least but having done Danielle LePorte’s Desire Map at the end of 2016 and making the pledge to myself to ‘push outside of my self-imposed comfort zone’ I knew I had to do it and fully embrace this phenomenal experience. I have purposefully postponed writing this post to allow the experience, the memories and the teachings to sink in and take hold in my psyche before sharing my experience here over the next few week’s posts. This week’s post covers the culture and colour of Morocco and I will start getting into the nitty gritty of the actual retreat next week.
First Impression of Moroccan Culture
Having landed in the gorgeous city of Marrakesh and being whisked through a surprisingly very modern airport I was driven through the streets alongside the main wall that surrounds the city to the main Medina (market). I knew that I would experience culture different from my own but as I got out of the taxi all of my senses sprung alive, stood to attention and were overwhelmed with what I now affectionately call ‘the cultural hit.’ The sound of the market traders, the hustle and bustle of the very busy market and the intoxicating sound of the flutes that charm snakes out of handwoven baskets , the sight of hundreds of people milling around the market stalls in the sunshine and the monkeys being used as entertainment for the tourists who had flooded the medina, the smell of freshly squeezed orange juice permeated with the scent of turmeric, paprika and cinnamon and the whole medina doused in the smell of jasmine incense floating through the air. This attack of the senses was combined with having to traverse unknown alleyways lined with little shops and traders shouting at you to have a look. Every now and then, a motorbike would come hurtling through the alleys and you would be forced to jump out of the way as it sped past and disappeared into the distance.
Prayer and Gratitude
Morocco is predominantly a Muslim country and the call to prayer sung so beautifully over the terracotta rooftops from the Mosques around the city was a reminder of this. Prayer time was used as a time for each of the goddesses on the retreat to stop and give gratitude for the blessings in their lives. I ensured that I was respectful at all times when walking around the city or traversing through the maze of the Souks, covering my head, shoulders, boobs and legs where possible and using my limited Arabic knowledge to say ‘peace be with you/Assalam Alykum’ to every shop trader I intended to haggle with.
Shopping in the Souks
The Souk was an experience in itself, made up of a myriad of small alleyways and elaborately covered in iron sheeting or woven blankets. Hundreds of market traders line the streets with stock on the floor outside the shop to try and entice customers to enter. The market traders shouted as we passed through ‘Excuse me,’ ‘Fish and Chips,’ ‘Spice Girls,’ ‘Cheaper than Ikea,’ and ‘Lady Gaga’ were common cat calls in a bid to try and get our attention. One thing I was told before I arrived in the country was to never pick anything up or touch anything in the Souk unless you intend to buy or haggle for it. I have to admit I was a little intimidated by haggling as it’s not something I had ever done but I am now a self-confessed expert haggler!
Bathing in the Starlight
On the final day of the retreat we were very lucky to go to the very beautiful Hamman De La Rose where I bathed with four beautiful goddesses under the light of a thousand stars. When I say bathed I literally mean we were massaged, scrubbed, had water thrown at us from an intricately carved wooden bowl, cleaned and made even more beautiful by the lovely team of women who worked at the Hamman. I am a modest person when it comes to my body but I felt comfortable enough with the other goddesses that all inhibitions were lost and I immersed myself in a unique experience that I will treasure and certainly tell my grandchildren about one day.
I was expecting Morocco to be a colourful country from some of the amazing photos I had seen when I was googling Marrakesh before I travelled but even they did not do the colour explosion justice. From the every colour possible pashmina’s waving in the light breeze gusting through the souk, the cobalt blue punch of the Jardin Marjorelle, the colour of the spices piled impossibly high and perfectly triangular in the spice market, the rainbow colours of the woven baskets in the medina, the bright colours of the fresh colours used in all of the food, the terracotta beauty of the souk walls to the wondrous dyes used in the woollen dyers market – I was literally in awe of the colours and bought back a small pot of the cobalt blue to always remind me to use colour to add sparkle to my life. I also felt that my usual black ensemble for clothing was not doing justice to the transformation that was occurring in me during the retreat and taking Ms Darling’s words to heart I decided to ‘try out being whoever I wanted to be,’ I pulled out the colourful clothing I had packed and bought with me but didn’t honestly think I would adorn myself with and started to experiment. Needless to say I am now the proud owner of a pair of purple and pink paisley harem pants and I have not worn an all-black outfit since I have returned home to the UK.
The title of the next few weeks blog posts is ‘Illuminating my Inner Spirit’ and having been thrown into the cultural beauty of Marrakesh it has reignited my strong need to travel the world. Wanderlust has been growing in me since I travelled to Paris in 2015 but this trip has helped to cement my need to travel, experience new cultures and meet new people as often as I can for as long as I am able to. The colour explosion that is Morocco has had a massive effect on me, sparking not only my creativity in terms of my personal style but also stirring up my creative writing side which I have long buried in favour of following other worldly pursuits. I started writing ‘My Story’ during the #lovewitch rituals (more to follow in a later post) and literally have not stopped adding to that story since I was introduced to the concept.
The colour, sense and cultural vibrancy of Marrakesh was and still remains wildly intoxicating for my mind, body and soul and is certainly not something I will ever forget. I remain forever grateful.
Please check back next week for the next installment of my epic adventure… RSL and #lovewitch rituals and my new #girlgang of goddesses.
All my love and light,