Jouvence Lodge in Winter
Way of the Circle in France
Explore the ways in which we can listen deeply to ourselves, our human companions, the more than human world, and the voices of the past, present, and unseen future.
03-09 September 2019
Gardoussel Retreat, France
St. Andre de Valborgne, France

Join us in France for an extended exploration of the Way of the Circle.

The Way Of The Circle

In this 4 day immersion, participants will experience the potency of circle practice and the essential elements of a circle. This course aims to develop participants’ capacity to lead a circle or council, both within and beyond the context of forest therapy, and to cultivate an awareness of how our shared stories illuminate our interconnectedness.

Combining forest therapy and the practice of circle, we will explore ways of listening deeply to ourselves, our human companions and the more than human world. We will ask powerful questions, deepen our perception and practice how to build authentic community.

When we sit in a circle with the intention to show up with our whole selves, we may experience the ways in which our stories weave us into community. Alone, we can only see the world through the lens of our own experience, but together, we can witness reality from all angles. Each of our stories are like ingredients in a great soup that sits at the center of every circle. What we each bring forth from within our hearts blends with all that is offered and in turn nourishes us all. In the center of every circle we find the common themes of our existence, illuminating our shared experience of this world and eliminating personal and cultural isolation.

But showing up with authenticity does not only apply to our relationships with each other; it is also critical in how we relate with the more-than-human world. How do we listen to the sky and the animals, the stones and the rivers? How do we give expression to what we perceive?

In the circle, we learn to bear witness to what is real and to harvest the wisdom generated by authentic community. In this way, we may more fully experience our connectedness with the world around us. When we are open to listening, we find the medicine we are carrying within us and in our community.

We will experience forest therapy walks, circle and triad practice and a presentation by Ben ‘Crow’ Page on the ways in which consciousness can incorporate increasingly complex levels of perception through the practice of deep listening, from his master’s thesis work ‘An Exploration in Living Council.’

What you can anticipate in this course:

Skills and Learning

  • Essential elements of circle practice
  • Circle facilitation skills
  • Circle leadership skills: how to be a leader without leading
  • Developing awareness of group energy
  • Circle practice with the more-than-human-world

Personal Development

  • Experience circle as a pathway towards community and relationship
  • Experience circle as a pathway towards finding ourselves and our medicine
  • Develop embodied listening
  • Cultivate nature connection


  • Guided Forest Therapy walks
  • Community building practices
  • Planting ceremony in community

Who the Way of the Circle is for: You are interested in ecotherapy, forest therapy and/or circle facilitation, either professionally or in your personal life. You are a certified forest therapy guide and want to continue your training in circle leadership in order to become a masterful guide. You are a healing professional and want to infuse new energy into your work. You work in the fields of education, social change, liberation studies or community development and want to gain new skills in circle work. You are looking to cultivate deeper intimacy with yourself and all your relationships. You want to develop your capacity for embodied listening, personal authenticity and compassion. You are new to Forest Therapy and curious to experience its’ benefits in a safe, supportive environment.
About The Venue: 

Gardoussel Retreat, France

Gardoussel (which means “guardian of the birds”) is a magical oasis of calm in one of the most beautiful and untouched parts of France. Set in the lush Cévennes mountains of the Languedoc region, this family-run retreat center is a place of stunning simplicity and natural beauty. Hammocks hang from an assortment of trees, and a swimming hole on the property invites guests to cool off during the late summer.

Gardoussel is surrounded by glorious pine, holm oak forests, and chestnut trees and provides shelter to an assortment of animals such as cats, donkeys, chickens, and the occasional wild beaver. The retreat is tucked away in a picturesque hamlet set in 45 acres of private meadow and woodland, and features a stream running below the property. While secluded and private, Gardoussel also has easy access to small French villages, and offers the perfect opportunity to tune into nature and to ourselves.


Rooms are shared and accommodate 2-4 people per room.  Shared rooms for participants will be 615 euros/week, and will be same gender.

Single rooms might be available based on the number of participants attending the program or camping. Should they be available, they will be available for 740 euros/week.

The above prices include catering, linens, and use of the property. Please note: you will need to bring your own bath towels.

Participants may also camp for a reduced price of 400 euros/week. Gardoussel has two tents available, but they welcome people to bring their own camping equipment as well.

All reservations can be made by contacting Gardoussel Retreat directly.


You can read about transportation options on Gardoussel’s website, here:


Please note: this is a vegetarian training. There are restaurants and a market around a 20 minute walk away. Participants may cook meat for themselves in the kitchens available to them, but it will not be provided by the venue.

Meals will be made onsite by a chef. Prices for food are built into the cost of accommodations. Gardoussel uses almost entirely local and organic food. Dietary preferences/allergies must be communicated to Gardoussel as soon as possible, and no later than 2 weeks from the beginning of the training.

Tuition and Continuing Education: 
Continuing Education Hours for Certified Forest Therapy Guides:

$795 USD 

$735 USD ANFT Member Guides

Ben ‘Crow’ Page is a certified forest therapy guide, council carrier and alternative educator based in Los Angeles. He is the founder of Shinrin Yoku LA, an organization dedicated to transformative nature therapy and contemplative practice in the wild. Since his practice began, Ben has been featured in such publications as Women’s Health, USA TODAY, Good Morning America, The Washington Post, and WebMD. Ben is the Director of Training for the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy as well as a trainer and mentor of guides. Ben is also a co-founder of The Open School, Southern California’s only free democratic school. He holds a B.A. in religious studies from Carleton College and an M.A. in human development and social change from Pacific Oaks College.

Ben’s graduate thesis, “An exploration in Living Council,” sought to answer the question of how deep listening to all beings and throughout time and space can work to integrate deeper levels of connection to ourselves and the world around us. Jack Zimmerman, the co-author of ‘The Way of Council’ was Ben’s mentor and thesis chair on this project.

Pamela Wirth, CPCC is a certified Forest Therapy guide, mentor, coach and the mom of an amazing teenager. Her work with individuals and groups has evolved since 1990 and is informed by deep love and care for Life.

Her background and certifications include:

Guide and mentor, Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides

Certified Professional Coactive Coach, The Coaches Institute

Circlework facilitator, Institute for Circlework

Soulstream coach and mentor, Life Blessing Institute

Maiden Spirit Rites of Passage mentor, Life Blessing Institute

Trance Dance leader, The Natale Institute

Certified coach, Feminine Power Leadership Training