6 Weeks from January 18 – February 28, 2021

A time to Reflect. A time to Create. A time to Transform.

Are you seeking mindful and creative ways to honour the unique beauty of the dark winter days ahead?

Are you longing to embrace the fallowness of winter as a time of reflection and creativity?

Are you seeking to transform the challenges of the past year into positive and authentic intentions for the new year ahead?


The season of winter as a time for rest and quiet is typically rejected in our society in favour of maintaining constant activity, planning, and achievement. But winter offers us a profound opportunity to embrace the gift of its darkness and its mysteries, to consciously enter into the “cave of the heart” and explore that which may be lying dormant within us or is in need of being transformed or rebirthed.

  • How might you embrace and be present with winter and all that it is asking of us at this particular time, both individually and collectively?
  • What if you cultivated curiosity instead of anxiety by “lighting” the way ahead in more awake and aware ways?
  • What unexpected gifts might be illuminated within the darkness of winter if you gave yourself time and space for creativity and reflection?

Illuminating the Cave of the Heart is a six-week online “retreat”using the elements of nature as a physical touchpoint and a variety of mystical and contemplative practices such as Alchemy, Numerology and Zentangling to “illuminate” a word whose energy will guide you through the year ahead.

In ancient times, it was a common practice for wise men and women to seek out a cave or other safe place in the desert or forest where they could engage in quiet dialogue with their heart’s longings and struggles. This cave was a threshold place where they emerged different than when they entered.

Often these ancient mystics would ask for a word or phrase to guide them during this time; a word that would nourish and challenge, that they could wrestle with and grow into. A word with the potential to transform their lives …

Just like these ancient mystics, you too can partake in this sacred and powerful process. Whether or not you have already settled on a word for the new year ahead, this journey deep “into the cave of winter” will take you on a transformational quest to discover new ways a single word can be a guiding force for your whole year.

Using the elements of Nature as a guidebook, you will take your word through a series of steps and creative processes until its true essence is “illuminated”. This type of refining process is known as alchemy, an ancient discipline, shrouded in mystery and secrecy, where practitioners sought to turn lead into gold. But the real goal of alchemy went far beyond producing physical treasure …

Alchemy is the “science of the soul”. It combines both science and philosophy and works on all levels of the practitioner – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. At the heart of alchemy is an understanding of the four basic elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire and the myriad ways these elements combine and work with each other. Bringing these elements into harmonious balance within ourselves is the key to “illumination” or enlightenment.

Nature is the greatest alchemist of all with her ability to transform that which is “basic”, such as a seed, into a wondrous flowering plant that eventually bears fruit. Winter is the dormant stage in nature’s alchemical cycle and while many of her trees, plants and creatures appear to be resting, there is plenty going on beneath the surface of the snow-covered ground … and this potent energy is something we can draw on to fuel our journey.

Illuminating the Cave of the Heart will run six weeks through the heart of winter beginning January 18 and ending February 28. Its “retreat” like approach will let you connect to Nature’s wisdom in new and creative ways while undergoing your own “alchemical” process of transformation.

Program Fee $225 + HST

“The course’s framework of six daily lessons, each building on the last day’s lesson plus a day of rest in between, was flexible enough to be done outside of a weekly timeframe while providing that option. The course structure program enabled both intense singular focus and a flow of progression as desired. It exceeded my expectations. I wanted to enrich my spirituality, and this did so and continues to do so.” ~ Elizabeth S.

Illuminating the Cave of the Heart will combine observations from nature with contemplative and creative activities designed to heighten your awareness and cultivate mindfulness. The practices you will learn are drawn from a variety of sources such as Celtic Druidism, Christian mysticism, Buddhism and CJ Shelton’s many years working within the Shamanic tradition and expressive arts. These include:

  • Simple observational activities in a journal or sketchbook
  • Zentangling, a simple and meditative “doodling” and pattern-making process (no artistic experience required!)
  • Thought-provoking readings and meditations
  • Questions and prompts to promote self-reflection, journaling and poetry or prose writing
  • Practical application of the ancient art of Alchemy and the four elements of nature
  • Basic numerology

Support, encouragement and interaction from other participants and CJ will be available in as much or as little quantity as you desire.

Six Zoom sessions will be held for participants to connect live with others in the program, share experiences and see how others are engaging with the activities. These sessions will also be an opportunity to ask questions and get support if you are feeling stuck. All sessions will be recorded and available to listen to afterwards for those who cannot attend live. In addition, there will be an online community forum for sharing ongoing thoughts, discoveries and creative exercises with your fellow journeyers.

Many of the practices in this program are what CJ has incorporated into her own life. If you already enjoy her newsletter Under the Dancing Moon and/or receive her weekly Soul Snippets, you will LOVE this program.

So … what is your word for the year ahead?
Are you ready to discover the “gold” and potential for transformation it contains?

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The benefits of taking a program like this:

  • The program will give your week structure and rhythm while still allowing you to choose when to engage with the content and how you engage with it, whether it is focusing on observation, creativity or journaling.
  • You have the option to make this journey on your own or have access to others who can support and encourage you along the way
  • You will learn simple, meditative practices that can easily be incorporated into your day
  • You will discover new ways of being aware of and appreciating the beauty of nature
  • At the end of the program you will have a tangible record of your journey and a physical touchstone (your illuminated word) to carry forward with you

“A gentle pause. A lovely excuse to sit quietly and observe, or taste, or smell, or simply notice, that which is around us everywhere. In a time of Covid isolation, it was simply wonderful to be ‘forced’ to slow down, observe and experience the world at our doorstep.” ~ Anne S

This program IS a good fit for you if:

  • You are willing to devote a little time each day (30 minutes) to a bit of reading, quiet reflection and creative practice
  • You are looking for new and meaningful activities to explore this winter
  • You are curious about some of the mystical and contemplative traditions that have been followed by wise elders and teachers throughout the ages and how they can be applied in a practical manner to your own life

This program is NOT a good fit for you if:

  • You have a packed and busy schedule with little time to yourself for quiet reflection
  • You aren’t willing to try creative exercises that might take you a little out of your comfort zone
  • The “mystical arts” have little or no value in your mind and are basically hogwash
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What Previous Participants Have Discovered

Many previous “retreat” participants have stated how valuable a program like this has been in providing a daily structure of content to look forward to and how it helped them see and experience the natural world around them in new ways:

“I enjoyed the daily routine that it established for me.”

“Clarity, connection to mind and body, a little slice of joy each day.”

“I wanted to make a deeper connection with nature and my spiritual life. This course definitely helped me do that and reminded me of all things that connected me with nature as a child. And how we all lose that connection at some point. But we can pick-up where we left off if we put a little time and thought into it.”

“This course was very well priced for the content and value. My expectations were met and then some. I really enjoyed the way the instructor designed the delivery of the content.”

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How it Works

Each day you will receive a reminder email with a link to the day’s content. The seventh day (Sundays) are a time for rest and integration. The program will follow this same format for the duration of the six weeks.

The course materials will be presented in a variety of formats including PDF’s, video or audio which you can read, view and listen to at any time. No technical expertise is required as the formats will be easy to download or view/listen on your laptop or other device.

The readings and reflection aspects will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes per day. The amount of time you devote to the creative exercises is totally up to you, but you are encouraged to carve out some sacred time for yourself daily and/or weekly in order to receive the most benefit from this program.

Program Fee $225 + HST

If you have questions about whether this program is right for you please email

Supplies needed:

  • A journal or sketchbook with blank (unlined) pages
  • Pencils and an eraser
  • A couple of black Sharpies or other type of fine tip marker

These items are in addition to the program fee and can be purchased/ordered at your local art supply or dollar store.

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Your Guide for the Journey

CJ Shelton

CJ Shelton is the owner of Dancing Moon Designs, a bricks & mortar studio and gallery as well as a virtual space for exploring art, nature and spirituality through creative, mindful and earth-based practices. An artist and illustrator with over 35 years of professional experience, CJ has been an award-winning arts educator, workshop facilitator, spiritual counsellor and shamanic practitioner for the last 10 years.

CJ’s passion and purpose is to inspire and guide fellow seekers on their creative and spiritual journeys through forming “circles” of community for artistic expression and explorations of the soul and spirit. By teaching mindfulness through creativity CJ opens other’s eyes to the meaning, magic and mystery of Nature’s Great Wheel of Life. Visit the “About CJ” page for more information.

Dancing Moon Designs is dedicated to creating an environment that is inclusive of all

Please note there are no refunds for online courses

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