Sacred Art Retreat in Santa Fe, New Mexico

11 - 15 October 2023


International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch in Europe and Globally 


International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch in Europe and Globally



International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch in Europe and Globally

I am very excited to announce this upcoming sacred art retreat at the Mongata Healing Center in Santa Fe, Mexico, US! This course will be hosted by Valarie Budayr.

The Mongata Healing Center is situated near the famous La Cieneguilla Petroglyph site (please see the pictures on this page). During this five-day sacred art retreat (with ceremonial work in the evenings) we will visit these petroglyphs, make art inspired by petroglyphs and also compare the local petroglyphs to similar petroglyphs on other continents (especially in Scandinavia and Siberia).

The question this art retreat poses is: are petroglyphs one of the primordial languages of the human soul? At what point in history did human beings start carving petroglyphs? Why do we find them all over the world? How do they relate to languages still spoken today? How do they relate to our Deep Ancestors (the ancient ones whose names we don't know)?

What are the petroglyphs of our own soul? Who is the hump-backed flute player? Does he have an equivalent in our culture, or not? Are these figures location-specific or archetypal (or both)?



This site, displaying hundreds of petroglyphs (dating from pre-contact time and the Spanish colonial era) can be found along a mesa above the Santa Fe River. Most of the petroglyphs were carved by Keresan-speaking Puebloan people living in the area between the 13th and 17th centuries.

The descendants of these people now live down the Santa Fe River along the Rio Grande at the Cochiti and Santo Domingo Pueblos. The area is known for the great number of hump-backed flute player images and a great variety of bird figures. The site is also of interest to those tracing the route of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, as the ancient road passed along here as well.

These petroglyphs are obviously Native American but there still are interesting correspondences with petroglyphs in Scandinavia, Finland and Siberia.

Correspondences we will explore in a spirit-led way!

PICTOGRAM: a pictorial symbol for a word or phrase

Some early scripts were pictorial. One obvious example are Kanji: the characters used to write Chinese today. These characters were originally pictures, or more correctly pictograms. Over time these pictures or glyphs became simplified and abstracted. 

Some scholars argue that the petroglyphs found on cave walls in France and Spain were the first  (earliest) form of writing, these paintings were pictograms. It is believed that these carvings were not just decorative or ceremonial, but that they contained messages, pointers and warnings (e.g. pointers to a good hunting ground, beware of bears or mammoths, good drinking water nearby etc.)

Petroglyphs, created in many different locations, during many ages in the History of Humankind, continue to fascinate and draw visitors. Unfortunately, also the wrong kind of visitors, who carve their own "petroglyphs" or bring spray paint. Petroglyphs and graffiti do not mix well.



 International Teacher, Author, Painter and Forest Witch in Europe and Globally


Dates: 11 - 15 October 2023, in person and non-residential

Venue: Mongata Healing Center in Santa Fe, hosted by Valarie Budayr

Working hours: 

10 - 12.30 AM, 2.30 - 5.30 PM

7.30 - 9.30 PM (four evenings of ceremonial work)

Tuition Fee: USD 975 (with a USD 50 Early Bird Discount for people who pay their deposit before 1 June 2023, meaning USD 925 for Early Birds)

Deposit: USD 175 We cannot hold places for people without receiving a deposit! The remainder of the tuition fee becomes payable on 1 August 2023 and a late fee of USD 50 applies after that date.

Number of places available: 12

(Places are limited and allocated in the order of deposits received. Joining instructions and a What-to-Bring list are sent out closer to the time. Please email me on imelda dot almqvist at gmail dot com to request the full course description and application form).



During this retreat we will use shamanic techniques, such as drumming, sitting out on the land, walking meditation techniques and soundscapes (musical instruments) to bring on a mildly altered state of consciousness. This state of consciousness facilitates communication with spirit teachers and otherworld beings.

Please bring an open heart and open mind. Years of shamanic experience is not expected! Art process itself can be very spirit-led or shamanic and art process is a great teacher!

There will be some instruction but also a lot of focus on direct revelation. The way I host ceremonies is by inviting all participants to receive instructions from Spirit and to then make a personalised contribution, in which art and creative work plays a large part. (This may sound a little disjointed but, in reality, those spirit-led ceremonies always come together in ways that surpass the limits of the human imagination!)

Participants will receive detailed joining instructions closer to the time. For now, I will suggest the following things:

Please read my book, Sacred Art (A Hollow Bone for Spirit), in preparation for this course. And I am happy to sign your copy in Santa Fe!


  • Bring art materials of choice (but be mindful of other participants in terms of the space those materials take up in the room)
  • If you are going to use very messy materials, please bring a dust cloth or plastic sheet to protect the pristine multi-purpose space
  • Bring one (or a few) stones or rocks from your own location (if you are flying, bring tiny pebbles or skip this suggestion)
  • Bring a musical instrument if you wish
  • Bring sacred objects for our group altar
  • Bring prayer requests to be held in our group prayer bowl (but you must have permission from the people concerned!)
  • Bring in some items for ceremonial work. (Examples are: ceremonial robes or other items of clothing, jewellery inherited from ancestors, a mask or headdress, a special belt, bag or other accessories)
  • Start communicating with your Deep Ancestors in advance: did they carve petroglyphs? If so, where and why? Are they willing to be your allies for this retreat? Do they want or need to be honoured (or fed) in a specific way?

Pay close attention to significant dreams! (This work usually starts long before we actually get together)




Mongata Healing Center

Valarie Budayr's inviting Studio Space!