I first traveled to the island of Koufonisi about five years ago, on the invitation of one of my dearest friends, Anita, who asked me to look at a boutique retreat of Cycladic houses she was building. She fell in love with the island thirty years ago, and ever since it’s been her dream to find a way back.
“There’s something special here,” she told me. And indeed, some of the island’s specialness stood out immediately. I had been living in a monastery on a nearby island, so I was very in-tune with “place.” Koufonisi has a simple authenticity, an unquestionable beauty, and an incredible perch in the Aegean, which shape shifts into every shade of blue throughout the days and nights.
A place of inspiration
And then there’s the presence of Keros, a sacred island that sits directly in view, resembling the splendid shape of a woman in repose. As the oldest maritime sanctuary in the world, and the birthplace of historic Cycladic figures, the island has inspired artists such as Brancusi and Barbara Hepworth, and is considered as historically significant as Delos, the holiest sanctuary to Apollo.
As I would sit and gaze at it, my mind was satisfied by being so close to something that held so much history, ceremony, previous lifetimes. But the most special thing about this island remains invisible.
An invisible, felt beauty
I feel differently here. And others feel differently here. The island casts a spell that is languid and lingering, with a hint of something to be discovered. Petra (Jordan), Angel Falls (Venezuela), Machu Picchu (Peru), I have been to each of these ancient sites. By contrast, the power of Keros remains subtle and sneaks up on you. You don’t have to know about it to feel it. But the more you know, the more it invites you in.
What makes a place feel this way?
There are many theories as to why some places have more charge or resonance than others, from the mystical to the scientific. National Geographic photographer Martin Gray has determined 20 factors; these are the top three: “influences of the Earth; influences of the structures that humans have built; and influences caused by the accumulated power of focused human intention.”
Keros contains all three. As the oldest center of ceremony in the Cyclades, its rituals and honoring date back to about 3000 BC, in the Bronze Age. The ancient Greeks called these islands the Kyklades, a scattered kyklos, or circle, of islands around its holiest island, Delos. Keros sits near the middle of this scattered circle and is considered even more historically significant. My favorite: the Cycladic figurines discovered here. Predominantly female, they display a gorgeous modern-feeling simplicity and precision. As British archaeologist Sir Colin Renfrew states, “a standing figure, with quiet, unassertive rhythms and balanced proportions, achieves one of the most compelling early statements of the human form.” Picasso, Brancusi, Barbara Hepworth, each of these artists created work inspired by these figurines.
A feeling of timelessness
Times moves differently here than in other places; not in a straight line but through the senses. It is one of the reasons I picked here to host RewildRestore. Not only for its beauty, but because it also contributes an ancient quality that supports an enhanced way of feeling and sensing. A rhythm that once you pick up on it seems to slow you down and connect you to a piece of yourself you may not have heard from in a while and, even more refreshing, something beyond the self.
I love water, and this area of the Aegean in particular. An idea that has captivated me is that water has a consciousness, “that it carries in its memory everything that has ever happened in this world, from the time before humans to this moment.” As I bask in the wild saltiness here, I like to imagine that I am moving amongst these intelligences and times.
The full moon is a magical time to be on the island. Keros, as a woman in repose, is visible in all her splendor. And there is a quality to the light that feels like it is holding you, and perhaps the entire island, in a gentle spell. Slowing you down, lighting up a deep inner satisfaction, encouraging you to imagine. Other stories. Other selves. Or just take in its simple beauty and respite.
Join Patricia for a special RewildRestore retreat, taking place on the longest days of summer, leading up to both the Full Moon and Summer Solstice.
Dates May and June 2022. Two spots left for May.
The setting Eros Keros, four luxurious Cycladic homes resting in the luxurious gaze of the sacred island of Keros, the oldest center of ceremony in the Cyclades.
The experience Six nights and seven days, dedicated to water & ritual. You will experience restorative water and multisensory rituals; adventure into secret, ancient locations; vibrant community and communal earth-to-table meals; and fully supported spaciousness for doing what calls you.
Who it’s for Anyone aspiring to live a creative and courageous life, who desires to reset down to the cellular level and put new rituals in place. Those drawn to a generosity of space and beauty, who seek meaningful, joyful experiences.
Save your space Connect with Patricia at RewildRestore