AGM 2019

Thank you to all the associates who live locally and were able to attend. This year we had a small and efficient meeting – with 12 of us present. Even in this group we were a multi-lingual/cultural bunch, Portuguese, English, Northern Irish, German and American.

We had a visit from an old friend of Mount of Oaks, David with his youngest daughter and partner. It was a real treat to see them, and it was another reminder for Barbara and I that we are in a process of ‘revisiting roots’.

We moved through the agenda, reading the goals of the association was done by Barbara the president. Eric then gave a resume of the accounts and activities of 2018. Emma presented some of the events we will host this year at MoO and the outside activities with a local migration project that we are involved with.

Marcia did a great job of translating as always. She and Eric both stepped down from the direction and I (emma) was elected along with Sandra Lima Reis in their place. Suzy King stepped into the position of Chair.

Official business over we gave thanks for the work of Marcia and Eric and celebrated with yummy chocolate and orange brownie that Anne made! Since people were gathered for the AGM, a friend Rena came and shared some information about the possibility of exploration for lithium in the area. Barbara will join a bunch of people tomorrow going to meet with the mayor of Fundao to speak about our concerns.

We are grateful for all those who support the work of the association by becoming annual associates. Here is the link to the form if you would like to take part in this way.

Aims of the association:

The association has the aims of promoting health and personal, social, spiritual and ecological well-being through contact with nature. The association is both multicultural and multilingual.

Our main goals are:

* Creation of a collaborative spaces to promote social, economic and spiritual well being, local economy initiatives, community gatherings and educational opportunities.

* Model and educate about the advantages of a ‘simple lifestyle’ and raise awareness of current environmental issues.

* Promote healthy choices for the consumption and production of local, organic produce.

* Encourage rural ‘ecological educational tourism’ in a sustainable manner, respecting the cultural and local resources.

* Offering accommodation in naturally construction buildings and basic natural camping facilities.

* Promote intercultural collaboration.

What are the benefits of becoming an associate?

By paying the annual 25E fee you will able to avail of the 10% discount on all Mount of Oaks products and accommodation. And more importantly you join a family of supporters committed to these ways of being.

We are grateful for all those who support the work of the association by becoming annual associates. Here is the link to the form if you would like to take part in this way.

Weavings of Dragons: incredible beings!

Over the Spring Equinox we had the honor of hosting again the ladies, Eva and Isik, from Fourthland and their Nomadic Creative Retreat – Yoruk.

With Eva, Isik and Craig we had a few days before the gathering to enjoy some quality time preparing ourselves and the space for the arrival of the participants…

From the hanging of the gong for a divine sound bath, to the handwritten mantras and welcome scrolls….

…to the fun in the sun setting up of the bell tents!

The 5 day long residential was a journey exploring the light and shadow through creative practices – from where I was, on the outside looking in, it seemed like a very beautiful process! For more details of methodologies, please refer to the work of Fourthland.

We provided the group with yummy meals to support their inner and outer work, lit fires….

…and guided them on learning more about the healing properties of our local plants…

7 of the most beautiful women who dived into the processes and emerged transformed!

It is difficult to convey just how special each of the women who came long were! With different talents and hopes they worked as individuals and as a supportive container for each other. Massive admiration for your courage ladies!

On the final day we all headed to the local lake for a BBQ and some even swam..

What Isik and Eva facilitated seemed like magic – and for those who would like to come along to the next one, we are delighted to announce that there will be chance to take part in early September! More details to follow…..

Transforming Grief into Gratitude

We have been in dialogue about hosting a special retreat here at the Mount of Oaks for several months. A dear friend of MoO, Hajo Muller visited in the Autumn and shared about his experience of having taken part in a grief ritual in the North of England, hosted by Kedar S. Brown. Barbara and I were intrigued as he shared about the transformational experience – and began to discern if this was something that could be hosted at here…

Many emails, conversations, a zoom chat later, and we are happy to announce the dates for the Grief and Gratitude Ritual – over the Autumn Equinox – 19-22nd September.

Folks are asked to arrive on the afternoon of 19th, in order to set up tents and be ready for the beginning of the processes. The closing will be 12 noon on the Sunday.

Why do we feel it important to host this ritual at this time?

For us personally we experience all sorts of grief, from the loss of our biological fathers, to the losses of biodiversity or deep connections to culture or traditional skills… we have been drawn to the work of Kedar for a number of reasons.

Here is what he has to say about grief…

‘For many of us, the residues of grief remain in that silent territory of isolation; an inconvenience to the demands and pace of the life we find ourselves in, waiting for a shared acknowledgment and invitation that often does not arrive.
Grief is a natural gift of the human condition, guiding us toward healing, reconciliation and forgiveness. In time it can open a deep well of gratitude connecting us more heart-fully to those we love.

If we have lived into adulthood, we have certainly experienced pain in our lives: death, relationship crises, emotional and physical traumas, trans-generation loss and displacement, divorce, broken dreams, destruction of our natural habitats and species, loss of old friends and developmental transitions of aging.

In indigenous life, grief is often viewed as a necessary conduit for assisting the dead to the realm of the ancestors. It is in ritual that deep expressions of grief provide a river for loved ones to travel to the other-side. If we do not offer our tears they may not get to where they need to go and some of us may get pulled in with them. Unexpressed grief can settle into our psyche or subconscious mind traveling as a silent ghost through family generations smothering joy, creativity and our ability to connect with others.’

During the weekend we will deepen our connection to the natural world, gather and share the stories of grief from our lives and bring them together in ritual space for respect, honoring and release.

This Indigenous African Grief Ritual offers a soul cleansing rite to release grief, lighten our soul and let our true spirit be heard, deepening our sense of balance and fulfillment. From the indigenous perspective, grief is not only for the living community, it is also a source of sustenance for and connection to the ancestors. Our communal tears will flow as a river from this world to the other as an offering that activates connection and healing in both worlds.

“The Well of Grief”
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface of the well of grief
turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown away by those
who wished for something else”. — David Whyte

This retreat includes:

  • Indigenous African Grief Ritual
  • Drumming, Movement, Poetry
  • Four Seasonal Shields of Initiation
  • Shamanic Healing Methods
  • Healing For Life Transitions/Crisis
  • Song, Music and Village Life
  • Personal Myth Making and Story Telling
  • Healing Ancestral Traumas
  • Holding Ritual Space
  • Honoring Grief

If you are interested in finding out more information, please drop an email. We are seeking to have a group of at least 20 people taking part.


Call for an Organic Co-op?

There was an open call for a conversation about then possible setting up of a local organic co-op in the Teatro in Alpedrinha recently. Francisco Dinis and Richardo Carvalho hosted the meeting and Marcia Luz did a wonderful job of translating.

It was a really mixed group, with some people really wanting to move ahead with the project and others at the start of the journey, who came along to ask questions and find out more information.


The format used to hear opinions and feedback was the ‘World Cafe’ and three questions were worked with at smaller tables.The aim was to establish if there was a consumer need for the co-op structure.

The event had about 30 people, and we realised that there is more awareness raising to do at this stage.

It is only a year since the formation of the association ‘BioEco’ that we are a part of. In that year much as been achieved in terms of almost weekly organic markets in the area, lots of training courses, and workshops.

For many in this local movement, the next natural step is towards a sustainable business model for our local small scale farmers – and that is a co-operative….watch this space for more step by step developments!

In the meantime, the next market in Alpedrinha is 28th April – see you there!

Fermenting in the Sun

The first fermenting gathering at Mount of Oaks this year was a lovely experience for all who came along! Normally we are a bunch of women, chopping and chatting, getting excited about how delicious and nuturious our jars of joy will be in a few short weeks…..

….but on this occasion we were joined by Ian (in the picture above) and by cute little Dylan! Both were welcomed with open arms!

Beetroot Krauts, breakfast ferments, orange marmalade and a Moroccan carrot were some of the recipes that were produced.

2 new ladies came to the group, Bi, who has recently moved to the area, brought her adorable daughter and some milk kefir to share around, and Georgie with the most amazing tattoos!

Happy women, men and babies as we displayed our yummy jars at the end of the afternoon.

Looking forward to the next gathering!

Migrants Welcome in Fundao

Recently the government minster responsible for migration came to Fundao to open the new department of the council who is working with the African refugees and the migrant population in the area.

Paula, Ana Teresa, Andera and Tania – what a great team of proactive citizens!

Most recently, last Saturday was the first of the gatherings under the banner ‘Mixed Talks’ and despite the short notice we were a group of 9 nations represented!

We began with a fun encounter discovering how we greet in our different cultures, we sat and had several rounds of interesting conversations.

Using some of the tools from the Art of Hosting methodology, we talked, listened, laughed and ate together. Some stories were not easy to witness, and others were lovely reflections on what it was like to live here in Fundao. Overall, the experience was heart opening as was reflected by a participant.

What came across strongly was the desire to meet again and open the circle wider to others who have moved to the region and are interested in cultural exchange.

Many thanks to the team now based in what was the Seminary in Fundao. These amazing women are pure pioneers of what an open welcome can draw to the region! I’m honored to work with them in developing this project!


End of an Era!

For those of you who are not aware, we would like to share our news about the ‘moving on’ of Marcia, Eric and little Samuel. Marcia and Eric came to live here, 2013, even before they were married (2014) with the intention of supporting the activities at the Mount of Oaks and trying out the experience of living in community.

Over these last years we have shared a hugely significant journey together. And one I would like to honor in this blog post. These beautiful people grew, as did Barbara and I, through a wide range of great and not easy experiences. Being the living liturgy of ‘different, diverse but not divided.’

Over the years we shared our dreams, passions and skills….

We dreamed together

We worked together

We laughed and celebrated together

We welcomed the arrival of new life in the form of Samuel!

We grieved the passing of beloved Xico

And had a lot of fun in the process…

The amazing miracle – baby Samuel was conceived and came into the world – living these last 2 1/2 years in the home that Barbara designed and Eric and a team of helpers built!

WE ALL grew in terms of social and practical skills. Whether it was learning how to prune, plaster, produce, prioritise, praise and give praise…the list goes on.

And then in last summer it was becoming apparent that our lives and personal and social needs were actually taking us in different directions. The story of us deciding to part ways could be told so many ways – by each of us – as we each, including Samuel realised our desires for a new living situation.

The place that Marcia and Eric were living, though beautiful did not have a separate room for Sami, and this was what he and the parents needed. Alongside this, the need for this little family to have more personal time and their OWN space was voiced.

We held some difficult conversations as we sat with uncertainty and dug deep to work out next steps, and then late November Eric announced at our End of Season party that they would move on and look for somewhere for themselves.

Our final community meeting was a tearful, honest and joyful one. With Barbara still in Brazil, Marica, Eric and I sat and preformed our closing ritual, just days before they moved out of their straw bale home. Leaving no stone un-turned we spoke from the heart and because of how well we know each other, we were able to end with the commitment to keep growing in self reflection and love.

Happily installed in a beautiful apartment in Vale de Prazers (the village along the mountain from Alpedrinha) they are opening a new chapter for their married and family and business life! They want to develop their natural cosmetics, Marcia is taking a ‘doula’ course and Eric is teaching German in night classes in Covilha. SO their new chapter already is opening for them…

As for the land at the Mount of Oaks, Barbara and I have been discerning our common vision. Asking, what we are to host there? What still needs to be brought to birth? The spiritual space for pilgrims, passers-by, nomads and seeks to have a place to encounter themselves and the Divine in nature still is a strong call. A place of connection and simplicity….

We are taking the rest of the month to pray, fast, seek, dream and even make some huge steps towards this vision. So watch this space for more hopeful and exciting news to come!

For today, we want to conclude this blog with a huge thank you to Marcia, Eric and Sami for all they brought of themselves to this piece of land over these last years. Thank you and thank God for good endings, and new beginnings.


Announcing dates of Silent Retreats

We will again host our ‘Invitation to Silence’ weekend retreats in 2019, one in Spring and one in Summer. Both weekends coincide with the new moon, when the body cycle naturally seeks to go inward.

May 3-5th, 2019

August 29-31st, 2019

We refer to these weekends as gentle as they are both a welcoming space for those quite accustomed with the spiritual practice of silence, and the complete novice. There are times for sitting together, and lots of space for the self to wander in the garden or the fields, read, swim, practice stretching or even getting a massage. The practice is supported with delicious local and organic vegetarian and vegan food and with inspiring liturgies from many traditions.

Accommodation is in either a tent or hammock YOU bring, or rent one of ours. There is the option on each retreat for one lucky person to stay in the double bed inside the Straw Bale guest room. For those who came last years loved sleeping so close to nature and under the amazing star filled sky!


For more information you can contact us directly ( and check these links to the events – here is the booking form.

Lyrical feedback offered from Tina, a Dutch participant last year…

Hello Emma,

I ‘ll try to give some feedback starting with MoO as the spot. It felt like heaven
Hospitality. Felt like coming home
Food. Delicious
Meditation. Interesting, deepening
Highlights. The being alone and the love I felt being there
I certainly will come again to MoO
I would recommend it to anyone
What I would say about this silence retreat is that it make you discover there is a extra dimension in silence that compleets us.

Thank you soo much Emma.

Celebration of Generosity: Festa das Papas

This annual festival in Povoa de Atalaia is probably my favourite ‘festa’ in the region. A celebration of the Saint Sebastian and a gathering that exemplifies all that is rich and beautiful about this village!

Every year different families take the role of planting and harvesting and then distributing the ‘blessed porridge’ to the rest of the villagers. It is a great sight to see the parade of the plates carrying the ‘Papas’ from the Mass to the little chapel where is is distributed…

Usually it is men from the household who wander in the crowd giving the magical porridge. The ceremonial aspect is hightened by the fact they wear an ornate embroidered white cloth over one shoulder and take each gift from under the cloak!

This year I didn’t take the best snaps as I was busy chatting to the neighbours!!! If I find links to blogs from the old site, I will post them here!





And here is the link to th