Ginny Lang has worked professionally with nonprofit organizations for more than two decades. She is a trainer, speaker, coach and consultant through her firm, Lang Consulting. For the last several years, that’s been the whole story. Then the resurrection of a lifetime interest and a two day Tarot workshop lit a spark that led her…and Jessica…and you…to this moment. To Sacred Return.
Ginny: “Jessica Renner and I met in 2009 and made an instant connection. We have become friends and colleagues, with complementary skills and interests. Jessica is 20 years my junior. With roots in Michigan, she’s a native West Coaster from Alaska and Washington. I’m a New Englander by birth and a Texan by marriage. Jess’s nature is fierce where mine is easy going. She grew up in a different time and place, seeing the world from a different perspective. When we’ve taught nonprofit management classes together, our span of years and experience has been a boon to everyone in every room. Besides that, we hang out. We never run out of things to talk about and we laugh. A lot.
Since Yuletide 2012, Jessica and I have been meeting to celebrate the Hinges of the Year, the turn of the tides that mark the seasons—Solstices, Equinoxes and the Cross Quarter days between. For decades, I enjoyed the company of a very close group of women who met regularly to celebrate the seasonal changes. The seasons didn’t change as much in Houston as they do here, but those rituals were satisfying beyond measure. I missed them more than I realized until Jessica expressed the interest that inspired me to revive them with her.
We have created sacred space in different ways, have picked themes that speak to us of the season, plug us into the turning wheel of the year. We have spoken of the origins and the connections that feel natural and tied them back to the things that are all around us today—in print, on TV, online, in scientific discovery and cinematic storytelling, in a world that keeps getting smaller. Some of the seasonal themes are more obvious than others in popular culture—Winter Solstice, Halloween, Spring Equinox, which determines the date of Easter. Jessica’s enthusiasm, her curiosity, and her delight in experiencing and wondering at the “giant click” of recognition when we connect past to present, myth to belief, lore to fact, history to fiction, magic to science—makes me see the studies I’ve loved (geeked out to long before it was called that) with new eyes and new excitement. I’ve been a history head, a medievalist, an actor and a lover of folklore and myth for a looong time.
Back to Tarot and how it led us to this conversation! I’ve read Tarot since I was given my first deck as a teenager. But it’s a hobby that takes time and attention, so I had laid my decks away for quite a while. I began enjoying Tarot again a couple of years ago when I met two masters of the art, Joanna Powell Colbert and Judyth Sult. Joanna has created the beautiful Gaian Tarot. Jessica introduced me to Judyth, a seer who uses Tarot to channel the wisdom of guides…angels…our higher selves. I thought that I would certainly like to learn more about that! Judyth had promised to consider teaching a workshop on Tarot and guides, so Jessica (a novice Tarot reader) and I continued to remind (read bother and badger) her until scheduled it this past July. Two days at Earth Sanctuary on Whidby Island.
There are lots of stories I could tell about that Tarot retreat weekend (and I’ll tell them all at the workshops) but the story that matters here is the one about lunch on Sunday, just before we left to go home. As we sat, 6 women, around the kitchen table, Judyth asked what other workshops we might like to attend. I said, “I’d like something about the holidays, the Wheel of the Year, rituals and celebrations.” Judyth responded with “Well, you need to teach that.” Jessica cackled…honestly…she cackled! My mouth fell open and I began, right that second, albeit with a lot of conscious resistance, to think about how much FUN it would be to share my passion for the chain of history and lore that makes each season sing in our blood, that connects us to each other, the past to the present, no matter our cultures or beliefs…how I would LOVE to share it beyond just Jessica and me. To color outside the lines.
So was Sacred Return born. Workshops for women. Workshops that are fascinating, playful, and feed the soul. Workshops that leave you feeling like you have rediscovered something you always knew but couldn’t quite reach.”
Jessica Renner is a communications professional who has worked with businesses and nonprofits at local and national levels for over fifteen years. She founded Studiohatch, a boutique communications firm, in 2001 and in 2012 she opened a second business representing Rodan + Fields Dermatologists. She’s also fascinated with energy work and is a certified Reiki Master Teacher.
Jessica: “Yes, I cackled—a lot. And once I caught my breath, I grinned from ear to ear. Ginny NEEDS to be teaching this! I did it again when the inspiration struck to name this workshop series Sacred Return (yes, that one was mine and we both love it).
Any of you Anne of Green Gables fans will know what I mean when I call Ginny a kindred spirit. She is and I knew it the minute we met—over a cup of tea and a conversation that’s been flourishing ever since. That cuppa lead to some of my favorite experiences—from countless hours in Ginny’s library sharing our love and celebration of myth, legend, history, and folklore, to collaborations in our professional work, including creating and teaching Mindset and Materials, a series of nonprofit management classes.
It’s no secret that I credit Ginny with helping me, a reluctant speaker, become comfortable in front of any audience. I learned a lot of those skills without realizing it. She made suggestions and gave me pointers, but we were having such a good time reveling in the creativity and discovery of our classes that it never felt like “work”. The same thing happened when we began celebrating the seasons together.
Ginny has more experience than I do and while she took on the lion’s share of the planning and knew details and stories I wasn’t familiar with, she made sure that it was always a mutual effort—one that I felt completely a part of. You know when several things you’ve been reading or studying come together and suddenly you have a whole picture, and you go “Oh, now I understand how that works!”? That’s what happens for me when Ginny and I celebrate the holidays together. It’s a butterfly stomach feeling—suddenly pieces fit together that I didn’t even know were from the same puzzle. I can take that away and make it my own, create celebration and ritual to share or not as I see fit. I can see the interconnectedness of my own childhood traditions and popular culture—books, music, figures of speech and the literary world of faerie, myth and magic that’s always fascinated me. So that’s what’s different about working with Ginny from most of the teachers and workshop leaders I’ve encountered. It’s fun. She’s as enthralled with the discoveries and connections we make as I am. She’s flexible and thoughtful and playful and authoritative all at once. I come away filled up. And so will you. You’ll never regret attending a workshop with Ginny.
So…the Tarot workshop with Judyth. It was magical…and as it turns out, life changing as a result of that final lunch. Here’s the reason I cackled—Ginny was absolutely dumbstruck. Once she recovered, she laughed the whole time she denied it. “I can’t even talk about that”, she said. Then, in the car on the drive home, she outlined a whole workshop platform in about 45 minutes, almost without taking a breath. I gave her a knowing smile as she punctuated it with “Wouldn’t that be FUN?” and “Of course there’s no time to put something like that together and still focus on the business.” Then it was back to the details of how to share information on celebrating the seasons with ritual and tradition that would never be stuffy or self conscious. She was talking about popular culture and how our traditions are all around us if we pay attention. This wasn’t going to be somber or scary. It would be a lot like our seasonal celebrations—the ones I’ve come to cherish so well—only with a larger group of friends and more time to go deep in to the mystery and magic of each season. If you’ve found us here, you’re a kindred spirit too and I hope you’ll join us as we gather to turn the year.