Welcome To Your Sanctuary
The Purpose of Xenia
"Xenia" stands for hospitality and the cross-pollination of ideas between guest and host. It means being friends to the stranger. Xenia has always opened its doors and heart to whomever finds their way here.
Xenia over the years has become a creative crucible; a place where ideas hang out ready to be viewed and used. Xenia Centre is a gift to humanity, evoking service, she offers back peace, presence and a direct experience of ones true nature. Through so much love and attention being poured into her, Xenia has impacted the lives of thousands from around the world. This is truly a sacred place, a place that brings us home. In 1994, a young widow with a small child risked all to convert a dilapidated old sheep farm into one of the worlds most beautiful and unique sanctuaries. Against all financial advice, she followed her souls yearning to service this mission, the dream of Xenia called Angelyn to its birth.
How Xenia Came to Be
Xenia is a 38-acre Sanctuary in the heart of Bowen Island, one hour from downtown Vancouver and 90 minutes from our international airport. It is also surrounded by hundreds of acres of protected government forests and lakes. It is a place of safety and beauty. It is a place to heal, to rest, to play and to discover one’s true nature and inherent gifts. One guest explained the essence of Xenia so eloquently:
“I thought this miraculous, spiritual experience was in the land – and it is. But I have walked many lands, in India, Africa, Europe, Canada and the U.S. – and have not experienced it before. And then I thought it must come from the structures and holy places like Opa and the Sanctuary – and it does. But I have been in many structures and holy places around the world and have not felt this before.
And then I thought it must come from the spirituality of the people there, those dedicated, that enliven the Creative Force – and it does. But I have been with many people in many structures in many lands and have never experienced this kind of spirituality before.” - Joan O’Flynn
“Xenia on Bowen Island, British Columbia, was created out of a vision for children to feel safe to be creative. All children, including the magical child within you. We are born into this world with a seed, a gift awaiting expression. If given the right environment it will flourish and fulfil its destiny.” - Angelyn (Founder of Xenia)
Check out the history of Bowen Island here: http://www.bowenheritage.org/a-short-history-of-bowen-island.html
A Short History of Bowen Island
The Squamish are a coast Salish people whose traditional territory stretches from Point Grey in Vancouver to Roberts Creek, encompassing all of the islands in Howe Sound, including Bowen Island. The Squamish name for the Island is Xwlíl’xhwm, meaning “Fast Drumming Ground”. Some authors attribute the name to the sound made by the ocean as it passes through the tiny pass between the Island’s northern point and Finisterre Island.
In the Squamish creation story, Xwlíl’xhwm is often referred to as the place where the deer were created.
On Xwlíl’xhwm, the Squamish established a tiny village called Qole’laqom and
here they hunted, fished or stopped over during long voyages up and down the coast. While there remains no trace of the village, archaeological surveys conducted by Dr. Charles Borden and a team of students from the University of British Columbia in the 1970’s discovered clam middens at the perimeter of the Island. More recently, a developer’s survey unearthed a fire pit and arrow head. The whole Island is thought to have high potential for such sites.
From the Founder, Angelyn:
“When I first walked on this land it was a derelict old sheep farm and every single building was dilapidated. Most people thought I was crazy to imagine it could be transformed to what it is today, but see it I could and believe in it I did. Over the years I have watched this place emerge out of the ashes into a beautiful natural and inspiring sanctuary. Visitors are always astonished to see pictures of what it once was. Where once a junkyard littered the landscape, there now lays a forest glade with a sacred labyrinth at its centre.
Thousands come every year, quietly arriving unannounced along
the shaded forest paths, just to walk the labyrinth and be brought once again to the centre of their being.
A ramshackle neglected shack has been restored to reveal one of Bowen Island’s proudest heritage buildings. The original split-log dwelling built by pioneers in 1882 (the oldest still standing on our island) is itself an education in the wisdom of native building techniques, developed in this region over thousands of years. Its thermal properties excel any other we know of, both in winter and in summer. Just to sit quietly within this central room at Xenia is to feel nurtured.
The energy from its ancient walls (massive slabs of wood from original growth trees over 600 years old) soaks into your cells, giving you an experience of what a humble shelter can be. This Lodge now forms the heart of the Xenia community, and has been expanded to include a kitchen and dining room that comfortably services over 25 people at a sitting.
I remember the first year noticing the lack of birds. Literally I couldn’t hear or see signs of birds on the land. It seemed dead energetically. Now it is a vibrant and prolific home for many a flyer and crawler – not to mention the four legged. Healing and transformation happens regularly because of their presence on the land. The energy has shifted so radically through the hundreds of people who have contributed with their love, skill and gifts. It is a place people love to come and be of service and it still amazes us that people work hard all day and then phone and thank us for the privilege. They consider they are the ones who received the gift. This is so rare in our society.
Our 30 ft diameter yurt, a circular structure based on a traditional Mongolian design, provides a functional and attractive venue for workshops and group events. Xenia is the venue of choice for many providers of weekend workshops, not just from the Vancouver area, but also internationally. Pioneers in sustainability from Britain, film-makers from Germany, healers from Japan and Peru, Tibetan Buddhists, Australian educators, and many other groups have all found Xenia an ideal place to foregather. Over the years has grown up an extraordinary community that embraces Xenia. This extends out to the larger community of Bowen Island as well as globally with many members around the world who visit yearly.
Born and raised in England, at 19 Angelyn travelled the world expecting to return to her homeland but there was another plan in store that led her to Vancouver, Canada and a corporate career. After a decade working in advertising, radio and then as a consultant in communications and interpersonal skills, she withdrew to a tree house on Bowen Island in 1986, to re-assess her life.
Her greatest joy of all was the birth of her beautiful daughter Kasara, in 1987, who is a now a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, specialising in Chiropractic and Equine Sports Medicine. Another big passion of Angelyn’s has always been horses, so what a delight it was that her daughter chose a career in the equine world.
In 1994, Angelyn purchased a thirty-eight-acre, broken-down, old sheep farm to begin her Vision of a Sanctuary in nature where people could come to relax, unplug, and allow their creative muse to awaken. Xenia Creative Development Centre was born. The transformation involved a huge undertaking and a labour of love and dedication. It involved the support of hundreds of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Chrystalle Grace, Angelyn’s best friend and co-Founder of Xenia was a major support in saying “yes” to most of Angelyn’s great visions and crazy ideas. Together they were a solid team in unfolding Xenia’s mission along with Diane, Chrystalle’s sister, other community members (see acknowledgements) as well as hundreds of volunteers. Sadly, Chrystalle left this world on October 1st 2010 and is greatly missed. Her legacy lives on and she still makes contact with the Xenia community, in a variety of different ways.
A decade into the initiative, Angelyn underwent major financial stress and nearly lost her beloved Xenia back to the bank. At one point, she fell five months behind on the mortgage, three years behind in property taxes, and received disconnection notices. She refers to this time as her dark night of the soul. It lasted two long years.
In 2005, Relationship Marketing came into her life and, at first, she almost didn’t recognize it as the miracle for which she had prayed. It happened because of the fortitude of a colleague, who had visited her Retreat Centre many years earlier and strongly suggested Angelyn take a look at a business vehicle. A vision they both shared was to bring together leaders from around the world to have an impact on education, health, and business.
Many years later, Angelyn cannot believe the transformation in her life and in the lives of those with whom she has worked. She has a wonderful team of loyal and dedicated people.
Angelyn won the Associate of the Year Award for North America in 2008, for exemplary leadership, and got inducted into the Millionaire Club, having personally earned one million dollars by January 2013. She has served on the Field Advisory Board of her company for several years and is the top income earner in Canada. In 2015, she won the company’s highest award for Leadership, Integrity, and Service, the Yun Ho Lee Award. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh_LtPBck00. In 2016, she won the award for Leadership Excellence. Having a successful Relationship Marketing business not only sustains her Retreat Centre, but she also loves her life and the freedom it allows. The biggest surprise of all was finding the perfect partnership and parallel path with her work of transformation. It fulfils her desire to serve others to awaken their greatest gifts and talents.
Her passion for animals and transformation got combined in her book: From Squeak to Roar, Unleashing the potential in your Relationship Marketing Tribe.
Angelyn leads programs at her Retreat Centre and is developing a Global Program in collaboration with a faculty of conscious entrepreneurs to change the way we do business, education, and life in general.
Her latest book, Radical Trust, should be out later this year (2017-18). Radical Trust is one woman’s journey through the fire of surrender into the deep pool of listening. It is a story about waking up out of the swamp of confusion the mind serves up, into something far deeper that knows the truth and guides us. This book is a story of feeling our feelings, not as a pure guide but to liberate their missive. It is about listening to, and acting upon the messages life delivers by way of symbols, relationships, and encounters. Finally, Radical Trust helps the reader find the courage to follow their individual path and deliver the gifts with which they were born. It is, ultimately, a story of inspiration and transformation on many levels and in profound ways.
It took me over twenty years to write this book. The title became clear in 1999, but the content took years to write. I realised why when I heard about the importance of sharing the wisdom of your scars, not your open wounds.
It felt too vulnerable to share my journey because it was wrought with my judgments and fears of what others would think. Obviously, the wounds remained open, and I was embarrassed. But today it seems hard to believe I travelled through many of the experiences I did, and I choose to honour them.
I share my story because I am prompted from within and as a way of inspiring others.
Life speaks to all of us every day and all-day long. We can safely know there is a higher power guiding us. It takes courage to begin and radical trust to continue. My wish is that this book inspires the reader to find his or her deep inner knowing by truly witnessing the feelings arising and trusting the messages given. angelyntoth.com
Explore her book "From Squeak to Roar" which explores the dynamics of working as a team and features beautiful artwork of our animals.
Watch this video do learn about Angelyn and the origins of Xenia
Interview with Angelyn with PowHERhouse:
Words from our Friends:
“A happy response to our love and joy. A sense that there is a lot ahead of it, a lot to be brought into manifestation. A lot to be achieved in service to the whole and that service to the whole is very important to it. It has an ordained role and is delighted that this is so and has long chosen this area. It thanks us and blesses us.”
Message for Xenia through Dorothy Maclean – Co-Founder of Findhorn
"All the architecture being artfully and lovingly crafted in wood and glass, to celebrate the glorious natural setting and be attuned to it. In another corner of Xenia stands Opa, our 1000 year old Douglas Fir tree. To simply sit and be with Opa is to be helped to a state of grace. A bench awaits you to sit and marvel at this sentient being, and thousands make use of this every year.
Nearby we have built a beautiful Sanctuary, all crafted lovingly from timber grown on Xenia. In all weathers, people come to sit in silence and meditation, sharing the space with a sacred and eternal flame. From time to time, people gather in the Sanctuary for a variety of spiritual purposes and silent vigils. You will notice an, absence of dogma here. All beliefs are respected at Xenia, none more than others.
“A lot of us arrived here not knowing what to expect and as the crazy lives of the city melted off everyone they were able to just be themselves. Sometimes it’s hard to find a place where you can just be loved and accepted for exactly who you are. Xenia is this place.”
- Nancy (Street Youth Program)
"Within sight of the Lodge, unique and beautiful wooden cottages dot the landscape, surrounding a broad grassy meadow several acres in extent. Leading away from this centre in every direction are easy paths taking you to secret places in the woods, to deserted lakes and beaches to beautiful views. Xenia and its surroundings are blessed with so many beautiful and spiritually nourishing locations, it’s impossible to detail them all.
Along all of these trails you soon find yourself exploring your own soul as much as the nature around you. And what you find is good. Xenia works its magic upon you and calls you home.
There are magical places that change our lives; this land is one of those places. Thank you for holding this vision of healing and for not giving up on your dream….You have dreamed-in power, beauty and grace. I leave here changed and transformed.”
- Sonya Weir – Editor Shared Vision
Xenia has a community of friends, angels and devoted people who have volunteered since the beginning and remain deeply committed to the full vision of Xenia.
Some live at Xenia, some live on Bowen Island and others live around the world. In particular: Chrystalle Grace, Saria-Suzann Bailey, Diane Leclair, Kasara Toth, Dale Hamilton, Mike Mommersteeg, Tarla Curran, Matthew Smith, Sheena Ashdown, Ellen Hayakawa, Ariel Cantin, Brian Silver, Doug Stelling, David Skinner, Bernard Leclair, Elinor Meney, Gus Griffin, Marina Richards, Lucas Gaudette, Tina Overbury and hundreds of Wwoofers- (willing workers on organic farms). Without these people's contribution of love and support Xenia may not be here today.
Among our guests are a variety of personality types, faces and hidden gifts. Xenia facilitates a cross-pollination of diversity and communion with friends. Below is a collage of happenings and letters written by our cherished visitors. We hope you will glean your own sense of what Xenia might be for you when you come to see us.
Notes from our Guestbook and letters to Xenia
Learn about how Xenia began, listen to its co-creators and understand the dream that sprouted from a quiet voice. This video was recorded and edited in 1998 by one of our cherished volunteers, length 54:05 .
This quote from Margaret Mead, the famous anthropologist and activist, expresses better than I can, the real mandate of Xenia. On her deathbed, Margaret said:
“I have a revelation… God I wish I could live long enough to see it through! People have to grow together. They have to do physical, mental, psychological, spiritual processes together. And as they deepen and hold each other’s dreams, by God they go out and make a difference.
We need to grow together and deepen the dialogue. We have to get to the place deeper than the agenda. We need to find the common ground where the fundamental Christians and the gay community can talk together. Where the loggers and the environmentalist can learn to respect and protect the environment together. The agenda is the smokescreen for the deeper issues of transformation that are going on. And at a very deep level we are all in the same boat together.”
The name Xenia means: cross-pollination of ideas between guest and host. It stands for hospitality and the gracious acceptance of whomever comes down the path. It is not about shelter, it’s about sanctuary – providing a container, a space, a home that amplifies the energies being shared by the community. It is an incubator for talents and gifts to birth. It is a non-denominational spiritual university, a synchronistic discovery centre. The empty space for creation to happen within."