My First Experience at Lucid University

Lucid University Courseweek students posing in front of their work: Temple of Lucidity
Photo by Marisa Pfenning

Lucidity Festival: Moon’s Eye View was approaching fast and I was definitely NOT going to miss it.

The lineup, the educational offerings, and the overall shenanigans, were something that I needed to taste. It wasn’t until last minute that I decided to make the extra leap of faith and register for Lucid University Courseweek. 

Courseweek offered a series of educational intensives in the days leading to the festival. That year there were 4 offerings: Somatic Movement & Embodied Freedom, CreativeWorks Open Studio, Ecoliteracy & Earth Arts, and Creating Harmonic Culture. Since I’m a total permaculture geek, I decided to go with Ecoliteracy & Earth Arts with Penny Livingston.

Upon arriving to the festival, we were directed to camp close to the Lucid University area. This made the experience streamlined and easy. The arrival day of course week started with a student orientation, which ended in a communal closing circle.

That evening we had the choice to participate in two electives: “Yin Yoga & Authentic Healing” or “YOUniverse: Reflection of the Cosmos.” I decided to sit in on the YOUniverse lecture, which included explanations of quantum theory, black holes, and the functioning of the universe on micro and macro scales. 

Lucid University 2017 necklace being worn
Photo by Brianna Breeze

The following morning started early with a morning movement class and then breakfast.

The meal plan catered by Salt & Soil was one of the highlights of Courseweek. The high-vibrational, organic food was undoubtedly delectable and was prepared with love by friendly staff and volunteers. I really appreciated that there were always vegan and gluten free options. The meals during Courseweek helped me feel fully fueled and ready to fully engage in the participatory learning. 

Speaking of participatory learning, I appreciated Penny’s inclusive, casual, and conversational style of teaching. Within the first hour of class on the first day, she asked us, “What needs to be addressed?”

The students and I expressed that we would like to walk the land and meet the local ecosystem. So we took a walk and identified and shook hands with the local plants. Then we chose a sunny spot under some oak trees to have our opening discourse.

Penny made sure that students felt they could fully participate, in that we were all encouraged to jump into the conversational learning.

Students intently listening to instructor in the midst of bamboo structure construction
Photo by Marisa Pfenning

Penny held down and facilitated space, enriching our minds with an immense amount of knowledge and in-depth wisdom.

Students chimed in, went on tangents, and asked questions when appropriate. The topics of the first day’s classes ranged from working with the elements, plant spirits, social activism, harnessing the sun’s energy, and more. 

The course was taught from an elemental perspective, moving through different themes and topics via the lenses of spirit, air, water, fire and earth. On the second day of the course, we delved into water and earth.

We learned how to observe water’s movement on a landscape and how to modify the earth’s terrain to capture, hold and absorb water. We learned how to harvest plants in a respectful way and make plant medicine.

My favorite part of the course was making hydrosol, which is the first step of making essential oil. We boiled down lavender in an alembic distillation unit, which turned the plant’s essence and fragrance into a more potent form. We then used mixed hydrosol with beeswax, herbal infused oils, essential oils, and shea butter to make a topical herbal creme.

Penny also taught us how to make salves, tinctures, and decoctions. We learned about a wide variety of medicinal herbs such as yarrow, creosote, sage, and a variety of other herbal allies

Many people surrounding a man with a drum in front Permaculture Hub
Photo by Fish Makes Photos

For me, the most valuable aspect of the course was the integration of spirituality, science and society.

Penny was an incredibly wise, compassionate and enthusiastic teacher. She moved all of us with so much inspiration, each of us imbibing a will to stand up for the Mother Earth and all of her creatures. 

The course ended with a closing ceremony on Friday, the first day of the main festival. The ceremony included a closing circle with an integration and graduation. Each of the four classes shared something they learned, created or did in their class.

Our class shared a song and passed around our hydrosol. The Creativeworks folks shared a collaborative musical performance. The Bodyworks class shared a display of movement and contact improv. The spirit/community works class shared spoken word, poetry and chanting. 

Seeing each of the classes in their culmination of knowledge made me wish I could have taken all four classes. Despite a slight feeling that I missed out, I felt incredibly grateful that I chose the Earth Arts course.

Giant Teddy Bear hoisted over man's shoulders. Photo taken in front of Lucid University sign
Photo by Fish Makes Photos

I felt a sense of community with everyone in Courseweek, since we got to all eat meals together and join each other in morning circles each day. Our Courseweek community became a tribe during the festival, and we would greet each other with smiles and hugs when we saw each other on the dance floor, in a yoga class, or a workshop. 

Overall, Lucidity and Courseweek was absolutely my favorite California festival experience yet. The group meetings during Courseweek were fun, whimsical, intimate and heart-warming. The festival itself was chock-full of continued fun and experiential learning.

Lucid University stayed open throughout the festival, and offered continued opportunities for learning and growth that supplemented Courseweek. I definitely hope I will be able to partake in Lucid University in the future and join the Lucid Family once again.

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