Iconography as a Spiritual Practice

 In the iconographic tradition, icons are not painted but “written”, in keeping with the Orthodox belief that God speaks through the icon just as God speaks through the Holy Scriptures. The writing of an icon is an ancient and sacred task, with its own language of color and pattern, of which it has been said, “We do not write the icon; the icon writes us.” It has been my experience that in the writing of an icon, I become more aware of my own spiritual and psychological “hang ups” and more open to God’s grace.

During this retreat, you will write an icon in the Russian Orthodox tradition, using traditional prayers and techniques, moving from chaos to order, darkness to light, breathing gold leaf onto the icon, and experiencing with each step the spirituality associated with that aspect of the process. You will be provided with an icon board, gold leaf, egg tempera paints, brushes and tools. You may wish to bring a smock or apron to wear and a journal for notes and reflection. Expect to spend a minimum of six hours daily over five days to complete your icon. In the Russian Orthodox tradition, the Archangel Michael is the first icon one writes. If you desire to write another icon, please let us know well in advance of your retreat.

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