Art & Herbalism Retreat

February 12 – 18, 2024

At the Home of Sarah Wu
El Nido Colibri
Tacotal Colectivo, San Mateo, Costa Rica
Housing  and Activities at Machucampo & Sanctuario

Join us for a seven day retreat connecting with the beauty of the Machuca River and the abundant plants of the Jungle.

Exploring the energetics, archetypes and spirit of the plants, we channel them through art, medicine and community. Working with the natural mineral pigments of the land, we will make art from the clay and soil, with plant pigments and with pencil, watercolor and pastel.

This retreat is for those looking to commune with plants on a deeper level. Working with the spirit of the herbs and flowers as living, sentient creatures, we give human meaning to their language and being.

A fully integrated experience, students will get to live at the blossoming Tacotal Colectivo Community and work from Sarah’s personal home, Casa Colibri, The Hummingbird’s House.

Casa Colibri is located on the original lands of the Huetar peoples, where Sarah now stewards and cares for a small lot. Situated near the crystal clear Machuca River, in a secondary valley, Sarah has began creating terraced gardens and installing her food forest and her gardens. Students will learn the process of developing a piece of land with the intention of creating a fruitful, medicinal paradise that will feed generations to come.

Topic Outline:


– Basics of Natural Building
– Medicine Making

Hands On:

– Plant Spirit Painting
– Group Mandala Building
– Collective Altar Building
– Making Waddle & Daub Faery Houses
– Through the Eyes of the Bee abstract drawing
– Plant Prints & Natural Dying
– Medicine Making: Infused Honey, Teas and Smokes

Other Activities:

– River Spa Day
– Fires & Songs
– Cacao & Elixirs

Lead Facilitators

Celia Hale is a farmer, plant lover, earthen pigment hunter, natural builder, artist, and forever a child of the wild. She is dedicated to the path of discovery that the earth brings when we wonder of another way to live and connect with our surroundings. A way where we know the trees that grow in our backyard, where we see the earth as a sentient being, and where we devote ourselves to this most constant relationship. 

Her journey started through regenerative agriculture and led her to the interdisciplinary practice of kinship with land. She found her way to Punta Mona Center in Costa Rica where she extended her work into the realms of herbal medicine, permaculture, community design, natural building, and earthen art. There she facilitated various courses and workshops all centered around building literacy in earth based skills and philosophy. 

Now she lives in the beautiful lowland mountains of Costa Rica on shared land, growing a living farm project. Here Celia and her partner work to build gardens, regenerate degraded pasture land, make herbal medicine, experiment with natural building and art techniques, and build community in their area. The goals of the project are to build food, medicine, and water sovereignty, to create an education space where people can collect land based knowledge, as well as become a living seed bank and a sanctuary for biodiversity that advocates for the importance of human stewardship and creativity as a force of regeneration and vitality for all. 

Celia’s central value is to transmit the knowledge that has been shared with her. She believes education to be the root of change and activism. She has a passion for bringing education and coursework through the mind and into the body, the heart, and then to the earth and to our communities.

Sarah Wu is a clinical herbalist of 22 years, studying and practicing planetary eclectic herbalism with a foundation in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Wise Woman Reclaiming philosophy, focusing on food-based healing and local ethnobotanical traditions. Sarah leads trainings and workshops in herbal medicine, Permaculture Design Courses, Therapeutic Deep Ecology, Social Permaculture, field-to-the-plate holistic nutrition and herbal first aid. She is a passionate mentor and educator, who believes in the teacher’s role in unlocking the innate wisdom of the student. Sarah is the co-founder of the Village Witches project, and is a Co-Founder and Co-producer of Envision Festival.

Sarah holds a degree in Art History from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There she focused her studies in symbolism, allegory, philosophy and world religions. Sarah trained in the fine arts for ten years, with a specific love for illustration, place making and altar creation. She is well versed, teaching archetypal symbolism and storytelling for personal reflection via Tarot and Astrology, both of which she has been studying and reading for 20 years.

The Venue

What Is Tacotal?

Tacotal is the term for the secondary succession growth phase of deforested land. Here we find thick jungle regrowth of once cleared cattle pasture.

About Tacotal Colectivo:

Named for this forest phase, Tacotal Colectivo was founded in 2007 by a group of friends as a back to the land attempt at community living. Slow and steady in growth, Tacotal does not believe in excessive heroic community development, but the gentle and gradual stewardship of land, through environmental construction methods, minimal extraction and clearing and the intentional expansion of forest. Adhering to the Principles and Ethics of Permaculture, Tacotal is an accessible model of living for the working and middle class, producing little waste, designing from the patterns of nature, working to conserve natural resources and being fully off the grid, encouraging community interconnectedness, Tacotal is an experiment and grounded model in community design. Members are environmental activists, biologists, herbalists, space holders, designers, and musicians.

Nestled alongside the Machuca River in the Alajuela Province of Costa Rica, just an hour west of the San Jose International Airport, this river is filled with quartz crystal and other precious minerals, found in the rich colors of its massive boulders and giant canopy trees. The watershed for the local town of San Mateo, here we find peace and rejuvenation from the hot summer days, and abundant wildlife along her shores. Get ready to fall in love with a River!!

The Goddess Garden and Casa Colibri:

Various neighborhoods make up Tacotal Colectivo. In the Goddess Gardens, we have three powerful women stewarding land and creating their dream homes. Sarah Wu, Cyrille Amiée and Maria Cardona Vaselli are the pillars of the neighborhood, creating grounded examples for female leadership and land care.

The home of Sarah Wu, Casa Colibri, the Hummingbird House, is a sanctuary made of wood and waddle & daub materials, situated over a tertiary valley and seasonal creek, Sarah spent two years in construction, working with a local Costa Rican and indigenous Nicaraguan crew to gently create a low waste home that is actively preventing erosion, building soil and in the early stages of food and medicine production.

Sarah is most honored to welcome students into her home, to share in the transparent realities of building a home as a woman, and along with Lala share what it is like in making a move to another country, creating regenerative and meaningful work and living a life of service to Mother Earth.

MachuCampo is a private riverfront sanctuary glamping campground situated directly beside the Machuca river. Tranquil and lush, nestled in nature on 3 acres of land, with easy to follow trails and rock staircases that create access to the toilet house, kitchen, laundry and parking.  Experience living on a food forest farm in a tent village immersed in dense jungle with pools and waterfalls, monkeys, tucans and a myriad of other wild creatures, Machucampo offers an ideal atmosphere for inner quests and connecting with nature. The song of the river caresses your soul…everywhere you look there is nature’s beauty and embrace. MachuCampo is an experiment in how close and integrated we can live with the natural world while taking care of our human needs and comforts in the simplest most satisfying ways.

Just an hour west of the San Jose International Airport, Machucampo is easily accessible by car, taxi and bus, no 4×4 needed. Students can either hire a taxi for $50 or take the bus to Orotina and from there taxi to the location.

On the grid, yet away from it all, the space is comfortable, relaxing, inspiring and accessible.

Laundry service off site, limited cell service, yet there is wifi in the kitchen.

Housing & Tuition

Regular Tuition: $1295

Register Before December 1, 2023 and get $200 off the Regular Tuition

Tuition Includes:

Shared Double Glamping at Machucampo, neighbor project, located just 10 minute walk through the jungle of Tacotal Colectivo.

– All omnivorous meals, made fresh with organic ingredients provided by local purveyors and grown on the land.

– All activities, classes and course materials

Space is Limited to 25 Students

Reserve Your Space Today with a $500 non-refundable, non-transferrable deposit
Second Deposit of $500 is due on January 15, 2024
All final payments are paid on the first day in cash USD

please write for more info