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Sonoma Coast resident modernizes the ancient art of sigils

For more information on Unbeaten Path Tours & Yoga, visit www.unbeatenpathtours.com.

On the surface, the letters of words like PATIENCE and STRENGTH are merely lines and circles—forms we see thousands of times every single day.

Stripped down, removed from the familiar constructs of words and reconnected into new and dynamic shapes, the lines and circles can become entirely new creations that can serve as symbols that represent powerful emotions and desires that we wish to harness.

These symbols, dubbed “sigils,” can be powerful icons for a more conscious life, according to longtime Sonoma Coast resident Margaret Lindgren.

They also are the main attraction of Lindgren’s new, three-hour interactive “walkshop” from her small Sea Ranch-based outfitter, Unbeaten Path Tours & Yoga.

The sigils experience is the centerpiece of the latest self-improvement offering from the company that specializes in private (and therefore Covid-19 friendly) nature and wellness outings. It also embodies a new direction for Lindgren, its founder and owner.

The way Lindgren sees it, the $165 per-person tour is the perfect experience for a trying time.

“Sigils give us an opportunity to embrace our emotions and feelings for what they are: signposts to our happiness, success and fulfillment,” she said. “Everything about the world is so confusing right now. Acknowledging these emotions and feelings empower us to come together and see our truths.”

Modernizing an ancient art

Sigils predate most modern conveniences. For centuries, these symbols were used in rituals and were considered to have magical power.

As Lindgren explained it, today sigils are the physical manifestations of desired outcomes for us all.

“I like to think of the sigils as a way of focusing on a feeling we want to address,” said Lindgren, 50. “This is a powerful way to acknowledge who we are, what we have to offer in this lifetime, our feelings or what is underneath our feelings, what drives anger or sadness.”

Lindgren is no sigils novice; she said she has used them for years to rise above challenges and trauma in both her personal and professional lives. Most recently, she turned to sigils to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on her business — when the pandemic began, Lindgren basically had to stop her tours completely.

It was the first time since the business started in 2011 that she couldn’t give tours. She was devastated.

Gradually, as orders from the Sonoma County Public Health Division allowed for tourism to reopen, Lindgren realized that building a tour around sigils could be a bold new expression of herself.

“When work dried up, I felt I had nothing to contribute and missed the daily acknowledgment that I have something to offer,” she remembered. “The sigils work allowed me to make space for my difficulty and inspired me to integrate it into a powerful thing to share with others.”

Instantly, a new line of business came to life.

Anatomy of a tour

True to its name, the standard “walkshop” kicks off with a 1½-hour narrated nature hike along the Sonoma Coast — locations vary based on where guests want to go.

Following the hike, Lindgren uses a crystal sound bowl for audio therapy and a short meditation to facilitate calm and clarity. During a recent sigils experience at Timber Cove Resort near Fort Ross, the hum of the bowl blended with the crash of the waves and sea lion barks to create a one-of-a-kind buzz.

Lindgren gets into the sigils portion of the program gradually—a little history, some pictorial examples of sigils over time. Next, she hands out notebooks and pens. She has each guest write their name, remove the vowels and repeating letters, and break down the remaining consonants to their component parts. Then she has them reconstruct those parts into new forms and shapes that tell a new story.

She asks guests to share their sigils and explain why they mean what they mean. If guests would rather remain silent, that’s OK, too.

Once the group has practiced sigils on their names, Lindgren graduates them to more sophisticated levels. She challenges them to run through the paces with a word for an emotion or feeling. She also suggests creating a sigil out of a declarative statement about how they wish to live their lives.

After more sharing, the session concludes with another round of sound therapy and meditation.

Lindgren sends guests on their way with the option of destroying their sigils, which she sees as an act of releasing it to allow it to flow and manifest.

“This is a way to acknowledge who we are, what we have to offer in this lifetime, our feelings or what is underneath,” she said. “You’d be amazed—for most people this process (of destroying the sigils) is tear-jerkingly powerful.”

For more information on Unbeaten Path Tours & Yoga, visit www.unbeatenpathtours.com.

Rave reviews

Though Lindgren’s sigils workshop is new, guests are taking notice.

Huw Evans, a venture capitalist from San Francisco, scored a recent tour with his girlfriend, their children, and several friends and family members. Evans said the experience was “eye-opening” on many levels.

“I had never heard about sigils but was open to the idea,” said Evans, who is renting a house in Sea Ranch for the rest of the month. “With the adults and kids, there were about 10 of us and the kids ranged in age from 9 to 23. Everyone was engaged the entire time, even the kids. (Lindgren’s) ability to get a bunch of people to engage and go pretty deep was remarkable.”

Evans noted that his girlfriend, a designer, was skeptical of the process but in the end liked it more than anyone.

“She posted everyone’s sigils on her Instagram afterward,” he said. “That says a lot.”

Allison deGrassi agreed.

During her 9-year tenure as director of marketing and media for Visit Mendocino County, the organization charged with marketing Sonoma’s neighboring county to the north, deGrassi got to know Lindgren and her unique style.

“She delivers natural history lessons of this remote and beautiful area with its wildlife habitat, riparian corridors, wetlands, and endless ocean,” deGrassi said. “(Lindgren) is finely tuned to interpret the geology and biology of (the Sonoma and Mendocino county coastlines), especially for those who rarely venture into nature.”

What’s next

The sigils offering is just one of the experiences available through Lindgren’s company. Her other programs include Kundalini yoga, architectural walkabouts, and nature hikes in places such as the Stornetta Lands National Public Monument south of the Point Arena Lighthouse.

Before the pandemic started, Lindgren liked to see herself as a tour operator who focused on nature and wellness.

Now, with the sigils program, she sees her business focusing more on collective healing.

“We’re all going to need to grow and heal from the trauma and turmoil of this year,” she said. “Nature is about the collective. If we’re going to head to nature to help our healing, we might as well do that together.”

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