When we talk about dove release, we are really referring to internal healing, be that an emotion or helping to let go of something.There are many reasons why a dove release might be incorporated into an occasion. But why do we do it here at Wootton Park and what does it actually mean?
You probably picture a wedding or a funeral in connection to this symbolic act. However, there are many other reasons behind why a dove release is undertaken.
Doves are synonymous with peace and have frequently been used throughout history to represent this. The dove was the emblem the World Peace Congress back in 1949 for example.
Funerals aren’t something we conduct at Wootton Park but in this scenario, dove release is used as a tribute to a loved one who has passed away. It can be a way to mark respect and free the parting spirit of that person into the sky. We recently had some Glamping Pod guests who had just experienced a family bereavement. Upon our suggestion, they did a dove release. Afterwards, they said it was a profound but healing experience for them.
The Introduction Of Doves At Wootton Park
We first introduced doves at Wootton Park when weddings started taking off; about ten years ago now. It’s a romantic gesture between husband and wife and a good fit with the stunning location. As you can imagine, the doves are very popular with brides and grooms. The releasing of doves suggesting the start of a new chapter together, peace and harmony.
Upon completion of vows, the happy couple makes a wish. The dove is simultaneously released and carries the wish away to hopefully come true.
The Inspiration Behind Including Dove Release At A Retreat
In December 2019, I spent a week in India at an Ashram on the Ganges, near Rishikesh. It’s a beautiful and serene place. I can only describe it as a spiritual haven and the experience was like nothing I had come across before. Quite amazing.
We were asked to walk into the Ganges and sink down so the water covered our heads. We then has to lift ourselves back up again and repeat this three times. The ritual was used as a way to cleanse yourself and to let go of something within that no longer serves you.
It could be fear, anger, regret, the reason will be different for everyone. However, it’s very much the concept of relinquishing yourself of something that’s possibly causing you internal pain.
And this is where we got the idea of using a dove release to replicate this symbolic action. We don’t have the Ganges at Wootton Park but ducking oneself into water isn’t the only way to experience the most exhilarating feeling, helping you find the courage and strength to move on.
How We Incorporate The Healing Power of Dove Release
After guests have experienced both a Mindful Walk and Forest Bathing, we then invite them to release a dove at the top of the hills, near the woods they have been exploring.
From this view, they can watch the doves swoop back down to their dovecote, right next to the Wootton Park Farmhouse.
We explain to guests that the purpose of the dove release is to ‘let go of something that doesn’t serve you any longer.’ However, we are careful not to put reasons into their mind, it needs to come naturally from within.
The idea is to bring some inner peace and release of tension that you might unknowingly be holding on to.
This inadvertently creates space inside which can be filled with a new, positive intention, something we do together right at the end of the retreat. And so we go full circle, creating space within through the ritual of dove release and letting go and then replacing it with something positive that our wellness retreat guests can take away with them.