Transform Your Life, Transform Our World

The Sophia Institute is a center of learning that provides innovative programs that foster the rise of the feminine, cultivating wisdom and mindfulness, for a more just, sustainable, and flourishing world.

The  Sophia Institute offers retreats, lectures, classes, and special events, featuring nationally and internationally renowned leaders and teachers.

Learn more from The Sophia Institute founder Carolyn Rivers

A Very Special Event with Ellen Burstyn


A brilliant actress, author, storyteller, Ellen chronicles through story and poetry her latest lessons in her transformative journey as a woman and an artist.  She will share what she's learned from acting and Sufism.  If you joined us in 2013 for her talk/performance, she'll continue the captivating and inspiring conversation she began with us then.  If you couldn't join us last time, you'll not want to miss this year.  Learn More

Upcoming Retreats and Lectures

Event date:
May 13, 2016 to May 15, 2016

As no one can live without inhaling and exhaling, no one can live without feeling and expressing. The life of expression is how the heart breathes and how our spirit grows in the life that carries it.


Friday Night Lecture- 6:30pm-8:30pm
Saturday Program- 9:30am-5:00pm
Sunday Program- 9:30am-12:30pm

Event date:
Jun 24, 2016 to Jun 25, 2016

Letting go can be difficult. Letting go of people, ideas, regrets, expectations, desires; letting go of the past, bad habits, false beliefs, and unhealthy relationships... the list goes on.


Friday Night lecture- 6:30pm-8:30pm
Saturday Program- 9:30am-5:00pm

Event date:
Aug 27, 2016 to Aug 28, 2016

This renowned, intensive, two-day workshop for couples, married or unmarried, provides the insights and methods needed to discover the joyous and even spiritual, potential that awaits us in a committed relationship.


Saturday- 8:30am-8:00pm 
Sunday- 8:30am-6:00pm

Event date:
Sep 16, 2016 to Sep 18, 2016

To have any chance of knowing joy, we must love everything in the way.


Friday Night Lecture- 6:30pm-8:30pm
Saturday Program- 9:30am-5:00pm
Sunday Program- 9:30am-12:30pm

Event date:
Oct 7, 2016 to Oct 8, 2016

“Deep in our bodies, where our truth burns the brightest, we know we cannot be free, we cannot be of service, we cannot truly come alive if we aren’t consciously connected to our Soul.”


Friday Night Lecture- 6:30pm-8:30pm
Saturday program- 9:30am-5:00pm

Event date:
Oct 28, 2016

New monasticism is a way of life, a commitment to bring what was normally practiced in monasteries into the heart of the world, using our contemplative lives to address the cries for justice and healing throughout the world.


Friday Night Lecture - 6:30p,m-8:30pm

Meet Our Faculty

Carol Anderson toured a variety of shows nationally including “A Feather on the Breath of God: The Remarkable Life of 12th Century Mystic...

Angeles Arrien is an anthropologist, educator, award-winning author, and corporate consultant.

As editor-in-chief of Steiner Books, Christopher Bamford has introduced, edited, and translated many volumes of Rudolf Steiner.

Meet Nella Barkley...

Sera Beak is a Harvard-trained scholar of mysticism and comparative religion and an intrepid spiritual cowgirl who’s spent the last dozen years...

Tater Beak moved to Charleston with her husband Bill in 2006 from the Chicago area.

A self-described Mad Woman version of Mad Men, Charlotte Beers is the woman who broke the glass ceiling in advertising when she was named...

Linda Bender¹s love of the natural world began in her childhood back yard.

Jean Shinoda Bolen, M. D. is a psychiatrist, Jungian analyst, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, a...

Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. is known for her gracious presence, world-class sense of humor and brilliance as a speaker and workshop facilitator.

As an international speaker and teacher, Jessica Boylston-Fagonde’s work empowers people's capacity to deeply connect with themselves and their...

Henk Brandt is the author of Sleeping with Sophia, a collection of poems, and The Heart of a Pilgrim, a spiritual memoir.

Considered a teacher's teacher, Lynn was the co-founder and creative director of Yoga Source in Richmond, VA.

Rick Brown is Executive Director of the Institute for Relationship Therapy.

Next Event: Getting the Love You Want- Imago Relationship Therapy Aug 27, 2016 to Aug 28, 2016

Nina Bruhns is an Editorial Director and Senior Editor for Entangled Publishing.

         Ellen Burstyn’s illustrious acting career encompasses film, stage and television.

Mirabai Bush is a Senior Fellow and Founding Director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society.

The Coastal Conservation League's Mission is to protect the natural environment of the South Carolina coastal plain and to...

Stephen Cope is the Founding Director of the Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living--America's largest yoga research institute.

Judy Cornwell was born and raised in Pennsylvania, but now, with her husband, the novelist Bernard Cornwell, divides her time between Cape Cod...

Tradd Cotter founded an 8-acre research farm and tissue culture laboratory near Clemson, SC creating spawn and kits for growers, teachers, and...

In her own words:

As CEO and Co-Founder of the Organization for Life Architecture and Design, Inc. (O! LAD), Dr.

Roslyn Dawson Thompson is the President and CEO of the Dallas Women’s Foundation, and Vice Chair of the board of the Women's Funding Network, the...

Louise Doire holds an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School and teaches Religious Studies at the College of Charleston, where her courses in feminist...

Meghan Don is an initiate of the Sophian Lineage, and Founder and Leading Guide of The Gnostic Grace Circle.

Anna Douglas PhD. is one of the founding teachers of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in northern California.

Authorized as a lama in 1986 by her root teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, Lama Palden has been a student and practitioner of Buddhism for over 35 years,...

Carolyn Evans, MSW, has worked as a therapist and used to perform regularly as a singer/songwriter with her band.

Carol Lee Flinders is a national speaker, retreat leader, and author of Enduring Grace: Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics, Rebalancing the...

Matthew Fox is an internationally acclaimed theologian and spiritual maverick who has spent the last 40 years revolutionizing Christian...

 Erica Ariel Fox, J.D., is a Lecturer at Harvard Law School and the Founder of the Global Negotiation Insight Institute.

China Galland, M.A., is the author of ...

Richard Garcia is the author of Rancho Notorious and The Persistence of Objects, both from BOA Editions.

Dr. Jim Garrison became President and Chairman of Wisdom University on February 2, 2005.

The Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW), the parent organization of the Contemplative Alliance, has been striving to help facilitate this...

I have enjoyed a multifaceted career that includes professional work as a psychotherapist, chef/entrepreneur, author, poet and meditation teacher...

Barbara G.S. Hagerty is a native of Charleston, south Carolina.

Joan Halifax is an American Zen Buddhist Roshi, anthropologist, ecologist, civil rights activist, hospice caregiver, and the author of several...

Ursel Sarala Harmon, RYT,CRMT came to yoga in search of relief from the stresses of daily life.  Ursel went to her first yoga class in 2002, and...

Andrew Harvey is an internationally acclaimed author, translator, mystical scholar, and spiritual teacher.

Terry Helwig began life in 1949 on a farm near Glenwood, Iowa.

Scotti Holloway is the founder/owner of SP Divine Explorations in Charleston SC and an International tutor for Accolade Academy, South Wales, UK...

Bell Hooks is a social activist, feminist, author, professor, and Buddhist scholar.

Carly Elizabeth Howard is a registered yoga instructor and former yoga studio owner.

Barbara Marx Hubbard is a visionary, social innovator, author, educator and leader in the new worldview of conscious evolution which she...

Josephine Humphreys is the Charleston-born author of four novels: Dreams of Sleep, winner of the Pen/Hemingway award for best first...

Helen LaKelly Hunt has been active within the women’s movement for the past eighteen years.

Stephanie Hunt is Charleston-based writer and editor. A contributing editor for Charleston Magazine and a regular contributor to Skirt!

Ann has a MFA in Dance and has worked extensively as a dancer, choreographer, teacher and dance therapist.

Eliza received her BA in Dance from Middlebury College in Vermont.

It's Time Network is building a framework to support an inclusive and creative community of visionary leaders and change agents who are...

E-RYT 500, Certified BodyTalk(R) Practitioner, Akashic Records Consultant

Jacqueline Kabat has studied, written and performed with Second City’s Ann Bowen and Upright Citizen’s Brigade.

Daryn Kagan is the creator and host of, an inspirational online community...

Gloria D. Karpinski is a holistic counselor, spiritual director, teacher and author.

Sue Monk Kidd is a writer, novelist and memoirist.  She was born in Albany, Georgia and raised in the tiny town of Sylvester, Georgia, a place...

Paula Todd King is a local writer currently working on both fiction and memoir.

Dave and Pat Krajovic, husband and wife team, are dynamic and engaging partners to anyone who desires to restore personal power, connect to...

Kurt Lamkin, poducer of Living Proof: Contemporary Black Literature, a series of radio programs featuring poets and fiction writers, is...

Francine LaPointe is a long-time student of C. G.

A former actor, print journalist and radio broadcaster, Anne LeClaire is a memoirist and the critically acclaimed, best-selling author of eight...

Bokara Legendre is a performer, writer and artist.

Pat Luce is an author, teacher, international trainer and spiritual guide.

Heather Mann is a writer, Mindfulness teacher, and environmental advocate.

Sharon Martin was born and grew up in the Deep South, where she developed an acute interest and sensitivity to the relationship between culture...

Rory McEntee, author, philosopher-theologian, educator, and contemplative activist, works at an intersection of spirituality,...

Next Event: New Monasticism Oct 28, 2016

Bill McKibben is the author of a dozen books about the environment, beginning with The End of Nature in 1989, which is regarded...

MA: PHED, Master Trainer, E-RYT~500 hour, ACE~ PT

Training~ Mind~Body~Spirt~ since ~1981.

Lynne McTaggart is of the preeminent spokespersons on consciousness, the new physics and the science of spirituality.

Clare was certified by the Himalayan Institute, Buffalo, NY in 2000.  In the past 13 years, she has taught approximately 2,500 classes of Yoga at...

Susan Laughter Meyers, of Givhans, SC, is the author of Keep and Give Away (University of South Carolina Press), winner of the SC Poetry...

Pat Mitchell’s diverse background in media includes work as a journalist, producer, and executive.

Devaa Haley Mitchell is a spiritual guide, public speaker and musician, offering Soulful Women programs and devotional music to support the...

Terry Monell received her BFA in Art Education from The School of Fine Arts at Boston University, she continued post graduate studies in Art...

Mary Alice Monroe is an award winning, New York Times bestselling author of 16 novels, including The Butterfly’s...

Maureen Murdock is a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist in private practice in Santa Barbara, CA.

Natalie Goldberg is an author, poet, teacher, and painter.

Mark Nepo is a poet and philosopher who has taught in the fields of poetry and spirituality for forty years.

Next Event: Journey with No End- Writing and Spiritual Growth May 13, 2016 to May 15, 2016

Kathleen Norris is the award-winning poet, writer, and author of The New York Times bestsellers, The...

Connie Numbers, PsyD, is an author, inspirational speaker, spiritual teacher and a psychotherapist who believes that the inner journey is by far...

Next Event: The Art of Letting Go Jun 24, 2016 to Jun 25, 2016

Andrea Olsen is author of Body and Earth, An Experiential Guide, and Bodystories, A Guide to Experiential Anatomy with Caryn McHose...

Michele Ozumba is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Women's Funding Network.


Lama Palden has been a student and practitioner of Buddhism for over 35 years, and of Comparative Mysticism for over 40 years.

 Lacquanna “Lucky” Paul is a teacher of Qigong, the ancient Chinese form of healing movement.

 Robert Powell, PhD is an internationally known lecturer, author, eurythmist and movement therapist.

Nancy Qualls-Corbett is a practicing Jungian analyst from Birmingham, Alabama. She is a diplomat of the C.G.

Dr. Paula Reeves is a well-known workshop leader in the fields of psychology and women''''s spirituality.

Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of six novels: three historical tales, Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass’ Women,...

 “If anyone can find the silver lining in a mushroom cloud, it’s this astounding thoughtful filmmaker.”— The National Post.

Stephaney Robinson is a Nia Black Belt and one of only 14 trainers in the technique.

Stephaney Robinson-Abilon is dedicated to bringing the sacred to life through movement and dance.

Dr. Rosen is a board certified dermatologist who has been in private practice in Charleston, South Carolina for over twenty years.  Dr.

Peggy Rubin is Founding Director of the Center for Sacred Theatre in Ashland, Oregon.

A highly regarded healer, teacher, and artist, Anna Schalk is a former teacher at the acclaimed Barbara Brennan School of Healing.

Rita Littles Scott was born in High Point, North Carolina.

 Ileana Shaner is a martial artist, pianist, and jewelry designer.

McLean Sheperd is an artist and physician living and working in Charleston, SC. She was born in 1969.

Anne Rivers Siddons’ writing on Southern culture and places is shaped by her observations of human nature and human yearnings.

Jane Sloane is Vice President of Programs with the Global Fund for Women.  The Global Fund advances the human rights of women and girls worldwide...

James Gustave Speth currently serves as dean and professor in the practice of environmental policy and sustainable development at Yale University...

Margaret Starbird holds BA and MA degrees from the University of Maryland and did further graduate study at the Christian Albrechts Universität...

Susan Finch Stevens’ chapbook Lettered Bones was chosen by Kwame Dawes as a winner in the South Carolina Poetry Initiative Chapbook...

A pioneer in the field of empowerment, Gail Straub co-directs the Empowerment Institute, a school for transformative social change where her...

Nancy Swift Furlotti, Ph. D. is a Jungian Analyst in private practice in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, CA.

John Tarrant, Roshi, is Director and Senior Faculty for Pacific Zen Institute and Senior Teacher for Desert Lotus Zen Sangha in Phoenix, AZ.

Ann Kidd Taylor is a graduate of Columbia College in South Carolina. She has published articles and essays in Skirt!

Katherine Woodward Thomas Thomas is the national bestselling author of Calling in “...

A world-renowned authority on the inner science of Buddhism, Robert A. F.

Prior to founding Hermitage Heart, Bonnie Myotai Treace, Sensei served for many years as Vice-Abbess of Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt.

Daphne Tse is a multi-faceted artist (musician, painter, photographer and poet) with her first love being singing.

Mary Evelyn Tucker is a Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale University where she teaches in a joint master’s degree program between the...

Lynne Twist, global activist, fundraiser, speaker, consultant and author, has devoted her life to eradicating hunger and poverty, and supporting...

Actress Lindsay Wagner is also an advocate, mother, humanitarian and author.

“The Sophia Institute is a kind of loom upon which a whole community can weave together its colorful diversity into an organic, riotous cloth...

Marcy Walsh is a labyrinth facilitator, spiritual director, and hiking guide. ...

Ellen Watson is celebrating her 26th year on staff at Esalen Institute, where she studies, practices, and teaches various modalities of moving...

John Welwood, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, teacher, and author.


Poet David Whyte grew up with a strong, imaginative influence from his Irish mother among the hills and valleys of his father’s Yorkshire.

Carmen Williams, a certified personal trainer, nutritionist, and health and fitness instructor, awakened to her spiritual magnificence and her...

Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed author and lecturer, and is considered one of the foremost authorities on A COURSE IN...

The film looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society's anxieties about women's liberation.  Wonder Women!

Marion Woodman, LLD, DHL, PhD (Hon), is a Jungian analyst, teacher and author of The Owl Was A Baker's Daughter; Addiction to Perfection; The...

Len is an educational consultant, play theorist, and sound training specialist who offers the Solisten™ Training Program, the portable...

Claire Zammit is the co-creator and co-leader of the Feminine Power courses for women and the co-founder and co-leader of the ...

Ingrid Zimmer is the Associate Director of Word Dance Theater. After receiving a B.A.

Writer, novelist, and memoirist Sue Monk Kidd on The Sophia Institute

“ ...The Sophia Institute grew from that tiny seed, which sprouted from the fertile places of Carolyn’s heart and soul. It grew into a vision so large and luminous that frankly it took my breath...”

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