As the old saying goes, life is a journey, and one never knows exactly where it is going to take you – even if you think you’ve got it all planned out. Karen Sailer – author, shaman and founder of famed Ibiza landscaping company Noah’s Garden – has always known her path in life would be different to others. She describes herself as being born with ‘open eyes’ – never quite agreeing with what the world around her expected of her; be it teachers, parents or society. She remembers very clearly the moment at 12 years of age when she looked deep into her eyes in the mirror and made a promise to herself: she would never, ever forget the feeling of being a child and to become the type of adult who would encourage young people to believe in their dreams.
Over the years Karen’s life path took many twists and turns; two marriages and two children in Germany; training as a veterinarian; a creative career as a textiles designer; a third marriage which she found Ibiza, two further children (one from her husband’s former marriage and one son together) and her hugely successful business: Noah’s Garden; a horsemanship academy for children, Alegria; surviving breast cancer, horse rescue, global travels and so much more. In between all of this, she also quietly and passionately sought out shaman and healers from tribes around the world, encompassing a lifetime of education that would ultimately become her true calling. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves; let’s talk about the much-loved Noah’s Garden in Ibiza first.
After more than 20 years of running Noah’s Garden, building it into a landscaping company known for its eco-conscious philosophy and passion for sustainability, Karen and her husband began to feel it was time to step away from the business. For Karen, it wasn’t about money, success or responsibility – she simply knew over time she had changed. Her life’s true purpose had been revealed to her and she was ready to close the business in order to pursue it. And just as it seemed one of Ibiza’s longest running garden centres was about to call it a day; life delivered a surprising gift in the form of the couple’s son Sami.
He’d been living in Germany for the past nine years, working in bars, restaurants, real estate and start-up companies and suddenly felt a strong desire to return to his Ibiza roots. “I left the island when I was young and I had no interest in what my parents were doing,” he explains in all honesty. “But what I imagined the world outside Ibiza to be when I was 16 turned out to be very different. The work wasn’t fulfilling and I wasn’t happy. I wanted to do something new.” On returning to the island for a sabbatical, he discovered his parents were about to retire the family business and asked for a chance to learn the ropes. For Karen, it was the ideal solution. “It’s interesting to see how life unfolds its magic,” she reflects. “Sami was in Berlin, on a different path, and it was a nice surprise that he wanted to return to his roots. The evolution of Noah’s Garden is a nice story.”
Today, the family-run company continues to offer clients its much-needed garden maintenance services – which includes water conservation methods and the use of only non-toxic products – under Sami’s watchful eye (and after a tough induction under his parents’ guidance). The experienced Noah’s Garden gardening and landscaping professionals – many of whom have been with the company for its 20-year history – remain on the team, and continue to put their love and passion into their work, including a very select number of new projects per year.
The ethos for preserving Ibiza’s nature remains – an element that originally hailed from Karen’s underlying shamanic practices. “I always integrated shamanism into my work – it influenced the way we did gardens,” she explains. “I didn’t talk a lot about it – I just did it – but my clients knew. I’d see the reaction with big international businessmen when I told them where I was coming from; they wanted to know more and found it super interesting.” Her respect and understanding of the way nature worked on a deeper level; the energy of water, wind, air, fire, plants, animals, the stars and the moon initially came when she discovered her own spiritual roots in Native American culture as a child. “It was a natural connection,” she says. And so, she slowly began to step away from Noah’s Garden as she tapped further in to her true destiny.
“My fire was burning for something else,” Karen explains when asked of her lifestyle change. “It was a bumpy road for me at times – but now it’s done. You cannot teach others what you are not living yourself. I do it. I walk it. I live in line with what I am teaching.” So what exactly is she teaching? With more than 30 years’ worth of shamanic work under her belt, Karen began to feel a very, very strong calling to help women restore the balance of feminine and masculine energy. “There’s often a misunderstanding when I talk about female power,” she says. “We all have male and female energy within us, but the world is so dominated by male energy. But now it is time for female energy to rise – from politics to every day life. We need to give our strength to the world.”
The Dalai Lama famously said: “The world will be saved by the western woman.” This is a concept that Karen too, truly believes. “We have access to so much knowledge. We have the possibility to step up and raise our voices,” she says. “When you look at the revolution, when women rose against male power, their methods were all wrong. They were women in men’s clothes, taking over male behaviour, using male energy to fight for equality. And now, male and female energies are out of balance.” She refers to ancient times when female power was honoured; when women’s circles were sacred spaces and wisdom was passed down to the next generation from elder women (as it still is in native tribes around the world). “Now we need to bring this back to reality; balance the passive and active, the male and female. We must empower the female aspect again.”
In order to help women rise up and discover (and importantly, live) their soul’s mission, Karen has developed an exciting new online program – which means she can reach women in all corners of the globe – called Wild Heart. “This teaching is where I feel my calling now. I believe we live many more lives than this one – but that our soul comes to this place, to this body, to do something special. This is what my program is about.” The 28-day program is currently available in German (but will soon be translated into English) and is designed for women with horses (a version of the retreat for women without horses is in progress).
The resulting Wild Heart Sisterhood is a developing global community who share stories, wisdom, support and empower each other. Karen is one of 16 shamans from around the world selected to contribute to a new book called Shamanism for the New Millenium (available via Amazon). Here, she shares the incredible story of her soul’s connection to one very special horse and another unlikely connection that would ultimately lead to her uncovering memories from her past lives, putting her on the next stage of her life’s path as she searches to reconnect with her love of centuries gone by. With all the magic of a fairytale, it’s no surprise Karen’s story was recently made into a short film – one that has current interest from some big Hollywood players.
In the meantime, life goes on, ebbing and flowing, ever-evolving and ever-surprising. Here in Ibiza, Noah’s Garden continues to thrive, as does Karen’s natural horse and life academy, Alegria. The promise she made herself at 12 years of age – to encourage young people to believe in their dreams – she now shares with her youngest son Noah, who has returned to the family fold in Ibiza after a year-long initiation spent travelling through Australia and Bali. “Noah felt called by my mission,” Karen says. “He is showing young people the unspoken tools we are required to learn before the world expects you to be an adult. He shares his knowledge through online programmes, motivational speeches and films.
At the same time, Karen embraces her new role as spiritual teacher and mentor; hosting workshops, full moon and new moon circles and provide one-to-one shamanic sessions. “I’m not sitting here with a feather in my hair and meditating on the sofa,” she laughs. “For me, spirituality is not just light and love. That’s not real life. This is what I like about shamanism – it’s very honest. We also deal with the shadows to help heal your wounds. And there is so much healing needed in the world right now…”