May 12th, 2018 - May 20th, 2018
For millennia, indigenous people everywhere have known "how to die." Their teacher was the natural world and, over many years and many generations, they learned their lessons well. Cycles of dying and rebirth were seen everywhere: the setting and rising of the sun, the turning of the seasons, the death of the elderly alongside the birth of a new generation. Ceremonial rites of passage emerged pan-culturally as a means of supporting, guiding and witnessing this natural process. These rites supported individuals as they let go of one stage of life—the “little deaths”—and were “reborn” into the next. And these rites supported people as they prepared for the final transition, the big Death that awaits us all.
As our modern culture has grown ever more sophisticated, we have also become ever more divorced from our natural surroundings and from ancient wisdom about living and dying. We have pushed Death away from Life, the dying away from the living—all in order to impose the illusion of control on the uncertainty of change. We have lost touch with the natural world and our place in it as mortal animals. We have forgotten “how to die.”
In 2003, Scott and Meredith joined together as teaching partners, creating “The Practice of Living and Dying”—a new kind of curriculum that draws from both the hospice movement and the rites of passage movement. As with all of their offerings, this seminar is highly experiential, blending didactic teaching, Council, “field eco-therapy” in nature, and storytelling by participants.
In this particular program we will explore how to move through the dying process—be it a symbolic dying or a physical dying. Our aim is both educational and therapeutic. Educationally, we will see how the growing wisdom of the modern hospice movement and the ancient, pan-cultural wisdom of indigenous ways can be interwoven: how the wisdom of one world can inform daily practice in the other. Therapeutically, time spent alone in nature will encourage you to experience the wisdom of your own nature, and your personal truth about living and dying. We ask an inseparable pair of questions: How do we live, so we may fully become our dying? And how do we accept our dying, so we may fully embrace our living?
Program information: Enrollment will be limited to 12. The group will rendezvous at 9 a.m. on May 12th in Big Pine, caravanning together to our base-camp in the Eureka Valley. We will spend our first four full days in circle in the mornings and evenings, with each person going out alone on the land in the afternoons. On the fifth day, we will invite people to do a 24-hour solo fast, and then spend our remaining time hearing people’s stories. We will finish by noon on May 20th.
Please note that the School makes no provisions for meals or equipment, though we will offer a communal meal the first night of your arrival. We ask everyone to come prepared to live self-sufficiently, though the group may spontaneously choose to prepare meals together. More detailed logistical information will be sent out a few months before the course begins.
A note to people with limited wilderness experience: Though we will be camping out for the entire week, activities undertaken will be non-strenuous and our emphasis will always be “safety first.” We will provide a list of personal equipment that each participant should bring and we will also provide some group equipment for our base-camp. We may be able to loan limited personal equipment as needed and if we are unable, we can provide advice about what to purchase or rent.