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The Practice of Living and Dying

The School of Lost Borders specializes in offering rites of passage ceremonies for modern folk. At the heart of a rite of passage, a term first coined by the Dutch-German-French anthropologist Arnold van Gennep, are the three phases he described: severance, threshold, incorporation. Or put another way: dying, in between, rebirth. You might say that a rite of passage is a “dying practice”: an opportunity to learn how to do the little deaths in life in preparation for the Big Death that awaits us all.

The Practice of Living and Dying is a special curriculum within the School that offers programs accentuating this dying-in between-rebirth process. It was started in 2003 by two of our guides: Meredith Little and Scott Eberle. Meredith, as one of the School’s co-founders, has been practicing “symbolic death midwifery” for over 40 years. Scott, working as a hospice physician, has offered “physical death midwifery” for over 30 years. Together they have created a program series that explores how a participant can move through their own “dying” process. Well after its inception, this curriculum was further expanded by other School guides drawing upon their own living and dying experiences. 

The aim of a Practice of Living and Dying program is both educational and therapeutic. Educationally, this work draws upon the School’s years of symbolic death work in the desert, intertwining wisdom coming out of the modern hospice movement, the personal experiences of the guides, and the wisdom of the land. Therapeutically, time spent alone in nature exploring this living-and-dying material invites each participant to experience the wisdom of their own nature, especially their personal truths about living and dying.

These programs invite the asking of an inseparable pair of questions:

How do we live, so we may fully become our dying?

&

How do we accept our dying that we may fully embrace our living?

LEARNING TO DIE

"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 with our place in it as mortal animals. We have forgotten "how to die."

- Scott Eberle & Meredith Little

Upcoming practice of living & dying programs

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Living in a Time of Dying: The Four Shields in the Anthropocene

Sep 14 - Sep 20, 2024 Payahuunadü (Big Pine) and Eureka Valley, California Petra Lentz-Snow, Yeshe Salz

We are living in a time of rapid change, disintegration and emergence on planet Earth - what many call apocalyptic times. From the compounding and inequitable crises of climate change and ...

The Great Ballcourt Initiation – Fall Fast

Oct 21 - Nov 1, 2024 Death Valley, California Meredith Little, Angelo Joseph Lazenka

Death is the ultimate agent of transformation—be it a physical death or “the little deaths” encountered throughout life. Indigenous cultures developed rituals to aid and guide people through ...

Walking Into That Good Night: Exploring Our Relationship With Dying & Death

Feb 23 - Mar 1, 2025 Death Valley, CA Katie Teague, Betsy Perluss

“To live in this world you must be able to do three things: To love what is mortal, To hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it, And when the time comes to let it go, to ...

The Great Ballcourt Initiation – Spring Fast

Apr 15 - Apr 26, 2025 Eureka Valley, California Scott Eberle, Cynthia Morrow

Death is the ultimate agent of transformation—be it a physical death or “the little deaths” encountered throughout life.  Indigenous cultures developed rituals to aid and guide people ...

Finding Purpose and Meaning through the Practice of Living and Dying

Oct 10 - Oct 16, 2025 Catalina State Park - Tucson, Arizona Silvia Talavera, Gretchen (Grae) Gerlach

" If you would behold the spirit of death, Open your heart wide unto the body of life. For your life and death are one, Even as the river and sea are one." Kahlil Gibran   Life ...

Let Go into the Mystery: The East Shield of Living and Dying

Oct 11 - Oct 19, 2025 Eureka Valley, California Scott Eberle, Cynthia Morrow

All is a circle within me.I have gone into the earth and out again.I have gone to the edge of the sky.Now all is at peace within me.Now all has a place to come home.—Nancy WoodThroughout time and ...

The Great Ballcourt Initiation – Fall Fast

Oct 20 - Oct 31, 2025 Death Valley, California Meredith Little, Angelo Joseph Lazenka

Death is the ultimate agent of transformation—be it a physical death or “the little deaths” encountered throughout life. Indigenous cultures developed rituals to aid and guide people through ...

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