AZ Mirroring the Four Shields of Human Nature: The Art of Storytelling and Listening


Mar 17th, 2025 - Mar 23rd, 2025 | Catalina State Park - Tucson, Arizona | Silvia Talavera, Gretchen (Grae) Gerlach

“Stories are a form of medicine that can operate

at the deepest levels of self and soul.”

Michael Meade


Telling one’s own story is an ancient art. Nowadays, we have forgotten how to listen and how to tell. Yet the very survival of our species depends on our ability to communicate with each other in such ways as to be mutually enriched by the telling and the listening. If we cannot tell with expression, our life is mute. If we cannot listen like a mirror, we cannot reflect back the wholeness of the four shields — the body, soul, mind and spirit of the teller. The best stories are about human nature — that is, the human of us which is, after all, nature in her basic manifestations as physical, psychical, rational, and spiritual. One of the best ways to create a four shields story, if not the best, is to put people in contact with nature in the raw.

What comes forth in the story is the stuff of self-transformation. Even as we “myth” ourselves through experience, so we express ourselves into existence. Our stories about our natural selves, and our means of expressing them, lead us to courage, and commitment, and the will to survive, and to transcend the difficulty, to go beyond ourselves. Those of us who work with people must know how to listen and respond to the stories these people bring forth, so that we can help them create a life that is meaningful and of greater benefit to community and to the earth.

 This program is designed to evoke and create a style of listening and storytelling that is uniquely your own, to practice reflecting what you hear with the fullness of your being (body, psyche, mind and spirit). It is also a ceremony and, like all ceremonies at the School of Lost Borders, requires a willingness to lose your borders and to go beyond what is familiar and known.

This Program is an invitation to all humans who are willing to share stories and experience the gift of mirroring stories of empowerment and wholeness.  This program is also specifically appropriate for direct care professionals such as: wilderness guides, counselors, coaches, and teachers to name a few.

Program Overview:  We will meet in an outdoor setting. Our time together will be a weaving of teaching circles, solo time in nature and story council. You will learn ways to mirror back others experience from each direction on the wheel, to meet their stories in ways to skillfully draw out the gifts contained within.

Program Questions Contact:  Silvia Talavera at [email protected]


TUITION: $800 - $2,400

Sliding Scale: To honor the vast difference of financial resources among us, all of our program tuition is based on a sliding scale. We set forth no criteria and ask that you pay what is appropriate for your circumstances and access to financial resources. You can see recommendations on using the sliding scale here. If the low end of the sliding scale is still too much, scholarship assistance is available , please reach out to the office for more info.

Cancellations: Cancellations are hard on the participant, the School, and the guides. We respect the unpredictability of life, and we are diligent about running an organization sustainably.

-If you cancel 60 or more days prior to the start date of your program, you will receive a full refund of any tuition paid, minus any deposits.

-If you cancel 59 days or less prior to the start date of your program, and we can fill your spot, then you will receive a full refund of any tuition paid, minus any deposits.

-If we cannot fill your spot, and you cancel within 59 days of the start of your program, then we hold you accountable for paying the tuition at the lowest end of the sliding scale.

Submit enrollment form

 Please fill out and submit the enrollment form and then pay the program deposit below. Before you pay the deposit, please read deposit section below, all deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable. After your enrollment form is complete, please submit all health and liability forms.

Pay program deposit

Deposits: This deposit signifies your commitment to the program and is deducted from the tuition balance. All deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable. They cover the work of the specific course you signed up for, including all communication involved as well as the fee that guides pay to the school administration for the course accounting. 

Additional Deposit: Some programs require a second deposit to help us affirm commitments. Last minute cancellations make it hard to fill openings and incur a loss of income to the School and the guides.

Tuition Balance: Balance of tuition can be paid before or upon arrival. Simply deduct any deposits made from the amount you’ve chosen on the sliding scale.

Submit Waitlist form

This program is full; however, you may add your name to the Waitlist by clicking the Waitlist button below.

Additional course details & Materials


We will begin with our first meeting on Monday March 17th at 4:00PM and will we end on Sunday 12 noon March 23rd. We will be camping out the entire time. The group camp site (Flycatcher) will be available after 12:00PM March 17. An equipment list and a detailed logistics letter will be provided upon enrollment. We encourage you to arrive by 2:00PM to allow time for you to set up before our first meeting

Additional Fees: $120 other fees TBD. All fees to be paid at time of arrival

You will be responsible for bringing your own food and equipment, though we can provide some gear if needed. We ask everyone to come prepared to live self-sufficiently. You will need to bring shelter and clothing suitable for a full range of inclement weather. 

All participants must submit the required health questionnaire and liability form.

If you have questions about the enrollment process contact us at [email protected] or call 760-938-3333.

There is no required reading for this program.

Indigenous lands of the Hohokam, Tohono O’odham and Yaqui Indians.

To learn more about our commitment to regenerative relationships please visit Cultural Relations.