Becoming Human: The Four Shields Model of Nature-Based Therapeutics


May 17th, 2021 - May 22nd, 2021 | Big Pine, California | Betsy Perluss, Angelo Joseph Lazenka | Training

The Four Shields model offers us guidance in the form of a map to help us find our way back to our origins on this living planet. This earth-based wheel of human nature was handed down to Steven and Meredith in the early days of Lost Borders and has become essential in helping us regain our human wholeness within the wholeness of the Wild.

The Four Shields demonstrates that our lives move with the seasonal cycles and directions found in the natural world, and incorporates all aspects of being: body, psyche, mind, and spirit. It begins in the summer of physical awakening, turns into the fall of our inner depths, moves into the north of our intellect, and emerges in the mysteries of spring. The Four Shields also helps us understand the maladies and symptoms that occur, for whatever reason, when the natural cycles become hindered in our lives. Thus, the Four Shields provides an excellent diagnostic tool, as well as the means for restoring movement and wholeness.    

During this six-day experiential ceremony, we will dive deep into the Four Shields, evoking each shield through teaching, solo time on the land, council, story-telling, and mirroring. Each shield will reveal its essence and provide a doorway to the next shield. We will also look at how the Four Shields teaching is used in wilderness rites of passage, and how it can be applied in other therapeutic settings, schools, and organizations. This will be a hands-on, practical program, as well as a time to deepen your practice of becoming more fully human as a being on Earth.

Program Overview: Direct contact with nature is vital to discerning the shields, and for this reason, each day, you will cross the threshold into ceremonial time on the land (Usually, 2 hours a day). Adhering to the three taboos of solitude, fasting, and exposure to the elements, you will invite and bear witness to the shields as they relate to our human nature and stages of life.

Program Questions Contact: Betsy Perluss at [email protected]


TUITION: $650-$1,950

We have a sliding scale for our programs in an effort to make them accessible. Please pay what you are able and know that your generosity supports the affordability of all our programs. If you need financial support or a payment plan check out our scholarship fund.

Pay program deposit

This deposit signifies your commitment to the program and is deducted from the tuition balance. This is a non-refundable, non-transferable deposit that is required for enrollment.

Submit enrollment form

Once you have paid the program deposit, please fill out and submit the enrollment form below. After your enrollment form is complete, please submit all health and liability forms.

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 ask that you arrive the day before, on Sunday, May 16th, and check-in with us by phone (number to be provided) when you arrive, and we'll direct you to our specific camp spot.

Additional Fees: Camping Fees $65-$75. All additional fees will be collected at the time of the program.

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. 

To address safety concerns during the pandemic, please contact us regarding our current Coronavirus protocols as well as any current travel restrictions. These protocols may affect how you are able to travel to the program. Please note: As of November 2021, unvaccinated international travelers are not currently permitted entry to the USA as per current CDC Guidelines.

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.

Big Pine is located in what is known today as the Owens Valley of California, but its true name is Payahuunadü meaning “Land of the Flowing Water.” This valley is the ancestral and contemporary land of the Nüümü and Newe people.

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