Four Shields of Human Nature: Finding Wholeness in the Living Body of Nature


Apr 1st, 2024 - Apr 7th, 2024 | Catalina State Park - Tucson, Arizona | Silvia Talavera, Gretchen (Grae) Gerlach

“The Great Summons of our time is to find our way home

to our true nature in the living body of earth.”    

                Joanna Macy


The gift of this nature-based teaching—part of the “bare bones” of the School of Lost Borders’ ceremony—was given to us by our founders Steven Foster and Meredith Little ( authors of The Four Shields: The Initiatory Seasons of Human Nature).  There have been many nature-based teachings throughout indigenous cultures worldwide.  Nature was home, church, schoolroom, play ground for all to learn about life and how to live in communion and cooperation with each other.

The world today is in a great crisis, borne of a deep, collective separation of nature. Will we heed the call towards healing—towards remembering that all things are connected. In the words of Chief Seattle: “What ever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth”.

Nature has a way of teaching us right relationship with our own humanness, both inside and out, when we open to different qualities to be found in each of the four directions: The south: the qualities of the physical body, instincts and emotions. The west: the qualities of intuition and introspection. The north: the qualities of standing in our own truth. The east: the qualities of that which is greater than us and the divine within.

During our time together we will look to disprove the ‘lie’ that we are separate from nature,  and from each other. We will strive to re- remember our place and our belonging in all of creation as well as our connection to one another.  We will learn from observing nature, the seasons and the life cycles.  We will begin to re-orient to the natural world by looking closely at the clues and patterns of the natural blueprint that surrounds us. We will learn through our senses and feelings how the cycles, rhythm and flow of nature reflect our own natural flow.

This week’s experience will be helpful to those who are in training for nature based work, those who work in counseling, life coaching, or anyone living in this world working towards wholeness.

We will begin our days with check-ins, teachings, and discussions. The afternoons and one of the evenings will be spent alone in nature for 2-3 hours with a suggested mission. Late afternoons and  early evenings we will spend sharing stories of your experiences when out alone.

For enquiries please 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


Our program will begin with our first meeting on April 1st at 3:30pm and will end on April 7th at noon. We will be camping out the entire time. No camping experience is necessary. An equipment list and a 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. We will be camping out the entire time and no camping experience is required.  The group camp site is spacious and accommodates tents, and offers picnic tables as well as a large covered Ramada. Our site also offers a spacious area for small RV’s, campers, vans etc. for those who wish other camping options. Showers and bathrooms are available across the way.

ADDITIONAL FEES: Camp fees are $120. Additional camp fees (TBD) will be collected at or before the time of 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 May 2023 there are no longer any vaccination requirements for international travellers seeking entry to the USA.

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.