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

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Sep 14th, 2024 - Sep 20th, 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 pandemic, to the impacts of globalization and colonization, systems are falling apart all around us and it seems there is no way back to so-called “normal.”  The world as most recent generations have known it is unraveling and the Earth will never be the same. Coming to grips with the truth of our times in perilous.

How do we go on living when there is so much dying happening all around us? How do we continue to lead meaningful lives and show up for our people in the midst of so much loss and destruction?

As humans of the Anthropocene*, many of us have forgotten our place in the web of life. Centuries of cumulative harm and perpetual environmental assault on the Earth Body are reverberating in each of our bodies, ancestral story lines and in the torn fabrics of our communities, feeding a sense of separation, hopelessness, anxiety, guilt and despair.

And yet, in the long view this lostness is still so very new to the history of our species. For most of our human record, cultures across the world knew how to honor their place in the wider circle, and tend relationships with a living world they knew themselves to be a part of.  This knowing, no matter how far from it we may feel, still lives right beneath the surface of our urban skin.  We need not learn this way, as much as we need to remember it.

RE-MEMBERING IN DEEP TIME

On the land and in the liminal, we have the rare opportunity to do just that: to remember and return to a knowing so much older than the traumas that have severed us from it, a knowing that re-connects us with the truth and wholeness that lives deep in our bones.

Humans have always known times of great upheaval and “world-endings” – from civilizations rising and falling to the great migrations of the last ice age –  to the wars and displacements presently happening across the globe. From the rising and falling away of oceans to the breaking apart of Pangea – the land has seen bedrock change long before us.

Ceremony invites us to root in the memory of our ancestors and the geologic stories of the land. As we sink into deep time on the land we are invited to learn from these stories of resilience and remember how to move through profound change and loss – and how to adapt.

LIVING IN A TIME OF DYING

Restoring, renewing and healing our relationship with death is vital for an increasingly unknown future.  This work may well be some of the most important work of our time.

As a culture, we have forgotten how to die. The post-colonial, capitalist systems of oppression in which we live, and their "survival at all costs" narrative, have pushed death out beyond our borders, costing the lives of millions around the world. Lives lost due to starvation, war and climate disasters – most of those lives least responsible for the impact.

What does it mean to re-inhabit our dying? How do we lean in, how do we face into death with a courageous heart? Not to fix. Not to avoid. To truly grapple with our mortality is essential for living an awakened, resilient life. Every time we choose not to look away, we come more alive.

A vital part of our inquiry during our time on the land and in community will be directed at how to sit with death, how to die to old stories, and how to re-member ourselves in the life-death-life circle of nature.

RECKONING AND REBIRTH

At the same time, while this is a time of dying and reckoning, it is also a time of being born – to a new and ancient way of relating to the earth and to each other. How could it be otherwise? The cycle knows no end. In entering a profound threshold of transformation as a species and as a planet, we must draw on the practices of living and dying. Moving through the lowest places, and doing so together, we create new fertile ground to stand on.

When we come together in ceremony on the Earth to offer our gratitude, dance with our despair and remember our interconnectedness we reclaim our place in the web and rekindle the joy that is our birthright - that we may go forth with our best offerings in service of life and all that is yet to be born.

*Anthropocene: an unofficial unit of geologic time used to describe the most recent period in Earth’s history when human activity started to have a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems."

Overview

Schedule: Mornings will be spent together in circle with the group, and afternoons are time for contemplative walks and time alone on the earth. We will use the four shields as a road map, to track our individual experiences, as it pertains to the theme, through the lens of body, soul, mind and spirit. We will also use teachings from The Work that Reconnects to inform each shield. A day long solo with fasting begins on the morning of day 5.

During your time of fasting and aloneness, your guides will maintain a safe perimeter around the area, and another person will be nearby. Individual modifications to the solo are made based on medical and personal needs.

Location
Financial Support
Access

Who this offering is for: This offering is for anyone who finds themself needing time out, community witness and ceremony to help move through these times and explore how they are moving within each of us. We are especially welcoming those working on the frontlines or whose daily life is already being impacted by climate change. It is an offering for community stewards, land-tenders, environmental warriors, artists, activists and simple humans of all trades. If you feel a quickening in your bones when you read the above, and know it is your time to be in ceremony, weaving intentional solo time on the land with time in community to learn collectively how to lean into this time in the world please join us!

Who we are: As guides of European descent – Petra, a German immigrant and yeshe, 3rd generation mixed-heritage Jewish, who each fall in our own ways along the queer/gender spectrum – we honor the gifts and cultural influences of our ancestors while recognizing the limitations of holding the identities we do in multi-racial, multi-cultural contexts.

As we do the fierce, ongoing work of creating spaces for dialogue, healing and re-patterning of harmful dynamics in white-led spaces, we aspire to create cross-cultural ceremonial containers and remain committed to honoring diversity of cultural experience and creating a safe(r), brave(r) space to welcome participants from all backgrounds.

Program Questions Contact: [email protected] / [email protected]

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TUITION: $850 - $2,550
DEPOSIT: $300

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

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ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE: We encourage people to arrive by late afternoon/ evening of September 13th, the night before we officially start. Official program begin is at 10:00 a.m. on September 14th. We will complete our ceremony by 3pm on September 20th.

ADDITIONAL FEES: Camping Fee of $80 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 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.

To prepare the ground of our time together we invite you to take a look at the Welcome to Payahuunadü guide developed by the Bishop Paiute Tribe. More resources on the past and present stories of land, water, cultural resilience and the school's relationship to this place will be made available before program begin.

As we gather in ceremony, we come bearing the stories and legacies of different cultural contexts. These histories impact the way we show up together, and the complexities that can exist in ceremonial space when we gather across differences of experience. To come together in as good a way as we can, we invite you to read these Cross Cultural Protocols developed by those at the Youth Passageways network. May our time be a living practice ground as we meet each other in these sacred waters.

We will gather in the eastern mountains of Payahuunadü (also known as the Inyo Mountains outside of Big Pine, California). These are the ancestral and contemporary lands of the Nüümü and Newe people.

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