Mid-Winter Vision Fast
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
~ Wendell Berry ~
In your bones you hear the singing of your sacred ancestors. You follow in their footsteps. You go alone, with an empty belly and a bare minimum of equipment, into the heart of the wilderness, for four days and nights. There you live with yourself, in perfect solitude. You surrender to the mirror of your wild environment, and to memory, the looks-within-place. You enter the mansions of nature’s soul. You ponder the questions: “Who am I?” “Who are my people?” and “What is my intent?” You wander the precincts of loneliness, where vision lies waiting. You drink at the springs of your soul and are filled with self-recognition. What is not important falls away. The work that must be done lies ahead.
Logistics: The twelve day ceremony involves four days of preparation, four days and nights of fasting alone, and four days of incorporation. The program will be held on the ancestral, and present day homelands of the Timbisha Shoshone, in Death Valley National Park (Tüpippüh Valley).
Preparation: Your preparation begins the moment you decide to come, and perhaps it has been happening long before that. Once in the desert, you will be readied to physically, psychologically, mentally, and spiritually benefit from the experience of fasting alone in the wilderness. You will be given an ancient means of looking into the mirror of nature (the Four Shields).
Threshold: The time of fasting and aloneness will take place at Hole in the Wall, Death Valley. Your teachers will maintain a safe perimeter around the area while you are alone and make sure you have sufficient water. Another person will fast nearby. The two of you will be “buddies,” each day leaving assurance of your well-being at a stone pile erected along the borders of your respective areas.
Incorporation: You will return to human companionship and a feast. In council you will confirm the attainment of a new maturity. With others, you will tell your story. The Guides will listen, help you to understand, and challenge you to give your vision practical feet — to live the life you have earned. When all the stories have been told, you will celebrate with the others and then return to a life lived with new understanding.
Program Questions Contact: Petra Lentz-Snow at [email protected]borders.org
Additional course details & Materials
The Mid-Winter fast is held as a 12-day immersion program in the wide open expanse of Tüpippüh Valley (Death Valley National Park), where we will hold camp among creosote bushes, ancient rock and sweeping vistas. We will meet at 9 AM on Feb 21st at the Furnace Creek Visitor's Center and then drive out to our base-camp as a group. The program will conclude by 2pm on March 4. CA ADDITIONAL FEES: National Park Entrance ($30 unless you hold a valid Park Pass) and $30 for camping.
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.
All participants must submit the required health and liability forms.
Following enrollment, please submit the Letter of Intent. We ask that you write a letter of intent at least a month before the program, stating your reasons for enrolling and what is calling you to attend.
If you have questions about the enrollment process contact us at [email protected] or call 760-938-3333.
Tüpippüh (also known as Death Valley) is home of the Timbisha people and is the name of their ancestral and contemporary homeland. Miners came to this area in 1849 and the Timbisha’s land was stolen to create Death Valley National Monument in 1933. The Timbisha were allotted a 40 acre reservation in the park and also forced onto other reservations and into towns in the area.
To learn more about our commitment to regenerative relationships please visit Cultural Relations.