The Elder’s Journey: Four Shields of Eldering for Women
“We are the seeds of the tenacious plant, and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart that we are given to the wind and scattered.” – Kahlil Gibran
Throughout the ages, elder women have enjoyed sitting in circle to weave the rich tapestries of their stories, stories that continued to warm and inspire people across time and culture.
What about us, now, in our time? As women in all stages of growing into our elder years, there is a growing passion and a commitment to tell our own stories and to create a new myth to help us to grow into the most positive women elders possible. We have children, or we are childless, we are single or we are partnered, working or retired, healthy or feeling the struggles of the body. Whatever stage of eldering we find ourselves navigating it is imperative that we find our way, with humor, grace and dignity. Death awaits us all, and how we move through these years is of utmost importance.
Eldering is a cyclical experience that can be a ripening of our strengths rather than the dulling of our minds through an unlived life. From the words of social activist Maggie Kuhn, “Old age is not a disease. It is a strength in survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illness.” This speaks to aging as an extraordinary achievement. It is an opportunity to re-awaken the imagination towards new possibilities and a renewed spirit inspired by the wisdom of living we have acquired.
As women ripen into the various stages of eldering, it may be time to re-map the landscape to make room for the emerging new perspectives of what it means to be an elder. Through honoring the years of a life lived, creating new meaning and imparting our gifts in service, we move towards transformation and into a renewed vitality, creativity, and vision. This program is an invitation to open to what is needed to welcome the elders we are becoming.
Program Overview: During our time together we will explore ways to deepen into a more conscious approach to how we can live as elder women in the world today. We will recall our personal stories, life experiences and collected knowledge and discover ways to transform them into our wisdom and our medicine. We will explore an ancient means of looking into the mirror of nature (the Four Shields) that will reflect and support the wisdom of the elders as a natural point for introspection and meaning. These teachings and the earth itself will help to bring what is needed to your own particular stage of this rich new frontier.
Our days will be filled with a morning circle that will include a check-in and teachings. In the afternoon a mission will be suggested and there will be time alone on the land. There will be late afternoon story councils for listening and reflection.
A day medicine walk to a special location with optional fasting and a 24-hour period of contemplative silence will take place on one of the days towards the end of the week.
Time and Location: We will be camping at Baker Creek Camp ground in Big Pine, California near the foothills of the Eastern Sierras. The landscape offers many walking trails as well as beautiful areas to find solitude that are easily accessible by foot or car. We encourage people to arrive no later than Sunday, September 20th at 1:00 PM to allow time to set up your camp. Our first meeting will begin at 3:00 PM on Sunday September 20th, and we will complete our ceremony on Saturday, September 26th approximately 12:00 PM, .
Practical Preparation: Though we will be camping out the entire time, no camping experience is necessary. There will be guides and assistants to help with unloading vehicles and setting up tents. For those who do not wish to camp there are motels very nearby. The campground offers vault toilets and there are picnic tables at each site with a stream that runs through the campground.
The School makes no provisions for meals and encourages you to come prepared to live self- sufficiently. There will be a simple kitchen set-up available with cooking utensils, pots and pans and drinking water. Two camp stoves and a wash station will also be in place. We will provide you with a complete equipment list once you have registered. You will need to bring shelter and suitable clothing for a full range of weather. A note to those with medical or physical limitations: all activities undertaken will be non-strenuous and our emphasis is always on “safety first.”
“Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.”
– Emily Dickinson
Additional course details & Materials
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.
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