The Elder’s Journey: The Four Shields of Elderhood for Women


Oct 20th, 2025 - Oct 26th, 2025 | Aravaipa Canyon Ranch and Retreat Center, Winkelman Arizona | Silvia Talavera, Trebbe Johnson


“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

This will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary of this beloved program!

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 greater years, there is a growing passion and a commitment to tell our own stories. 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 important that we find our way, with as much humor, grace and dignity as possible. Death awaits us all, and how we move through these years is of utmost importance.

Elderhood is an evolving experience that can be a ripening of our strengths rather than the dulling of our minds. From the words of social activist Maggie Kuhn, “Old age is not a disease. It is a strength in survivor-ship, 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 lived wisdom acquired over the years.

As women ripen into the various stages of elderhood, 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 in today’s world. 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.

We define “women” inclusively, inviting all those who primarily identify as female or feminine.


Program Overview:

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 through the lens of the Four Shields (a nature based teaching) that will reflect and support the wisdom of the elders as a natural point for introspection and meaning . Together we will move through the 4 seasons, the 4 directions  and the stages of life. These teachings and the earth itself will help to bring what is needed to our particular stage of this rich new frontier.

Our days will begin with a morning circle that will include a check-in, and a weaving of teachings and exploring together what it means to grow into our greater years. There will be daily solo time in nature and late afternoon story councils for listening and reflection of your solo experience on the land.
A dawn to dusk contemplative solo/silence will be offered during the week. On our last night together we will offer a fire ceremony.

Offered for the second time at one of Tucson’s special retreat centers, Aravaipa Ranch Retreat in Winkelman, Arizona. Steeped in Apache history the land offers a stream that flows through the canyon, hiking and much more.  Do check out the web site,  Please do not disturb the owner. All planning and logistics goes through the School of Lost Borders.   

 Separate Accommodation fees: $350 per person. Please view the Aravaipa web site for details on accommodations and place. This price is fixed and includes tent camping (there is a dedicated tent camping area) if you choose to camp. All the facilities will be available whether you choose to sleep indoors or outdoors. Sleeping accommodations are an open bed arrangement. The large upstairs porch is available for sleeping out doors. There is plenty of space as our max will be 10-12 women.

Program Questions Contact Silvia Talavera at [email protected]



TUITION: $900 - $2,700

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


 Separate Accommodation fees: $350 per person.

We encourage people to arrive no later than Monday October 20th by 4:00pm to allow time to settle in. We will offer a simple welcome vegetarian meal at 5pm. Our first meeting will begin at 6:00pm. We will complete our ceremony Sunday October 26th at noon.
The School makes no provisions for meals and encourages you to come prepared to live self- sufficiently. There is a full kitchen available as well as bathrooms and showers. We will provide you with a detailed logistics letter once you have registered. all activities undertaken will be non-strenuous and our emphasis is always on “safety first”.

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. 

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.

Original land of Aravaipa Apache known as the Dark Rocks People (after the black rocks of Aravaipa canyon and the Galiuro mountains.)

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