The Four Shields of Wholeness for Women

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Sep 17th, 2023 - Sep 23rd, 2023 | Big Pine and Eureka Valley | Petra Lentz-Snow, Gretchen (Grae) Gerlach

Patrilinear hierarchical systems have pushed life on earth to the raw edge of social and ecological sustainability. Many of us feel the global crisis reverberating acutely in our own bodies, in the rawness of our personal lives, and in the torn fabric of our communities. And, at the same time, the ancient evolutionary imperative to re-member wholeness, to move from “power over” into “relationship with” is waking strongly in us, asking us to unearth a new story for ourselves, our people and for life.

Finding our medicine as women and female-identified people, finding our voice and way as daughters, mothers, elders, and stewards of this Earth has perhaps never been more essential.

Feminine nature has been abused, pillaged, murdered, kidnapped and sold for thousands of years.  Women carry heavy on the trauma their ancestral lineages have endured, whether we are conscious of it or not.  Too many of us carry the blueprint of sexual and/or violent assault in our bodies and the fear of being prey informs and shapes us in more ways than we are consciously aware of.  As a result, we may be more comfortable living in the masculine part of ourselves, where we perform as best we know how in a dominance driven culture.  

Remembering our birthright, unearthing, empowering and uplifting feminine nature within us and around us is as necessary for ourselves as it is for life on Earth.

Although the feminine lives in exile in a culture that has forgotten how to nourish and tend instead of extract, how to collaborate instead of compete, women are still strongly connected to cyclical, natural time – with every moon, every cycle of our menses, and in all life cycles of our fertility and beyond. 

The truth of the circular, seasonal nature of life and death surrounding us and beholding us runs deep in the female body.  We carry the medicine of birth in our DNA, whether we become mothers of children or birth art, truth, or visions. Women intuitively know that all pain is birthing pain, that light comes from dark, that all things belong and that wholeness means all.

In our time on the land and in circle, we will invite and invoke the intuitive, creative, irrational, deeply informed feminine nature within.  We will dare to unlearn the logic of rationalism and unearth a deeper knowing of (and belonging to) the life-thriving paradigm that – no matter how much we fear we have lost it – still lives right beneath the surface skin of our homogenized cultured selves.  

As with all ceremony, we will do this not only for ourselves, but for our kin, our human and more-than-human communities and in honor of creation/life herself, flowing in infinite forms through all manner of bodies.

Come as you are. Perfect, imperfect, cracked open or blown away.  You are welcome.

Overview: Over the course of seven days, we will invoke communion with the living earth and each other, alternating time in circle together with solo time to venture into wild places for personal ceremony council, story-telling, and reflections/beholding. 

The earth, her elements, seasons and cycles will be our map of wholeness and our mirror as we explore body, soul/psyche, mind, and mystery. A 24-hour solo is included toward the end of our time together.

Venue:  We are gathering in the high desert of Payahünadüü (Owen’s Valley).  A private walk-in section of the campground, surrounded by flowing water, will be our base for the first four nights while most of our days are find us out in various wild places around the valley.  The last three days will be spent in the vastness of the Eureka Valley, where the 24 hour solo will take place.

Prerequisites:  There are no prerequisites other than a genuine desire to show up for the inquiry of what wholeness means for you at this time. If this is your first time with the seasonal nature model you are welcome to reach out for some optional preparatory materials.  If you have steeped in the four seasons of nature before you know that the ceremony of deepening around the shields is endless.  This particular teaching is centered specifically around the seasonal nature of the feminine as well as the particular life stages of women.  

Financial help: Scholarships are available through the school – and – knowing the disparity of income caused by racial, and social inequities, we are offering two spaces with near full scholarships (covering 80-90% of total tuition, based on need).  BIWOC will receive primary consideration as we strive to create more access to this work as well as bring racial diversity into future leadership.

Who this offering is for: This invitation is for women and significantly female-identified people. “Woman” and “female” are used as inclusive and expansive definitions.  All are welcome: cis and trans women, genderqueer women, and members of non-binary communities who are also female-identifying.

Program Questions Contact: Petra Lentz-Snow at [email protected]

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TUITION: $800 - $2300
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. 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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NOTE: Please plan to arrive on the afternoon of Sept 16. We will complete our ceremony mid-afternoon on July 23.

ADDITIONAL FEES: Camping Fees $45. Please bring cash for camping,, we will collect it 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 November 2021, unvaccinated international travelers are not currently permitted entry to the USA as per current CDC Guidelines.

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.

We will gather in a high desert (3,600 ft) canyon, nestled on private 450 acres of pinion-juniper woodland, surrounded by Los Padres National Forest. 1.5 hours drive from Ojai, and about 2 hours from L.A., on the traditional lands of the Chumash.

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