The Nature of Illness, Loss and Death

Sep 11th, 2021 - Sep 18th, 2021
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As a largely uninitiated culture, we are terrified of the ‘cup half empty’, of the fertile darkness of the outbreath and the quicksands of transformation. In modern life, illness, loss and death have become the enemy. In today's world, we are in constant search of easy fixes, and obsessed with staying eternally young and forever fit, no matter the cost. As long as we possibly can, we turn away from any notion of death, small or big. With that though, we also deprive ourselves of what naturally arises from death, which is birth, and the inequitable beauty of new beginnings.

It wasn’t always so. Those who have gone before us, knew. Rite of passage ceremonies in cultures around the world speak very clearly to the need to initiate humans into the seriousness of a life containing a wide range of reality - from blessed moments of ecstasy, expansion, and interconnectedness to the sharp edge of suffering, loss and inescapable pain.

The nature of life is change. From the moment we are born we are subject to change. Over the course of our lives we are asked to let go, leave behind, and die to all that is no longer truly true for us, so we can step into, and be birthed into all that is yet to be. Life initiates us every day, in small or big ways.

Significant illness, traumatic loss and brush ups with death are undercover agents of initiation. They have secrets to tell us. In the discomfort of their threshing, they also invite us to shed all that no longer serves. Illness, and loss relentlessly help us practice our dying. Their tight embrace flushes us out of the thicket of our habitual patterns, and dares us to live in the moment with unprecedented presence. We may feel ourselves more open to surrender old beliefs, and limitations and harness new perspectives and insights.

In this program, we will investigate the ‘dark side of the moon’, the nature of illness, loss and death and the cyclical nature of living and dying.  We will use the four shields as a road map, to track our individual experiences as it pertains to the theme, through the lense of body, soul, mind and spirit.

Schedule: Mornings will be spent together in circle with the group, and afternoons are time for contemplative walks and time alone on the earth. A day long solo with fasting (optional) begins on the morning of day 6. 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 can be made based on medical and personal needs.

Place: Big Pine is nestled in the wide embrace of the Owens valley, with quick access into the rugged Sierra Nevada on one side and the soft rounded hillsides of the Inyo Mountains on the other. The ancient bristlecone forest is home to the some of the oldest trees on earth.

Venue: The program will be held at Baker Creek Campground in Big Pine, CA. We will reserve a group campsite for those who want to camp. Participants who prefer indoor accommodations, are welcome to make independent reservations in Big Pine (several motels and Airb&b rentals).

Equipment: We will provide a list of personal equipment that each participant should bring, and we will also provide some group equipment for the group kitchen on the campground.

Starting and Ending times: We will meet at 10am on September 12 at Baker Creek Campground, in Big Pine, CA. The program will conclude by noon on September 19 at Baker Creek Campground.


The School of Lost Borders has created a sliding scale for all its programs and trainings in an effort to keep our courses affordable to a wide range of people. We set forth no criteria and trust that each individual will pay what they feel is appropriate.

Scholarships are available.

Tuition: $750 - $1350

Deposit: $300
(Non-refundable & non-transferrable unless seminar is cancelled)

Extra Fees: Camping Fees $45-65 (depends on group size and number of cars)


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