FACILITATING THE THRESHOLD CROSSING
“Doing a vision fast or wilderness rite-of-passage will not make your life easier, but it will make it more authentic.”—Scott Eberle, School Of Lost Borders guide
I recently had another wonderful and nourishing opportunity of guiding a solo wilderness rite-of-passage ceremony for someone. He was going through a transition in his life and looking to deepen his trust in his inner guide and clarify his meaningful action in the world.
We had met for several 1-on-1 earth-rooted mentoring sessions prior, exploring different aspects of wholeness, shedding old stories that no longer serve, and refining his intentions. Then we spent 3 days out in a river canyon in sacred time and space. He crossed the threshold and returned with story and an alignment with his truths.
It is such an honor to hold space for people doing this deep work and I love the beauty and uniqueness of each ceremony on the land.
If this type of intentional earth-rooted soul work speaks to you and you’re in Northern California, or if you have questions, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org. 🐾
P.S. Dr. Scott Eberle was one of my own phenomenal guides at School of Lost Borders
Tomorrow I head out on the mountain to guide a 4-day solo wilderness rite-of-passage ceremony for someone. I consider it a special honor to hold the sacred space and time, to facilitate that crossing of the threshold and to greet him on the return as an initiated one.
He heard the call and answered. The voice of the true self does not give up easily. The modern day wilderness fast/rite-of-passage is practice of setting time aside in sacred ceremony to be by ourselves in wild nature in order to leave behind the voices of the world, cross over into a liminal space where our senses re-awaken and we are able to re-member our place as a part of and a-kin to nature.
I’m reminded of some poetry that came through me during my first wilderness fast, that may now be medicine for others going on the sacred mountain to mark a transition, to claim their truth, to release the old, and live into their new aliveness.
The sacred mountain is calling.
Tap, tap, tap
the bell beneath the breastbone beckons:
Come, be naked and empty
under the big hard sun.
Empty yourself of everything.
Empty of food, empty of distraction,
empty of ego, empty of story.
Stretch yourself horizon to horizon
of your true home
until your soul image pops out
in high relief
like shards of obsidian
from the floor of the earth
Dive deep into your Great Sea
into the Mariana Trench
of your unadorned self.
The cracking begins.
Crack like scorched soil ready to receive.
The mud at the bottom of your being.
The shell of all the false identities.
Your fortressed heart—Cracked.
Oh it hurts—what gorgeous pain is this?
Die to all the worlds
to which you don’t belong,
leaving them to drift in the sage wind
of the high desert
as offerings to the land.
Cherish the tender beauty
of the breakdown
the sweet beauty of the rebirth.
It was the final session before his solo wilderness rite-of-passage ceremony next week. He will cross the threshold and mark what is alive, what is calling, what is waiting to be heard.
But for now, we were in a redwood and bay forest along a creek and Opening to the East. East was the last of the four shields (School of Lost Borders) or four facets of the psyche (Bill Plotkin) that we’d been diving into over several sessions among the trees, along the river, on the rugged wild coast.
That meant today we were Being, much more than Doing: Spaciousness, Lightness, Play.
We have all the other parts of ourselves and our lives, for the all the Doing.
East signifies the Dawn after the long night, the New, the Spring after the long winter.
Its Archetypes include the Innocent/the Sage/the Sacred Fool/the Trickster, and abounds in Paradox, favoring both/and over either/or thinking.
It’s living from Joy, lightening up, finding the humor in things, making fun of our ever-so-serious selves: “Hey, we’re out here in/with nature talking about wholeness and doing activities, we’re going to conduct a fasting ceremony in the wilderness, how freaking weird!””
It is Beginner’s Mind, fresh eyes, a young heart. The East is living with Mystery, knowing we don’t know and Living that largest Non-ego Transpersonal narrative, Belonging to Universe, Belonging AS the universe. Expressing and Embracing Spirit and spiritual love.
It is relinquishing attachment to outcome, it’s accepting—maybe even reveling in—being thwarted in getting what we think we want. It WON’T turn out how you think.
The trickster energy means things get turned on their head, Rules get ignored or overturned. It’s also being spontaneous, so we find ourselves picking up rocks and sticks and drumming rhythmically without a why, climbing trees, and splashing our feet and faces with creek water.
We Imagine our colorful robed-mountaintop sacred fool selves reacting to our mundane take-every-little-thing-so-serious selves.
We simply rest on a boulder with the flow of the water.
Yes, this is East. This is a rounding out. How miraculous and amazing it is to be alive!
It’s always great when nature connection gets some media attention. Redwood News covered a part of our Healing the Healers with Nature as Ally workshop earlier this month.
After our sense walks, when the cameras stopped rolling, we dove into the deeper stuff, including sharing the things that sometimes keep us from self-care and listening to our own advice that we give others, participated in a truth mandala ritual for expressing eco-grief and other difficult emotions, and solo time on the land to deeply listen to our Inner Guides, with nature as mirror.
We ended with gratitude and some spontaneous and beautiful nature art from the heart for integration.
We will host a similar workshop for LMFTs, social workers, massage therapists, nurses, and others in the helping professions in September.
The Article: Healing With Nature Brings Out the Other Senses
Last night at dusk a group of us gathered on the shore to honor the whales, dolphins, and other animals that have been dying in extraordinary numbers, as well as to honor our pain and other emotions.
After earth poetry and grounding, we shared a Truth Mandala in which participants take turns stepping into the center of a ritual circle we created in the sand, divided into four quadrants, each containing an object through which they can speak their pain for the world. The objects (dry leaves, a stone, a stick, and an empty bowl) are picked up and used to express the emotions of fear, sorrow, anger, and emptiness or hunger for what is missing.
Sometimes the circle itself is considered to represent hope. We added feathers found on the beach to symbolize hope (as in Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers…”).
Then we told the hard truth—about the state of the world, about the state of our emotions. Thanks everyone who came out and shared their selves in vulnerability and honesty.
Describing this practice in her book Coming Back to Life Joanna says: “Truth-telling is like oxygen: it enlivens us. Without it we grow confused and numb. It is also a homecoming, bringing us back to powerful connection and basic authority.”