Sept 25th-6th Oct
Cost £850-£950 sliding scale
Earth Initiation: a contemporary wilderness rite of passage
"We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them: we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them, but to find out the way to do them the most good" Thomas Merton
We used to know our belonging in our bones. As a culture we have grown away from intimacy with the more-than-human world, yet it waits for us. This initiatory journey is an invitation to remember what we most deeply belong to, what we have always belonged to.
For much of our story as a people Individuals have crossed the threshold into wild places to attend more closely to the movement of soul, to remember what is at one’s core, what is most important. Such transitions in a person’s life were often marked through ceremony as initiatory events or passage rites, as a means of reinforcing both to the initiate and the community the new orientation, direction or phase of a person’s life. The wider natural world has long been respected as a necessary partner or companion in such initiatory journeys, the land offering itself as mirror, as ally, as fertile container in which to draw close to the roots of our life.
The initiation will be divided into the three classic phases of a passage rite: Preparation, Threshold and Incorporation:
The first days serve as our preparation as we come together as a community to clarify our intentions. Here we listen to each other’s stories of where we find ourselves in life and what brings us here. Specifically, we explore in some depth our intention for this passage rite, what is it in our life that is asking to be honored or marked through an initiatory journey?
The threshold phase will be a traditional four day and night fast. Each person goes alone into the wilderness (with the support of guides at base camp), without food and minimal external trappings. The threshold time allows for one’s intention to be revealed and to be unfolded in the mirror of Nature. It is a time for self-generated ceremony, for becoming intimately receptive to one’s life and for experiencing both the challenge and the beauty of taking our place amongst our relations as a simple human animal on this Earth.
The final days are devoted to incorporation. We share the stories of our threshold time and explore its gifts and implications for the life we return to. We sit in ‘story council’, sharing our stories and having them mirrored back to us by the community, offering the opportunity to see our individual narrative in a wider context. This can be one of the most touching and heartening parts of our time together: being witnessed and affirmed by those who have come to participate and create this ceremony.
Other elements we will explore in support of our time together will include:
- The practice of ‘Council’
- Shaping and honing of Intent as a foundation for threshold experiences
- Exploring the role of contemporary wilderness rites of passage or initiatory journeys in our times including the challenges to this.
- The four Directions of Human Nature – An eco-centric model of human development.
- The nature of self-generated ceremony and the role of threshold crossing.
- Nature as mirror
- The role and art of Mirroring for empowerment and community witnessing.
- Physical safety during the Threshold time
COURSE LEADER: RUPERT MARQUES
My background is in environmental and outdoor education with an emphasis on experiential approaches to exploring ecological identity and personal agency. For several years I trained and guided with the School of Lost Borders (U.S.) in Contemporary wilderness rites of passage, and now offer this work here in Europe.
The other thread of my livelihood centres on contemplative practice. I have practiced in the insight meditation tradition for over 25 years in Europe, America and Asia, and teach at various retreat centres in Europe and beyond.
In recent years I have sought to bring the fields of contemplative practice and wilderness immersion together. This has been supported by living and working at Ecodharma, a contemplative retreat community in the Spanish Pyrenees dedicated to the movements for social justice and ecological sustainability.
I currently work with individuals and organizations offering a range of retreats and trainings that explore personal empowerment and resilience in service of creating a more just and beneficial human presence on this Earth.
Participants will be camping using their own tents. Tents can be hired at a nominal rate if helpful.
Food - outside of the fasting period breakfasts & suppers are included. Participants will need to bring food for lunches.
Diets - we can offer vegan, vegetarian & gluten free options. Participants will need to provide food for any other special dietary needs
£850-950* lower rates available subject to application & evidence of financial need.
How to Book
To register your interest or find out more please email us