3Never before had I gone so long without seeing, hearing, or speaking to another human. Restingin the shade of a pilion pine, I began to notice intimate signs of the life cycle of trees that Iusually went too fast to observe. I cried deeply and laughed out loud; I made up songs and poemsand wrote in my journal. The birds and dragonﬂies became my companions. I faced my fearsabout changes in weather, about sleeping out in the dark without a tent, about critters I fearedmight be unwelcome visitors, about being alone with my own mind. But most profoundly, Ibegan to know that I was safe, that I belonged to this earth, and that I could face death andtherefore claim my precious life more fully.When I returned, thrilled to see my fellow humans as well as the hearty breakfast thatawaited us, the time eventually came to tell my story. Anne, our guide and passionate elder,reﬂected back to me the journey I had undertaken, pointing out key elements in my story thatshowed my gifts and strengths. Telling my story, and having it heard so deeply, brought forthenormous clarity, joy, and commitment. I listened as my fellow questers told the stories of theirtime on the land. As a therapist, I was amazed and humbled by what I witnessed. Recurringthemes included death and rebirth, a profound sense of belonging, courage to step forth into ourunique gifts, and grief transformed into depth and beauty. There was an emphasis on truematurity and joyous responsiveness to the earth.Immediately upon my return home, I was galvanized to learn how to bring thisunmediated experience of being in nature into my therapy work. I devoured the writings ofSteven Foster and Meredith Little, founders of the School of Lost Borders in the Owens Valley,on California's eastern slope of the Sierra. Steven coined the phrase "the Big Lie" to express thedominant worldview that we are separate from nature.' For years, Steven and Meredith hadwritten, taught, and guided countless numbers of people in wilderness rites of self-initiation. Inthis work they used a circular map derived from the indigenous peoples of many lands,combining this wheel image with aspects of archetypal and depth psychology. The wheelexpresses the four seasons/faces/personas of human life, which correspond to the seasons of theearth. It also maps human stages of development, assisting us to create balance, navigate
transitions, and prepare for death, enabling us to live more fully.
I then did my training to become a guide in this rites of passage work at the School ofLost Borders. Andy Fisher also inﬂuenced me at this time with his ideas about howecopsychology is inextricably bound up with social change. As fate would have it, Andy was in