Desert Solo Experience

Desert Solo Page Image

  • Have you ever been drawn to totally disconnect from the busy-ness of daily life for a few days; no distractions, nothing to do, simply be with you in the raw and unpredictable world of Nature?
  • Are you facing one of life’s transition moments, a challenge or crisis?
  • Is something new being asked of you? Do you need some insight to find your way?
  • Are you willing to face some of your fears or demons?
  • Are you willing to listen deeply, to become vulnerable, to be humbled in order to connect to the real source of strength in you that you can always count on and rest in?
  • Are you open to surprises, to find unexpected treasures arising from your very being?
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
What initiates us also strips us down to the inner essentials and releases qualities and powers that were hidden within.
Michael Meade


 A unique opportunity to be alone with yourself (without food, without shelter) in the desert, under the expanse of the sky.

IMG_2361You may choose to spend either 2 or 3 days and nights alone like this.

There is a long tradition of individuals going off to be alone in the wilderness to pray and  fast, and to open humbly to messages and insight from the Creative Source.  The guiding wisdom of our life is available to each of us if we are willing to pause and take an honest look inside. And when we get still enough and quiet enough it is possible to see and hear something new – to get a hint of a possible direction, to access hidden strength and courage, to awaken and reclaim forgotten pieces of ourselves. Whatever is revealed, whatever impulse for action received, is offered in service to the People, in service to Life.  The Earth or Desert Solo Experience is connected to that tradition.

“When men are silent, the stones will speak.” (anonymous Native American) 

We are intimately connected to the earth, wind and sky. We have a deep kinship with the trees, the living waters, the sun, moon and stars. The Earth or Desert Solo Experience offers the opportunity to set all the busy-ness of daily life aside for a few days and to sit upon the earth, gently opening out and opening in, entering into the natural world and letting the natural world enter into us, allowing us to experience this life-giving connection. For many it is an experience of coming home.

Roerch Painting


Does the Wind Know Who I Am?

Does the wind know who I am?
Does the bullfrog know the body
of dreams he is singing to?
His loud song is disturbing.

Does the disturbance
or sweet joy hidden in
this leather sack
matter to the silent rocks?
the silent stars?

                                     Desert Solo May 2012


The hungry ones went out without food, with only water
hungry for the wind
hungry for the wide sky full of blue
the fire of the sun
the bright of the stars
the light of the moon
Hungry for the part of themselves they have been
missing for a long time

They ate everything – the flight of the crows
the stillness of the night
the howling of the wind
the hard rocky earth
They gave themselves to the desert
stood naked in the desert
cried alone in the desert
until they were turned inside out
And the desert entered them
softened and opened them
gave them new eyes and new ears
A new heart.
And they found pieces of themselves in
the sky, in the flies, crows and rocks.

                                                 Piece of poem written after the first VQ in Anza Borrego


My history with the Vision Quest

 I have been connected with Native American ceremony since 1979 when I experienced my first Sweat Lodge Ceremony. For whatever mysterious reasons it has been a part of my life ever since.  I have been leading Lodges for over 25 years. After reading Stephen Foster’s “Book of the Vision Quest” and Evelyn Eaton’s “I Send A Voice” I was called to do my own version of a Vision Quest; I knew I had to test myself in that way. Following that inner knowing I asked my teacher, dream guide, mentor and friend, Robert Johnson to put me out with a bottle of water, a sleeping bag, a camping pad and a few items of clothing on a hill behind his house in the Anza Borrego Desert. I sat for two days and two nights. An inner passageway to me opened. A doorway out into the desert landscape opened. That was in 1982. I was hooked.

Five years later, under the mentorship of Sparky Shooting Star (ceremonial leader, Sundancer, story teller, teacher), who was teaching me songs and how to lead a Sweat Lodge Ceremony, and her teacher of Native American wisdom and ways, Mary Thunder, I began to support in the Vision Quests they were leading in New Hampshire and New York. My son, then 17, did his first Vision Quest. I supported him in all four years of his commitment and then again I supported my daughter in all four years of hers. During those years I did two more Vision Quests. Once under the guidance of Sparky (for two days) in the woods in Maryland and once under the guidance of Izzy Heart Man, a Lakota elder and Sundancer (for 3 days) in the woods in upstate New York. Some years later I did a four day Vision Quest under the guidance of Sundance Chief Luciano Perez in the Joshua Tree desert. In each I received gifts. Last fall I did a self-guided three day solo with two friends in the high desert east of San Diego.

In November 2009 I was called to offer this powerful way of being with oneself and the natural world to a client of mine who I thought would be served by the experience. He invited four friends to join him in the same part of the Anza Borrego desert that I had done my first Vision Quest so many years before. The results were profound and thus the Desert Solo Experience was born.  I have now guided ten groups in the San Diego area (and one group of 13 teenagers in the Canyon de Chelly in Arizona). In March 2012 I was accepted as a member of the Wilderness Guide Council, a group of wonderful men and women, mostly trained in the School of Lost Borders founded by Stephen Foster and Meredith Little, who guide people in the Vision Quest experience throughout the world. In August 2012 we offered the first Maine Woods Earth Solo Experience sponsored by the Whole Health Center and Starflower Farm. Seven people sat in the magical woods on that land while we kept the ceremonial fire burning.


When and Where they are offered:

The Desert Solos are being offered twice a year (fall and spring) at Madre Grande Monastery in Dulzura, California and once a year (late summer) in Maine. I look forward to being on the land with whoever is called to sit with the land and with their self in this way.

The next Desert Solo Experience is scheduled for: May 2013 near San Diego, CA

The next Earth Solo Experience is scheduled for September 2013 near Bar Harbor, Maine

People who have done a DSE have reported:

  • Questions that they have been living with for many months being answered within a few days.
  • Seeing clearly what they really want and finding the spark of confidence to go for it.
  • Finding the return of artistic creativity that they had been missing for years.
  • A deep sense of peace.
  • A clarity and rightness about relationships to spouse and family.
  • A deep gratitude for self and relations.
  • A love and acceptance of self.