Winter Desert Quest – February 2017
Guides: Sage Magdalene, Brian Stafford, MD, MPH Limit: 13
THE ANIMAS QUEST
This contemporary Western embodiment of the ancient, pan-cultural vision fast is a dynamic wilderness rite for men and women seeking greater depth and clarity about life purpose and meaning. As a rite of initiation, the quest is a ceremonial descent to the underworld, in which you die to your familiar way of belonging to the world, uncover the passion and wisdom of your soul, and retrieve the gift that is yours alone to bring to the world, enhancing personal fulfillment and genuine service.
The Animas Quest catalyzes the encounter with soul by temporarily displacing everyday consciousness through five primary means: (1) solitude for three or four days and nights while (2) fasting (i.e., drinking water only), (3) being fully exposed to and enfolded within the forms and forces of nature, (4) enacting a series of ceremonies, and (5) employing a set of practices (soulcraft) that support you in crossing into the mysteries of nature and psyche.
Most often, our quests take place over a total of 11days, 8-11 of which are spent in the wilderness. Preceding your time of solitude are five full days of preparation activities that enhance your ability to benefit from the fast. The first two and a half days of these five may be held at a retreat center or car-camp before we journey to our wilderness base camp (or, on some programs, remain at our car-camp).
During the five preparation days, we work with dreams, poetry, deep imagery, ceremonial drumming and dance, dialogues with nature, the way of council, and other practices to help us slip out the door of our everyday lives and access our own deeper, wilder currents.
The heart of the quest consists of the solo: three days and nights without human companionship in nature, fasting, engaging in personal ceremonies, saying yes to the mysteries of soul, tending the true mythos of your life, praising and grieving, and birthing a vision. Upon your return to base camp, there are three days of reincorporation activities, preparing you to embody among your people what you received on your fast. The last of these three days takes place back at the retreat center or car-camp.
No previous backpacking experience is required. (In fact, many of those who have quested with us have never before been camping or backpacking).
You are responsible for your personal camping gear, personal lunches, personal snacks and getting yourself to the quest location. Details will be included in the preparation materials sent out after registering. This is an all camping Quest.
Sage has a gift for hearing and reflecting the deep stories of all beings. She invites people to thresholds and opens gates between worlds. She has been an educator, artist, dancer, and gate keeper in many ecosystems. Her greatest joy is to hear and converse with the wild others: moon, spider, frog, human, river and stars. She brings a light touch and embodied wisdom to the serious work of transformation.
Brian Stafford, MD, MPH
Brian Stafford is a guide to the wilderness of nature and soul. He was called out of academic medicine to serve as a guide to the depths and to serve as an agent of cultural awakening and transformation. He guides with humor, playfulness, compassion, discernment, and a deep remembering of the fullness of what each human life can, should, and was meant to be.
A native of Colorado and the former holder of an endowed chair and professor of psychiatry and pediatrics, he is an avid outdoorsman, teacher, writer, mentor, partner, and parent.
He guides individuals and groups in the Colorado River Basin as well Nosara, Costa Rica, to the place they most long and fear to go - the numinous depths of their soul.
Brian currently makes his home in Ojai, California.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California. Five hundred miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas and many miles of hiking trails provide visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to experience the wonders of the California Desert. The park is named for Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word borrego, or bighorn sheep. The park features washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti and sweeping vistas. Visitors may also have the chance to see roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer and bighorn sheep as well as iguanas, chuckwallas and the red diamond rattlesnake.
The Park is located on the eastern side of San Diego County, with portions extending east into Imperial County and north into Riverside County. It is about a two-hour drive from San Diego, Riverside, and Palm Springs.
Many visitors approach from the east or west via Highways S22 and 78. From the coast, these highways descend from the heights of the Peninsular range of mountains with spectacular views of the great bowl of the Colorado Desert. Highway S2 enters the park from the south off of Interstate 8. For more information, click here.