Image by Susan Seddon Boulet
My own journey with the Four Shields began when I moved to Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire in 2004. I had moved from Birmingham where I had been a member of a number of magical groups in the tradition of the Golden Dawn and had spent 5 years studying the Qabalah training as a Priestess in this tradition. I was also practicing astrology with friends and family. Within this I had many shamanic callings too and specifically to the San African people’s spirituality and the White Lions of Timbivati. Both myself and my son have been bitten by white lion cubs on separate occasions which can’t possibly be coincidence!
I was very happy to find Sorrel Weaver in the beautiful glacial valley of Cornholme near Hebden Bridge who was teaching the Four Shields and signed up over 3 consecutive years to her course. Later on four of us decided to create the Wolf Clan and to go deeper into the practice as equals and we continue to do this now. Of the Wolf Clan sisters Sorrel Weaver, Sue Jackson, and Clare Pearl all had done a 2 year Shamanic Counselling and Creative Arts Therapy course with Simone Silverpath and Rima Handley at the Coventina School based in Northumberland. It was a course for them to learn about working as practitioners and they were introduced to the Four Shields in the course. Subsequently both Sorrel did further training about the Four Shields and Mirroring with Meredith in Germany and in this country. Also Sorrel and Sue both did a course with Sandra Ingerman in Scotland, Medicine for the Earth and Healing with Light. All the Wolf Sisters have shared generously with many women including myself their wisdom.
I have learnt much from them over the years about shamanic healing and soul retrieval for example. However its not really so much about what I’ve learnt on an intellectual level but rather the love and awe of nature that has developed in me and the coming gradually into my power as an adult and elder whilst enjoying my inner child and honoring my adolescent within. The Shield process has helped us all find our calling and step into the life we wanted to live and for me that was as a practicing Astrologer and Shaman Woman. The main teacher in our clan though has been Mother Nature and all her plants and creatures. Meeting 4 times a year we have had such powerful healings over the years and healed parts of ourselves through Rites of Passage into Inner Child (South/Summer/Fire), Adolescence (West/Autumn/Water), Adulthood (North/Winter/Earth) and Elder (East/Spring/Air).
We do Medicine Walks in the beautiful wilderness of Yorkshire and the Ring of Kerry Ireland where Sue Jackson has her wonderful Organic farm. We do a process of called the Ancient Art of Council taught by Meridith Little, although it is echoed in many global traditions, where we share the story of our Medicine Walks and Mirror these back to each other and this is where the powerful medicine really awakens. We use a talking stick to ensure each woman is heard equally and we listen and speak from the heart. We always do something creative together too.
Below is an excerpt from Meredith Little’s web site www.lostborders.com which is the story of how the Four Shields began. The Four Shields was born at the conjunction of Uranus and Pluto in the late 1960’s a powerful seed of a collective new vision for the Earth. Gender and sexuality politics rose up in a wave of transformation. In the past 3 year with Pluto now in a challenging Square to Uranus we are being called to take action to ensure this vision is able to manifest. We need new structures that honor the equality of life and a return to real democratic processes that are meaningful to people globally.
“We began way back when, in the days when revolution was in the air, when rock and roll was filled with protest and the young were sticking flowers in the gun barrels of National Guardsmen. Even then, the answer to the dilemma of culture was clear: True revolution would never come about until the children remembered the way to get to adulthood – and the adults to true elderhood – and the elders to honorable death. And none of this would ever come to pass unless I learned the ancient art of birthing myself, and, by definition, others of my species, through rites of passage in wild nature, our true mother home. “ – Steven Foster
Roots of the School
The tradition of the School of Lost Borders began in the late 1960’s when Dr. Steven Foster was teaching romantic poetry in the Humanities Depart. at San Francisco State University. During the infamous strike and riots which occured there, he took a strong political stand on the side of the students, holding classes off campus and encouraging dissent. He, along with many other faculty members, was subsequently fired. Steven’s search for deeper meaning, growing fascination with pan-cultural mythology, and desire to create his own rite of initiation drove him into the classroom of nature.
After spending much of a year alone in the deserts of Nevada, he returned with a deep commitment to bring meaningful wilderness rites of passage to the young marking entrance into adulthood. He met Edward Beggs who ran the youth component of a federally funded Marin Open House, and began an innovative dialogue with Robert Greenway, Tom Pinkson and Vern Muhr. This led to the first of many youth wilderness rite of passage ceremonies that Steven would guide over the next two years, forming the basis for what is now offered to both youth and adults at the School, and around the world.
In 1973 Steven and Meredith Little met and became partners for an all-night shift at Marin Suicide Prevention Center. They fell in love, began leading groups together, followed Odysseus to the Greek island of Ithaki, conceived a child, and fostered a dream. Ten months later they returned to Novato, California and founded the non-profit organization Rites of Passage, Inc.
Further information is available at their web site and I feel honored to be one of the seedlings and indeed now a Mother Plant myself seeded some 12 years ago by Sorrel Weaver into the Four Shields tradition.