Prayers in the Dark: Tending Our Visionary Fires

June 11, 2021 – June 15, 2021
Guide: Doug Van Houten

WE LIVE AT A PIVOTAL MOMENT IN EARTH’S HISTORY, a time of extraordinary challenge and uncertainty in which our precious world — with its endangered creatures and imperiled ecosystems — hangs by a precariously thin thread. The human species has entered a collective dark night — perhaps a necessary one. At an hour like this, each of us must dare to walk directly into the fires of love, bravely relinquishing old modes of being and surrendering ourselves to what is beckoning from the human soul and from what Thomas Berry calls, ‘the Dream of the Earth’.  While cooking in these fires, as we behold the breath-taking beauty of our world as well as its immense suffering, what visions might emerge from our prayers in the dark?


In a dark time, the eye begins to see…” — Roethke


Radical personal and cultural transformation at this time requires a descent into the depths of soul, an initiatory journey that reveals our hidden and unique gifts, as well as a descent into the inescapable grief and despair evoked by a sober view of contemporary Western culture and the real possibility of self-inflicted extinction. The descent to soul enables us to cultivate our innate visionary skills, respond creatively to the dangerous opportunities of our times, and achieve real change in our world.

On a journey such as this, we encounter both demons and angels, fears, wounds, and the shadowy aspects of previously denied elements of our psyches, as well as awe, wonder, and enchantment. Your unique role in the larger Earth community is revealed in the mysterious symbols, metaphors, images, dreams, and numinous encounters that weave together your mythopoetic identity, which is your greater story or personal mission, “the truth at the center of the image you were born with,” “the largest conversation you can have with the world”. Your mythopoetic identity is your indispensible guide in fulfilling your purpose in this time of planetary crisis.

Prayers in the Dark is a wild invitation to enter the cave-womb of transformation and experience states of non-ordinary perception through a variety of practices and processes rooted in art, imagination, and the body. Our soulcraft practices will include dreamwork, council, shadow work, self-designed ceremony, conversations with the sacred Others (including cactus, sky, hawk and stone), creative expression, gentle wild yoga and movement, soul tasks in nature, befriending the dark, and sacred wound work.

Will you dare to dive into the holy dark mystery at the center of your life? Are you willing to reclaim your true voice and bravely add your song to the uni-verse, the symphony emerging at this pivotal moment in the Earth story? Are you willing to risk a radical re-imagining of your life’s purpose and return with sacred gifts for your people?

During our five days together at Spirit Hollow, we’ll listen to and track what arises in our body, dreams, hearts, and imaginations, and follow our allurements. We’ll begin and end our days with prayer ceremonies, to listen and honor all the Others. We’ll live embraced by a forest community and pray to be sung to life by the profound truth of our own visions.

…Let us pray dangerously.

Let us throw ourselves from the top of the tower,

let us risk a descent to the darkest region of the abyss,

let us put our head in the lion’s mouth and,

direct our feet to the entrance of the dragon’s cave.

Let us ask for nothing less than the Infinite to ravage us.

Let us ask for nothing less than annihilation in the Fires of Love…

— Dangerous Prayers, by Regina Sara Ryan


Cost: $975.00 – $1290.00

Program start/end time: 1pm / 1pm

This is an all-camping program – we will not be staying in lodge rooms due to the risks of COVID-19. Participants are responsible for bringing their own personal camping equipment.

Participants are also responsible for bringing their own breakfasts, lunches and snacks.  All dinners will be provided.

We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and are hopeful we will be able to run this program in person. To protect the health of you and our guides, participants will be required to drive separately to the program – no air travel unless you can quarantine for 10-14 days prior to the program start date, even if you have been fully vaccinated. We also ask participants to be especially vigilant in the weeks leading up to the program to avoid exposure to the virus. Please see our policies for more COVID-19 information.


GUIDE: 

Doug Van Houten

Doug draws on the wisdom of the natural world, depth-psychology, eco-psychology, dreams, somatic knowing, poetry, and many pan-cultural, soul furthering practices that includes: The Way of Council, vision fasting, shadow work, symbolic artwork, trance dancing and conversations with the more than human world. Doug’s true calling in life is to support others as they uncover their own unique gifts and in so doing, transform their lives in service to what Thomas Berry called ”The Great Work” of our times. Doug is also an ardent beekeeper, a visual artist, a wily wanderer, a dream tracker, an emergent ceremonialist, a heart-centered activist, and a yoga instructor interested in new forms of somatic practice.