Brant takes people to Mount Shasta annually to do ceremony, learn the traditions of the Huichols, and to go on pilgrimage to the sacred and magnificent mountain, Mount Shasta. All the participants build a spiritual community for the duration of our visit at the base of the mountain. We sit in circle in a pristine meadow, we learn the ancient exercises and practices that help us feel the powers of the four directions, experience the truth in the fire, water, earth and air, we celebrate life in the circle when we dance the Huichol Deer Dance and pray for our lives and the lives of all living things. What is unique about Brant Secunda’s seminars is that you are in nature experiencing genuine Huichol Indian traditions as they have existed for thousands of years. I feel deeply grateful that I am able to bring my children to the Dance of the Deer’s spiritual retreats, and they can learn and feel and see and dance in the circle of the Huichol traditions. There is nothing more fulfilling for them to connect with nature and learn how to honor life in this way. I look forward to sharing this beautiful path with my family for many years to come.
A short while ago I was asked about my life since I first met Brant about twenty years ago. The question was something innocent like “Has your life changed much because of your studies with Brant?” It took about a half second of thought for the answer. “Studying with Brant has touched every single area of my life!” This is a question I think about nearly every day and am grateful for the answer.
I met Brant at a 10-day workshop he lead in Mexico in 1990. From the first moments, from the first chant that he sang, I felt like I had found something that I had been searching for since I was a young boy. I was always drawn to those images that we have all seen in movies where the wise elders from an ancient tradition cut through the clutter of modern life and come up with a simple nugget of wisdom that puts everything in perspective.
I had been trying to find someone or something in the real world that would connect me to that type of knowledge and clarity since I can remember. Going to college was partly an attempt to gain that deeper understanding about life. The things I did for work were also a search for an experience of doing something that was good for the world beyond just my life. The vacations, travels, trips to places on the earth that were different were again my way of seeking something that I could experience and take into my being to fill my life up with joy and purpose. Yet no matter how hard I tried to experience this ideal of how I felt life should be lived and to feel something that deeply touched my soul, I always fell just a little short. Life had been a search that led me close but not completely to peace and inner happiness…that is until I heard Brant’s chant!
For ten days I had the good fortune to experience what life had been alluding to through all my previous wanderings. I felt a connection to that magical indefinable world of nature that connects one’s soul to all of life and to the part of time that is timeless. I experienced a joy from life that came not from achieving results but that I could feel already inside of me and that then became my jumping off point to go out into the world. I was in the presence of a real human being, not a character in a movie, who had done what it takes to possess that enduring knowledge about all things seen and unseen that we have lost in the modern world, and that remains hidden until we do take the time to step away and allow our hearts to finally open and remember why we are truly here on earth…to live a sacred life connected to all life.
This may sound pretty ethereal, but the practice and tools that create these incredible feelings are so grounded and easy to do that they may sound too simplistic to be profound in their effect. Let me try one out for you. Go watch a sunset! Sounds easy doesn’t it. It is! But what it can do for a human being could take a month to explain. Let me give you an example from my life of using this ancient tool of transformation that Brant has us do in just about every workshop. I think you will probably be able to relate to it.
I had a day recently that was a good one except that it kept being interrupted by some nagging questions that I had been pondering for some time. Of course these questions went unanswered once again. But this particular day was one of the special ones where I could not distract myself from thinking about them. By day’s end I felt worn down from going around and around in the same mental circle, never feeling like I was any closer to a solution. The result was that I just didn’t feel much of that inherent joy I had experienced in Brant’s workshops. I couldn’t seem to shut down the mental chatter that leads to nowhere.
Then sunset came. With the mix of the ocean near my home, the clouds moving in from the west and the low angle of the winter sun, the show was setting up to be spectacular. So off I went, troubles unsolved and not feeling particularly excited about life. Ah, the modern world! But then it happened.
The sun began to set, the sky shifted and a band of pink mixed with orange became framed perfectly by the deepest of ocean blues below and a shimmering silver in the clouds above. Earth and sky seemed to be talking, and I was in the middle taking it all in. I was able to stop thinking, and there it was…a sense of simple pure joy that comes from witnessing amazing moments in time like this one.
The troubles of life drifted away in that slow shifting show of nature. No problems, no needs, only expanse and a sense that everything was just right. How many times does that happen in front of my computer or when I am on the phone? Rarely. When does it happen when I watch at a sunset? Always! Simple yet powerful. As Brant says, “Don’t be tricked by the simplicity of shamanism. It can transform your life forever”. And indeed it has transformed mine!
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