Join shaman Brant Secunda on the cliffsides of Big Sur to honor the summer season and explore the practices of Huichol Shamanism.
Are you looking to bring greater emotional and spiritual balance into your life? Have you been seeking a deeper connection to nature? This retreat is an opportunity to bring that harmony and connection into reality. Learn ancient tools of personal and planetary transformation and uplift your soul through sacred ritual, ceremony, and celebration.
Experience & Learn
Connect with the 4 Directions
Purge yourself of negativity and learn to absorb positive energy from the powers of the cardinal directions.
Utilize the power of your own voice to open the heart and connect with everyone in the sacred circle.
The Art of Pilgrimage
Approach places of power in nature to honor the land and receive blessings for yourself and others.
Empower your Dreams
Connect with the light of Grandfather Fire each morning to enhance your dreams and sleep.
Create prayer arrows (uru) and other sacred artwork as a way to manifest your positive affirmations.
Details + Logistics
Check-in and Opening Session
Check-in time will be from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm. The retreat will begin with dinner on Friday evening at 6:00 pm, followed by an opening session and ceremony.
Friday, June 26
3:00 pm – 6:00 pm………Check-In
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm……….Dinner
8:30 pm – 10:00 pm …….Opening Session
Saturday, June 27
8:30 am – 9:45 am……………Breakfast
10:00 am – 12:00 pm………..Morning Session
12:30 pm – 1:45 pm…………..Lunch
2:30 pm – 5:30 pm……………Afternoon Session
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm……………Dinner
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm………….Dance of the Deer Ceremony
Sunday, June 28
8:30 am – 9:45 am……………Breakfast
10:00 am – 12:00 pm………..Final Session
Meals & Accommodations
The all-inclusive packages include lodging and three daily meals, expertly prepared with nutritious ingredients. Private and shared accommodations are available.
The Esalen® kitchen serves delicious, healthy meals for workshop participants and teachers as well as residential community. The kitchen team, with the assistance of residential scholars, crafts each meal with mindfulness and care featuring produce and herbs from the Esalen® Farm & Garden.
Perched on 27 acres of Big Sur coastline where the mountains meet the sea, the Esalen® Institute’s magical beauty makes it feel a little like the Garden of Eden. Esalen® hosts 20,000 visitors a year who come for a weekend or a week or a month or longer to learn, to grow, to explore, to heal, or to carve the near edge of the future, the cutting edge of humanity.
Esalen® is neither a school, nor a church, nor a spa, nor an inn, nor a monastery . . . and yet its utterly unique mixture contains a bit of all of the above.
Location of the Retreat
The Esalen® Institute is located along a scenic and relatively remote stretch of California’s central coast, approximately 12 miles south of Big Sur.
The closest airports are in Monterey and in the San Francisco Bay Area:
Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) – 47 miles, approximately 75 minutes
San Jose International Airport (SJC) – 120 miles, approximately 2.5 hours
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) – 150 miles, approximately 3 hours
Passenger van service to Esalen® is available from Monterey, with connecting service from San Francisco and San Jose airports available separately through Monterey Airbus.
For assistance with air travel, please contact Peter Silberschatz at Travel Works – toll-free (800) 874-7207 or international (415) 897-4535
From San Francisco or Points North
Take US-101 S.
At Prunedale, take Route 156 west to the Monterey Peninsula and Highway 1.
Take CA-1 S approximately 45 miles, passing Monterey, Carmel, and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
Nepenthe, a popular restaurant located on the ocean side of Highway 1, is 11 miles north of Esalen®.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is three miles north of Esalen®.
Look for the Esalen® Institute sign on the right side of the highway, at mile marker 32.4.
From Los Angeles or Points South
Take Route 101 north to San Luis Obispo, then take Highway 1 north to Esalen®.
We are approximately 100 miles north of San Luis Obispo on Highway 1.
When you reach Lucia, a bend in the road where there is a restaurant and motel, you are 10 miles south of Esalen®.
Look for the Esalen® Institute sign on the left side of the highway, at mile marker 32.4.
Shamanism is a way of honoring nature. Practiced in various forms around the world by different indigenous tribes, the methods of shamanism are diverse; however, they are unified in their inherent basis in the natural world.
This program focuses on the teachings and practices specific to the Huichol people of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Considered to be one of the last tribes in North America to have maintained their pre-Columbian traditions, the Huichol continue to practice their ancient spiritual traditions to this very day.
Brant Secunda will lead this program and with his direct and humorous teaching style, transmitting the simple, yet profound teachings of shamanism.
Since completing an arduous 12-year apprenticeship with Don José Matsuwa, the renowned Huichol shaman, Brant has traveled the globe, sharing the ancient wisdom of the Huichol culture. His teachings and healings have helped thousands of people over the past 40 years.
Shamanism is an ancient healing tradition and moreover, a way of life. It is a way to connect with nature and all of creation. The word shaman originates from the Tungus tribe in Siberia. Anthropologists coined this term and have used it to refer to the spiritual and ceremonial leaders among indigenous cultures worldwide. The word shamanism can be used to describe the ancient spiritual practices of these indigenous cultures. Clearly the countless similarities between various ancient traditions played a role in the continual generalization of the word.
Over the past few decades the term “shamanism” has been popularized throughout the western world, especially in new-age circles. Today, it can be difficult to distinguish between traditional forms of shamanism and modernized, often esoteric practices that utilize the term.
One could view shamanism as the universal spiritual wisdom inherent to all indigenous tribes. As all ancient spiritual practices are rooted in nature, shamanism is the method by which we as human beings can strengthen that natural connection.
Who is Brant Secunda?
Brant Secunda is a shaman, healer and traditional ceremonial leader who completed a 12-year apprenticeship with Don José Matsuwa, the renowned Huichol shaman who passed away in 1990 at the age of 110.
For over 30 years, Brant has been leading conferences, workshops and retreats around the globe. He is a co-founder of the American Herbalist Guild, the Peace University, and the Huichol Foundation. He is also the co-author of the award-winning book Fit Soul Fit Body, 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You.
How did Brant Secunda become a shaman?
When he was 18 years old, Brant Secunda traveled from his native New York to the remote Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico to find the Huichol people. He was adopted by the revered Huichol shaman Don José Matsuwa and underwent a rigorous 12-year apprenticeship with him. Brant was initiated into the Huichol Indian tribe through a five day vision quest, a period of isolation in the wilderness without food and water, in a sacred cave in the Huichol Sierras known to the Huichols as the Cave of Grandmother Growth.
Other rites of passage included capturing and releasing a wild rattle snake with his bare hands to face his fear of death, enduring a fourteen month fruit fast to enhance his sensitivity to the natural world, and surviving a nine day vision quest so that he may, according to Huichol cosmology, learn the language of the gods. The nine-day vision quest, considered lengthy by Huichol standards, along with several other five-day vision quests, helped to establish him as a respected initiate within the Huichol nation.
Who are the Huichol people?
The Huichol Indians are a small tribe of approximately 35,000 living in central western Mexico near Ixtlan in the Sierra Madre Mountains. They are said to be the last tribe in North America to have maintained their pre-Columbian traditions. Their shamans and healers practice today as they have for generations. In part, their survival is due to the focus of their traditions, as well as their remote mountainous territory. The Huichol way of life continues today much as it has for thousands of years. Still without electricity or running water, the Huichol people rely on their relationship with nature to sustain their communities.
Huichol is a term given by the Spanish. In their own language, they refer to themselves as VIRARICA, which translates as “The Healing People.” The Huichol were once considered a Nation of Shamans. Today, there are still many shamans who continue to perform ceremonies and heal the people.
What is shamanic healing and how does it work?
Ancient shamanic healing techniques have been passed down for thousands of years. Today, shamans continue to heal through shamanic methods and practices that work with an individuals spiritual and physical energy; realigning a patient’s energy.
What does Dance of the Deer Foundation do?
The Dance of the Deer Foundation is dedicated to the continued survival of the ancient indigenous way of the Huichol. Brant Secunda and Don José Matsuwa founded our organization with this vision and today, we continue to support the Huichol people and their culture.
Don José emphasized to Brant that the cultural survival of the Huichol people depended upon external awareness of the Huichol way of life. In 1979, Brant Secunda established the Dance of the Deer Foundation Center for Shamanic Studies to disseminate and preserve Huichol culture, practices, and traditions, and to provide direct assistance with the goal of promoting self-sufficiency and economic independence.
As executive director of the Dance of the Deer Foundation, Brant Secunda instituted and maintains the functions of the foundation and conducts seminars, pilgrimages, and retreats on Huichol shamanism worldwide.
What is the Huichol Foundation?
The Huichol Foundation was started in order to expand the long-standing project for the Huichol Indians and to garner greater international support for their culture.
What is the book Fit Soul, Fit Body about?
Together with 6-time Hawaii Ironman World Champion Mark Allen, Brant founded Fit Soul Fit Body to help bring together the worlds of fitness and spirituality.
What is Shaman Chocolates?
Brant founded SHAMAN Organic Chocolates to help create direct support for the Huichol people. 100% of their profits go back to help Huichol villages.
How can I get involved?
Seminars, pilgrimages, and retreats on Huichol shamanism are offered worldwide through the Dance of the Deer Foundation. The website offers a wealth of information including the Shamanism Journal, with new articles uploaded monthly. You may also sign up for the monthly e-newsletter.