2018: February 23-25 (Co-Ed Retreat)
Keely Owens and Teresita Fawcett
The Lodge at Sleepy Creek
Berkeley Springs, WV
Weekend Workshop: 6pm Fri - 12pm Sun
Inner Exploration and Wild Caving
$300 ($250 if enrolled by earlybird date 1/19/18)
Journey underground with us this summer.
Keely Owens and Teresita Fawcett are excited to bring back Tracking the Seed in 2018. Workshops are open to adults at any stage of personal growth. Tracking the Seed is a unique opportunity to nurture the transformation that lies latent inside you.
Combing techniques of personal process work, ecopsychology, and outdoor rites of passage, Tracking the Seed invites you first down through the depths of your inner landscape, and then on a true voyage underground: through the darkness and mystery of one of West Virginia’s wild caves. With the support of contemplation, group work, and skilled facilitation, you will focus on the need you have to change. Change is one of the constant facts of life: every one of us has to go through many changes over the course of our life span. But successfully navigating change is extremely difficult in a society where change is neither supported nor recognized. Meaningful rites of passage are all but gone from modern society, and we are all expected to smile and stay fulfilled in roles that have long since grown stale. Tracking the Seed is an opportunity to go deeper than that.
Tracking the Seed is designed as an "open-content" rite of passage, which means that the workshop provides the structure, tools, and supportive environment for change, but you fill in the details: your own unique culture, belief system, and life story, as well as the specific changes you are hungry for. Tracking the Seed does not promote or enforce any specific culture or belief system. We offer you a gateway into your personal depths, some tools to explore it, and a way to get back home - but it is you who will decide where you will go when down there, and what you want to take back with you.
the way to maintain your connection to the wild . . .
is to ask yourself what it is that you want
"It is often said that in today's modern and postmodern world, the forces of darkness are upon us. But I think not; in the Dark and the Deep there are truths that can always heal. It is not the forces of darkness but of shallowness that everywhere threaten the true, and the good, and the beautiful, and that ironically announce themselves as deep and profound. It is an exuberant and fearless shallowness that everywhere is the modern danger, the modern threat, and that everywhere nonetheless calls to us as savior.
We might have lost the Light and the Height, but more frightening, we have lost the Mystery and the Deep, the Emptiness and the Abyss, and lost it in a world dedicated to surfaces and shadows, exteriors and shells, whose prophets lovingly exhort us to dive into the shallow end of the pool head first."
- Ken Wilbur
This workshop is open to all adults at any stage of personal growth, and at any level of experience with both inner work and exploring wild caves. Please read the detailed description offered below, and feel free to contact me for further information. Space on this workshop is limited, so sign up now!
The workshop costs $300, plus an additional $10 if you want the Lodge to provide you with linens.
If you sign up before April 20, you can receive a $50 discount, bringing the price of the workshop down to $250.
To hold your place, you need to put down a $50 non-refundable deposit. The balance is due at the start of the workshop.
Payment for the retreat can be made through this website by clicking the secure link below, or checks can be mailed/made out to:
Keely Owens/901 Robin Road/Silver Spring, MD, 20901
If using the online button, please use the drop-down menu and carefully select the correct option. This button can be used for paying the initial deposit, the entire fee, or the discounted fee, or for renting linens.
Please select the appropriate payment option using the Paypal button below:
The workshop will be held at The Lodge at Sleepy Creek, which is a beautiful community lodge facility just outside of Berkeley Springs, WV. The Lodge has plumbing and electricity, a full kitchen, and two bathrooms with nice hot showers. The upper floor has dormitory-style sleeping quarters: you will get a nice bed on this retreat, but you will not have a private room. You are welcome to bring your own linens, or The Lodge will provide you with linens for an extra $10 laundry fee. The Lodge has a nice fireplace and beautiful main quarters, and is surrounded by peaceful mountain countryside.
You are expected to eat dinner on Friday before checking into the workshop at 6:00pm. We will provide some snacks and basic beverage options throughout the workshop, as well as an assortment of breakfast foods to take care of breakfast on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. Saturday lunch will be picnic-style, as we have a very busy day; we ask all of our participants to pack themselves a simple lunch to eat on Saturday, as well as snacks to hold you up while on the go. For Saturday dinner, we will be having a potluck. Please bring a dish to share on Saturday night, one that is hearty and nourishing and requires only re-heating to be ready to be enjoyed. We will do our best to be mindful of dietary restrictions (we will ask you to inform us if you have these, and they will be circulated the week prior to the retreat), and please also be prepared to take care of yourself.
Keely Owens has an MA in Ecopsychology from Naropa University, and has five years' experience creating and facilitating outdoor workshops. Suburban Grotto is her Washington, DC - based ecopsychology project. An avid caver, Keely is the former chair of the DC Grotto of the National Speleological Society, and has been leading cave trips at all levels for over ten years. Keely is wilderness first aid and CPR certified.
Teresita Fawcett is a cultural anthropologist, certified Grief Recovery Specialist, and highly experienced facilitator. Teresita is a certified instructor/facilitator for organizations including Woman Within International, Vets Journey Home, and Gold Star Family Grief Workshops, and she has been creating, co-creating, and facilitating original workshops for personal transformation and grief recovery for fourteen years.
Jon Thomas is a licensed professional counselor who specializes in helping high school students with ADHD prepare for college. He owns The Lodge at Sleepy Creek, and has hosted and facilitated many workshops there. Jon is active in The ManKind Project, as well as many other organizations devoted to personal growth.
Inner Process Work.
The best attitude with which to approach inner process work is with an open mind and a deep commitment to your genuine self. You, and you alone, hold the key to all of the transformations that you need to make in this lifetime. You, and you alone, hold the blueprint of your own soul. Inner process work is not therapy. It is also not an attempt to fix you, tell you what to do, or make you into something you are not. Inner process work is the opportunity to journey inside yourself in search of answers that may be hidden during the day-to day hustle and bustle, with the support of an open-minded group and a guide to help you focus.
You are invited to enter a real, wild cave with us on Saturday afternoon. We will provide you with any gear you do not own and the instruction necessary to navigate the cave safely, and you will be with cavers who are well-acquainted with the layout of the cave and the nuances of the underground environment. Our group will spend 1-3 hours underground, depending on our needs and abilities. Please read the description and disclaimer about this cave trip below, and also check out some caving myths and facts at the bottom of this page.
The Cave. The cave, located about 15 minutes from The Lodge, is small, but it includes a wide variety of passages, ranging from large, decorated chambers to clay crawlways and rocky nooks. Your experience underground can be tailored to your physical and psychological comfort level, within reason. Psychologically, you should be prepared to encounter darkness, the fact that you are underground, and a new and potentially disorienting sensory environment. Physically, at minimum you need to be able to stand up and sit down unaided, traverse slippery, non-level terrain, and to tolerate being in a wild environment (no couches or chairs, constant cool and wet atmosphere) for 1-3 hours. Entering the cave simply requires sitting on your butt and sliding forward; if you are called to come underground and want to stop there, that is perfectly acceptable. AND, you should be aware that the majority of the group will be going on the full loop through the cave, which includes scrambling over uneven surfaces, getting muddy, minor climbing (with no significant heights), and two tight connection areas (they aren't exactly crawls, but do require squeezing between rocks and some awkward maneuvering). You will have a great deal of help and camaraderie in navigating the more challenging areas of the cave if you choose to do so, and you will always have the option not to attempt an obstacle if you do not feel safe. There is plenty of opportunity for physical challenge when underground, but the primary goal of this excursion is to connect you with the earth, not to push your physical limits. Please consider both the physical and the symbolic reality of the cave when deciding whether to sign up for this workshop, and feel free to contact Keely with any questions.
Important Disclaimer About the Cave Trip:
THIS IS NOT A CAVE-FOR-PAY OR CAVE GUIDING ORGANIZATION, AND YOU ARE NOT PAYING FOR A GUIDED RECREATIONAL CAVE TOUR. IF YOU'RE JUST INTERESTED IN EXPLORING CAVES, YOU CAN DO THAT FOR FREE.
Tracking the Seed is a carefully choreographed, weekend-long retreat designed to help adults pursue personal growth: this is what you are paying for. We offer you the chance to go underground on Saturday afternoon in order to deepen and enrich your personal transformation, and we have the knowledge and resources to educate, equip, and accompany you through the cave so that you may navigate the underground environment as safely and responsibly as possible. Ultimately, however, you enter the cave at your own risk, agreeing to hold neither us nor the landowners liable for your conduct while underground.
This is an important disclaimer that we need to make for both spiritual and liability purposes, and it is important that you understand its meaning.
In the responsible caving community, cave-for-pay organizations have a bad name. Caves are some of the few remaining truly wild places left on earth. Charging money to enter a cave goes against the unspoken attitude that most cavers share: nobody really owns these sacred places. People who want to visit caves should be free to do so. On the flip side, people who want to enter caves should do so at their own risk, and should do so responsibly and respectfully. In this litigious society, paying for a cave trip opens the door for a whole rack of law suits. People who own cave entrances are in the difficult position of being held responsible for the little chunk of wilderness whose entrance just happens to sit on their property. So cavers have formed an intricate community designed to protect the entrances of caves from those who might abuse them, and also to offer opportunities to explore caves, completely free of charge, to those who hear that call to adventure. So if you are simply interested in caving for recreation or exploration, please check out your local chapter of the National Speleological Society, and get yourself hooked up with a rec trip for free.
Caving: Myths and Facts.
Caves are places of great beauty and mystery, and they also hold some degree of physical and psychological challenge. Yet by far the most physically dangerous thing you will do if you sign up for this workshop is getting in the car to drive to Berkeley Springs. Perhaps due to the role they play in the collective unconscious, caves are the subject of many misconceptions. This workshop offers the opportunity to combine inner work with a foray into the underground world: both experiences are innately transformative. It is important to go into the caving experience with an accurate sense of the challenges involved.
To Cave Safely, You Must Be Aware Of:
1) Proper gear. We will carefully work with you prior to the workshop to ensure you come underground properly equipped.
2) Temperature. Caves are the same temperature year-round: in February, the 55-degree cave environment will feel comfortingly warm. But caves are also close to 100% humidity, which can chill a person quickly when sitting still. We will ensure that you enter the cave dressed appropriately, and pay careful attention to body temperature while underground.
3) Getting lost. Caves are environments of absolute darkness, and the underground landscape can be disorienting. We will keep track of each other while underground, and carefully instruct you on what to do if you get disoriented.
4) Footing. The ground is uneven and slippery in many places. We will teach you how to move mindfully through the cave, keeping multiple points of contact to manage your balance.
You Do Not Need to Be Afraid Of:
1) Animals. We probably won't see any. If we do, they are not likely to bother you.
2) Getting stuck. This cave, while small, contains several huge rooms and large tunnels, as well as tighter areas. You will not be forced to go anywhere you do not feel comfortable.
3) Needing to be in extremely good physical shape. Prior to the weekend, we are going to ask you a lot of questions about any physical limitations that you might have. It is critical that you answer these questions thoroughly and accurately, so that we can best provide for your safety both aboveground and below. That said, you do not need to be a marathon runner to successfully navigate the cave, and you do not need to explore every part of the cave in order to have a meaningful experience underground. While the cave challenges you to move in different ways than you are accustomed, even the most difficult route through does not require physical skills beyond that of an intermediate short hike and a yoga class.