Life Initiation & Rites of Passage: 4 part Training February – December 2016

buffalo-webWe in the Circle of Life Rediscovery team welcome opportunities to learn, and be challenged to think outside of the box.  We are working alongside experts in their fields that bring a depth of knowledge and perspective that offer hope and practical solutions.

Salvatore Gencarelle, weaves together the teachings of the 8 Shields, founded by Jon Young alongside a life-time of mentoring within the Woptura Lineage from his father in law, a recognised Lakota Spiritual Interpreter and healer, based in South Dakota.  He is part of a living story of hope, that began long before he was born.  For 27 years he experienced an immersion into ancient connection practices and witnessed impossible healings.  This depth of experience and knowledge now takes him around the world as a Helper motivated by the commitment to a future that looks after all the living world, seen and unseen.

It is exceptionally rare, in my experience to find someone who has given over his life to these teachings and who is doing his best to make it possible to have a healthy future.  Our work in this organisation is to support people of all ages and backgrounds to build a mature relationship with nature.  Sal provides a glimpse into an ancient understanding of this relationship, that makes sense and is part of what is needed to be truly sustainable and regenerative.

He has the ability to guide us to a new framework of understanding, providing the necessary healing journey to access a more complete way of being.  In the talk below, he offers an short glimpse into his personal journey, how this links to key people, who are more familiar to us in the Nature movement and ways in which ceremony, deep nature connection can provide life changing experiences.  His understanding of how human law is intertwined with natural law and held within sacred law provides a profound rediscovery of our place in the circle of life!

Over the next 12 months Sal’s Life Initiation & Rites of passage Training will take us on a  journey together. On this journey we will explore the foundations of connection and relationship. From there we will walk the path that has developed into processes which re-vitalize connection, which I call the Advance Connection Practices. We will examine the trans-cultural aspects of Rites of Passage, various cultural expressions of these practices, and immerse in Rites of Passage from specific lineages. One of the main lineages we will focus on is that of Woptura of the Lakota Nation. Through this journey you will develop new and potent connections to all of creation and how to use these techniques to lead other to a more holistic state of being.

The gatherings will provide attendees an opportunity to participate in various Rites of Passage, including Purification Rites, Rites of Competency, Rites of Initiation into Womanhood/Manhood, Grief Healing Rites, Elder Initiations, Rites of Death.

We welcome people of all backgrounds and professions and believe this work is applicable to a diverse range of people. (Leaders of organisations, Group facilitators/Teachers, Nature/Youth Facilitators, Parents, Cultural creatives). Enrolled members of Native American Tribes may attend at a minimum rate (that covers food/particular items).

Summary of Life Initiation and Rites of Passage Training Outline Year One: 

  • 4 gatherings over one year – Feb, May, Sept, Dec (each gathering for 4 days each)
  • 8 pre-recorded talks on Life Stages and rituals which honor each stage
  • Exclusive text and media
  • Introduction to the Advanced Connection Practices – rituals of Life Initiations and Rites of Passage including an oppportunity to Vision Quest and Inipi (Sweat Lodge).
  • Gender specific course material and teachings
  • Support to implement concepts into personal and community life


  • Immersion into practices which honor life stage and enhance personal and community development
  • Deeper understanding of the Map of Life, and how to read this map
  • Understanding the Universal, Natural, and Human Principals of Connection
  • Simple and effective ways to incorporate concepts and honoring rituals in everyday life
  • Opportunity to become a caretaker of Connection Rites (limited responsibility)
  • Introduction of Advanced Connection Practices
  • Enhancement of Nature Connection Core routines
  • Application of Life Stage Honoring in the context of community (case by case basis)
  • Development towards a facilitator of re-connection and connection optimization
  • Placement on the path of the Visionary Trailblazer

We will be offering a ‘kids nature-programme’ alongside the Spring (Part 1) and Summer (Part 2) trainings during the weekends and have a small group mentoring programme on the week day part for a small group. Please contact for further details.

Complimentary Downloads:

Listen to full audio track of Salvatore Gencarelle talking  about the Woptura Lineage under which he was mentored including reference to Gilbert Walking Bull.   This talk refers to the qualities of leadership, connected relationship, seven sacred attributes and songs. 

Listen to Sal on an mp3 recording talking about Rites of Passage

A snippet of Sal talking about the training on the last Transformative Learning Course

“This work is like fuel for the soul and has given me more strength and resilience at work, more peace in my life as a whole and a deep respect for these ancient teachings and the Lakota lineage they have been passed down through” (Life Within Participant 2014)


Historically cultures around the world had ways of honoring life stages – ways of helping infants grow into well grounded, completely connected individuals. It was through the honoring of life stages, sometimes called Rites of Passage that people grew into adults and eventually elders which were able to fully access their unique gift and share it with the community for the good of all.

These cultures had a deep understanding of the life stages each human being goes through as well as how a culture can meet the challenges and possibilities that come with these life stages. They also knew how to facilitate the transitions between the stages. This knowledge and understanding was necessary in order to prevent people from stagnating in their personal development and get stuck in loops of adolescent behavior, something we can often observe in modern societies. Instead individuals were enabled to unfold and blossom their own personalities and gifts to their fullness, with responsibility, aliveness and deep joy.

“I highly recommend this and any future classes with Sal as the experience that he has is direct from almost two decades of mentoring which creates such a wealth and depth of understanding which I feel is very much needed at this time.” (Heart and Song Training Participant 2015)

Do you wish for yourself and others:

  • To understand the stages of life and thus will be able to live them to their fullness?
  • To understand life transitions and the challenges that come with them, for boys/men as well as for girls/women?
  • To undergo Rites of Passage that you have missed in growing up, so that you can access your full power as an adult?
  • To learn to facilitate transitions for others
  • To learn about the traditions of Life Stage Honoring as applied by Native American peoples
  • To experience ancient, very alive and very powerful rituals and see where they will take you and how you can integrate their power into your own life and work?
  • To find an access to your own cultural roots?
  • To strengthen your intuition and ability to receive vision of what is coming and what is needed?
  • To get to know and unfold your personal gifts and qualities?
  • To immerse yourself in an intensive process of learning and discovery that will help you to grow beyond limiting ideas of yourself?
  • To experience mentoring, learn about it and eventually give it on to others?
  • To support social change?
  • To support a healthy and happy future for the unborn generations and all of creation?
  • To experience vibrant, healthy community with other participants, full of mutual inspiration and support

If you can answer one or several of these questions with “Yes”, then this training might be a great programme for you!  This training will continue beyond Year one for people that are willing to commit further. Each Year focuses on different skill sets and connection techniques and is built on the previous year’s experience.

Download Booking Form Here

Marina Robb (Author, Founder, Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC)

An alternative to the western paradigm? By Marina Robb

An indigenous worldview,  without the western sophistication of physics, offers many in roads into the inner dimension.  If we wish to achieve sustainable living world wide, we need to listen also to what other cultures are saying and to become aware of how deeply entrenched we are within our own world views, not only across cultures but within cultures also. There are stories we tell ourselves that perpetuate the separateness that is fundamental to socio-ecological crisis.  One difference between ‘shamanism’ and ‘science’, is that a shaman never says what you experience is fantasy.  It is through myth and fantasy that we create the stories that shape our world and inspire wonder.

Bowers (1993) shows us that:

‘(For native peoples) Learning how to live in a habitat … involves learning form elders (survivors), generations no longer present, plants, animals, soils, weather patterns, and all other elements of the habitat.  Knowledge, context, continuity, and practice seem to be intertwined and holistic … Unlike the emancipatory orientation of critical reflection, which incorporates Western assumptions about knowing being based on an individual perspective and a distancing/objectifying relationship … (in traditional forms of knowledge) the person is not viewed as the primary repository of knowledge.’

Knowledge, within a traditional society, is a living thing that has existence independent of human beings.  A person comes to knowing by entering into a relationship with the living spirit of that knowledge.  Coming- to -knowing means entering into relationship with the spirits of knowledge, with plants and animals, with beings that animate dreams and visions, and with the spirit of the people (Peat 1994). Polyani (in Peat 1994) writes about ‘tacit knowledge’ – a knowing that he says it not passed on through books or verbal instruction but is learned through direct experience through the whole of one’s being.  An example of such knowledge is riding a bicycle.  No one can tell you how to ride, yet one day you find you can.

‘Indigenous knowing is a vision of the world that encompasses both the heart and the head, the soul and the spirit.  It could no more deal with matter in isolation than the theory of relativity could fragment space and time.  It is a vision in which rock and tree, bird and fish, human being and caribou are all alive and partakers of the gifts of Mother Earth.  Indigenous science does not seek to found its knowledge, as we do, at the level of some most ultimate elementary particle or theory, rather it is a science of harmony and compassion, of dream and vision, of Earth and cosmos, of hunting and growing, of technology and spirit, of song and dance, of colour and number, of cycle and balance, of death and renewal’ (Peat 1994).

Unfortunately, as westerners, to experience the world like an indigenous person, we are like a visitor in a foreign country who clings to their maps and guidebooks and only walks along the most travelled paths.  Yet so many people recognise this way of perceiving reality, almost as if we are not so far from this perception after all.  We are living in a time where knowledge is ‘naturalised’ and the values which have produced this knowledge are hidden from view by a scientific rationality, they are naturalised.  As Connor (1993) explains, they have not disappeared but have been driven into critical unconsciousness continuing to exercise power and force, without being available for scrutiny.  We must overcome this ‘naturalisation tendency’,that makes us lazy to open to different ways of perceiving and keeps us stuck in an objective only reality where magic is just clever tricks.  Seager (1993) points out that, ‘prior to the European scientific revolution, nature and culture was conceptualised as a living nurturing organism.  Work, culture, nature and daily life were interwoven in a seamless web and a nurturing female – identified earth was considered to be the root of all life.’

Pretchel (1999), having lived for more than 20 years within a Guatemalan village, gives us, as westerners, an exclusive insight into the Mayan way:

‘Mayan tradition is not concerned with progressing to a glorious future.  The gods had already achieved that, and we were living it!  We were concerned with maintaining a glorious present dedicated with feeding what gave us this life in a remembering way.  Because the culture was old, this remembering way was archaic by nature … The word for old in Tzutujil also means “great,” or “strong like a tree.”  Oldness, archaicness, meant that a long time ago a new thing had lasted and was now proven to be good because it was old … With no verb “to be”, permanence becomes a comic hypothesis for most Mayans, who don’t believe anything will last on its own.  That’s why everything in their lives is oriented toward maintenance instead of creation … Since Mayans belong to things, they don’t really make them; they maintain life, take care of things … Mayans don’t force the world to be what they want it to be: they are friends with it, they belong to life.’

Finally, Harner  (1990) conveys that:

The best of both (world views) are in awe of the complexity and magnificence of the universe and of Nature, and realise that during their own lifetimes they will only come to observe and understand a small portion of what is going on.  Both shamans and scientists personally pursue research into the mysteries of the universe, and both believe that the underlying causal processes of that universe are hidden from ordinary view.  And neither master shamans nor master scientists allow the dogma of ecclesiastical and political authorities to interfere with their explorations.  It was no accident that Galileo was accused of witchcraft.’


Every Child Wild Series Blog – Marina Robb

This Blog has been written as part of the Every Child Wild series.

What do you think would be the most important, and effective, change that could be made to ensure that future generations grow up to love wildlife?

There is this notion of the trillion dollar industries – which include education, technology etc. I believe that the only way people will truly love wildlife, and plants, is to spend time with them outdoors – to foster a relationship to the non-human world that engenders a deep understanding and feeling of connection. For young ones, playing outdoors, following their curiosity is all that is needed. All schools would benefit from an outdoor-based curriculum.  As we grow and become more ‘static’, a combination of skilled facilitators and immersion in nature, can support a love of the natural world.

That’s not all however. I believe it is necessary for humans to move towards a new framework of ‘reality’. Fundamentally we in the modern world relentlessly experience the world through a very human-centric lens, and within that, we project our inner world onto life ‘out there’.

In my view we impose our reality onto existence, believing we have grasped truth – when we have only grasped what we think we know. This means one effective change would be to revisit and challenge our beliefs. To understand despite our successes, how little we really know. We actually grasp a slither of what is ‘real’, within the cosmos.

How does this relate to loving wildlife?

Generally humans impose their so called understanding onto animals and plants, we objectify and label them within this reality and repeatedly put ourselves above other living beings. More currently our newer, western systems dominate other cultures and earth-centric understanding, an understanding which would never question loving wildlife – for a multitude of reasons. Indeed a most profound quality that could change the world would be to become as a race much more humble.

From this position, there is hope. There is the possibility of feeling that connection again. To appropriately use our minds, and act in accordance to what feels ‘right’. What do you feel about the unprecedented destruction of wildlife? Harness your feelings to act – we protect what we love. We can continue to develop our capacity of empathy and extend this beyond our immediate family (which most of us intrinsically love) to the world beyond. The capacity for love, is born out of feeling loved. Love is not limited to wildlife or our children – for in this world there are many families with children too, across our species. Really our challenge is to figure out why we don’t love more, perhaps what trauma or wound we carry that is preventing us from loving one another. It is not an easy task, but it is possible look within and see how the world out there can reflect the world within, and in doing so, providing the capacity for great change.

In our world, we can’t have a future that takes care of just humans. That would be a basic misunderstanding of how life works. It is all our responsibility to do what we can do – and there is an endless amount to do! We can be truly helpful, by being a little more generous – and that generosity will go a long way to helping the future generations.

Marina is the Founder and Managing Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC, a leading

Marina Robboutdoor learning organisation. Marina has been the recipient of funding from Natural England, Mind and The National Lottery, amongst other grant makers for her outdoor work with teenagers, families and young people with mental health issues. Marina provides residential camps in Sussex woodlands, Forest School and nature-based training for adults, outdoor learning days and youth training programmes. A qualified teacher (PGCE), Marina is a leading Forest School trainer and practitioner (UK and International) and shares her knowledge and experience through training teachers and individuals who want to work outside the classroom.