Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.
— Oscar Wilde

grief is a wound… and when properly tended it is also a guide.

Grief is a guide that can reintroduce us to soul—our authentic self, the truth at the core of our being—and reconnect us to the larger living systems of which we are a part. A descent into soul is a rediscovering of soul in the world; one naturally leads into the other, making the work of grief a sacred practice. Grief is not meant to be ignored or suppressed; rather it is meant to be tended, like one tends to a seedling in the garden or a fire on a cold night. Through the practice of tending our grief, we fall into a process of remembering who we truly are; a web of relationships, circles within circles.

program structure

The purpose of this course is to reconnect with the ancient art and practice of grief. To take it out of the shadows of individual experience, often tainted by shame and repression, and to reclaim it in the space of community where its gifts can be honored and held with care, beauty, reverence, and respect. This course will explore grief through the “Five Gates of Grief” that Francis Weller (2015) lays out in his book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow.

To open our heart to the sad history of humanity and the devastated state of the Earth is the next step in our reclamation of our bodies, the body of our human community, and the body of the Earth.
— Chellis Glendinning

Gate 1 – Everything We Love We Loose: this is the only gate we recognize on a cultural level, and yet, we seldom give it the space it deserves.

Gate 2 – The Places That Have Not Known Love: this gate refers to the aspects of self we deny in order to fit into family, peer groups, and the broader cultural systems.

Gate 3 – The Sorrow of the World: tending our Earth grief. As Francis Weller puts it, “We are born expecting a rich and sensuous relationship with the earth and communal rituals of celebration, grief, and healing that kept us in connection with the sacred.”

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Gate 4 – What We Expected and Did Not Receive: For Weller, this gate has to do with “the expectations coded into our physical and psychic lives” due to our ancestors evolving for at least 20,000 years in relational environments and societies. The contrast of our contemporary life creates a type of deep grief that, Weller believes, we seldom have the language for or space to acknowledge.

Gate 5 – Ancestral Grief: The grief we carry in our bodies from the trials and tribulations of our lineages.


schEdule + Costs

This is a 6-week, site-specific course in Manhattan, NY. Get on our mailing list if you’re interested in the online version coming soon. We will meet on Sundays from 3-5 pm once a week from January 20th through March 3rd. Each week is dedicated to exploring a different gate through dialogue, movement, art, poetry, and ceremony. The power of this program lies in the fact that it is a collective exploration. The wisdom of the group will be the primary teacher.

The final week will be marked by a three-day closing retreat in Upstate New York from Thursday night February 28 to Sunday, March 3rd at 3 pm. Day one will be a day of wonderings and dialogue. Day two will be 24 hours of fasting (for those who wish), silent contemplation, and ceremony. And day three will be focused on reincorporation (how do we take the insights gained from this experience and apply them back into our daily lives). Transportation to and from the city will be available for the retreat weekend. It will be possible to call into a Sunday sessions in the case of travel or unforeseen circumstances.

The program costs $1500. To apply or for more information, contact us at: Innerwild.org@gmail.com