Nature of Council


Wednesday, June 22, 2016 to Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Wed, 06/22/2016 - 11:00am to Wed, 06/29/2016 - 4:00pm

Guided by Marlow Hotchkiss with Laura Whitney and Judy Piazza


This course is intended for leaders and change-agents, caregivers and caretakers, and anyone longing for and creating community. It will support and inform those working with young people and elders, as well as rites of passage guides, educators, therapists and social profit leaders. It will deepen your council practice regardless of your level of training and offers particular enrichment for those carrying Council into other cultures or into challenging communities. The questions you're exploring and the experiences you bring with you will shape our time together, as will the shadows following you here.

Council is an ancient way and modern practice whose roots are deep within the natural world, spanning diverse cultures and spiritual traditions. Here we remember and learn to listen to the whole: the people, the place and all living things. This practice elicits an experience of deep community, recognizing that each voice has value, every person has a gift, a story to share, a piece of the puzzle.

The eight-day arc of this training gives us time to explore the circles of our days and the seasons of our heart. We will use the universal map of the Four Directions as our compass to guide our way through the wilderness within and without. We will be asked to cross threshold after threshold into the wholeness of our lives. The questions you are living and the experiences you bring with you will shape our time together, as will the shadows following you here.  The Valley of the Moon (Ojai Valley) weather, wildlife, and flora will influence our movement in the journey.

There will be alone-time and group-time, plus entering into the wilderness to open to the teachings offered by the natural world. We will improvise exercises and weave self-generated ceremonies, inviting the mystery into our personal journey. We will explore the facilitation challenges of working solo, with a partner, and with the whole circle. With vulnerability and a little grace, we hope to meet the moment where serving self, serving others, and serving Creation, are spoken in one voice.

"There is a world behind the world we see that is the same world but more open, more transparent, without blocks. Like inside a big mind, the animals and humans all can talk, and those who pass through here get power to heal and to help. They learn how to behave, and how not to give offense. To touch this world no matter how briefly is a help in life."

~ Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild

Information packets, including logistics, directions, camping and accommodation information, plus safety and equipment lists, will be sent to registrants after they have completed their registration process.

You will be camping and bringing / preparing your own food onsite.  We begin when everyone is present, so plan to arrive in plenty of time for a 11:00 am prompt start.  (Arrival time is between 9 and 10:30 am)

Shared dome or yurt accommodations may be available for an additional fee.

Complete reading of The Way of Council by Virginia Coyle and Jack Zimmerman. (Available through Lost Borders Press or through TOF office.)
Completion of at least one Council Training and experience working with council as a practice …or the equivalent thereof.  If you have questions regarding this pre-requisite, please contact Marlow at
After registering and paying your deposit for NOC, please send a letter of intent to

Program Fees:  In an effort to keep this experience affordable to a wide range of people, and in the spirit of a gifting economy, we are providing a sliding scale fee 
between $780 and $1,250.

Deposit: $250
(Non-refundable & non-transferrable unless seminar is cancelled)

This includes camping fee onsite, and all program materials and sessions.
We set forth no criteria and trust that each individual will pay what they feel is appropriate and be as generous as possible.  

Please register by calling Diana at 805-646-8343 ext. 123, or by emailing her at contact@ojaifoundation.orgA 3% admin fee will be added for all credit card payments.

Senior Guide: Marlow Hotchkiss is a poet, Council Trainer, eco-builder, avid naturalist and wilderness guide. A Senior Guest Teacher with The Ojai Foundation and the School of Lost Borders, he offers council trainings and “village-building” seminars in the US and abroad.


Laura Whitney has been serving as President of The Ojai Foundation since 2008. She is also a certified council trainer, youth program facilitator, ceremonial guide, hospice volunteer, and documentary filmmaker. Laura also has a passion for the spirit and power of pilgrimage and is a team member of Walking Water, a pilgrimage for “restoring our relationship with water,” from the eastern Sierra Nevade mountains, along the Owens Valley, and on to Los Angeles. 

Judy Piazza has been a part of The Ojai Foundation family for almost ten years, where she is currently program director, program facilitator, ceremonialist, musician, Council facilitator, and Council trainer-on-the-path.  She has been recognized nationally and internationally in the field of music therapy and education for over 30 years, and has worked with youth and adults of all ages to nurture harmony, health, joy and vitality in clinical and non-clinical settings.  With a BA in music therapy, her journey into the healing arts deepened exponentially as she explored and experienced indigenous wisdom in the realm of community and healing through pilgrimage, travel, ceremony, and study.