Initiatic Process Mentoring

The Eschwege Institute teaches and practices modern process mentoring as the logical answer to a growing socio-political and ecological challenge. This consists in shaping the change and transition processes of individuals as well as teams, companies and organizations in an effective, powerful and sustainable way before they stagnate into permanent crises that are personally and economically harmful.

Transition processes like burn out, puberty, disengagement, midlife crisis as well as change processes in organizations, are developmental crises that take place at the fruitful threshold between the old no longer functioning state and the new state that is not yet ready to function.

The approach practiced, taught and well-known by the Eschwege Institute to deal with this, is the “Initiatische Prozessbegleitung®” which can be translated as “Initiatic Process Mentoring”. People who got trained in this approach call themselves “Change Process and Vision Quest Guides“.

Change Process Guides help by using innovative methods, rooted in eco- and perceptional- psychology, to gain awareness and to deepen the understanding of the issues involved in the transition. Methods like „contemplative threshold walks in nature“ do work with outer nature as a mirror, to find a deeper self-understanding of the unique inner nature of each of us.

Following the credo that the best answers are always already contained within the person, or the group that asks for them, these tools can help the treasures already in the person or situation to emerge.

Change Process Guides design and guide through individually tailored supporting programs, by tracing the natural arc of change processes. within this approach, this arc is illustrated and understood  by nature based models like the „Four Shields of human nature“ from Foster & Little, a psychological model of human health and growth, based on the cyclic process patterns in the natural world, or the „Monomyth“ from Joseph Campbell.

In a next step, these tools are used to successfully integrate the gained new insights.

Modern forms of rites of passage, such as Walkaways or Vision Quest, or individually tailored adaptations to them, can help to confirm, what has been achieved and thereby to clearly mark the step into a new era.
The approach of Change Process Guides is cross-cultural and accessible, independent from social, religious or cultural backgrounds. This work stands in the lineage and tradition of the School of Lost Borders in California.

Way of Council

Council is the basic communication practice and part of the stance within the Initiatic Process Mentoring® approach.

Council is an expression of an attitude that invites presence and mindfulness in the relationship with oneself, with others and with the environment. It offers teams and groups of all kinds a highly effective means of making their processes sustainable.

Council is a non-hierarchical, non-violent and appreciative form of communication that focuses on listening. It is a powerful tool for building sustainable community cultures and relationships. Participants sit in a circle around a center and use a speaking item to indicate who is speaking.

Council is a gateway to deeper communication, intercultural understanding and the non-violent exploration of conflict.

The Eschwege Institut and its training academie Campus Peregrini, offer several trainings in Initiatic Process Mentoring and the way of Council in German language, see here. English speaking versions of theses trainings are in the pipeline.

The Eschwege Institut is a forum for prominent experts in this work and the host of an interdisciplinary research group, which makes it a place for ongoing personal and professional training and growth in this field. Due to its retreat offer, the large gardens and the beautiful scenic location, it is also an oasis where you can remember the really important things in life.

The Eschwege Institut is an umbrella brand that unites three companies which, in the same spirit, target different areas of application:

The Campus Peregrini is the advanced training academy of the Eschwege Institute and is responsible for training and advanced training seminars. The academy also carries out in-house training, team developments, as well as measures specifically for youth welfare institutions and specialist lectures.

The main educational goal is to bring the highly effective methods of Initiatic Process Mentoring® to those areas where people and institutions in transition crises are worked on every day, namely in the helping and educational, as well as in the advisory and moderating professions.

The Peregrini campus is jointly managed by Holger & Gesa Heiten.

Business Quest, translates our approach as well as our methods and models to the needs of companies, organizations, institutions and teams that go through change or organizational development processes. It is an international network made up of freelance colleagues with different specializations. In this way, suitable teams can be put together depending on the requirements of an order.

Business Quest is headed by Gesa Heiten.

The Eschwege Institut, as a separate company again, actively accompanies people through their personal change processes. The “Initiatic Process Mentoring®” approach helps to accept such crises as growth crises and then to develop them in a powerful way. The Eschwege Institut is thus responsible for all Vision Quests and transition processes, group offers as well as retreats and individual accompaniments.

The Eschwege Institut is headed by Holger Heiten.

As a certified further training institution, the quality seal of the further training Hessen e.V. may be used. In addition, the institute, the Campus Peregrini and all seminars have been accredited by the Institute for Quality Development of the Hessian Ministry of Culture. The Eschwege Institut is a member of the IGFH, the German-speaking vision quest guides network, the Wilderness Guides Council in the USA, and the European Council Network.

The Eschwege Institute is one of the much needed watering holes in these turbulent times. I, and I know many others, will do all we can to encourage and ensure their continued work and success.

The teachings of nature, rites of passage and way of council are fortunately seeded in this small village and carried from there to so many in Europe by Holger and Gesa and the many people they train.

The integrity they embody is essential for building bridges, truth-speaking, heartful listening and the waking up that is so needed in our homes, schools, communities, businesses and governments. With their devotion and commitment to the work, I have both excitement and sense of hope in this kind of new leadership for our times.

Gigi Coyle
(Council trainer, social bridge builder and co-author of “The Way of Council”, California)

The Eschwege Institute and its founders Holger and Gesa have always impressed me with their integrity, skill, depth of understanding, and heart. It has been an honour and personal pleasure to be associated with their important work, and their vision to support the reintroduce of earth-based wisdom into the mainstream of the future.

Meredith Little
(co-founder of Rites of Passage Inc. in 1976 and The School of Lost Borders, California)

Personal growth, as we now know, takes place in spurts, each accompanied by more or less major life transitions. In addition to the biologically conditioned transitions such as puberty, parenthood, menopause, old age, death and dying, we also experience individual transitions such as separation, addiction, change of residence and job, burnout, accidents, illness, search for meaning, grief and many more.

In the most positive sense, these transitions could be called growth crises.

Crises are those threshold states in which the old is no longer and the new is not yet. The concepts that we make of life have been proven to lead to a corresponding perception and thus the definition of our reality. If such concepts lose their validity due to a crisis, it unsettles us, but also offers the rare opportunity to think outside the box, to recognize the possible and much greater reality of us and to decide in favor of it.

Accepting life transitions as growth crises and then shaping them to develop strength – this is what the Eschwege Institut wants to contribute actively and accompanying with its specialist knowledge of the course patterns of transition processes, its corresponding seminar offer and its work approach of the Initiatic Process Mentoring®.

Holger & Gesa Heiten coined the term “Initiatische Prozessbegleitung” (initiatic process mentoring) and had it legally protected for reasons of quality assurance of their training offer (Copyright 2003 by Holger & Gesa Heiten – all rights reserved).

With our work we are in the tradition of the School of Lost Borders, as well as that of the Ojai Foundation in California. This means: We advocate a “pan-cultural” approach that is accessible to today’s people regardless of their cultural, religious and social background.

Campus Peregrini


How related we are

crowned ones in a circle

to the heart of all hearts

forming a crown


We don’t tell each other anything new

all pilgrimage is basically a memory

We need reminder of that

what is really important


Far from the 10 000 things that make you forget

near the edge of everything we know

we stand in the midst of living becoming

and sense community

                                                    Holger Heiten, Findhorn Aug. 2010

Campus Peregrini is Latin and means something like campus for pilgrims. It is a protected place of constant personal and professional education and training.

From the point of view of the Campus Peregrini, no pilgrim ever wanted to Santiago de Compostela, Rome, or Jerusalem, because pilgrimage always comes down to a search for a deeper home in oneself. All people who have visited the Eschwege Institut have so far been pilgrims in this sense and experience shows:

Everyone is a pilgrim sooner or later.

In the crises of growth and transition we go through in life, our myths, our concepts about how we explain ourselves and life, must fall apart. We feel unstable and lost until we realize that only another shell, an old skin, as it were, has fallen off, under which a new, deeper truth about us is revealed. We suspect that it was not the last shell that had to fall and that we are on our way to a deeper core. One of the activities of pilgrims is to remind one another of what we have always known about the way there, but lose sight of it in everyday life.

Anyone who wants to accompany other people through crises must learn to keep the respectful listening framework of the council.

He * She has to learn how to find answers that are already inherent in the questioner and how to create dignified rituals of detachment at the end of a process. First and foremost, however, a mentor has to know himself on the way and therefore needs, in addition to the training, his own support – a water hole on the way, the Campus Peregrini.

The Campus Peregrini provides training in Initiatic Process Mentoring®, Vision Quest Guiding and Council Facilitation and is also a lifelong school for all graduates of such training.