hygienic dark retreat

profound rest for the self‑healing psyche

a book by andrew durham

formerly darkroomretreat.com


Thanks to hundreds of people in a dozen countries on 2 continents for over 3 decades, who morally and materially aided me during my prodigal search, especially my Norwegian…


…for heroic efforts to make this book real. In its triage, you were as merciful as you could be:

  • Are Solheim, writer and fellow refugee in darkness, for seeing and believing in me and the book, for visionary editing, hosting me during the rewrite, and your compassion for mankind, even me
  • Magnus Vanebo, philosopher, for enthusiastically diving into the text and sensitively editing it
  • Also, Bertrand Besigye, famous poet and fellow journeyman in darkness, for early support of the book


  • Marion Abbott, for friendship, overflowing transworld conversations, and constant in-the-trenches support starting 2016
  • Simen Kirkerød, friend, host, serious retreater and observer, with loads of ideas and help since 2013
  • Johan Järlind: investor-partner, retreat supporter, confidant, and friend in critical years 2012-13. You gave me so much, I’m speechless except… thank you.
  • Chrissy Weisgard: friend, host, client, morale-booster since 2009


Immediate, extended, and adopted: I leaned on all of you that would let me. It can’t be easy rearing a stubborn 20, 30, then 40 year-old psychotic child in defiance of a world that denies everything real. Thanks, especially, to:

  • Brother Paul, for shelter and guidance you should never have had to give
  • Grandmother Anna Lou Craig Callen Posey, always there. RIP.
  • Brother Francois, for constant experience of love
  • Cousin Christopher, for your generosity and grit
  • Uncle Jim—dropout, drug dealer, beach bum, dumpster diver, Mexican pastry lover, loser, cool-ass mofo—for laughingly giving the system the finger till the day you died. RIP, man.
  • Trimurti: my second family, torn away as soon as I noticed, for helping further raise me


…for friendship, support, and/or raising the bar so high that anti-gravity boots became necessary. And especially my elders:

  • Jack Nuckols: a giant and first among my elders, you showed me how to make what I wanted. You stuck around and watched over me till I found my way. RIP.
  • Willetta Warberg: you poured your heart and soul into me through your piano, kindness, and huge personality. RIP.
  • John Boyer: you fed me with so much of your time.
  • DeWaynn Rogers: you helped me get up, push back, and stay out of the system’s clutches. RIP.
  • Purna Steinitz: you destroyed my sentimentality and kept your terrible promise.
  • Harold: you showed me my job.

Each of you gave me the world.

old friends

  • John Roberts: lifelong friend, biggest supporter, and host
  • Danny Meulbroek: guardian, supporter, and host extraordinaire
  • Evelyn Thomas and Sterling Voss: supporters, fellow investigators and survivors
  • Ian Robertson: for the life-ring of rationality when it mattered most

since darkness

  • America
    • Crea Egan for helping Harold begin with darkness, thus opening the door for me.
    • Rob Miller, Malia Shultheis, and Jen Carroll: supporters and early retreat hosts
    • Brian Sullivan: early collaborator, who gave first help in developing these ideas and, as always, trying them out
    • Jesse King, John Monroe, and Elisabeth Goward, Dome Villagers at Maitreya Ecovillage, Eugene: camaraderie and support
    • Blanche Colson: for getting me started in commercial window coverings for darkrooms. Of course, it was cardboard.
    • Hannah Christina Torres for the second window covering idea
    • Daniel Tucker and Les Stitt, then Ben Ramsey and Stephanie: for KCMO shelter
    • Frank Cicela: supporter since 2002
    • Brad Crutchfield: friend, always-interested supporter, and deep well-wisher
  • Guatemala
    • The Maya: for your friendship and unshakable presence
    • Niels Gronau: for your miraculous Guatemalan facility
    • Elena Rago: friend, neighbor, and provider of an experimental facility
    • Karsten: friend, neighbor, supporter, client, and for lending me tools and a workshop where such things are rare
    • Tom Savage: friend and supporter
    • Sandro Garcia, Nancy Martin, and Violet: heroic friends, hosts, supporters, retreaters
    • Joshua Brang and Nadja: friends, supporters, and (Josh) travel agent
    • my clients: for exploring darkness with me
  • Europe
    • Kostas: fast friend, host, and shepherd from Athens to Thessalonika
    • David Friman and Erika Hedstrom, for shelter and space to test darkroom design
    • Oscar, Limme, and Max at Kulturforeningen Gryning of Helsingborg: friends, hosts, and supporters. Cheers!
    • Anna Ericksson: supporter and darkness experimenter
    • Sanna Aatig: friend, supporter, host, and nurse in my darkest days
    • Åsa Ringstrom and Johan Lörne: friends and supporters
    • Richard Nöjd for hard-won darkroom design ideas
    • A woman, unnamed, who initiated me in an essential part of my lost self, leading to the conclusive test of this idea
    • Marcus Ivarsson and Emma Sofie Berg: connectors
    • Stisse and Carina Gilgren: Swedish godparents
    • The people and place of Skattungbyn, Sweden
    • Dr Anette Kjellgren: for unqualified, professional encouragement
    • Oscar Nelson for the donation that sustained me and the book for a dark winter
    • Bård Anders Lien, friend, host, sponsor, apprentice and guide in Oslo
    • Terje Tjensvoll, supporter, host, collaborator, and guardian
    • Elisabette Molin: friend, host, and champion retreat supporter
    • Astrit Gashi, friend and host
    • Ketil Berg, friend, host, sponsor, treasurer extraordinaire. Without you, 2015 would have been very hard to survive. RIP
    • Marie Richert and Virginie Bournaud, friends, hosts, sponsors, and guides in Paris
    • 40 contributors to my 2016 crowdfund to support a 21-day retreat. One day, success.
    • Aimee Fenech and TomTom, friends, hosts, helpers, and mentors in Spain
    • Jan and Thomas Hermann, hosts in La Alpujarra proper
    • Mary Salama back home in America, for proof-editing this book in 2018
    • Lougaya and J. for support and for trying and making darkness wholeheartedly.
    • Jan Hlavacek, Stepanka Trenz, Martin Pokorny, Petr Vesely, Katerina Cervena, Honza Dlabal for showing me dark retreating in Czech Republic
    • Pavel, Cestr family, Jarda and Jana, and my other neighbors in Czech Republic, for such great peace, kindness, and respect


I called some people here guides, but anyone who hosted me also guided me. I’ve needed a lot of help for a long time. Everyone on this list put a lot of time and energy into me and my work.

I also made enemies and hurt some people along the way. To the good people: I’m sorry it didn’t go the way we thought at first. Here’s hoping it was not in vain. To the evil people: may you find peace, either in the destruction you crave or through unprecedented regeneration.

Onward, then, till the task is complete.

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