I do intend to write a longer post about the concept of Rites of Passage but right now I am not quite in the mood for that. Instead I want to compare my upcoming journey to a Rite of Passage that is broken down into three phases (modified versions of what was described by Dr. Grof in The Ultimate Journey): Separation, Solitude, and Incorporation. Rites of Passage have been on my mind a lot lately, at least since Burning Man, and more recently since I started reading The Ultimate Journey.
In non-Western cultures the time of Separation would be when the individual facing the Rite of Passage are taken out of their comfortable social fabric. While this would generally be a relatively instantaneous removal in other cultures for me it is a longer process. I am considering the 20ish days from Alexandria, VA to Kansas City, MO my time of Separation. My reasoning for this is actually based on the second phase. Once I pass Kansas City my interaction with other people will be greatly reduced. The geography west of Kansas City is sparsely populated and my health and well-being will be much more dependent on my own knowledge and strength than it is earlier in the journey.
This step is referred to as “transition” by Dr. Grof but I think Isolation is more accurate for my journey. I will be travelling through plains and deserts alone, sometimes going days in between towns. This is when I will need to be most careful but I also feel like this is when I have the greatest opportunity for personal growth and increased self-confidence in myself. In many ways this journey is a spiritual journey as well as physical. This time of isolation where I can sit under the stars without people for a hundred miles will provide me with a unique opportunity for reflection and meditation. My period of Isolation ends when I leave the ghost town of Bagdad, California.
When I leave Bagdad I will be in the final four days or so of my journey. I will have returned from the wild to civilization. My first stop after Bagdad is Newberry Springs, California. While Newberry Springs is far from an example of big city life it does have a naturist resort that I plan on visiting. I consider myself a home naturist but have never actually participated in anything in public. I find something strangely romantic about ending the isolation part of my journey with a day completely nude, embracing the world, and confident in my mind, body, and soul. I think Dr. Grof would also chuckle at the scene given his focus on perinatal and birth experiences.
Traditionally the Incorporation phase would involve the elders welcoming the new member to the tribe. These elders would all have gone through the Rite of Passage and would be able to share their experiences with the individual. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone personally that has gone through something quite like this. In my opinion I have something better though. My best friend of 20 years will be by my side when I jump into the ocean of Santa Monica after my 3000 mile journey. There also may be a few more members of my Burner family who will be around to celebrate this moment with me. Even if nobody shows up and I walk that beach alone I know the journey ahead of me will be one that will change my life.
So proud of you Peter for taking this leap. I know you will be stronger because of it. Good luck.
Thanks Kat! You’re amazing and a constant source of happiness and inspiration for those around you. I can’t wait for our paths to cross again.