Volume I, Issue 1

The innagural issue of Confluence Journal exploring the theme: Contemporary Issues in Rites of Passage.

The innagural issue of Confluence Journal exploring the theme: Contemporary Issues in Rites of Passage.


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<strong>Volume</strong> I • <strong>Issue</strong> 1 • Fall 2016

Content<br />

05<br />

Letter From the Editors<br />

Confluence Journal Editorial Team<br />

35<br />

Initiati<br />

Rites of<br />

by Bill Plotkin<br />

09<br />

Cover Essay: Diaspora<br />

by John Raux<br />

41<br />

Celebra<br />

by Gail Burke<br />

17<br />

The Courage of Becoming:<br />

WSU 4-H Rite of Passage<br />

by Larry Hobbs, Michael Wallace, & Scott Vanderwey<br />

49<br />

Selectio<br />

My Natu<br />

by Luis Rodri<br />

29<br />

A Critical Time for<br />

Jewish Youth: Rethinking<br />

the Bar and Bat Mitzvah<br />

by Zelig Golden & Sarai Shapiro<br />

59 Bearing<br />

Rites of<br />

celebrate<br />

by Laura E. Par

s of the<br />

on and<br />

Passage<br />

75<br />

The Middle Passage<br />

by Chris Henrikson & Taylor Code<br />

te With Story<br />

tt<br />

79<br />

The Growing Life of a Child<br />

by Ben Anthony<br />

ns from<br />

re is Hunger<br />

guez<br />

93<br />

The RITE Way Review<br />

by Bret Stephenson<br />

Witness:<br />

Passage to<br />

Transgender Youth<br />

ker & Taylor Solymosy-Poole<br />

97<br />

103<br />

The Rite Way |<br />

Youth on Fire Review<br />

by Darcy Ottey<br />

Contributor Bios

Dear Reader,<br />

Beginnings can be hard things to pin down. Our journeys nearly always shift our gazes to<br />

their destinations. By their end, our minds fill and brim over with questions:<br />

What has been achieved?<br />

How will it be measured?<br />

Where do we go from here?<br />

The political theorist Hannah Arendt spent much of her life after surviving the Holocaust<br />

studying beginnings. She noted that in the modern age, we so often look at our lives as<br />

gaps between who we’ve been and who we’re trying to be. We tend to be affirmed of our<br />

value in the world only to the extent that we stand our ground in combat with our past and<br />

future. In this way, we become task-oriented, working to satisfy an arbitrary lack, crossing<br />

the items off a checklist, yet never feeling fulfilled.<br />

Arendt urged instead a life of many beginnings; those that are forged with clear intentions<br />

yet remain open to the spontaneous. She argued for beginnings that connect us to our<br />

underlying and pervasive pull toward that liminal space between question and answer;<br />

beginnings full of trials, not battles, unforeseen invitations, not ultimatums, and most<br />

importantly, direct lines to the wild unknown. What we, as practitioners, families, and<br />

communities are re-learning is that the natural world and all of its cycles holds us all<br />

together. These cycles act as throughlines, reminding us of their ongoing and unfolding<br />

dance; one that is firmly rooted in a shared history. They show us a beginning that is<br />

perpetually reborn.<br />

In a recent correspondence with Joseph Lazenka of the School of Lost Borders, he shared<br />

a poem from Joanna Macy's translation of Rilke’s The Book of Hours. As we read it something<br />

came alive in our heads and hearts. We knew immediately it would need to find a home in<br />

our first letter from the editors:<br />

“I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.<br />

I want to free what waits within me<br />

so that what no one has dared to wish for<br />

may for once spring clear<br />

without my contriving.<br />

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,<br />

but this is what I need to say.<br />

May what I do flow from me like a river,<br />

no forcing and no holding back,

the way it is with children.<br />

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,<br />

these deepening tides moving out, returning,<br />

I will sing you as no one ever has,<br />

streaming through widening channels<br />

into the open sea.”<br />

So let us begin by exclaiming: We want to follow this field to its source.<br />

We want to increase both the stakes and legitimacy of rites of passage in the world. By<br />

delving into the issues we face, the work we do, and opening up a conversation, we can<br />

bring this work to ever widening circles of engagement and influence. Through Confluence,<br />

we intend to shine a light on the old ways while experimenting with the new, coming out<br />

somewhere in between them. We humbly offer this journal as a space in which to grapple<br />

with the ideas that compel us, not simply for ourselves but for our young. In it, let us<br />

wrestle with life cycles, the thresholds between them, and the challenges of building<br />

thriving, interdependent communities. Let Confluence be a vehicle for the unforeseen and<br />

sometimes overlooked conversations just waiting to be had.<br />

Let our work be predicated on the acceptance of these facts: nothing is stagnant; everything<br />

is in motion; nothing is beyond improvement, or at least continued examination.<br />

Let each issue be a careful and creative play, an open invitation to dialogue. Let it engage<br />

in a consideration and reimagination of diverse perspectives that may not suggest answers,<br />

but offer insight. And let us, in this endeavor, if we’re anything, be slow. Let us take our<br />

time, be immersed, work for the slow burn, and allow for a meandering yet purposeful<br />

walk in the shoes of others, for what we might glean in the walking.<br />

In this first issue, you’ll find poetry and prose, academic papers and artistry, all of which<br />

tackling the question: What are the pressing issues in contemporary rites of passage?<br />

From an examination of the Bar and Bat Mitzvah to freeform poetry on the powerful and<br />

sometimes contradictory nature of the call, our inaugural contributions are fierce, open,<br />

and many.<br />

It has been our great privilege to have so many contributors usher us, or lift us rather, out<br />

of our daily contexts and into the liminal spaces of their own. We mark this moment of<br />

convergence between creative minds and willing hands, who through grace and dedication,<br />

offered themselves to a rigorous and passionate collaboration. For each of them, we

are deeply thankful, as we are for you, dear reader.<br />

So let us end our beginning by invoking our intention that the ancestors and those yet<br />

born may find a voice here, that we may “sing [them] as no one ever has,” and that our<br />

work and movement stream through ever widening channels.<br />

In gratitude,<br />

The editors<br />

Confluence Journal Editorial Team

Diaspora<br />

Thoughts on<br />

Journeying<br />

by John Raux

In the summer of 1996, I left Kansas City to go to college in Los Angeles. It<br />

was the first time I remember feeling displaced. The first year was hell. My<br />

heart was with my friends, my family, my place. I was always talking about KC,<br />

always calling back home, always struggling with the new and strange horizon<br />

lines. It seems we never know what we have until its gone.<br />

On my first return home, something changed. I found myself always talking of<br />

LA, always projecting about future projects, already loosening the binds of the<br />

familiar for an ever larger experience of unforeseen life. Home has a way of<br />

finding its way to us when our vantage of place is on the move.<br />

Diaspora literally means “through sowing, or spreading out”. In agricultural<br />

terms, this displacement is the beginning of where the old life is transformed<br />

into the new.<br />

Many of my friends work with Bhutanese and Nepali refugees now living in<br />

Kansas City, Kansas. My travels through the Himalayas and my friends have<br />

taught me that the national boundaries do not make up our identities. The<br />

refugee knows how precious home is, wherever that home may be found. In<br />

you. In me. In here. In now. We’re all refugees sowing our lives in the land of<br />

each other.

Internality<br />

combat(me)<br />

(hospitality)<br />

{with)draw<br />

ringing(close)<br />

calling(bluffs)<br />

mis(placed)intention<br />

(honest)retention<br />

flood(plain)<br />

emotions(erratic)<br />

arousing(numb)<br />

explosion(decision)<br />

remission(commission)<br />

expressing (art)<br />

fully realized<br />


Meandering<br />

Conclusions<br />

Ten years ago I sold most of my possessions in a garage sale of life changing proportions.<br />

Without ever having camped two nights in a row, I went to the Mexican border<br />

with the very real intention to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) into<br />

Canada. To even think about my first week on the trail evokes tears. They are the<br />

weird kind that come with memories feeling so uncomfortable that they are comedic.<br />

I had read two guidebooks and made much of my gear by hand but none of that could<br />

really prepare me for my time on the PCT. In my mind I was an expert when in<br />

reality, I didn’t know what I was even doing on the trail. I wasn’t running away. My<br />

only purpose was to finish.<br />

On the first day I nearly ran out of water in the desert. I took a wrong turn and had<br />

to bushwhack in shorts through thorns to get back to the trail. When the sun went<br />

down, my headlamp revealed the eyes of the mountain lions or coyotes that had been<br />

keeping watch. I was scared but my only choice was to keep moving. My sleeping pad<br />

fell off of my backpack sometime earlier in the day. When I tried to sleep, lightning<br />

struck 100 feet from me. My heart felt like it exploded and I have never moved so<br />

fast and been so motivated in my entire life.<br />

On my second day I actually slept. On my third day my sleeping pad was returned to<br />

me by another hiker who also found my pedometer and sunglasses that I had<br />

unknowingly dropped. He recommended that I shed my ice axe, etch-a-sketch and<br />

about 20 pounds of books before I get into the big mountains. For the next 4<br />

months, my name became Lost & Found.<br />

Somewhere around the Three sisters in Oregon, I took a 20 mile accidental<br />

detour onto an unmarked trail. I was more than a little lost and had the option<br />

of turning back but stubbornly continued onward. I had plenty of water and

food and figured that if I just kept walking North I would run into the trail.<br />

Worst case scenario, the next road crossing was probably within a two day’s<br />

walk.<br />

My lunch that day was on a summit of an unknown mountain overlooking my<br />

favorite view during the whole of my hike. I was gazing at the speed of mountains<br />

where two chains collided. The Sierras were vast granite slabs slowly<br />

rising in contrast to the volcanic speed, color and sharpness of the Cascades.<br />

My moment was abruptly interrupted by a cold wetness on my butt. I had accidentally<br />

sat down on my water bladder and was wearing it. All of it. Panic took<br />

over. As I was descending north I noticed animal tracks. I was getting good at<br />

naming other hikers by their footwear. These were cougar prints that I was<br />

following. My mind started racing every time I heard a sound. I was on edge.<br />

And then there it was. A small spring flowing from the rock. I would live and<br />

find my way back to the PCT thanks to the trail left by the big cat.<br />

Deep in the Pasayten wilderness, in the northernmost reaches of Washington, I<br />

could see the canadian alpine and the end of my hike was only a few days away.<br />

I was forced to turn back by a blizzard, waist deep snow, frost bitten toes, and<br />

my final encounter with a cougar. With tracks encircling my tent and survival<br />

sirens going off in my head,<br />

I still felt disappointed in myself. If I had just walked a little faster, or paid<br />

more attention to not get lost so much, I would have made it. But the truth was<br />

I was not lost, for once, and still had my life, my wits and a few extra cliff<br />

bars. When tracing back my footsteps in the snow to the last road in America, I<br />

found myself provoked to tears by the magnificent beauty and humbling scale<br />

of the Cascade spires. My journey had not come to an embarrassing end, but<br />

was in fact just continuing.

The Joy an<br />

of Time T<br />

movement<br />

seasons<br />

personal iden<br />

difference a<br />

out of sync pacin<br />

wandering and wo<br />

separation a<br />

communicatio<br />

decision/<br />

sensation<br />

shipping spat<br />

hoping with etern

d Sorrow<br />

ravelers<br />

by moment<br />

unravel<br />

tities travel<br />

nd distance<br />

g through space<br />

ndering through<br />

nd embrace<br />

n/connection<br />

collision<br />

relation<br />

ial restraint<br />

al unreasonability

The Courage of Becoming:<br />

WSU 4-H Rite of Passage<br />

by Michael Wallace, M.Ed.<br />

Associate Professor,<br />

WSU Regional Specialist<br />

Larry Hobbs, M.A.<br />

Lead Guide WSU 4-H Rite of Passage Program;<br />

School of Lost Borders<br />

Scott Vanderwey, MHP, M.Ed.<br />

Associate Professor,<br />

WSU Adventure Education Specialist<br />

Once or twice a year, in the late spring or early summer, a handful of carefully<br />

prepared and eager young people go into the deserts and mountains of central<br />

Washington for a very specific purpose: to find the courage to become adults.<br />

The WSU 4-H Rite of Passage (ROP) Program began as a partnership between<br />

4-H Youth Development and the School of Lost Borders. Rite of Passage has<br />

been offering coming of age ceremonies to youth and ongoing professional<br />

development for adult wilderness guides and guides-in-training for over ten<br />

years. A recent inquiry into the effects and efficacy of the program brought<br />

almost immediate responses from several former participants. In addition to a<br />

unanimous respect for the program’s ability to bring about personal growth and<br />

transition, conversations with the respondents also revolved around how to<br />

continue to support and strengthen this unique opportunity for others.<br />

The Need<br />

In our globalized society, youth face challenges to successful development and<br />

maturation from a seemingly unlimited number of sources: peer pressure,<br />

families in crisis, the increased availability of prescription and illegal drugs<br />

(Johnston et al. 2010), several forms of media saturation (Carr 2010; Young<br />

2009), “Nature Deficit Disorder” (Louv 2005) and an array of sedentary leisure<br />

time activities (Tremblay, et al. 2011).

The last decade of child-rearing trends in America reveals increased, and<br />

sometimes anxiety-driven, emphasis on academic and social achievement,<br />

earlier emphasis on career planning (frequently in middle school) and high<br />

stakes tests driving competitive placements (Dunnewold 2008). Despite this<br />

push for increased competency in young people, researchers and child<br />

development professionals have begun to report growing trends of delayed<br />

adolescence and maturation (Arrnet,2000), growing social disenfranchisement<br />

and alarming trends of increasing depression and mental illness in teens and<br />

young adults (Becker 2015, Washington State Department of Social and Health<br />

Services, 2015). Data trends following youth suicide indicate that young people<br />

appear to be struggling more than preceding generations to find meaning and<br />

purpose within their communities, and the number of youth attempting and<br />

succeeding in suicides is on the rise (Healthy Youth Survey, 2014; Washington<br />

State Department of Health, 2015).<br />

A period of identity exploration is developmentally appropriate and encouraged<br />

for pre-teen youth. Late adolescence traditionally signals a time to make<br />

decisions, choose a career path and integrate communal roles for adulthood.<br />

These decisions signal what is broadly defined as “identity achievement” (Marcia<br />

1966). While there appears to be great emphasis to ensure the collegiate<br />

trajectories of young people, giving them the skills and confidence to define<br />

lives of quality and meaning has been lacking. (Brendtro et al. 1990). Neither<br />

of these developmental opportunities (identity exploration or identity<br />

achievement) can be attained by youth without some awakening and grounding<br />

of their personal autonomy and identification with their own values.<br />

The Rite of Passage<br />

Both theory and research suggest that significant rites of passage for youth can<br />

provide a respite from engaging in antisocial encoding and negative identity<br />

construction (Dawson & Russell,2012; Moore & Russell 2002; Ewert et al.<br />

2011). Rites of passage can offer alternatives to the increasingly negative<br />

outcomes of differentiating through narcissism, substance abuse, thrill seeking<br />

and the destructive disassociation from human empathy. Contact with the

natural world, and a period of isolation, offers teens a chance to hear<br />

themselves and others more clearly (Knapp & Smith 2005) which can result in<br />

greater commitments to their communities.<br />

Wilderness Experience Programs (WEPs) have been a popular approach for<br />

helping youth through challenging transitions. WEPs can be classified into<br />

three types: therapeutic, personal-growth and educational. The 4-H Rite of<br />

Passage Program is defined as a non-therapeutic personal-growth wilderness<br />

experience program<br />

(Dawson & Russell 2012). WEPs have been reported to enhance self-esteem and<br />

personal empowerment measurements. (Harper and Russell 2008; Hartig et al.<br />

1991; Moore and Russell 2002; Ewert et al. 2011). Due to their accountability<br />

standards, Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) therapeutic WEPs have<br />

typically gathered greater data of outcomes than their personal growth program<br />

counterparts. Some of the same measurement tools might be viable for use with<br />

the personal growth focused WEP.<br />

While the methods and outcomes of 4-H Rite of Passage may bear some<br />

similarity to therapeutic WEP’s, its aims are developmental empowerment, not

ehavioral change. Rites of passage are founded on the extremely old practice<br />

of marking life transitions with memorable, self-generated and<br />

culturally-generated ceremonies. Building off of many global traditions, and<br />

the seminal works of Steven Foster and Meredith Little (Foster & Little 1997),<br />

the 4-H Rite of Passage Program was implemented to offer teens a very<br />

structured process for initiating, recognizing and implementing communally<br />

recognized, intentional transitions into adulthood. At the heart of these rites is<br />

a personal challenge that requires participants to engage in an extended period<br />

(72 hours) of self-reflection in the natural world. Of equal importance is the<br />

time the field guides spend empowering participants to form or rescript positive<br />

and coherent personal narratives that give them hope for the future. (Köber,<br />

Schmiedek, Habermas, 2015). Focusing teens towards embracing their maturity,<br />

rather than making it part of a “court ordered” program of correction, keeps the<br />

full onus of the outcome in the hands of the participants. Youth are not pushed<br />

into this circle, they come into it when they are ready. The growing field of<br />

interpersonal neurobiology reaffirms the beneficial outcomes inherent when<br />

young people are given the opportunity to integrate cognitive awareness and<br />

construction of meaningful personal narrative. (Siegel 2012; Köber,<br />

Schmiedek, Habermas, 2015).<br />

Since its inception in 2003, the WSU 4-H Rite of Passage Program has<br />

mentored and guided over 140 youth through their transitions to adulthood. In<br />

addition, each year the program has introduced adults to the 4-H Rite of<br />

Passage by offering guide trainings. Many of these individuals have become fully<br />

trained guides and powerful program advocates. As of 2016 there were<br />

approximately 75 adults in a queue eager to become 4-H ROP guides. Several of<br />

these have branched off and used their training to assist other local WEPs and<br />

youth programs.<br />

Preparing Facilitators<br />

The program has been in a continuous state of refinement since it began, with<br />

adult and youth handbooks, (Foster et al. 1991, 2008) and a tiered process for<br />

ROP guide professional development (WSU 2016). Beyond understanding the<br />

steps of ceremonial preparation and the experiential pedagogy of “the four

shields” (Foster & Little<br />

1999) there is a very clear<br />

list of requirements for<br />

becoming a Rite of Passage<br />

guide, including first aid<br />

training,<br />

technical<br />

wilderness survival training<br />

and numerous field hours<br />

shadowing lead guides. The<br />

ROP guide has a very special<br />

mentoring relationship with<br />

transitioning youth, and a<br />

”mirroring” discourse that is structured similarly to appreciative inquiry<br />

(Cooperrider & Whitney 2005) and active/deep listening (Gordon 2003; Stine<br />

1999). In short, the mirroring process builds on what is already there, rather<br />

than looking for things to “fix.” The process leads to empowerment of the<br />

participant and a recognition and honoring of their individual gifts. The<br />

training expectations for Rite of Passage guides far exceed those of a traditional<br />

4-H club leader, approximately 200 hours or three week long field experiences.<br />

Many people who enter the training queue to become guides approach the task<br />

with humility rather than ambition. The commitment to the program is<br />

demonstrated by a strong communal vision.<br />

Preparing Youth<br />

The preparation of youth is taken very seriously. The intention of the program<br />

is to support young people in claiming their adulthood, which means their<br />

communities must be ready to recognize them as adults upon their return. The<br />

process of “letting go” of the vestiges of the life one is leaving is known as<br />

“severance.” Young people are encouraged to begin the process long before the<br />

actual Rite of Passage ‘threshold” experience in the wilderness, and without a<br />

doubt, the more serious a young person is about marking the transition, the<br />

more successful the experience will be. Youth are trained in wilderness survival

and potential effects of the ceremonial experience (isolation, hunger, fear, the<br />

possibility of real change). The threshold experience is more than just “going<br />

out into the wilderness alone.” Teens are prepared with at least two days of<br />

intensive group interviews, and reaffirmed by at least two days of intensive group<br />

debriefing upon their return. The program’s effects are expected to manifest<br />

(“incorporation”) for at least a year following the threshold experience.<br />

Outcomes of a ROP experience can easily be bolstered through effective<br />

community mentoring. Individuals who are concurrently training to become<br />

guides can serve in their local communities as mentors, indispensable<br />

participants in the severance and incorporation phases of the ROP.<br />

Future Directions for the Rite of Passage Program:<br />

Rite of Passage guides and “guides-in-training” have had numerous<br />

conversations about building capacity in the program, seeking bridges to more<br />

traditional audiences and supporting emerging adults following their<br />

ceremonies.<br />

A challenge for the 4-H Youth Development program has been that the ROP<br />

experience is usually offered to teens that are on the cusp of exiting the youth<br />

development program. Several people who have trained in the ROP program<br />

have attempted to bridge that challenge by creating “pre-teen” ROP activities in<br />

other educational venues, focusing on experiences more appropriate to the<br />

developing needs of the emerging adolescent. Former ROP Program<br />

participants are also often called upon to mentor their peers in preparing for<br />

their ceremonies.<br />

Discussion has also evolved around the need to engage the communities from<br />

which the youth come. The ROP program does advocate 6 months to a year of<br />

preparation before stepping into the actual wilderness experience, and another<br />

year following the experience to make sure the knowledge of the threshold<br />

experience takes hold. WSU ROP Program faculty and staff have recently<br />

implemented a community mentoring handbook for guides-in-training that

assists in multiple ways: it informs the general public of the program’s purpose,<br />

provides the guides-in-training with opportunities to develop their Rite of<br />

Passage skills, and prepares youth through more intentional severance activities.<br />

Community mentors do not require the full training required of guides.<br />

The process of mentoring others through the ROP Program will be instrumental<br />

in scaffolding the transitional experience for both youth and mentors. Exposure<br />

to the language and pedagogy of the Rite of Passage before the ceremony will<br />

help youth and guides communicate more deeply in the council circle. At the<br />

request of several ROP guides-in-training, the newly written community<br />

mentoring handbook also provides communities and families with guidance for<br />

pre-teen coming of age ceremonies. The new publication includes program<br />

evaluation tools, built from some of the same tools vetted by the 4-H Common<br />

Measures evaluations constructed by National 4-H Council. These evaluations<br />

are designed to measure healthy living, growth mind-set, self-esteem and career<br />

college readiness that would be appropriate for Rite of Passage evaluation<br />

(National 4H Council, 2015).<br />

What Becomes<br />

Past program evaluations of youth and adult participants in the WSU 4-H Rite<br />

of Passage program revealed that the impacts to the individuals have been held<br />

very close to the heart, and powerful intentions have resulted in a great deal of<br />

community action. The youth in the program were evaluated using the<br />

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Children’s Hope Scale (Wallace, 2016).<br />

Participants reported persisting effects that included improvement in mood,<br />

attitude and altruistic social effects. Many adult participants have used the<br />

experience to springboard into deeper ceremonial work, and sought out and<br />

aligned with numerous organizations worldwide that embrace the vision of<br />

transitional ceremonies for building stronger communities. For WSU 4-H the<br />

vision is creating caring, capable and contributing citizens, and the 4-H Rite of<br />

Passage has aided in reaching that vision.

References:<br />

Arnett, J.<br />

2000. Emerging Adulthood: A Theory of Development from the Late Teens<br />

through the Twenties. American Psychologist. 55:5, 469-480.<br />

Becker, S.<br />

2015. This is Your Brain Online: The Impact of Digital Technology on Mental<br />

Health [recorded slide presentation retrieved online 1/20/16] Michigan State<br />

University Kaltura Media Space:<br />

https://mediaspace.msu.edu/media/t/1_77c64xn4<br />

Brendtro, L.K., Brokenleg, M., VanBockern, S.<br />

2002. Reclaiming Youth at Risk: Our Hope for the Future. Solution Tree<br />

Press, Bloomington, IN.<br />

Carr, N.<br />

2010. The Shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains. WW.Norton &<br />

Co., New York, London.<br />

Cooperrider, Whitney, Stavros.<br />

2003. Appreciative Inquiry Handbook, Lakeshore Communications and<br />

Berrett Koehler Publishers, Ohio, San Francisco.<br />

Dawson, C.P. & Russell, K.C.<br />

2012. Wilderness Experience Programs: A State-of-the-Knowledge<br />

Summary. USDA Forest Service Proceedings, RMRS-P-66.<br />

Dunnewold, A.<br />

2007. Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box. Deerfield Beach, FL:<br />

Health Communications, Inc.<br />

Ewert, A.; Overholt, J.; Voight, A.; Wang, Chun Chieh.<br />

2011. Understanding the transformative aspects of the wilderness and<br />

protected lands experience upon human health. In: Watson, Alan;<br />

Murrieta-Saldivar, Joaquin; McBride, Brooke, comps. Science and<br />

Stewardship to Protect and Sustain Wilderness Values: Ninth World Wilderness<br />

Congress Symposium; November 6-13, 2009; Meridá, Yucatán, Mexico.<br />

Proceedings RMRS-P-64. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture,<br />

Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 140-146.<br />

Foster, S. & Little, M.<br />

1997. The Roaring of the Sacred River: The Wilderness Quest for Vision and<br />

Self-Healing. Prentice Hall Press, New York, NY.<br />

Foster, S.; Little, M.<br />

1999. The Four Shields: The Initiatory Seasons of Human Nature. Big Pine,<br />

CA: Lost Borders Press.

Foster, S. Little, M., Hobbs, L.<br />

1991 Rite of Passage Leader Manual & Technical Safety Guide; edited for<br />

4-H by Larry Hobbs (rev. 2012), School of Lost Borders, Lost Borders Press,<br />

Big Pine, CA.<br />

Foster, S., Little, M., Hobbs, L., Lerner, S.<br />

2008. Rite of Passage Handbook: Coming of Age in the Wilderness, Youth<br />

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A Critical Time<br />

for Jewish Youth<br />

Rethinking the Bar<br />

and Bat Mitzvah<br />

By Zelig Golden & Sarai Shapiro<br />

Making Jewish Rites of Passage Meaningful and Relevant<br />

In Judaism, boys supposedly become “young men” and girls supposedly become<br />

“young women” when they turn thirteen. Over the centuries, ceremonies have<br />

emerged to honor this rite of passage. The Bar Mitzvah, “son of the<br />

commandments,” and Bat Mitzvah, “daughter of the commandments,” has become<br />

the standard ceremony where tweens learn Hebrew, Torah, and prayer and on<br />

their day, lead the community as a prayer leader and teacher. For some this<br />

provides a powerful rite of passage.<br />

However, we also see the bar and bat mitzvah fail to address the urgent needs<br />

teens face today. While current bar and bat mitzvahs often provide a meaningful<br />

initiation into Judaism, preparing children to perform the prayer leadership,<br />

read from the Torah, and teach something before the community, they often fall<br />

short of meeting youth where they’re really at. We face a critical time on earth,<br />

and youth are facing challenging messages in modern culture as they are forming<br />

their identities. It is more important than ever to provide support for our youth<br />

as they move toward adulthood. While Jewish tradition provides a basket of<br />

support and values that can carry our youth through this time, all too often, we<br />

miss the mark when it comes to making Judaism relevant in their lives or<br />

providing a Jewish compass with which to navigate the rest of their lives.<br />

Jewish parents, educators and leaders are now asking crucial questions about<br />

how to use this rite of passage to effectively engage Jewish youth in Judaism. The<br />

problems of a party-centric approach, or overemphasizing the ritual itself, came<br />

up repeatedly at the recent Jewish Futures Conference, focused on the “Role of<br />

the Bar and Bat Mitzvah in America Today”. People across the Jewish world are<br />

waking up to see that we are missing a key opportunity for this transition to be<br />

meaningful and transformative.<br />

Research illuminates the concern felt in the room during the conference.<br />

Upward of 60 percent of Jewish youth consider bar and bat mitzvahs the end —<br />

not the beginning — of a Jewish journey, because it doesn’t speak to them<br />

personally. A Brandeis University study, “Being a Jewish Teenager in America:<br />

Trying to Make It,” concluded that the b’nai mitzvah essentially fails to meet the<br />

real-world needs of adolescents, particularly in its failure to empower<br />

adolescents with more responsibility in their lives.

It seems that the ‘traditional’ approach to bar and bat mitzvah misses the mark<br />

by focusing on the indoctrination of Jewish knowledge and Jewish practice,<br />

valued by the older generations, rather than looking at each youth and asking,<br />

what do the really need to be transition into their next stage of life as healthy,<br />

happy humans. The b’nai mitzvah comes at the end of childhood when, ideally,<br />

youth begin to discover their individual gifts, venture further from the safety of<br />

the nest, take more responsibility and learn to make their own choices. If we<br />

want youth to succeed, we must make sure they have access to the physical,<br />

psychological, and spiritual tools necessary for a safe passage into their teen<br />

years. Conversely, if we want our traditions to remain relevant, they must be in<br />

service to our youth, not the other way around.<br />

So, how to address this meaningfully? In “Redesigning Jewish Education for the<br />

21st Century,” Jonathan Woocher concludes that we can remedy this with<br />

“life-centered” approaches that are relevant to students’ lives. This necessitates<br />

creating programs that provide embodied experiences informed by Jewish<br />

tradition that allow for valuable life lessons to be learned. Experiences that<br />

involve physical challenges, doing things beyond one’s previous ability, being<br />

part of a community and working with others all create fertile ground for these<br />

lessons to be learned.<br />

Meet Youth Where They Are<br />

While we think about the next generation of Jewish youth, we can draw<br />

inspiration from other cultures that have made this transition meaningful and<br />

relevant. After all, this transition has been happening since the beginning of<br />

human history — and tribes throughout the world have designed processes for a<br />

safe passage through what can be the most precarious threshold of a person’s<br />

life.<br />

What does it mean, then, to meet a child at the threshold of adolescence? It<br />

means giving them tools and trials that mirror the challenges of pending<br />

adulthood, preparing them to thrive in their new adult lives, which benefits the<br />

individual while helping to ensure the resiliency of the entire community.<br />

But how? As we explored different approaches to answering the call for<br />

“life-centered” bar and bat mitzvah education, we found a few universal<br />

elements that support the transition into becoming a responsible, healthy<br />

teenager. For example, the 8 Shields Institute has studied indigenous knowledge<br />

systems from across the world to distill some of the critical elements that can<br />

support the continuity of healthy, intact and highly connective indigenous<br />

cultures. The following elements are a few key aspects of developing culturally<br />

relevant and personally transformational rites of passage.<br />

The Wilderness<br />

Judaism is an ancient, indigenous tradition. Judaism’s entire Torah narrative<br />

revolves around experiences in the wilderness. Reconnecting to these ancient<br />

roots is essential. Take the story of Avram, for example, who was instructed to

leave his family and go to himself. Avram’s story is the first archetypal rite of<br />

passage — leave home so you can find your own path. And where does Avram go<br />

after leaving home? He first visits Alon Moreh, Hebrew for “teacher tree,” where<br />

he then receives his vision (Genesis 12:6).<br />

Moses learns of his mission while in the wilderness alone. Miriam<br />

encounters the well of water only after arriving in the wilderness. Jacob<br />

receives his new name, Israel, after wresting with an angel in the wilderness<br />

all night lone. The Torah teaches us over and over that we find ourselves and<br />

our mission in the mirror of nature. Especially during this time when our<br />

youth spend more time on cell phones and computers, it is critical to give<br />

them undistracted time to connect to what is real in the natural world.<br />

The Edge<br />

To grow out of being a child, one must take risks to test one’s own power and<br />

discover one’s own limits. The wilderness provides a perfect venue to push the<br />

edges of our youth through activities like a night swim in a cold pond, lighting<br />

and tending fire, sitting alone in nature, and traveling through the dark of<br />

night. Well-designed edge experiences provide opportunities to transcend one’s<br />

limited beliefs and discover new possibilities.

The Mentor<br />

The role of parents is to raise and protect children. Parents cannot raise<br />

children alone, which is where mentors come in. Children thrive when adults<br />

they admire guide them and invite them on exciting, challenging experiences<br />

that awaken their innate curiosity and passions.<br />

The Village<br />

For people to grow successfully into their next developmental stage, they need<br />

community support and guidance. Witnessing and reflection from others around<br />

them allows them to better see themselves and fully grow into a new life.<br />

Honoring Difference<br />

At this age, boys and girls tend to enter into different processes of physical and<br />

emotional transformation. Having a safe space to explore these changes is a<br />

critical part of coming of age, while being mindful to create skill building and<br />

challenge opportunities that avoid outdated gender stereotypes.<br />

Taking Kids to the Edge, Embracing Ancient Wisdom<br />

For thousands of years in cultures the world over, rites of passage brought<br />

children into the next phase of their lives with self-awareness and confidence,<br />

in part by recognizing how integral these core elements are.<br />

Joseph Campbell masterfully describes the mythological “hero’s journey” on<br />

which each of us must embark to make the passage into our true adulthood. We<br />

must shed the old life that has become too small and go through an “ordeal” to<br />

claim our gifts and step onto this new path.<br />

Pushing boundaries epitomizes this time of transition. This is a time of<br />

differentiation from parents, whose primary role is to rear and protect their<br />

children. In healthy indigenous cultures throughout time, non-parental<br />

mentors would take youth away from their parents — taking them “to the edge”<br />

in safe and healthy ways.<br />

Without such support, modern teens unconsciously seek initiation through<br />

precarious behaviors such as high-risk sports or explorations of drugs, alcohol,<br />

and unsafe sexual activity. Ask parents about the transition from childhood to<br />

adolescence, and odds are you’ll hear about a descent into pop culture and peer<br />

pressure that leaves them feeling alienated as their loving, creative children<br />

become aloof, disconnected teenagers.<br />

By providing meaningful experiences that help teens develop the confidence and<br />

skills they need to be independent individuals, we can help our youth avoid<br />

fulfilling the modern American stereotype: rebellious, rude, unmoored, and<br />

untrustworthy.<br />

Wilderness Torah has developed one approach to re-connecting Jewish youth to

a life-centered rite-of-passage through B’naiture, a two year Jewish<br />

nature-based mentorship that culminates in an overnight wilderness solo where<br />

youth kindle and tend their own fire. We have witnessed this transform their<br />

lives, giving youth more confidence and grace, and a deeper sense of pride in<br />

their ancestral heritage.<br />

Young people are excited to be given challenges and opportunities to explore<br />

their own gifts and edges, while parents are proud witnesses to the lasting impact<br />

of their children’s positive transformations. Who wouldn’t be pleased to find<br />

their child “more grounded, taking more initiative, and more aware of the world<br />

around him,” as one father described the changes he witnessed in his son<br />

through his experience in B’naiture.<br />

Drawing from our ancient wellspring of Jewish teachings, and lessons from other<br />

indigenous cultures around the world, it is now time to embrace this new–old<br />

way of supporting and mentoring our youth into a successful future. When youth<br />

are truly met where they are at in this crucial life stage, we will see respectful,<br />

communicative, and helpful youth who find meaning in lighting Shabbat candles<br />

and grow into adults who have the confidence and awareness to live a life of tikkun<br />

olam, true service to humanity.<br />

In cultivating meaningful, life-centered, transformational rites of passage<br />

experiences like B’naiture, we also meet the needs of the new generations while<br />

honoring the needs of those who have come before. For, if keeping our youth<br />

engaged and excited about their heritage and the birthright of their ancient<br />

traditions, which is consistently a priority for the older generations, then<br />

meeting the younger generations where they are is key. Once we meet them where<br />

youth most need to be met, with the basket of cultural gifts in service to their<br />

growth, exploration, and joy, then once they cross the threshold, they certainly<br />

will look back and become curious and committed to the very thing that brought<br />

them to a vibrant and connected life. This is how we simultaneously serve our<br />

youth during this critical life stage, while creating continuity in our ancient<br />

cultures at this critical time in world history.

Initiation and<br />

Rites of Passage<br />

by Bill Plotkin<br />

*Article originally published in Circles on the Mountain, gratefully republished here with<br />

permission from the author and original publisher<br />

I’ve been wondering what we mean by “initiation.” There seem to be several<br />

possibilities. If, as guides, we say we’re offering initiation experiences, what do<br />

we mean? And what is the relationship between initiation and rites of passage?<br />

In recent decades, the Western world has rediscovered the vital importance of<br />

initiation. We’ve recognized that over a span of many centuries we had lost<br />

something essential on the journey to becoming fully human. We’re remembering<br />

there’s something crucial that children need at puberty to guide them into a<br />

healthy adolescence. We’re remembering there’s something young men (and even<br />

middle-aged men) need in order to help them attain what is sometimes called<br />

“true manhood.” We’re remembering there’s something young women (and even<br />

middle-aged women) need to enable them to embrace the full promise of<br />

womanhood.<br />

Most generally, I see three different meanings of “initiation,” corresponding to<br />

the beginning, middle, and end of a journey of personal change:<br />

●<br />

inception: the start of a process of transformation from one state of being<br />

to another; the first step of a journey (at its root, “initiation” means to<br />

begin, to enter upon)<br />

●<br />

the journey itself: the process of transformation from one state to another,<br />

a journey that might last months or years; being betwixt and between the old<br />

and new, in limbo, a liminal state; the journey includes practices and<br />

ceremonies to quicken the transformation and often instruction in<br />

mysteries and ritual knowledge

●<br />

the final passage: the shift into a new state of being; the completion of the<br />

journey<br />

When we speak about initiation, we might be referring to any one of these three<br />

aspects of the journey.<br />

But, to make things a bit more complicated (it’s unavoidable), there seem to be<br />

two very different kinds of transitions people refer to as initiations:<br />

●<br />

social changes (including vocational, religious, therapeutic, and<br />

academic): acquiring a new social role (such as married, parent,<br />

debutante, divorced, retired) or religious status (confirmation and other<br />

attainments of religious majority) or religious role (novice, monk, priest,<br />

priestess) or academic standing (freshman, graduate, PhD candidate,<br />

associate professor, dean) or chronological/ biological state (maiden,<br />

mother, crone) or therapeutic status (in a healing process, in recovery,<br />

healed) or acquiring new membership or a new role in a social group,<br />

fraternity or sorority, gang, trade union, or secret society<br />

●<br />

psychospiritual transformations: major shifts in one’s existential place in<br />

the world and the accompanying changes in consciousness; death-rebirth<br />

passages; what Mircea Eliade referred to as “a basic change in existential<br />

condition” such as major life-stage passages (for example, birth,<br />

attainment of self-awareness, puberty, start of true adulthood or<br />

elderhood, death), spiritual conversions or illuminations (satori,<br />

enlightenment, encounters with the sacred or divine, wrestling with<br />

angels), other experiences that change your world (first experience of sex,<br />

romance, ESP, appreciating the difference between soul and Spirit,<br />

experiencing the cosmos as conscious and intelligent, or the implacable<br />

reality of death)<br />

These are two very different categories of transitions. Most social changes do not<br />

entail significant psychospiritual shifts. You can get married without any

fundamental change in your consciousness or world. You can faithfully go<br />

through all steps of an “initiation ritual” without being deeply changed in any<br />

way whatsoever, even if at the end you’re given new robes or a new title and<br />

people slap you on the back and treat you differently.<br />

Conversely, most psychospiritual transformations entail no changes in social<br />

status (or vocational, religious, or academic standing). Although you might be<br />

thunderstruck by seeing the face of God for the first time or by your first<br />

encounter with the mysteries of your soul, perhaps no one notices or treats you<br />

any different — and your boss doesn’t give you a promotion and no university<br />

confers upon you an honorary degree.<br />

But some transitions are both social and psychospiritual; or one kind of change<br />

triggers the other. For example, after giving birth, perhaps the world is truly a<br />

different place, your consciousness permanently shifted. Or you’re wounded in<br />

combat, receive a purple star or bronze medal (a change in military status), but<br />

also have your first indelible experience of the evil of war or the reality of<br />

mortality, a profound shift that permanently alters your life. Or, after your first<br />

time in space, you’re inducted into the guild of veteran astronauts but, like<br />

Edgar Mitchell, you’ve also had a profound experience of Earth as a living being,<br />

an experience that forever changes you and your experience of what the world is.<br />

Or, as a Buddhist monk, you experience satori, a Roshi recognizes this, and<br />

you’re asked to be a dharma teacher.<br />

When we speak of initiation of either of the two kinds, we might mean the inception<br />

of the journey, the journey itself, or the completion of the journey. So, doing<br />

the math, that makes at least six sorts of things we might mean when we say<br />

“initiation.” For example, the inception of a social-religious journey: “There’ll<br />

be an initiation ceremony for Peter when he enters the seminary.” The process of<br />

a psychospiritual initiation journey: “By the fall of 1914, Carl Jung was several<br />

months into his multi-year confrontation with the unconscious.” A<br />

social-academic final passage: “Carlin has graduated from art school; Sunday is the<br />

initiation (commencement) ceremony.” Both a social and psychospiritual<br />

passage: “During her 13th year, Rebecca and her family joined several other

families at a forest camp for a weeklong puberty rite.”<br />

The long ceremony of the vision fast can help facilitate or mark any of the six<br />

kinds of initiations — or, in some cases, none of them — depending on such<br />

things as the intent of the guides and participants, the life stage and<br />

psychospiritual preparedness of the participant, and the design of the ceremony.<br />

With most psychospiritual transformations, the passage is the fruit of a process or<br />

journey, often a rather long one of several months or more. No process, no<br />

passage. As guides, do we accompany people through their entire journey — or<br />

only mark its end with a ceremony? With many social transitions, in contrast,<br />

there might be little to no process (e.g., a wedding with no engagement period;<br />

or a weekend initiation ritual with little or no preparation). Major life passages<br />

usually require a lengthy initiatory process, usually the entire preceding life<br />

stage.<br />

One last distinction regarding initiations: There are two kinds of circumstances<br />

— having to do with the agent of change — in which people undergo<br />

transformations of any of the six kinds:<br />

●<br />

Mystery changes you, shifts your psychospiritual center of gravity,<br />

sometimes with the supplemental support of an initiation guide or an<br />

entheogenic substance (for the word Mystery, you can substitute life, soul,<br />

Spirit, psyche, world, etc.)<br />

●<br />

another person changes you or confers the change upon you: an initiator,<br />

guru, priest, rabbi, academic dean, gang leader, superior officer, ritual<br />

guide, or elder (“I now pronounce you husband and wife,” “You are now a<br />

man,” “Welcome to the sisterhood,” etc.) — or perhaps you confer it upon<br />

yourself (e.g., by crossing a physical threshold)<br />

Major life passages, such as attaining true adfulthood, are always a matter of Mystery shifting our<br />

psychospiritual center of gravity. We cannot do this for ourselves and no one can do it for us,<br />

including through a rite of passage.

When it comes to psychospiritual transformations, rites of passage are ceremonial<br />

ways of marking or celebrating (not causing) the psychospiritual shift brought<br />

about by Mystery. In contrast, with rites of passage for social changes, the shift in<br />

social status is not merely marked by the rite but caused by the rite and conferred<br />

by the officiant of the rite (or by a whole community).<br />

At Animas Valley Institute, we use the word “initiation” primarily to refer to one<br />

kind of psychospiritual transformation, the one we call Soul Initiation, by which<br />

we mean either the process (“the journey of Soul Initiation,” which usually spans<br />

several months or years) or the completion of that process (the passage of Soul<br />

Initiation).<br />

The passage of Soul Initiation is only one of several major life passages possible<br />

in a full human life, but one experienced by perhaps only 10% of contemporary<br />

Western people. This is the passage from psychological late adolescence to true<br />

adulthood, a psychospiritual transformation earned in part by success with the<br />

tasks of the archetypal Wanderer, but ultimately brought about and conferred by<br />

Mystery. Ideally this passage is also recognized, marked, celebrated, and<br />

supported by a community, perhaps partly by way of a rite of passage.<br />

Every major life passage is a psychospiritual transformation in two ways: It is a<br />

completion of one initiatory process (the previous stage) and an inception of a<br />

new one (the next stage). Puberty is an initiation in this sense — the end of<br />

childhood and the inception of adolescence. This is also true for eco-awakening<br />

(a first visceral experience of the world as thoroughly animate and of ourselves as<br />

native members of such a world). And for Soul Initiation. Birth, too, of course.<br />

And the attainment of conscious self-awareness, which occurs around the 4th<br />

birthday and which van Gennep referred to as Naming. Following Soul Initiation,<br />

there are (by my count) four additional major life passages possible, each of<br />

which can be thought of as psychospiritual initiations, the final of these being<br />


Celebrate with Story<br />

by Gail Burkett<br />

I wish to foster interesting conversations along a fine plait of issues. Perhaps you<br />

can visualize how these pressing issues might be woven together. The first strand<br />

of the plait is arrested development, a real and tragic occurrence.<br />

Holding the center strand, similar to a sweet smelling Sweetgrass braid, youngers<br />

and olders both need to move through the fire of initiation to feel the honored<br />

position in their clan as Initiates and Elders. They will step forward together and<br />

bring ceremony to all others. The final issue which completes the braid is our<br />

current challenges, one of the good elemental forms in Rites of Passage. As a<br />

collective of practitioners, many feel we are inside of a liminal space together<br />

now, building tradition through ceremonies. For the challenges ahead, I pray we<br />

practice perseverance and patience and good dialogues to expand our circles.<br />

Begin Where We Are<br />

Every human experiences profound transformations. Ordinary change is so<br />

subtle it’s often overlooked but this is the true nature of initiation. In the drama<br />

of life seeking wholeness, do we understand how Rite of Passage ceremonies<br />

compliment transformations?<br />

It’s true, consciousness continues to expand contributing to our collective<br />

evolution; so many lack the tools, the mentoring, or a visionary awareness about<br />

how to grow up. Sadly many never do; others only grow to a certain point. When<br />

the mind and body leave spirit and emotion behind, maturity is impossible and<br />

ego rules. Such a split causes suffering; do you remember a time when an<br />

unforgettable cascade of events felt like the Earth shifting; in the alchemy of<br />

unity, did transformation eventually happen? Must we accept happenstance<br />

change or could we invite the observance of change through ceremony? Could we<br />

teach such ceremonial observations to our children so they may look forward to

their next stage of maturity?<br />

When unspoken desires linger, a festering begins. Sometimes trauma provides a<br />

breakthrough; each person’s life-force or Soul is unimaginably clever. Accidents<br />

and illnesses may be disguised as tricksters bringing fresh choices. Look inside<br />

stories of change. Without ceremony, life seems to bounce between hard knocks.<br />

When one’s mind finally accepts an end to suffering, the sensitive and mysterious<br />

parts of one’s Soul accepts guidance from Spirit which beckons from the next<br />

Threshold. Some will be guided by intuition and some by mentors, but changing<br />

the energy of trauma enough for a breakthrough, this is the phenomenal work of<br />

initiations.<br />

The inner desire for wholeness, for reunion and coming back together, is all<br />

powerful and may indeed cause a cascade of change. Relief creates a new normal,<br />

but does this outcome support and strengthen the individual and the community?<br />

Did the call to change receive satisfaction? Did a positive transformation occur?<br />

Story Connects Us<br />

Could you imagine a world where change becomes ceremonially wrapped and<br />

something to look forward to, especially the after-glow gifts of peace and harmony<br />

within oneself?<br />

Those recovering from deep wounds of living, who dared to step up to personal<br />

growth, and especially those who shared their courageous action with a few others<br />

to receive a send-off and a welcome return, these folks are the lucky ones who<br />

experience a Rite of Passage ceremony. Courage is honored by a community circle<br />

gathered to close liminal time with the act of listening to the tale. The ritual of<br />

storytelling often begins with the exasperation of denying growth and owning the<br />

need for change. A space made sacred by listeners often reveals wholeness—where<br />

mind and body merge again with emotion and Soul. Such wholeness arrives in<br />

silence and is meant to be shared because the teller has more to learn. These<br />

pillars of wholeness—mind, body, emotions and Soul—begin to expand together<br />

after a ceremony that includes storytelling.

Simply said, sharing in a community circle is needed to complete a Rite of<br />

Passage; this allows the initiate to experience welcome encouragement for<br />

exploring his or her revelations. When family and friends gather around to hear<br />

of the trials which came before and during liminal time, the riches of such a Rite<br />

of Passage journey affect every witness. A quickening happens in relationships,<br />

an environment charged with relief of suffering also produces ecstatic hope for<br />

the entire Village. Who among us recognize these needs and patterns? Do you<br />

agree your friends and family might benefit from personal breakthroughs?<br />

I am a carrier of this tradition. My own breakthrough in 1996 was so remarkable<br />

that my life turned a few degrees, higher purpose emerged out of the darkest<br />

night, and I committed to bring Rites of Passage to the culture, which I define as<br />

broad and inclusive. Beginning in women’s gatherings, in workshops and<br />

seminars, and with the collective ears of an Elders’ Council, I have listened<br />

deeply to teachers carrying parts and pieces of a new tradition. Because of our<br />

incredible diversity in America, our common culture of new and old immigrants<br />

comingling with native peoples demands patience, but do you see how we’ve been<br />

rewarded with miraculous ways to communicate? Once I envisioned a 40 year<br />

dedication to bring rituals and ceremonies to the Village for the celebration of<br />

all peoples; we’re experiencing a positive crescendo at 20 years. This is the<br />

mid-point of my vision. We need only patience and perseverance; I support a<br />

movement where all Elders and all Youth join hands, and where everyone,<br />

including Adults and Children, experience Rite of Passage ceremonies. I feel<br />

wildly hopeful, our dance will be beautiful.<br />

An Alchemy<br />

Patience and practice, these are our best tools: Parents and practitioners alike<br />

need these holy qualities to bring to the children something we did not receive<br />

for ourselves. Several years ago, I saw this paradox clearly. How could we give<br />

away something like these ceremonial rituals of severance and return when we did<br />

not receive them for ourselves?

After years of women’s ceremonies, I wish to re-story a recent ceremony. Elders,<br />

receiving the tradition of Nine Passages, took a year in very slow motion, to<br />

remember all seven Thresholds because we had missed celebrating them before. It<br />

was a delightful and too-brief experience. Soon we formed a strong circle of<br />

initiates and offered a second group this new tradition we had received for<br />

ourselves. This very act of beginning again, deepened our experience of a<br />

ceremonial initiation and sacred gift: Giving away something sacred, a Rite of<br />

Passage ceremony, has become our right. Women’s circles connected us to a<br />

common cause.<br />

Women and men, through our growing networks, can easily address this lack of<br />

ceremonies for Rites of Passage if the paradigm shifts just a little more. Gather,<br />

plan to cross Thresholds together. Elders first, then, as surely as the Earth turns<br />

on her axis, we will feel the urge to give it away. Women connecting to men and<br />

babies, receive a ceremony and then pay it forward.<br />

Allow maturity to become a group research project. The steps seem so simple.<br />

Here is a brief outline. Spend one or two months planning to cross Thresholds<br />

together, prepare for liminal journeys through the dark nights of winter. Step<br />

into liminal bubbles where you only need to listen and accept the challenge to<br />

heal. After solo time, gather to close the portal and experience group ecstasy. You<br />

will each learn something different and tell a unique story, this is the way to know<br />

your own story more intimately. The freedom to soar with kindred spirits will<br />

shine through initiate faces, no matter the age or the station. Most important:<br />

Find many ways to share your story with others.<br />

I encourage this holistic experience for all Elders. Every one of our<br />

grandchildren will reap the benefits of our stories. Most leaders have personal<br />

stories. One of our responsibilities is adding our voice to this library of<br />

knowledge and experience. Practice is the key. We are all learning what it means<br />

to bring Rites of Passage to the youngest and the oldest among us.<br />

Through long observations, I have been able to view the four pillars of<br />

development and twice that number of transformations. At Birth, a Soul comes

for a spiritual experience and brings his or her unique contract with Death. The<br />

progression of development over-lays the Earth’s shifting axis creating seasons,<br />

this provides us with labels for maturity: Child, Youth, Adult, and Elder. Because<br />

we need the older generations to bring the younger generations to ceremony, I<br />

have applied the theory of simultaneity. If we began only with Birth, a longer time<br />

would be needed before that baby would be an Elder. If we begin with babies and<br />

grandfolks, soon everyone in the middle will be touched by Village ceremonies<br />

and people will step forward when their Threshold beckons.<br />

Philosophy<br />

Using the twin lenses of healer and teacher while observing and studying, nine<br />

distinct biological changes emerged from the mists. Counting Birth and Death,<br />

the dramatic bracket passages, biology serves as change agent throughout life.<br />

There are many hidden agents of change in personal life—births, weddings,<br />

graduations, and divorce, for example, yet the Elders revealed nine biological<br />

changes that we all have in common.<br />

Humans beings mature in a reflection of the Medicine Wheel handed down<br />

through Indigenous ancestral lineages. Viewing each of the seasonal<br />

days—Equinoxes and Solstices—plus the midpoint days between the season<br />

markers, can you see how the early and late stages of adulthood precisely reflect<br />

the two parts to Autumn? Seeing into all of the stages of development, a profound<br />

truth emerges: Human development follows the Earth’s tipping axis. Feeling<br />

reverence for my indigenous relations, I opened the Medicine Wheel into a Spiral<br />

for inclusive teachings. Individuation progresses all through life. Expanded, the<br />

Life Spiral (see figure 1) includes nine stages of development and illustrates how<br />

Death is our constant companion.

Fig. 1: Life Spiral Developed for Nine Passages by Gail Burkett & Elders<br />

Patience is our highest calling now, a practice to use and feel tested by. Most of<br />

us can see how civilization is breaking down and grief is ever present. To help<br />

bring consciousness to maturity, we encourage simultaneous ceremonies all<br />

around the Spiral. Patience is one of the great gifts of this vision. Let us

persevere; Rite of Passage ceremonies will knit our Villages into beautiful<br />

interlocking designs. On the road ahead, we will need this strength, from the<br />

grassroots up.<br />

I am deeply grateful for so many practitioners who step forward with spiritual<br />

intentions to bring the conversation, to deliver the experience, to hold so many<br />

containers at once. With all my heart I believe Rite of Passage traditions will be<br />

a human right in less than seven generations into the future.<br />

Rituals that bring honor to natural life stages enrich each person’s journey in<br />

evolved and elegant ways. Rather than probing the darkness, the light of<br />

ceremony will guide our way forward. Rites of Passage provide a consistent<br />

storyline for maturity and serves well even through Death.<br />

Creating new traditions to celebrate the sacred nature of change and the way<br />

stories are gathered into a bundle and shared, this is holy work. A glow of hope<br />

radiates from those who have found this consciousness in the past two decades.<br />

Initiate celebrants have a story that will impact listeners; like a precious gift it<br />

needs to be shared around central fires and dinner tables, and even during quiet<br />

nature moments.

My Nature is Hunger<br />

(Selections)<br />

by<br />

Luis J.<br />

Rodriguez<br />

The Calling<br />

The calling came to me while I languished<br />

in my room, while I whittled away my youth<br />

in jail cells and damp barrio fields.<br />

It brought me to life, out of captivity,<br />

in a street-scarred and tattooed place

I called body.<br />

Until then I waited silently,<br />

a deafening clamor in my head,<br />

but voiceless to all around,<br />

hidden from America’s eyes,<br />

a brown boy without a name,<br />

I would sing into a solitary<br />

tape recorder, music never to be heard.<br />

I would write my thoughts<br />

in scrambled English;<br />

I would take photos in my mind<br />

—plan out new parks, bushy green, concrete free,<br />

new places to play and think.<br />

Waiting. Then it came. The calling.<br />

It brought me out of my room.<br />

It forced me to escape night captors<br />

in street prisons.<br />

It called me to war, to be writer,<br />

to be scientist and march with the soldiers<br />

of change.<br />

It called me from the shadows, out of the wreckage<br />

of my barrio—from among those<br />

who did not exist.<br />

I waited all of 16 years for this time.<br />

Somehow, unexpected, I was called.

The Object of Intent<br />

is to Get There.<br />

“I am in the world to change the world.”<br />

-Muriel Rukesyer<br />

One lifetime meets another lifetime<br />

in a constant lifetime of wars.<br />

Leaning cities greet us at every station<br />

and every wound points to the same place.<br />

If your unique pain cancels out my unique pain<br />

then there is nothing unique about pain.<br />

What’s left to do<br />

but carry your troubles to where they’re going;<br />

once there, you stumble on the rest of us.

Nightfall<br />

When prisons become the fastest growth industry<br />

Our minds and hearts become the imprisoned<br />

When the past of blood and conquest is denied<br />

The land gives back this blood in torrents<br />

When war is the only imagination of the people<br />

The people’s imagination becomes an insurrection<br />

When we sacrifice lives, including our children’s<br />

Evil becomes as common as breathing<br />

When truth scares us to apathy<br />

Our only truths come from the most fantastic lies<br />

When enemies are whoever our leaders say they<br />

are<br />

We won’t know an enemy from a rainbow<br />

When power and wealth drives social policy<br />

All policies are subject to poetic death<br />

When my son asks, do I have to go to war?<br />

A father’s duty is to war against war first<br />

When people say peace is the absence of conflict<br />

They have no idea what they’re talking about<br />

When war forces us to die outside of ourselves,<br />

We have to learn to live from inside our bones.<br />

I read the newspapers today

and the climate reports again proclaimed<br />

perpetual nightfall.<br />

I read the newspapers and saw that things<br />

are worse for our children then they were for us.<br />

I turned on the TV and found the darkening<br />

pulling us along fast-moving swollen rivers,<br />

where we grasp at unstable stones and loose<br />

Branches<br />

only to be swept away into the shadows<br />

next to “welcome” doormats and canary cages.<br />

Our leaders have called in the troops<br />

with one or two syllable declarations.<br />

Imagination is a casualty of this war<br />

as are poetic language and moral consistency.<br />

Despite millions taking to the streets against war<br />

we go to war anyway because, hey, we got the<br />

weapons.<br />

This is a democracy that doesn’t care that people<br />

care.<br />

This is a country that fights evil with guns<br />

although this is evil’s playground,<br />

that opposes affirmative action in colleges<br />

but pushes affirmative action in the military,<br />

that has no vision, although there’s plenty to see,<br />

that has no dreams, although there’s plenty of<br />

Sleeping,<br />

that denies reality, although there’s plenty<br />

of reality shows.

Walk with the young, America,<br />

be young, again, America,<br />

be among the defiant and awake,<br />

solid in their dreams.<br />

Be the revolution in the marrow<br />

where passions, ideals, fervors,<br />

purposes and courage<br />

are not just something<br />

people had in history books,<br />

but what we have to possess everyday,<br />

anytime repression, injustice,<br />

fear and greed<br />

gather like night riders<br />

about the gallop<br />

through our living rooms.<br />

Where will your fingers take you when you can no<br />

longer<br />

trace the lines on your mother’s face? When will a<br />

child’s<br />

cry stop being the breath of morning? As war<br />

becomes<br />

the milk in our cereal, the rain on our sill, the<br />

constant<br />

rattle beneath our car’s hood—so much a part of<br />

everything—<br />

we lose the conception of life without war.<br />

we lose what it us to be alive without killing.<br />

I see the lost youth of America

finding their way<br />

with plenty to fight for, not just against.<br />

Thousands marching across the land,<br />

walking out of schools, putting up signs,<br />

and talking the ears off their friends.<br />

Rigorous, animated, and brave<br />

instead of sad and silent down the hallways.<br />

Education cannot be confined to fenced buildings.<br />

It is in the heart, at home, in the parks, in the<br />

mall.<br />

Schools don't teach, you say?<br />

Then choose to learn anyway.<br />

Fight for the schools, but never stop accepting<br />

that with caring, with community,<br />

education is everywhere.<br />

The parents of the dead Iragi War soldier<br />

have pictures of their daughter on a mantle<br />

with photos of childhood school faces<br />

and softball teams next to certificates and<br />

trophies.<br />

These are monuments to their quiet complicity,<br />

their confused collaboration<br />

in her sacrifice--something they must never<br />

acknowledge even as their tragic mistake<br />

haunts their sullen walk in every room of the<br />


Tía Chucha<br />

Every few years Tía Chucha would visit the family<br />

in a tornado of song and open us up<br />

as if we were an overripe avocado.<br />

She was a dumpy, black-haired<br />

creature of upheaval who often came unannounced<br />

with a bag of presents, including homemade<br />

perfumes and colognes that smelled something like<br />

rotting fish on a hot day at the tuna cannery.<br />

They said she was crazy. Oh sure, she once ran out naked<br />

to catch the postman with a letter that didn’t belong to us.<br />

I mean, she had this annoying habit of boarding city buses<br />

and singing at the top of her voice—one bus driver<br />

even refused to go on until she got off.<br />

But crazy?<br />

To me, she was the wisp of the wind’s freedom,<br />

a music-maker who once tried to teach me guitar<br />

but ended up singing and singing,<br />

me listening, and her singing<br />

until I put the instrument down<br />

and watched the clock click the lesson time away.<br />

I didn’t learn guitar, but I learned something<br />

about her craving for the new, the unbroken,<br />

so she could break it. Periodically she banished herself<br />

from the family—and was the better for it.<br />

I secretly admired Tía Chucha.<br />

She was always quick with a story,

another “Pepito” joke or a hand-written lyric<br />

that she would produce regardless of the occasion.<br />

She was a despot of desire,<br />

uncontainable as a splash of water<br />

on a varnished table.<br />

I wanted to remove the layers<br />

of unnatural seeing,<br />

the way Tía Chucha beheld<br />

the world, with first eyes,<br />

like an infant who can discern<br />

the elixir within milk.<br />

I wanted to be one of the prizes<br />

she stuffed into her rumpled bag.

Painting 1:<br />

José Gurvich, Cosmic Man in Primary Colors, 1967<br />

Painting II:<br />

José Gurvich, Untitled, 1954<br />

*Images courtesy of Museo Gurvish, published via public domain

Bearing Witness:<br />

Exploring Rites of Passage<br />

as a Supportive Framework<br />

for Transgender Youth<br />

by Laura E. Parker-Schneider<br />

and Taylor E. Solymosy-Poole<br />

Naropa University<br />

Humankind has been engaging in rites of passage since the beginning of time.<br />

Arnold van Gennep (1909/2004) coined the term “rite of passage” and defined it<br />

as a ritualistic practice, or set of practices, denoting or marking the transition<br />

of a person from one stage of life to the next. All rites of passage require the<br />

individual to shed their current roles, identities, self-concepts, and societal<br />

obligations, and pass through a space of change before resuming their new roles<br />

and identities in society. Bell (2003) adapted van Gennep’s rite of passage three<br />

stage model that incorporates separation, transition, and reincorporation as its<br />

core components.<br />

Rites of passage marking transitions through developmental stages in life have<br />

traditionally been celebrated within a community context. However, modern<br />

western society no longer marks these transitions with traditional community<br />

rituals in a worthwhile way, and this lack of rites of passage negatively impacts the<br />

healthy development of people and culture (Scott, n.d.). In recent years, rites of<br />

passage programs have been created outside typical communities. These programs<br />

and program models, which have spawned from traditional rites of passage, are<br />

the focus of this paper.<br />

One of the benefits of rites of passage experiences for youth is the opportunity<br />

for safe exploration and identity development. Rite of passage experiences for<br />

youth help individuals address some of the inherent uncertainty and struggle

usually associated with adolescence. The space to explore and continue<br />

developing identity during such a confusing time as adolescence could be<br />

especially impactful for youth who are also from marginalized communities,<br />

such as the Transgender<br />

community.<br />

Through web-based research, the authors reviewed inclusivity of and<br />

accessibility for Transgender youth within many current rites of passage<br />

programs and experiences. Additionally, through personal interviews, the<br />

authors examined approaches to working with common themes in transition<br />

through rites of passage experiences. The authors, viewing transition related to<br />

Transgender identities as a rite of passage, discuss increasing accessibility to<br />

current rites of passage programs, as well as propose the development of<br />

Transgender youth-specific rites of passage offerings to honor, support, and<br />

bear witness to the experiences of Transgender youth.<br />

Community Context and Considerations<br />

In order to understand the importance of creating accessibility for Transgender<br />

youth, subsequently referred to as Trans youth, in current rites of passage<br />

programming and experiences, as well as the need for Trans-specific rites of<br />

passage programs and experiences, a basic understanding of the Trans<br />

community and Trans issues is needed. Gender identity is an individual’s<br />

internal sense of gender, and gender expression is how an individual manifests<br />

their gender to the outside world. A transgender individual is someone whose<br />

gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. A<br />

cisgender individual is someone whose gender identity aligns with the sex that<br />

individual was assigned at birth. Non-binary is an umbrella term that<br />

encompasses gender identities that are outside of man or woman, inclusive of<br />

both man and woman, or in between man and woman. Transition in the life of a<br />

Trans person is defined by that person (Parker & Solymosy-Poole, 2016). This<br />

process can include surgery, hormones, name and pronoun changes, and many<br />

other things. Sometimes, transition includes none of these things. Some view<br />

transition as life-long, while others view transition as a period of time with a<br />

beginning and an ending. When the authors refer to transition within the Trans

community, the definition of transition being used is however the person who is<br />

transitioning defines transition in their own life.<br />

In much the same way, it is important to note that there is some fluidity in the<br />

definitions of the previously stated terms within the Trans community,<br />

especially due to how each individual claims different terms as identities. For<br />

example, some individuals may identify their gender as non-binary, rather using<br />

non-binary as an umbrella term. Further, some individuals who identify as<br />

non-binary do not identify as Transgender. Rather than seeking to use absolute<br />

definitions for terminology, it is the commonly-accepted practice recommended<br />

by the Trans community to listen to, respect, and use the terms that Trans<br />

individuals use to define their lives.<br />

image courtesy of Trans Life & Liberation Series<br />

Best practices for working with members of the Trans community require that<br />

professionals not only have an understanding of the community, but also an<br />

understanding of issues faced by the community. Individuals in the Trans<br />

community face many issues due to marginalization, and youth are particularly<br />

at risk (Parker, 2015). When considering other marginalized identities such<br />

as race, class, and ability, oppression experienced by Trans youth is<br />

compounded for those at the intersections of their transgender identities and

other identities. For this reason it is important for professionals to understand<br />

the issues faced by Trans youth, as well as issues found at the intersection of<br />

their transgender identity and others such as race, class, and ability (Parker,<br />

2015).<br />

Rates of trauma due to violence are much higher among transgender youth than<br />

those of their cisgender peers (Grant, Mottet, Tanis, Harrison, Herman, and<br />

Keisling, 2011). Additionally, transgender youth are at a higher risk of<br />

homelessness (Hunt and Moodie-Mills, 2012; Keuroghlian, Shtasel, and<br />

Bassuk, 2014). Self-harm and suicide rates among transgender youth are<br />

higher, as are rates of substance<br />

abuse and risky sexual behaviors (Quintana, Rosenthal, and Krehely, 2010;<br />

National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2006; Hunt and Moodie-Mills,<br />

2012; Advocates for youth, 2013). Those within the transgender community who<br />

carry additional marginalized identities are at greater risk for violence; lack of<br />

access to resources, jobs and housing; and risky behaviors.<br />

According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey by the National<br />

Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force<br />

(Grant, et. al, 2011), of the respondents who expressed a Transgender identity<br />

or gender non-conformity in grades K-12<br />

78% reported experiencing harassment,<br />

35% percent reported experiencing physical violence,<br />

12% reported sexual assault.<br />

15% reported harassment was so severe that they left school<br />

51% who were harassed, physically or sexually assaulted, or expelled because<br />

of their gender identity or expression reported having attempted suicide<br />

76% of respondents who were assaulted by teachers or staff alone reported<br />

having attempted suicide<br />

The violence is not limited to schools. Trans youth experience violence in<br />

homes, shelters, on the streets, in detention and treatment centers, in<br />

hospitals, and many other settings (Grant, et. al, 2011; Quintana, et. al, 2010;

Hunt and Moodie-Mills, 2012; Advocates for Youth, 2013). Seventy-seven<br />

percent of clients at a youth homeless shelter in New York City reported they<br />

had “experienced physical or emotional abuse, including assault, sexual assault,<br />

and even attempted murder at the hands of their families” after being rejected<br />

for their queer or Trans identities (Quintana, et. al, 2010, p. 9).<br />

Approximately one fifth of transgender individuals who participated in the<br />

National Transgender Discrimination Survey had experienced violence at the<br />

hands of a family member because of their gender identity (Grant, et. al, 2011;<br />

Advocates for Youth, 2013).<br />

Repeatedly, research has shown that queer and Trans youth are overrepresented<br />

in the homeless youth population (Quintana, et. al, 2010). It is estimated that<br />

twenty to forty percent of homeless youth identify as queer or Trans despite<br />

making up only five to seven percent of the overall youth population (Quintana,<br />

et. al, 2010). These youth often end up on the streets as a result of rejection by<br />

family (National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2006; Advocates for Youth,<br />

2013; Hunt and Moodie-Mills, 2012).

Addressing Critical <strong>Issue</strong>s Through Rites of Passage Programming<br />

The authors reviewed the websites of over 30 different programs that resulted<br />

from the electronic search. Although the authors did not run any formal<br />

statistical analysis, it appears that well over half of these programs mentioned<br />

working with LGBTQ+, or Trans youth specifically. Almost exclusively, these<br />

programs and services were therapeutic in nature and focused on the treatment<br />

of mental health issues. No organizations offered rites of passage programs<br />

uniquely for Trans youth.<br />

This review of current program offerings showed a general absence of Trans<br />

specific rites of passage programs. If Trans-specific programs or services do<br />

exist, they are not easily or readily available. The authors wish to make it<br />

explicit that this search and review of current programs and offerings is not<br />

exhaustive or definitive. Traditional indigenous, as well as other<br />

non-traditional community-based rites of passage likely exist. However, there is<br />

clearly a lack of program offerings for the larger Trans youth population, as<br />

evidenced by their lack of internet visibility. In today’s modern society, it is<br />

increasingly important to ensure that programs are both visible and accessible<br />

which necessitates having a strong web presence for populations where<br />

traditional practices have been lost.<br />

Current Trans-Friendly Program Offerings<br />

Although the authors were unable to find Trans-specific rites of passage<br />

programs, there are two organizations that offer programs to the LGBTQ+<br />

community that are specifically inclusive of Trans youth. Both programs are<br />

named Queer Quest, but are run by different organizations. The first Queer<br />

Quest offering is through The School of Lost Borders. Their website states that<br />

the rite of passage offering for 2017 entails a seven day Vision Fast that is<br />

intended to give members of the LGBTQ+ community an opportunity to explore<br />

“what it means to be a queer and grow into adulthood,” while working with other<br />

members of the LGBTQ+ community (School Of Lost Borders, 2016). The

second Queer Quest is offered through The Make Trybe Center for<br />

Transformative Design. Their Queer Quest program offers five two-hour group<br />

sessions, a weekend trip, and a follow up session over seven weeks which “offers<br />

identity exploration and sacred space specifically for LGBTQ+ youth and adults”<br />

(Make Trybe Center for Transformative Design, 2015). Although the Make<br />

Trybe Queer Quest does not restrict its population to youth only, it does appear<br />

to make a concerted effort to cater to the specific needs of youth. While it is<br />

unlikely that these are the only two programs that offer rites of passage<br />

experiences inclusive of Trans youth, they appear to be the most readily<br />

accessible for prospective participants due to ease of internet searchability.<br />

Increasing Accessibility of Current Rites of Passage Programs<br />

In conducting the web-based search for rites of passage programs and<br />

experiences, the authors were looking for any organization that explicitly<br />

indicated that the organization was LGBTQ+ friendly and Trans-friendly<br />

specifically. For the purposes of this article, the authors define inclusivity as the<br />

admission of Trans youth to programs, while accessibility indicates that an<br />

organization is working toward their program not being harmful toward Trans<br />

youth based on their Trans identities. It is important to note that many of the<br />

programs and experiences found in the web-based search only indicated<br />

inclusivity on their web pages, rather than accessibility. Although LGBTQ+<br />

youth can show up and be a part of the experiences, the organizations<br />

responsible for the rites of passage offerings do not indicate that the programs<br />

and experiences have been redeveloped in ways that specifically meet the needs<br />

of Trans youth. Many organizations give no indication what it means to them to<br />

be “Trans-friendly.” Some organizations address accessibility for Trans youth by<br />

stating on their websites that youth can choose to be in the gendered group that<br />

matches their affirmed gender, rather than the gender they were assigned at<br />

birth. Although this approach can be affirming of many binary Trans youth,<br />

oftentimes organizations only have a boys group and a girls group, leaving many<br />

non-binary Trans youth without an affirming choice.

Making current rites of passage programs and experiences accessible for Trans<br />

youth needs to begin before Trans youth engage in a rite of passage experience.<br />

That is, organizations should begin working now to make their programs<br />

accessible as an intentional forethought, rather than an incidental afterthought.<br />

There are many ways current rite of passage programs can become more<br />

accessible to Trans youth. Asking youth who they are, what they want to be<br />

called, and how they want to be referred to is one. Additionally, normalizing<br />

hygiene discussions related to menstruation for all participants, regardless of<br />

gender, is another. Splitting groups based on a different qualifier rather than<br />

gender would be another. Groups can be divided by age groups or interests.<br />

Youth can be given more than two choices, told a story to explain each group,<br />

and be allowed to choose for themselves what group feels empowering to them,<br />

as was done by a pair of guides in Boulder, Colorado with their development of<br />

the “Sun, Moon, and Star Society” (Sinopoulos-Lloyd & Sinopoulos-Lloyd).<br />

Staff can be trained to notice the ways they make cisnormative assumptions about<br />

how adulthood might look for youth who are participating in programs that are<br />

supporting that youth’s transition to young adulthood. That training should not<br />

stop at direct-care staff. All employees and volunteers should be trained to best<br />

serve Trans youth in ways that make programs more accessible and less harmful<br />

toward youth. Further, Trans adult role models actively seeking the opportunity<br />

to work with youth from their community can be hired to co-lead these<br />

programs. However, this must be an opportunity the adult is seeking rather than<br />

the organization tokenizing Trans people for the sake of the program.<br />

Additionally, when Trans youth show up at organizations currently offering<br />

youth focused rites of passage programs and experiences, those organizations<br />

should create space for Trans youth to also honor transition related to their<br />

Trans identities. For many Trans youth who are transitioning, it is difficult to<br />

separate their transition into young adulthood from their transition related to<br />

their Trans identity. At the same time organizations create the space for Trans<br />

youth to honor transition, it is also necessary for those organizations to<br />

understand that some Trans youth may not need or want support around their

gender identity. Thus, professionals are reminded that the participant is<br />

inclined to set their own intentions, and professionals should encourage the<br />

experience be youth-centered and youth-led.<br />

In considering designing programs that cater specifically to the needs of Trans<br />

youth, it is necessary to incorporate the voice of the Trans community. As<br />

previously discussed, it is inappropriate to include Trans individuals in<br />

leadership and development roles as tokenizing them for a semblance of diversity.<br />

Instead, it is the responsibility of those currently in leadership roles to create<br />

programs and experiences that provide safe and inclusive spaces that encourage<br />

the inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds.<br />

Creating Trans Youth-Specific Rites of Passage<br />

Adolescence is often a time that individuals begin to intentionally and<br />

consciously explore who they are. It can be a confusing period in a person’s life,<br />

and it can also be an opportunity for significant personal growth. Transgender<br />

individuals face markedly more societal adversity than cisgender individuals in<br />

this exploration, not only in terms of gender and sexuality, but also in their sense<br />

of self and their role in the community. Rites of passage programs are uniquely<br />

suited to provide a structured, safe, and inclusive space for Trans youth to engage<br />

in a personal investigation, while being in community with other Trans people<br />

who are on the same path.<br />

Participants seek out programs like rites of passage programs with a specific<br />

purpose in mind. They rely on the facilitators of the program to create a<br />

framework in which to explore their purpose. Here, a distinction must be drawn<br />

between goal directed and intention directed experiences. Part of the potency of<br />

a rite of passage experience lies within inexplicable nature of the liminal stage.<br />

It is in this stage that that change takes place. Participants are encouraged to<br />

explore who they are without the burden of their social roles and identities.<br />

Goals inherently restrict the free exploration of self within the liminal space by<br />

requiring the participant to reach or achieve some target. Because of the limited<br />

focus of a goal, participants who are goal directed, are not in a position to look

for and receive experiences outside of their course. In contrast, intentions are<br />

open ended. An intention has direction without a precise outcome. When<br />

participants begin a rite of passage and enter the liminal space with intentions,<br />

they tend to be more open to meet aspects of themselves and of the world that<br />

they were unaware of when they began their rite of passage.<br />

For Trans youth, the distinction between goal directed and intention directed<br />

programs becomes especially meaningful in relation to exploration of gender<br />

and sexuality. All too often, people working with Trans youth assume that<br />

gender and sexuality are aspects that participants are confused about and are<br />

seeking to explore. However, this mindset creates a facilitator led, goal directed<br />

environment that may stifle growth if this is not the direction an individual<br />

wants to go. Facilitators may guide participants to solidify and clarify their<br />

intentions, but should not judge or suggest goals or motives.<br />

Although guidance around exploring gender, sexuality, sense of self, and any<br />

other aspect should be provided by those leading the program, the authors<br />

advise that the purpose of rites of passage experiences for Trans youth should<br />

only focus on these themes if directed by the participant. The purpose, then, of<br />

rites of passage experiences for Trans youth, should be to provide a space for<br />

participants to share their stories and be in relationship with other members of<br />

their community who have a shared experience. Most programs provide a space<br />

for cisgender youths to explore their adolescence and growth into adulthood.<br />

Programs designed to give Trans youth the same levels of support in exploring<br />

their unique circumstances on their own terms are vital.<br />

One of the most powerful aspects of rite of passage experiences is the<br />

community that forms between members (Bodkin & Sartor, 2005). Trans youth<br />

often do not have access to the same level of community support as cisgender<br />

youth. The strength and profundity that can exist within a group of fellow rite<br />

of passage participants may be especially meaningful for those who do not<br />

experience this level of support in their daily lives. For the benefit of the<br />

participants, it is paramount that facilitators of rites of passage experiences<br />

keep in mind that, despite a sense of commonality, group members are

encouraged to share, disclose, and participate in the group based on their level<br />

of comfort, not the expectations of the facilitator or peers.<br />

Through interviews with Trans individuals, the authors found that two other<br />

commonly reported aspects of transition in the lives of Trans youth correspond<br />

to established rite of passage practices. The first was the aspect of crossing<br />

thresholds, and the second was allowing for severance from existing aspects of<br />

the self through the metaphorical death and rebirth.<br />

In rites of passage work, a threshold is both a general and specific term. A<br />

threshold represents a space between two realities. It marks the boundary<br />

between the everyday life of an individual, and the liminal space of change,<br />

growth, death, and life that is the heart of a rite of passage. Practically, a<br />

threshold is often a physical passage that participants pass; participants may<br />

traverse a sacred spiral drawn in the dirt, walk under a bent tree, or simply step<br />

over a line in the sand. Often, this crossing of the physical threshold is<br />

accompanied by a psychological threshold crossing in which the participant’s<br />

conscious choice to engage with their experience is affirmed. Participants are<br />

asked to examine both the positive and negative aspects of themselves and their<br />

experience, and to leave their personal story behind. The step of leaving one’s<br />

story behind at the threshold, creates a space to investigate the self without the<br />

bias of personal history.<br />

By crossing a threshold, participants cross from one reality into a liminal space,<br />

and eventually return to the world they left. However, the potential power of a<br />

rite of passage is such that people are so changed by their experience, that they,<br />

and the world they re-enter, is often not recognizable from the one they left. In<br />

considering thresholds during transition in the life of a Trans individual, those<br />

who undergo aspects of transition such as surgery and hormones as part of their<br />

rite of passage may return to the world as a physically unrecognizable person.<br />

Further, many aspects of the rite of passage, may result in the Trans individual<br />

being greeted or perceived differently by their world.<br />

For Trans youth, the experience of engaging in council practice with other Trans<br />

youth may be particularly powerful. Council practice is a gathering that gives<br />

each member of the group a chance to speak their truth (Zimmerman & Coyle,

1997). The intention in council is that each member is able to speak without<br />

over thinking their words, so that what is shared is what is true in that moment,<br />

rather than what the participant thinks sounds best. It is simply a time to be<br />

witnessed, and to witness the experience of others (Zimmerman & Coyle, 1997).<br />

Because of the adversity that Trans youth face, their personal story may be full<br />

of painful memories, negative self-perception, and lack of community support<br />

and care. By allowing these aspects to temporarily die away, participants may<br />

become more aware of what role these aspects play in their lives, and may make<br />

room for other self-realizations that were previously overshadowed. The<br />

intention is to allow Trans youth to have an experience separate from their<br />

stories, as well as to develop a sense of commonality.<br />

In conversations and interviews with members of the Trans community, several<br />

people spoke to the meaningfulness of allowing the roles and expectations<br />

forced on them by a biased society to symbolically die away. Like transition in<br />

general, this movement is deeply personal and unique to the individual. At<br />

times, our stories and histories take the place of self-identity; we define our<br />

beings by who we and others expect us to be. All people are vulnerable to<br />

defining their self-identity by their occupation, history, experience, by what<br />

they can, or should do; individuals from marginalized communities may be<br />

especially vulnerable to defining self in terms of societal roles. However, this<br />

type of self-identification tends to cloud the uniqueness of the individual and<br />

can prevent them from stepping into their true self. This is particularly true<br />

considering the lack of safety for Trans individuals who are able to step into<br />

their authentic selves. Rites of passage create a specific space for the symbolic<br />

death of story to take place. Threshold ceremonies provide an intentional<br />

space, and give express permission for participants to leave the stories of who<br />

they are supposed to be behind as they enter the liminal stage, and change the<br />

question from “Who am I supposed to be?” to “Who am I?”.<br />

Why Create Trans-Specific Rites of Passage<br />

When reviewing the rates of violence discussed at the beginning of this article,<br />

and considering the marginalization faced by Trans youth at the hands of<br />

educators, medical and mental health professionals, cisgender peers, and even

family members, it seems apparent why Trans-specific rites of passage<br />

programming and experiences for youth need to be developed. Within the Trans<br />

community, there is one international event observed (Williams, 2015). That<br />

event, Transgender Day of Remembrance, is a time where members of the Trans<br />

community collectively grieve for members of the Trans community who were<br />

murdered or lost to suicide within the last year. Through seeing violence toward<br />

others like them, Trans youth are at the stage in life where they are becoming<br />

ever more aware of the hatred, fear, and misunderstanding much of the world<br />

has for Trans individuals. Thus, the authors are challenging you, the reader to<br />

stand up, in a culture that is constantly being violent toward Trans people, and<br />

create change through celebrating the beauty in the lives of Trans youth. Trans<br />

youth deserve to be celebrated and witnessed in allowing themselves to be their<br />

authentic selves, despite being in a world that would have otherwise. Developing<br />

Trans-specific rites of passage programs and experiences, as well as increasing<br />

accessibility of current rites of passage programs to Trans youth, allow others to<br />

honor, celebrate, and bear witness to Trans youth as they step out of trying to<br />

be what others expect of them, and move into living as who they are.

Resources<br />

Bell, B. (2003).<br />

The rites of passage and outdoor education: Critical concerns for effective<br />

programming. Journal of Experiential Education, 26(1), 41-50<br />

Bodkin, M., Sartor, L. (2005).<br />

The rites of passage vision quest. In C. Knapp and T.E. Smith, (Eds).<br />

Exploring the power of solo, silence, and solitude, (pp. 37-47). Boulder,<br />

CO: Association for Experiential Education.<br />

Dentice, D., & Dietert, M. (2015).<br />

Liminal spaces and the transgender experience. Theory in Action, 69-96.<br />

doi:10.3798/tia.1937-0237.15010<br />

Grant, J. M., Mottet, L. A., Tanis, J., Harrison, J., Herman, J. L., and<br />

Keisling, M. (2011).<br />

Injustice at every turn: A report of the national transgender discrimination<br />

survey. Washington: National Center for Transgender<br />

Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2011<br />

Keuroghlian, A. S., Shtasel, D., Bassuk, E. L. (2014).<br />

Out on the street: A public health and policy agenda for lesbian, gay,<br />

bisexual, and transgender youth who are homeless. American Journal of<br />

Orthopsychiatry, 84(1), 66-72.<br />

Parker, L. E. (2015).<br />

Working with transgender youth: A wilderness therapy intervention<br />

(Unpublished master’s thesis). Naropa University, Boulder, CO<br />

Parker, L. E. & Solymosy-Poole, T. E. (2016).<br />

Transition as a Rite of Passage: Creating ritual and ceremony to honor<br />

transition in the lives of transgender individuals. Presentation, The National

Wilderness Therapy Symposium, Park City, UT.<br />

Quintana, N. S, Rosenthal, J., and Krehely, J. (2010).<br />

On the streets: The federal response to gay and transgender homeless youth.<br />

Center for American Progress. Retrieved from:<br />

https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2010/06/pdf/lgb<br />

tyouthhomelessness.pdf<br />

School of Lost Borders (2016).<br />

2017 Youth queer quest. Retrieved from<br />

http://schooloflostborders.org/content/2017-youth-queer-quest-recommende<br />

d-ages-16-19<br />

Scott, W. (n.d.).<br />

Rites of passage and the story of our times. Retrieved from:<br />

http://schooloflostborders.org/content/rites-passage-and-story-our-times-wil<br />

l-scott<br />

Singh, A. A. (2013).<br />

Transgender youth of color and resilience: Negotiating oppression and<br />

finding support. Sex Roles, 68(11-12), 690-702. Retrieved from:<br />

http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.naropa.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true<br />

&db=sih&AN=87563776&site=ehost-live<br />

Sinopoulos-Lloyd, S. & Sinopoulos-Lloyd, P. (2016).<br />

Sun, Moon, and Star Society: The gift of the in-between people. Speech,<br />

Feet on the Earth Programs, Boulder, CO.<br />

Make Trybe Center for Transformative Design (2015).<br />

Seek vision. Retrieved from http://www.maketrybe.org/quests/<br />

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (2006).<br />

Trauma among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning youth.<br />

Culture and Trauma Brief, 1(2). Retrieved from:

http://www.nctsnet.org/nctsn_assets/pdfs/culture_and_trauma_brief_LGBTQ_y<br />

outh.pdf<br />

Van Gennep, A. (2004).<br />

The rites of passage (M. Vizedom, G. L. Caffee, Trans.). Routledge,<br />

London, England. (Original work published 1909)<br />

Williams, C. (2015).<br />

A trans advocate’s perspective on Trans 101 questions. The TransAdvocate.<br />

Retrieved 19 September 2016, from<br />

http://transadvocate.com/a-trans-advocates-perspective-on-trans-101-questio<br />

ns_n_14906.htm<br />

Zimmerman, J.M., Coyle, V. (1997).<br />

The way of council. Bramble Books, Las Vegas

The Midd<br />

by Chris Henrikso<br />

From The Fire<br />

by Chris Henrikson<br />

My ancestors came to me<br />

Between the seams of Sweatlodge dreams<br />

With a request for healing<br />

Hearts muffled & torn by dead silence born<br />

From horrors too big to face<br />

Seeking grace on sacred ground<br />

Paved with false promises<br />

My ancestors came to me<br />

To claim responsibility<br />

For the rape and enslavement of millions<br />

Of one, your son<br />

Who was once elder, chief, healer<br />

Of a tribe that knew nature and beauty<br />

Like the river knows tears<br />

My ancestors’ fears fed flames<br />

That consumed original names & songs<br />

Turned ancient healing rites to wrongs<br />

Harnessed hell for profits that today<br />

Build prisons to contain the same shame<br />

Under different names:<br />

Bloods, Crips, Surenos, Nortenos<br />

Hatred fueled by wounds<br />

That live in unmarked tombs<br />

Watery graves between home and here<br />

There are days when we are all slaves to fear<br />

Smoking, drinking, fucking<br />

To forget the dead and dying<br />

Flying bombs far beyond backyards

le Passage<br />

n and Tylor Code<br />

Where bullets trace scars in night skies<br />

Ripped wide by cries for help<br />

How can one explain a baby<br />

Sold like crack cocaine<br />

As blood rains from her mother’s womb?<br />

My ancestors came to me<br />

With that blood on their hands<br />

And the blood of every man-child<br />

Murdered in drive-bys by living lies<br />

Too high to heal<br />

Running the streets between destiny & deceit<br />

Every village burned<br />

Every girl turned out by broken boys<br />

Once token toys tossed aside<br />

By uncles drunk on Night Train<br />

Still staggering into children’s bedrooms<br />

Mimicking slave masters orchestrating disasters<br />

For future generations to deny<br />

My ancestors came to me<br />

With tears in their eyes<br />

And taught me a song<br />

That belongs to you & you & you<br />

And maybe someday<br />

Me too.

I Am He<br />

by Taylor Code<br />

I am he who has been given life<br />

By way of death<br />

The moment the Middle Passage opened<br />

Over blood warm water<br />

Into a hurricane of pain<br />

I set sail<br />

Stripped of my name<br />

Through the battle of Gettysburg<br />

And beyond the bus boycotts of the South<br />

My soul ship-wrecked on the shores of Los Angeles<br />

When people stopped fighting with fists<br />

And started shooting to kill<br />

The most undesirable parts of themselves<br />

And since I looked like so many of them<br />

Seven bullets have found their home<br />

In my plantation-branded flesh<br />

I am he who has been given life<br />

By way of death<br />

Through the stress of a broken home<br />

Dad a slave to opium dreams<br />

Mom arguing with voices she can't see<br />

Sisters giving birth to babies of their own<br />

Death and me have been tight<br />

Since I was three<br />

I am he who has been given life<br />

By way of death<br />

Fear buried in<br />

a tear-stained pillow

My peers said I'm too square<br />

To be cool<br />

So books became my enemies<br />

And the streets became school<br />

I've been the fool who trades gold<br />

For materials that depreciate with time<br />

The hustler who hustles himself<br />

Slangin’ quarters for a dime<br />

I am he who has been given life<br />

By way of death<br />

As I remember to appreciate<br />

The gift of my next breath

The Growing Life<br />

of a Child<br />

by Ben Anthony<br />

Out of the Box<br />

I was lost in the box called life…In it,<br />

I<br />

I wanted learning<br />

but my education was deafening<br />

I wanted truth<br />

but my reality faked its root<br />

I wanted to buy the right counsel<br />

but my mind controller got me its left sell<br />

I wanted to be free<br />

but my pursuit turned a tree<br />

I wanted information<br />

but my vision brought me deformation<br />

I wanted wellness<br />

but my state showed illness<br />

I wanted food<br />

but my money was rude<br />

I wanted a wife<br />

but my life mirrored a knife!<br />

I wanted the clarity of pleasure<br />

but my naked eyes saw the dullness of pressure<br />

I wanted to live forever<br />

but my death was to question For Ever<br />

I wanted peace<br />

but my perception reflected unease<br />

II<br />

I wanted to know about people

ut my understanding was a fumble<br />

I wanted to be everyone’s friend<br />

but my experience was the pal’s end<br />

I wanted to be rich<br />

but my efforts didn’t catch a fish!<br />

I wanted direction<br />

but my limitation was the obstruction<br />

I wanted to know the ‘why’ to everything happening<br />

but my answer had to cry to all prevailing<br />

I wanted to invest in good<br />

but my previous return showed “fooled”<br />

I wanted to scream because of pains<br />

but my calmness showed up because of gains<br />

III<br />

I wanted people to hear my voice<br />

but my quest was a noise<br />

I wanted money<br />

but my struggle was funny!<br />

I wanted to know why the world was divided<br />

but the response was: “Its control is what’s favorited”<br />

I wanted to know what happens after death<br />

but my physical life told me I was on earth<br />

I wanted to tell people my experience<br />

but my words failed me in their presence<br />

I wanted to know if I knew what I know<br />

but my existence replied with a “NO!”<br />

I wanted to find myself through my works<br />

but my inner-self whispered:<br />

“If you want to find yourself, then think Out Of the Box!”

The Growing Life<br />

of a Child<br />

The moment she knows a ‘seed’ has been sown,<br />

All hands would be put in place<br />

So that the seed would have a face<br />

Its care would be of great grace<br />

Everyone involved-man and wife-would work hard<br />

To ensure the seed is not shown the Red Card too early<br />

She would begin to eat healthy food for it to grow well<br />

She would have to endure the pains to avoid the wrong sell<br />

She goes for regular Ante-natal care;<br />

Given the right medication;<br />

told what to eat and what not;<br />

This would continue<br />

Until she is due for delivery…<br />

When it’s time,<br />

The pain experienced in the Room of Labour ushers need for the grown seed<br />

Everyone connected to her is happy that the she has come to stay<br />

She cries aloud to stamp her presence<br />

Tears of joy fill the place<br />

as all present are on hand to carry her, turn by turn…<br />

From a-day-old to a Five-year-old child…<br />

All wares are bought<br />

Family members are in deep thought<br />

Over the baby state<br />

Friends and the community come visiting<br />

Admiring the cute-looking baby<br />

She begins to see the world days after<br />

She begins to sense the mother’s smell<br />

Her breast, voice and cuddle soon attracts her<br />

She attaches herself to her mother more than anyone else<br />

Her mother is her first companion<br />

She smiles and cries to gain attention of all

She sucks her breast to quench the hunger thirst.<br />

She sleeps under her arms<br />

As the days go by,<br />

she sees the need to leave her comfort zone.<br />

From being cuddled all the time by her mother<br />

she tries to crawl.<br />

Being closely watched by her loving mother,<br />

She makes a fall<br />

Her hands and feet are stronger as she attempts to crawl<br />

She soon finds the perfect position<br />

She plays around on her own at times<br />

Her mother is there to cuddle her<br />

If she hits her body against the floor<br />

Her food soon changes;<br />

From breast feeding comes some slightly hard foods<br />

that she would have to start chewing<br />

She cries out<br />

Because her comfort zone of breast-feeding is about changing<br />

After sometime, she is used to the change<br />

Ten months later, she can not only crawl, walk,<br />

she understand the language of her mother!<br />

Her world of fantasy gradually fades<br />

as she faces the real world at age one<br />

She is made to learn the ABC, 123 identities;<br />

Set to go to school at age two<br />

Prepared to go on simple errands by her mother at age three<br />

Told what to do and what not at ages three and four<br />

Her world changes when she is being scolded by her mother<br />

for the things she did but was told they were wrong<br />

She is no longer pampered

As she used to four years ago<br />

Her formative years of training and learning had just begun…<br />

Ages six to Twelve…<br />

She is expected to become the best student in school<br />

and well-behaved at home<br />

She is expected to read her books<br />

And carry out assigned domestic chores in the house<br />

She is expected to play with her friends during the day<br />

to come home, read, ear, sleep and prepare for school the next day<br />

Her body changes as she grows older;<br />

She is taller than she used to be<br />

When she was seven<br />

Her mom always loves her<br />

but a touch of discipline is followed.<br />

As she moves on with her elementary education,<br />

she works hard to pass exams<br />

to gain promotion to higher levels,<br />

followed up by his mom<br />

and teachers at school.<br />

She looks at her mates in school<br />

and admires their lifestyle<br />

She then takes it home<br />

only for his mom to caution her<br />

At ten, she feels the need to ask some questions<br />

Her mother answers her questions not seriously<br />

but realizes one thing:<br />

the growing life of her daughter will soon be over…<br />

She prepares for her final exam<br />

to leave the used-to elementary education<br />

for another new one…the high school<br />

At ages 11 and 12

She begins to experience what her mom had earlier realized:<br />

“The passing Away of The Growing Life of a Child”

The Man; the<br />

Over-grown Boy<br />

I<br />

He is fully grown;<br />

Maturity is his crown<br />

He takes on responsibility;<br />

Task carrying is his ability<br />

He is independent;<br />

Service rendering becomes the evident<br />

He decides what he wants;<br />

Situations make the counts<br />

He contributes his quota to the family;<br />

Ideas become what he disseminates actually<br />

He is a leader;<br />

Giving instruction to become the feeder<br />

He is living by the law;<br />

Crime is not a character flaw<br />

He is ambitious;<br />

Goal setting defeats the ambiguity<br />

He is a role model;<br />

Others stare at that propel<br />

He is generous;<br />

Yet the needs of people are enormous<br />

He is a teacher;<br />

The Student is the attention catcher<br />

He is a faithful person;<br />

His spouse is the reason<br />

He is rich;<br />

That has been his wish<br />

He admits his wrongs;<br />

That makes him strong<br />


II<br />

He is still an over-grown child<br />

His big skin still hides his puerile mind<br />

He still loves to dream<br />

His fantasies are the heights of realm<br />

He still likes toys<br />

His favourite cars are his Lorries<br />

He still seeks for attention<br />

His spouse would mention<br />

He still frowns at competition from his contemporaries<br />

His thought feels this will not be temporary<br />

He still wants to be cuddled<br />

His wife’s care is the revealed<br />

He still dislikes not having his desires most of the time<br />

His aim is intended not to be cut-off at his prime<br />

He still wishes to be the boy child he was<br />

His attitude seldom says the cause<br />

He still remembers the sweet childhood years<br />

His archived cloth section reveals the wears<br />

He still leaves with the fragments of boyhood<br />

His approach to situations tells the ‘little boy’ of his manhood<br />

He still the man with the over-grown boy look<br />

His living wish of being a child is in his subconscious hook.<br />


The Father’s Weight<br />

of Responsability<br />

He’s the head of the house<br />

He has many activities to browse<br />

He has us to take care of<br />

He is occupied with things to get rid off<br />

He has to ensure the upkeep of the home<br />

He has to do the required before he gets to the tomb<br />

He makes sure we are in good health<br />

He has to go out there to make the wealth<br />

He is always on the move<br />

He has to make sure we’re in the home’s grove<br />

He teaches us values<br />

He makes sure the school makes us pay our dues<br />

He carries everyone along on his shoulder of maturity<br />

That’s dad’s weight of responsibility.

The Woman; the<br />

Grown Girl<br />

She has come of age!<br />

She smiles;<br />

Her face speaks of her aura<br />

She has an a beautiful spirit<br />

That draws men’s attention<br />

She is the pride of her parents<br />

Her character is her pride<br />

She is in love with everyone<br />

Her intelligence is admirable<br />

She is the cynosure of all eyes<br />

Her loving presence is felt by all<br />

She is an experience to behold<br />

Her readiness for greater aspirations invites others to her<br />

She is married to the right man<br />

Her home is built with beautiful children---sons and daughters<br />

And yet…<br />

She is still has the girlish mind<br />

Her good childhood experiences she remembers<br />

Her make-overs is still her body consultant<br />

She still makes use of the mirror<br />

Her love for what she liked as a girl still lingers<br />

She is still “daddy’s little girl”<br />

Her admiration for fashion is still not changed<br />

She still spends on things she doesn’t really need<br />

She still craves for care;<br />

even after age seventy<br />

She still wants the world to understand her,<br />

though she can’t really understand herself<br />

Her friends are the known Grown Girls<br />

She still sees herself as the grown girl,<br />

despite being married for fifty years.

The Mother’s<br />

Resilience<br />

The home is need of many things<br />

Dad is not even present to observe certain things<br />

She has to rise up to the occasion<br />

This is not her responsibility<br />

but things have to be put in place<br />

She strives to get us what we need<br />

at the expense of her happiness<br />

She goes through difficulties to get them<br />

This alone is her very happiness<br />

She watches us grow into adults<br />

Her tears of joy is felt in our lives<br />

She is the happiest woman in the world<br />

when we are all doing well<br />

If not, she walks the work<br />

to see we’re better than we used to be<br />

Her commitment towards us is forever<br />

Even if married,<br />

she still looks after us<br />

Her love for us has endured for the years<br />

She is all for us till death separate us<br />

That’s mom’s resilience.

The Mother’s Passion<br />

She is passionate about everything<br />

but not carried away by anything<br />

She has the flair for good fashion<br />

but my upbringing is her mission<br />

She desires a good home for herself<br />

but my up-keep is her vision<br />

She likes to watch the television<br />

but nurturing me to be responsible is her decision<br />

She does not wait for the reign of winter<br />

but teaches me on how to play the Life Waiter<br />

She is seldom with her best friend<br />

but her concern is where I went<br />

She does most of the household chores<br />

but she wants me to wash what I wore<br />

She teaches me how to be cool<br />

but always insists I go to school<br />

She provides what I need<br />

but takes care of my weed<br />

She makes sure my things are not tampered<br />

but ensures that I am not over-pampered<br />

She scolds me when I am wrong<br />

but her love for me fights for her when I feel too strong<br />

She is fond of me always<br />

but ensures I am disciplined in all ways<br />

She plays with me whenever she has the chance<br />

but does not allow it get to me when she travels to France<br />

Mom’s passion knows no bounds<br />

but her all decisions create the demarcated grounds.

Family<br />

I am the symbol of unity<br />

I am the showcase of magnanimity<br />

I am the reason for marriage<br />

I am not regarding age<br />

I am the room where my members rage<br />

(Yet) I am the reason for the home<br />

I am the husband’s and wife’s tome<br />

I am the reason man and wife stay warm<br />

I am the inspiration behind children<br />

I am the very society’s pen<br />

I am “Love Reign Supreme”<br />

I ensure all members are at their prime<br />

I put the needed effects in the home on time<br />

“Who are you?” asks Mr. Rhyme.<br />

I simply reply: I am Family.

The Making The Mother’s of Self<br />

in the Resilience<br />

Light of the Tree<br />

I’m Rooted in Self-discovery<br />

The home need of many things<br />

Dad is not even present to observe certain things<br />

I’m Stemming out She in has Self-realization<br />

to rise up to the occasion<br />

This is not her responsibility<br />

I’m Branching but forth things Self-Dynamism<br />

have to be put in place<br />

She strives to get us what we need<br />

I’m Leaving in at the the process expense of of Self-completion<br />

her happiness<br />

She goes through difficulties to get them<br />

I’m Flowering in This Self-propagation<br />

alone is her very happiness<br />

She watches us grow into adults<br />

I’m Fruiting in Her Self-Productivity<br />

tears of joy is felt in our lives<br />

She is the happiest woman in the world<br />

when we are all doing well<br />

If not, she walks the work<br />

to see we’re better than we used to be<br />

Her commitment towards us is forever<br />

Even if married,<br />

she still looks after us<br />

Her love for us has endured for the years<br />

She is all for us till death separate us<br />

That’s mom’s resilience.

The RITE Way<br />

a Review<br />

by Bret Stephenson<br />

Only five words into David Blumenkrantz’<br />

Coming of Age the Rite Way, he challenges us<br />

to look at the ‘right’ way to help our youth<br />

come of age in a healthier way than is the<br />

current trend. The powerful connotation of<br />

the term rite of passage as a major life<br />

transition has been watered down over the<br />

decades to include everything from getting a<br />

driver’s license to each step of the corporate<br />

ladder.<br />

Blumenkrantz reminds us up front that the<br />

rite of passage process for youth is a ‘right’<br />

that we adults have let slip away in modern<br />

times. In our effort to protect them from these ancient and powerful rituals we<br />

have inadvertently harmed them by taking away the clear path to healthy<br />

adulthood, and more importantly, manhood and womanhood.<br />

Coming of Age the Rite Way encourages us to look at many aspects of modern<br />

ROP work with youth. His work on community development is nothing short of<br />

brilliant, painting us a picture of what a community needs to do to develop and<br />

maintain a process for helping its youth come of age healthily. Almost all of us<br />

rite of passage practitioners have run into the wall knowing our rite of passage<br />

approaches reach most kids in a good way, but then they go home to a lack of<br />

community and family support and the internal changes seldom solidify.<br />

I’m as guilty as anyone of following the fun and sexiness of providing direct rite<br />

of passage programs with people, then trying to convince them to go home and<br />

build a support model to back up the rite of passage process. David

Blumenkrantz has opened my eyes, admittedly reluctantly, to the realization that<br />

I must develop a community of support first, to reveal and reap the full<br />

potential of the rite of passage process. If we do not follow this critical<br />

sequence, Blumenkrantz points out that we are limiting the effectiveness of ROP<br />

or other community approaches by not developing community awareness and<br />

support beforehand.<br />

I had to ponder this for a while. Applying the “chicken or egg” question to ROP<br />

and community development, I quickly saw the path Blumenkrantz follows.<br />

Looked at from an evolutionary perspective, would a culture develop a rite of<br />

passage for its children first and then develop a community of support<br />

afterward? Obviously not. The community developed as all communities do in<br />

an organic way, and then rites of passage were developed as a need for the<br />

community’s survival. Indeed, rites of passage are the glue that hold a<br />

community together and not the other way around.<br />

Traditional cultures strongly celebrated their youth successfully completing<br />

their coming of age challenges because it confirmed the community would<br />

continue to be strong and prosper. Blumenkrantz provides dozens of<br />

illustrations pointing out that rites of passage evolved out of necessity, and<br />

their universal use, informed by the diversity within cultures is evidence that<br />

this model worked for the communities. Unlike modern cultures, traditional<br />

communities did not have the luxury of pursuing models that did not work nor<br />

did they have the resources to waste on models that did not bring desired<br />

results, that contributed to their survival. Coming of Age the Rite Way is a<br />

beautiful look at how to develop stronger and more supportive communities for<br />

our children.<br />

Blumenkrantz also makes us look at our propensity to develop “programs” as<br />

models of service and the flaws in that approach. Programs for youth are often<br />

the round hole and the kids are the square pegs. Many programs are designed<br />

with one aspect in mind but they often fail to really resonate with the great<br />

diversity of personalities, ages, ethnicities, socioeconomic status,<br />

developmental differences and so on that actually walk through the door.

Once programs are developed and implemented, changing them to current<br />

needs are like trying to redirect a giant runaway snowball. Too often they try to<br />

make the kids fit the model rather than developing strategies that fit the<br />

clientele. Many of us who have worked with programs such as No Child Left<br />

Behind, DARE, Scared Straight, Just Say No, Evidence Based Programming, and<br />

so on learned early that the programs were too limited in scope and not easily<br />

adaptable to different settings. People are not a science, and Blumenkrantz<br />

reminds us of the art of helping youth and adults work together to build<br />

something bigger than the individual parts.<br />

Programs are by necessity competitive and financially driven. Even in the small<br />

world of rite of passage practitioners, those with programs are always competing<br />

to keep youth coming through the doors. If a California rite of passage program<br />

gets a youth for a one week rite of passage experience, for example, some other<br />

program lost a potential customer. Some problems cannot be solved, but only<br />

prevented in the first place. David Blumenkrantz’ community development<br />

approach is brilliant in that it tries to prevent youth problems not by ‘fixing’<br />

kids but getting the adults in their world to support a consistent community<br />

growth model.<br />

And Blumenkrantz points out how many present programs are similar to the<br />

growth of residential treatment programs developed over 50 years ago or so. I’ve<br />

spent most of my 30 years with teens working with adjudicated youth sent to me<br />

to be ‘fixed.’ We then send them back to a family and community that has not<br />

changed and cannot support the youth’s growth and experience. Sending a teen<br />

to a ROP program where he/she will get a great outdoor experience, ritual,<br />

challenge and growth sounds great, but we are still sending our kids away to be<br />

‘fixed.” And once again afterward these young people are sent back to a family<br />

and community that has no form of support and no common language to share.<br />

Often, the time a program takes to be thought up, developed, proposals written,<br />

funding chased, and finally a set approach in play, the problem has morphed.<br />

Programs are often hard to change, either by virtue of their model or funding

criteria. Blumenkrantz once again helps us to see how a community development<br />

model is organic and fluid, adjustable as needed because the community is the<br />

‘program’ and adjusts as needs do. And then what does a kid do that doesn’t fit<br />

that particular program model or criteria? Blumenkrantz’ community-oriented<br />

rite of passage process, exemplified in the ROPE® is for everyone, young and<br />

old, and what better ‘program’ could we really hope for?<br />

For example, while many in modern society are working on the youth rite of<br />

passage approach, David reminds us that teens stepping up into newer roles<br />

happens around the same time that their parents lives are changing. Historically<br />

rites of passage also mediated the potential of a collision of transitions between<br />

parent’s mid-life period and adolescence. David writes: “It was never about a<br />

generation gap, but the absence of rites of passage.”<br />

David has always remarked that language is consciousness and must be used like<br />

surgical instruments in unveiling the essence of experiences. He extensively<br />

describes a conception of reciprocity within the language of "youth and<br />

community development through rites of passage", which he also calls<br />

“community-oriented rites of passage.” It suggests that rites of passage are not<br />

only a story for the individual and transformation, but for the community, too.<br />

They are both in the cosmic dance of ritual and its initiation song, that includes<br />

many other facets besides the individual. The growth of our youth requires us to<br />

reciprocate their efforts and work our own adult challenges. Similarly, in<br />

David’s community oriented rite of passage approach the process is beneficial<br />

and reciprocal for both age groups, not just the youth.<br />

Coming of Age the Rite Way is, for me, the defining book that all youth workers<br />

of any modality should read. Rites of passage are just part of what David has<br />

done in a 50-year career helping youth and adults symbiotically come of age<br />

together. Even if you’ve never heard of rites of passage related to youth, this<br />

book lays out countless ways to help both age groups have a healthy and<br />

successful transition together. This book is the gift of those decades and<br />

countless interactions with young folks and the adults around them.

Coming of Age<br />

the Rite Way<br />

a Review by Darcy Ottey<br />

Youth<br />

on Fire<br />

In 1996, I was in knee-deep studying anthropology and sociology at the<br />

University of Washington. My summers were spent leading Coming of Age trips<br />

for Rite of Passage Journeys, and I was becoming more and more passionate<br />

about youth initiatory processes. Back in the classroom, I would orient every<br />

project and every course possible to rites of passage. I devoured any literature I<br />

could find.<br />

It was during this time that I discovered the books Betwixt and Between² and<br />

Crossroads¹. These two edited collections of articles offered a range of<br />

perspectives on rites of passage, and set the stage for how I would understand<br />

both the theory and practice of what was quickly becoming my calling. Crossroads<br />

had just been released; the ideas felt new and fresh, exciting and powerful. These<br />

books became my bibles, dog-eared and re-read repeatedly.<br />

The back-to-back publishing this year of Coming of Age the Rite Way by Dr. David<br />

Blumenkrantz, and Youth on Fire by Dr. Melissa Michaels feels much the same way<br />

to me. Reading these two books, I felt a sense of huge collective movement<br />

forward for the emerging field of rites of passage. This is not to discount<br />

contributions made by others in the last 20 years. Indeed, very important<br />

literature, scholarship, research, and theory has steadily emerged since<br />

Crossroads that has grown understandings, bridged to new audiences, woven new<br />

connections, and tread new ground. But there’s something precious and fresh<br />

about this moment expressed in these two important texts.<br />

¹ Louise Carus Mahdi, Steven Foster, & Meredith Little, eds., Betwixt & Between: Patterns of Masculine and Feminine Initiation (La Salle:<br />

Open Court Publishing, 1987).<br />

² Louise Carus Mahdi, Nancy Geyer Christopher, & Michale Meade, eds., Crossroads: The Quest for Contemporary Rites of Passage (La<br />

Salle: Open Court Publishing, 1996).

I call on any and all wishing to understand what is needed in our communities<br />

and what is needed for youth to read these two books, perhaps even back to back<br />

as I did. They are individually strong books, both powerful blends of<br />

intellectual rigor, painstaking research, and rich personal narrative. They both<br />

balance mind, heart, and spirit together, and highlight the very best of what the<br />

“rite of passage” community’s shared values have to offer to the world during<br />

these times. They both are grounded in intimate, personal narrative, each<br />

telling the author’s story pioneering new ground and offering road maps back<br />

for the next generation to follow.<br />

Yet they meet these aims in ways unique to their personal gifts. Their personal<br />

voices and approaches ring through sometimes dense material, giving readers a<br />

deep sense of authenticity—which in and of itself is such a core element of the<br />

work we do.<br />

Coming of Age the Rite Way: Youth and<br />

Community Development through Rites of<br />

Passage<br />

David Blumenkrantz’ book is a far-reaching,<br />

seminal publication articulating the what, why,<br />

and how of rites of passage in our times. This is a<br />

solid, foundational piece of scholarship, a book<br />

that had to be written and whose time has most<br />

definitely come. The community-centered<br />

approach described in Coming of Age the Rite Way is<br />

relevant to us all.<br />

This was Blumenkrantz’ book uniquely to offer.<br />

He describes in detail his approach and<br />

philosophy, which he has named youth and community development through<br />

rites of passage, and in so doing lucidly and methodically creates the case for<br />

rites of passage as an essential framework for our world today.

Personally, I have grown infinitely tired of retelling the case for why rites of<br />

passage are needed. I have been telling this story for 20 years—that’s what many<br />

of those early college papers I wrote were about! One thing I appreciate about<br />

Blumenkrantz’ book is that he does such a clear, direct, thorough, and beautiful<br />

job articulating the case for rites of passage that I don’t think any more books<br />

need to be written on the topic. He has synthesized the material with<br />

painstaking research, making it accessible and source-able for all of us.<br />

What I will say is that this is a book for folks who have experience under their<br />

belts in youth development and/or rites of passage. It is not an introductory<br />

text for a lay reader. I am often recommending books to folks in their twenties<br />

looking to learn more about soul work and initiation, either for themselves or<br />

the young people they work with. This would not be the first I would suggest. It<br />

is dense, complex, and meaty—perfect for those of us hungry to take our work to<br />

the next level. I can’t say it strongly enough: this book should become a key<br />

reference guide for any of us seeking to increase the impact our current work,<br />

attempting to create new initiatory efforts for young people, or substantiate the<br />

impact of our offerings.<br />

One of Blumenkrantz’ important offerings is his critique of existing<br />

programmatic models of youth development (including rite of passage<br />

offerings), and the methods for assessing impact that accompany them. He<br />

methodically and patiently builds his case, providing a solid foundation for a<br />

radical shift in how young people are raised today. He grounds his solution in<br />

the story of how he and his team designed a process that supported rites of<br />

passage to emerge out of community, strengthening the community on all sorts<br />

of levels through the process. Throughout the book, it’s easy to pick up on<br />

Blumenkrantz’ frustration with some of the directions that folks have gone in<br />

with rites of passage, and with youth development in general. Yet there are many<br />

in the world of rites of passage that have shifted their strategies over the years,<br />

in part because of Blumenkrantz’ influence. His book minimizes this shift,<br />

which I have found to be much more significant than he gives it credit for.<br />

Noticeably missing in this book's quotes, bibliography, sources, and

endorsements were the voices of youth and women. This is a great place for one<br />

of us next-generation folks to pick up and build on David’s work.<br />

Be warned that the book does slow in the middle, but don’t give up! The last<br />

several chapters are gold. If you read nothing else in this book, read page<br />

170-172, which contains a very clear definition of rites of passage, in contrast<br />

to initiation; his framework of the guiding questions: Initiation into What? By<br />

Whom? For What Purpose? And make sure to read the entire, meaty, and<br />

infinitely helpful chapter 11: Making Something Happen: Community<br />

Institutions as Places of Initiation and Rites of Passage, which shares<br />

Blumenkrantz' vision of re-framing institutions that matter in the lives of<br />

young people (like schools) as places of initiation.<br />

Youth on Fire: Igniting a Generation of<br />

Embodied Global Leaders<br />

Melissa Michaels’ new book Youth on Fire, set<br />

for full release in December is relevant—and<br />

in fact necessary--for any of us engaged in<br />

initiatory work in any way with young people.<br />

The body-centered approach Michaels has<br />

pioneered translates decades of somatic<br />

theory and research into rites of passage as<br />

they are consciously practiced today. In fact,<br />

her work is the first contemporary<br />

dance-based rites of passage process serving<br />

youth around the world.<br />

I was first exposed to Michaels’ approach as a participant in the Global<br />

Passageways gathering she co-hosted in 2008. Having come from a<br />

wilderness-based rite of passage background, I had little context for<br />

movement-based processes as pathways of initiation. This book distills decades<br />

of study and practice to their core essence, making Michaels' hard-won wisdom

and insight widely available. The language is delicious: soft, lush, engaging. This<br />

book is very readable, while at the same time could function effectively as a<br />

textbook-type introduction to body-centered rites of passage.<br />

Another key feature of this book is that it is a truly cutting-edge. Her narrative<br />

rests on a foundation of contemporary, global youth culture with all its many<br />

shades and manifestations: images, poetry, quotes, and stories of the young<br />

people touched through her “Surfing the Creative” process are found throughout<br />

the text. What she describes is a process that has clearly emerged out of her<br />

personal biography, training, and the raw material of the people, places, and<br />

moments that have shown up, grounded in a body-centered approach. Her love of<br />

young people rings through on every page. Meanwhile, the specificity of her<br />

narrative is sure to inspire some new experimentation in your own life and work.<br />

At the same time, this book clearly draws on the wisdom, experience, and insights<br />

of many, over generations. Michaels impeccably references the sources of the<br />

ideas, activities, and concepts she draws upon. She highlights those upon whose<br />

shoulders she stands, and in so doing models effective recognition of those that<br />

have come before.<br />

Do not put this book down until the end! The last two chapters offer new<br />

frameworks that anyone engaged in tending the hearts, minds, bodies, spirits,<br />

and souls of young people will want to read, highlighting all the while that Melissa<br />

is tireless in her work, continuing to tread new ground even now. Passing the<br />

baton to the next generation and dynamics of diversity are a few of the fiery topics<br />

she addresses. As soon as I finished this book, and I began to hungrily await its<br />

sequel!<br />

Melissa’s book, Youth On Fire, is due to have it’s full release in early December.<br />

Stay tuned.

Conclusion<br />

In my work, I waver from focusing on my unique contributions to rite of passage<br />

efforts, to maintaining a birds-eye view of our work as it collectively emerges and<br />

evolves. These two books were luscious meals for both of these parts. Just weeks<br />

after finishing them, both are already beginning to influence the way I work with<br />

young people, and those that work with young people. At the same time, they<br />

offer a pulse of where we’re at, and where we’re going, as a movement. I look<br />

forward to the many conversations, critiques, creative ideas, and new works these<br />

books will spur.

Contributor<br />

Biographies<br />

by order of<br />

article<br />

John Raux<br />

John Raux was born in Dakar, Senegal but<br />

grew up in Kansas City. He studied<br />

illustration in Los Angeles at ArtCenter.<br />

After college he created a participatory<br />

gallery and screamed in the metal band James<br />

Dean Trio while working in the construction<br />

industry. His frustration with the daily grind<br />

and his love of new experiences led him to<br />

hike across America on the PCT in 2007.<br />

Upon returning to civilization, John started making paintings in response to<br />

travel experiences. He has been a resident artist at Takt in Berlin, Jaaga in<br />

Bangalore, BNIM and the Drugstore in Kansas City. He received the ArtsKC<br />

inspiration award in 2014. His work is currently represented by Weinberger<br />

Fine Arts. John is living and making new work in Kansas City, Missouri while<br />

plotting out new journeys abroad.<br />

Michael Wallace, M. Ed.<br />

has been working with Washington State<br />

University since 2001, after he received his<br />

Master’s Degree from Western Washington<br />

University. He was promoted to Associate<br />

faculty in 2014 and assigned as a Regional<br />

Specialist in 2016. Michael has participated in<br />

numerous 4-H Rite of Passage events and<br />

dedicated a significant portion of his time to<br />

advocating for and supporting the program<br />

within WSU. He has also recently co-authored the Community Mentoring<br />

Handbook with other members of the Rite of Passage family.

Larry Hobbs, M.A.<br />

From a field biologist studying whales and<br />

dolphins, to a psychotherapist working with<br />

individual and family systems, to a teacher<br />

and naturalist leading wildlife trips worldwide,<br />

to years of Rites of Passage training at<br />

the School of Lost Borders, Larry came to<br />

the 4H Challenge Program with a vision of<br />

making traditional Rites of Passage available<br />

to all 4H youth. Although still conducting<br />

river dolphin research in Southeast Asia, teaching and leading natural history<br />

trips around the world, Larry’s passion rests in guiding Rites of Passage and in<br />

sharing his knowledge of the ways we interrelate with and understand the<br />

natural world that supports us all. Larry is a father and grandfather.<br />

Scott VanderWey, MHP. M. Ed.<br />

Scott is the 4-H State Director of Adventure<br />

Education for Washington State University<br />

Extension. Scott oversees adventure-based<br />

4-H programs throughout the state, and acts<br />

as liaison between local program<br />

coordinators, county faculty, staff,<br />

volunteers, community partners and the State<br />

Director of 4-H Youth Development. He is a<br />

strong visionary and a tireless advocate for<br />

outdoor and experiential education in all learning experiences. Scott is<br />

passionate about his work, and getting as many people as he can outdoors.

Zelig Golden<br />

Zelig is Wilderness Torah’s Founding Director.<br />

His vision for a thriving, earth-based<br />

Jewish tradition developed out of a lifetime<br />

of nature connection, Jewish leadership, and<br />

commitment to environmental advocacy.<br />

Zelig invokes mentorship, facilitation, and<br />

ceremonial tools to guide an annual cycle of<br />

land-based festivals, nature-based rites of<br />

passage, and mentorship for emerging young<br />

leaders. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Jewish Studies at the Graduate<br />

Theological Union and rabbinic ordination through ALEPH, with the prestigious<br />

Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Zelig was ordained Maggid by Rabbi Zalman<br />

Schacter-Shalomi ztz”l.<br />

Sarai Shapiro<br />

Sarai served as Wilderness Torah’s Youth<br />

Programs Director, 2012-2015, and<br />

currently directs her own organization, Gaia<br />

Girls Passages. She has been a part of creating<br />

programs and serving girls in wilderness<br />

rites-of-passage groups since 2007. She has<br />

founded and run or co-run girls’ groups and<br />

coming of age based programs individually<br />

and for organizations such as the ALEPH<br />

Kallah, Wilderness Torah, Wild Earth and the Vermont Wilderness School. She<br />

has trained in naturalist skills, mentoring, and cultural regeneration through<br />

the 8 shields cultural mentoring model.

Gail Burkett, Ph.D<br />

After receiving a PhD in Women and Nature<br />

Studies in 2001, Gail Burkett began to offer<br />

Rite of Passage ceremonies to women who<br />

asked. Before long, the Nine Passages Tradition<br />

took shape where every single person may<br />

discover their next step to maturity. Ceremony<br />

is one way to change the people’s experience,<br />

offering a Rite of Passage to the entire Village,<br />

this is the path to maturity. As an initiated<br />

Elder, Gail wishes more Elders could experience the honoring gift of initiation.<br />

When Elders step onto a personal ceremonial path, all people on their relationship<br />

wheel take notice. Her book Soul Stories: Nine Passages of Initiation,<br />

published in 2015, assists circles of women with no prior experience to find<br />

their way to Rites of Passage. Gail wrote a mentors’ manual and guidebook for<br />

every age and stage, published this year: Nine Passages for Women and Girls:<br />

Ceremonies and Stories of Transformation. She writes a blog called Moon<br />

Messages from ninepassages.com and lives with her playmates, Kenny Olson and<br />

Rosie-dog, in Idaho's Panhandle.<br />

Bill Plotkin, Ph.D<br />

Bill describes himself as a “psychologist<br />

gone wild.” An underworld guide, depth<br />

psychologist, and agent of cultural evolution,<br />

his ecocentric re-visioning of psychology<br />

invites us into a conscious and embodied<br />

relationship with soul and with the<br />

more-than-human world. As founder of<br />

southwest Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute,<br />

he has, since 1980, guided thousands<br />

of women and men through nature-based initiatory passages. He’s also been a<br />

research psychologist (studying nonordinary states of consciousness), university<br />

professor, rock musician, and whitewater river guide. Bill is the author of<br />

Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (an experiential<br />

guidebook), Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community<br />

in a Fragmented World (a nature-based stage model of human development),<br />

and Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche (an ecocentric<br />

map of the psyche — for healing, growing whole, and cultural transformation).

Luis J. Rodriguez<br />

Luis grew up in Watts and the East Los Angeles<br />

area, where his family faced poverty and<br />

discrimination. A gang member and drug<br />

user at the age of twelve, by the time he<br />

turned eighteen, Rodríguez had lost twenty-five<br />

of his friends to gang violence, drug<br />

overdoses, shootings, and suicide. He wrote<br />

two accounts of his experiences with gang<br />

violence and addiction, It Calls You Back:<br />

An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing (Touchstone,<br />

2012), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography,<br />

and Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. (Curbstone Books,<br />

1993), winner of the Carl Sandburg Award of the Friends of the Chicago Public<br />

Library. In 2014, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Rodríguez as the<br />

poet laureate of Los Angeles. Rodríguez currently resides in California and<br />

manages the Tía Chucha Cultural Center in San Fernando.<br />

Ben Anthony<br />

Based in Lagos, Nigeria, Mr. Ben is an internationally<br />

published author of several books,<br />

poet, essayist, voice-over artist and public<br />

speaker. He has written over twenty books<br />

that broach many literary categories including<br />

the humanities; sexuality, business,<br />

science, home affairs, marriage, relationships,<br />

friendship, self-help, gender issues,<br />

life matters, motivational and inspirational<br />

interests, educational/academic matters and many more. He is a recognized<br />

member of the following international affiliations; www.christianwriters.com,<br />

www.associationofaspiringauthors.com, www.writerface.com and other known<br />

writers’ organizations.

Taylor E. Solymosy-Poole<br />

Taylor received his B.A. in Psychology from<br />

the University of Colorado, Boulder in<br />

2008. After earning his degree, Taylor spent<br />

the next eight years working with abused and<br />

neglected children in residential care. Taylor<br />

is currently working towards his M.A. in<br />

Transpersonal Counseling Psychology with a<br />

concentration in Wilderness Therapy. Taylor<br />

completed his practicum at Fire Mountain, a<br />

residential facility for teens. He is completing his internship with Mt. Saint<br />

Vincent, a residential program for youth in Denver, CO.<br />

Laura Parker-Schneider<br />

Laura received a B.A. in 2011 from Columbia<br />

College in Columbia, MO after studying<br />

Psychology and Gender Studies. Laura is<br />

currently pursuing an M.A. from Naropa<br />

University in Wilderness Therapy and has been<br />

focusing on expanding the accessibility of<br />

Wilderness Therapy for marginalized<br />

populations through research. Laura completed<br />

practicum at Boulder County OASOS, working<br />

with Queer and Transgender youth. Laura is currently completing internship at<br />

the Blue Bench in Denver, Co, working with survivors of sexual violence, as well<br />

as with the Gestalt Equine Institute of the Rockies.

Chris Henrikson<br />

Founder and Executive Director of Street<br />

Poets Inc., Chris Henrikson has over 20<br />

years of experience teaching poetry and<br />

mentoring highly at-risk youth and young<br />

adults within and around the Los Angeles<br />

County educational and juvenile justice<br />

systems. Originally from Boston, Chris is a<br />

graduate of Duke University (B.A. English)<br />

and the American Film Institute (M.F.A.<br />

Screenwriting). He worked as an arts journalist in New York City and later as<br />

a screenwriter in Hollywood before a volunteer teaching stint in a Los Angeles<br />

County juvenile detention camp in 1995 inspired him to create Street Poets.<br />

Chris has served as a keynote speaker and on numerous conference panels<br />

exploring youth rites of passage, arts-based intervention strategies, multicultural<br />

community-building and alternatives to incarceration. Over the past<br />

decade, his efforts to initiate young people into lives full of meaning, passion<br />

and purpose have led him into the study and practice of the indigenous healing<br />

traditions of Africa and the Americas.<br />

Taylor Code<br />

Taylor first connected with Street Poets<br />

almost 20 years ago as a 16-year-old participant<br />

in their writing workshop at an LA<br />

County juvenile detention camp. Today,<br />

Taylor serves as a teaching artist, restorative<br />

justice advocate, and proud father of four<br />

beautiful children. An accomplished poet<br />

and rapper, Taylor is a founding member of<br />

Street Poets’ spoken-word performance<br />

group, and has shared his redemptive story and creative work at criminal<br />

justice conferences, high schools and concert venues throughout the state of<br />

California and beyond. An expert in the field of gang intervention & recovery,<br />

Taylor has served as a speaker, panelist and presenter at numerous conferences,<br />

webinars and retreats. He currently attends Pasadena College, while<br />

teaching and advocating for more restorative rehabilitative practices within<br />

the criminal justice system. He also sits on the member board of the Anti-Recidivism<br />


Darcy Ottey, M. A.<br />

Since her own wilderness-based coming of<br />

age experience through Rite of Passage<br />

Journeys at age 13, Darcy Ottey has been<br />

passionate about the importance of creating<br />

intentional rite of passage experiences to<br />

help young people mature into healthy,<br />

capable adults. The entirety of Darcy’s<br />

professional career has been dedicated to<br />

the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual<br />

growth of young people through rites of passage. She served as the Executive<br />

Director of Rite of Passage Journeys from 2006-2011. During her tenure, she<br />

successfully supported the organization through 300% growth, building a solid<br />

infrastructure, and leaving the organization with a clear strategic plan for the<br />

future. She served as Rite of Passage Supervisor for Pacific Quest, as well as<br />

Interim Adolescent Program Director. In addition to her role at Youth Passageways,<br />

she continues to support and guide rites of passage at Pacific Quest<br />

on an ongoing consulting capacity. Darcy holds an M.A. in Environment and<br />

Community from Antioch University Seattle.<br />

Bret Stephenson M.A.<br />

Bret is the author of From Boys to Men:<br />

Spiritual Rites of Passage in an Indulgent Age<br />

and The Undercurrents of Adolescence:<br />

Tracking the Evolution of Modern<br />

Adolescence and Delinquency Through<br />

Classic Cinema. He has been a counselor of<br />

at-risk and high-risk adolescents for<br />

twenty-seven years. Bret has worked in<br />

residential treatment, clinical counseling<br />

agencies, group homes, private counseling, foster parent training, Independent<br />

Living Program, and has managed mentoring and tutoring programs.

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