The Heroine’s Journey and the individual’s Rite of Passage

The Juniper Canyon experience is designed to reach deep into each client’s process of becoming… becoming who they really are while letting go of the things they are not… the things that have inhibited them from becoming the best version of themselves. The process follows what Joseph Campbell, a professor of literature, mythology and religion, identified as The Hero’s Journey. 

This is a classic narrative in which a person hears the call and then answers the call by stepping over the threshold into a new world where they encounter challenges and tests. They are guided and assisted by people who understand the journey. Ultimately they find the elixir– the talisman– the magic secret that changes the seeker and sends her back to her former life with a new mission and vision of herself. This journey allows her to see herself in a new way and encourages her to help others on their journeys. 

There are hero’s journeys in every culture and time, the classic literature is replete with this story. Most of the heroes are men in these stories, but recently we begin to find women who embark on the hero’s (or heroine’s) journey and the story follows the same format. Joseph Campbell says that when we embark on the journey and we overcome the challenges presented, we find the magic secret, which is in fact to find ourselves, the core of who we are.

He says: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” And “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature…We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

Thus, Juniper Canyon becomes your Hero’s Journey. It is essentially a Rite of Passage for each client, a passageway from what “was” to “what can be.” This process is facilitated by our therapists in individual therapy as well as with the larger peer group. 

At Juniper Canyon, we are intentionally aware of cultural appropriation and we adopt terminology and metaphors that have universal application and origins. We invite our clients to participate in metaphoric experiences which enhance and clarify their process of change. We have used as our model the School of Lost Borders, which offers life-expanding opportunities to humans in several states and wilderness settings.

At Juniper Canyon, we use three specific experiences to add intention and meaning to each individual’s treatment. They are:

Story Walk:

A Story Walk is a short walking solo where the client is given a prompt or phrase to contemplate while walking by herself in the wilderness. When she returns, she reports what she saw and experienced, and her walk is reflected, or mirrored, by her peers as well as by her therapist, to help her gain more meaning and metaphor from her Story Walk. Clients at Juniper Canyon participate in many Story Walks during their stay with us, both as the walker and as the mirror.

24 Hour Solo:

This is an opportunity for the client to set up a camp by themselves, near enough to the main camp to be heard if there is an emergency, but far enough away to be alone in nature with themselves and intentions they create before starting the Solo. They may spend the time designing and executing a personal ceremony which signifies letting go of past pain, or perhaps they may create a ceremony that represents the manifestation of a new way to interact with others or the universe. The guides do regular check-ins to make sure the clients are safe and cared for. When they return to the group, they share their experience with their therapist and with their group. The group and the therapist again mirror what they hear to help the client solidify the meaning of the Solo. 

Rite of Passage (ROP):

The entire stay at Juniper Canyon is a Rite of Passage, however, as a means to focus more deeply on understanding themselves and their vision of themselves in the future, we also offer the client the opportunity to experience a three-day Solo, (called an ROP), when they are nearing the end of their stay. It is not a requirement for completion of the program, but merely an invitation to a unique opportunity. We use the format of the School of Lost Borders. The choice to participate in ROP, as well as the entire process, is supported and processed by each client’s individual therapist.