[10:00] Why Men and Women Suffer From a Lack of Proper Transition From Childhood into Adulthood
[12:00] Ancestral Societies That Have Rites of Passage
[17:45] The Difference Between Rites of Passage and Vision Quests
[23:00] The Right Age to Embark Upon a Rite of Passage
[55:30] What a Rite of Passage Looks Like for a Boy vs. a Man
[1:09:00] “Purpose Mountain”
[1:26:13] End of Podcast
Ben: Welcome to the show. I’m excited about today’s show because when my children are 13- my twin boys are 10- when they’re 13, they’re going to be doing a rite of passage and the gentleman who’s going to be overseeing their entire rite of passage where they’ll be out in the wilderness with nothing but their fire making kit and their backpack and they’ll be out there surviving and going through their official passage into manhood, the man who oversees this and is a real expert in these rites of passage for both adults and for children is Tim Corcoran. My kids go to his wilderness survival school every year. He’s been on the podcast before and now he is really developing this whole concept of the rite of passage even more fully with something he calls Purpose Mountain. We’re going to talk about that in today’s show.
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Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and I was just chatting with my buddy Tim Corcoran even before we started recording about a hunt that I just got back from in Kona where I hunted some scrub cows, jungle cow, which are actually incredibly difficult to hunt… surprisingly difficult to hunt, and then also sheep and pig, pig that is amazingly tasty, fatty pig fed on macadamia nuts. And, Tim, you also… did you just recently start hunting or have you been hunting for a while?
Tim: Well, no, no, I just recently started hunting, you know. I did not grow up hunting, my family didn’t hunt, my dad didn’t hunt, and once I got involved with nature connection work in my early 20s, 20 years ago, hunting was like a real dream for me. It’s something that I held on a… in high regard. But I waited quite a while. I waited until just 5 years ago to really get started and earnest. At that time I found a mentor, I found a local Native American mentor, a good friend of mine, from the Spokane tribe of Indians and I also found another friend who’s a local mentor who taught me all about the landscape here and how to go after the white tail deer. So yeah, I’ve been hunting this past fall, I think I got my third white tail.
Ben: Well, I figured you’re probably a pretty good hunter because when I first met you, it’s because I was looking for someone to come up to my land and teach me and my boys about how to harvest wild edible plants from our land because we wanted to know what we could eat. We wanted to know what the medicinal or edible use of certain compounds were and you took us around and showed us wild nettle and mullein and comfrey, and Oregon grape root, and wild mint, and that was my first introduction to you was as this big wealth of wilderness knowledge.
Tim: Right, right.
Ben: And for those of you who didn’t get a chance to listen, I actually talked to Tim, we did a whole podcast on how to find wild edibles, and this whole concept of nature connection and animal tracking. We talked a little bit of hunting in that last episode as well.
On this show, rather than repeating a lot of the stuff that we went into in the last show with Tim, which I’m going to put a link to over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Purpose, I want to talk a little bit more about the reason that I’ve been sending my kids to attend Tim’s wilderness survival camp and also the winter and spring adventure camps that he puts on over here in the Spokane, Washington and Northern Idaho area because Tim actually has a pretty big passion for kids and for the development of really robust, young human beings and this idea of giving out kids a lot more than what culture gives it these days. So, Tim, I want to jump into I know what you call “Purpose Mountain” if you’re game.
Tim: Sure. Sure, sure.
Ben: Okay. And by the way, for those of you listening in, Tim himself, has a couple of kids. What are your kids’ names again, Tim?
Tim: I’ve got two boys, River, who’s my oldest, he’s 11, and Forest, who’s my youngest, who’s 8.
Ben: That’s right. River and Forest. Hippie names.
Tim: And you’ve got two boys?
Tim: Yeah, you’ve got two boys, River and Terran, right?
Ben: Yeah, yeah. You’ve got River and Forest. I’ve got River and Terran. Also, of course, by the way, if any of you ever get the chance to attend any of Tim’s wilderness survival camps or any of the adventure camps that he puts on, you’ll probably also going to run into his wife, Jeannine, who my best memory of… my fondest memory of was that she was one of the camp cooks for the father/son wilderness survival camp that we went on and she makes these amazing, amazing foods, but off the land! Off of all the wild plants.
Tim: Right, right. Yeah, yeah, totally.
Ben: Yeah, yeah you’re a lucky man. A lucky man who like me, surprisingly is still skinny despite getting cooked amazing food.
Tim: Why thank you, I am. Right, right. Well, it helps to be outside a lot, right?
Ben: Yeah, exactly. You’re probably outside more than I am! So, anyways though, Tim, I had reached out to you because I’ve been on this kick lately, and kick is kind of a trite word to use, but I’ve been becoming more and more interested in the problem with effeminate men in our culture and this whole demasculinization it seems of many of these guys in our culture who are playing video games and shopping for kale at Whole Foods and doing bikram yoga, but not really able to tap into some of the more intense aspects of masculinity you might find in books like… there’s a great book called… why am I blanking on it now? Right at the time I’m recording. It’s by David Deida. Do you know the…?
Tim: Yeah, yeah, “Way of the Superior Man”!
Ben: Yeah, “Way of the Superior Man”! And there’s another book, and this is more like a Carl Jungian psychology type of book about the warrior, the lover, the king, and the magician and how…
Tim: Right, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover”, yeah. That’s Moore and Gillette.
Ben: Yeah, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover”. How many boys just stay in this boy stage and never truly become men.
Ben: When I did a podcast a few months ago with Paul Chek, he got into how he thought that this whole issue with, not just men, but to a certain extent you could say the same thing about girls in our society. There’s no vision quest, there’s no rite of passage, there’s no official crossing over into adulthood that we tend to see so prevalently displayed in many ancestral cultures. And because of that, many adults in our day and age are still kids inside. Even myself, I still feel, in many cases, I was talking about this with my wife the other day, as though I never really had a passing from being a boy to being a man, like you, I didn’t grow up with a father who taught me how to hunt, I didn’t have any special rite of passage or vision quest that I went through that officially marked me as a man and I think it’s a big problem in our day and age.
Tim: Huge, huge. Yeah, so, we’ve already covered a lot and I’m worried to jump in, I guess I’ll say, at this point in my life, Ben, my interest is really in supporting human beings of all ages to develop holistically. And so, yes, I’m still running 20 wilderness schools along with my wife. We have hundreds of kids come through every year and as you mentioned, I’ve started a new business, Purpose Mountain, that’s really geared towards working with adults very specifically, not so much, not exclusively in the realm of nature connection, but of course in this realm of helping people to discover their purpose which is tied right in with this whole conversation. From my perspective, what I see is that developmentally, as human beings, especially here in the modern American culture, I think it’s safe to say that our culture has largely been arrested in adolescence. We do develop babies to toddlers, and from toddlers to kids, and from kids to adolescence, but largely speaking, a vast majority of certainly of America, here in the Western world, the real development stops at that point. And there’s a lot of reasons for that. Clearly, one of the big ones is our lack of connection to nature and as you mentioned, which of course ties right into our lack of mature appropriate rites of passage, and we could take a moment and define that, because that word does get thrown around a lot and oftentimes people mix that up with the term with initiation.
You know, in my book, classically, if you look to the classic words of mythologist like Joseph Campbell or others, a rite of passage is a type of initiation that marks the transition from one life phase to the next and when we consider that life phase change, right, we’re talking about birth, we’re talking about entry into childhood, entry into adolescence, entry into adulthood, you arguably becoming a parent and becoming an elder and then death. So we don’t have that many different phases of life, right. There’s only a handful. Now, with an initiation, initiation is simply an intense process that we go through that mark a different chapter of life. So, maybe an initiation for me was starting my new business last year, right. But, that’s different from stepping into a new life phase.
Tim: So, a rite of passage is like a specialty initiation.
Ben: What would be an example of some rites of passage that we see in other cultures?
Tim: Oh, yeah, I mean, gosh, there’s tons! Some classics would be the Australian aborigines have their walkabouts, right, where kids… and it’s actually worth acknowledging cause we’re talking about the old cultures, a big part of my work, the vast majority of my adult life, I’ve really put towards connecting with and learning from indigenous culture, especially here in North America. I’ve been blessed to have a number of elders and mentors that are indigenous to North America. I’ve learned so much, but yeah, some classic rites of passage would be the Australian aborigine walkabout and the kids, when they grow up, they would hear stories and there would be songs in the culture that they would hear about the landscape, the verses and the parts of the story, chapters of the story, were explaining the various forms and landmarks on the land. And then, when it came time for them to step out of childhood and into adulthood, they would be sent off into their walkabout. They wouldn’t know where they’re going, the elders would send them off and say “okay, this is it. This is your time.” And they’d have to practice survival skills, they’d have to acquire their own food from hunting and gathering, and they wouldn’t quite know where to go but they were told at the last minute, they said, just remember that song that was always sung to you or recall that story that we always told you. And they would sing that song back to themselves or tell that story and it would have in it, like a secret map, right, and as they went through each verse, it told them okay now go to the mountain that looks like a kangaroo’s belly or whatever it was, and go from one spot to the next to the next. And sure enough, that would lead them on their adventure.
Other rites of passage… we were talking about hunting. Hunting has been used as a rite of passage for many, many years. Thousands of… hundreds of thousands of years. And of course, the vision quest, or more simply put, the solo. This idea of taking pause… a mentor once called the vision quest the great time out of life. Call it time out on life, pause, go out into wild nature, right, somewhere remote, and just completely surround yourself, immerse yourself in wildness, and pick a spot that calls to you, or perhaps your elders picked a spot for you, and then be there for four days and four nights, 96 hours. Fast from everything familiar, make that sacrifice. Maybe some vision quests will have water, some don’t.
Ben: So, what’s the difference between a vision quest and rite of passage?
Tim: Let me just finish that last thought and the essential question of the vision quest being “What is my purpose? Why am I here?”
So, the difference between a vision quest and a rite of passage, great question. A rite of passage, again, we defined as an initiation that’s going to take us from one life phase to another. And a vision quest can be used as part of a rite of passage. And it can also be used in other ways. So, you know, for the young person, or the not so young person who’s ready to really go through a rite of passage and claim their place in the adult community, a vision quest is a part of that… it’s a part of it, but it’s not the whole thing. As well, I’ve done a half dozen vision quests in my life, some of those, well one, was a rite of passage, the other five were simply times where I was not feeling connected to my life’s work and I was needing a refresher like, ”Hey, why am I here? What’s the current expression of why I’m here?”
So, taking a vision quest is to reconnect with purpose, but a rite of passage is going to involve a lot more than just sitting in a beautiful place in nature for four days asking “what’s my purpose?” A rite of passage is a ceremony. A rite of passage is really a community event. Traditionally, is as much about the individual going through it as the community, right, because it ties us to culture and a rite of passage, I facilitate rites of passage, and when they happen, it starts with the family actually. It’s actually a family based process. If we’re looking at adolescence, so boys, for example, I actually just next month be running a boys rite of passage and I start… and this is to mark leaving behind boyhood and entering into adolescence. So, I work with the parents and it’s as much about the parents learning what does it mean for me to not be the parent of a boy anymore, right? And how does dad need to show up more now for the son, that the son is becoming a young man and how does mom actually need to step back and not do so much nurturing. Does the young man, is he still going to need nurturing? Sure. But that’s a classic pattern, right, would be, the dad who’s checked out, workaholic dad or whatnot, doesn’t show up for the kid, mom is taking on more than her fair share of parenting responsibilities, and then the boy doesn’t get proper role modelling, proper patterning on what it means to be a man.
Ben: Right. But, he’s very good at potentially being a woman and managing some of those things in the household or, you know, kind of looking into his yin-side and I even see that. Sometimes with my own boys, when I leave for a long time, they’ll kind of start to let fall to the wayside some of the things like, the things we would consider to be more yang, like going out and shooting the bow and working out, and I know I’m stereotyping to a certain extent here, but engaging in what we might consider to be the more masculine-like activities that would eventually kind of propel them into manhood, into being able to protect, into being able to provide, and to… the three Ps. Protect, provide, and procreate.
Ben: And then I come home, and I help assist them to kind of transition back into establishing some of those habits and some of those routines that allow them to be able to do that. But more concerning to me, of course, is ensuring that unlike my childhood and my upbringing and the issue I still struggle with, which is feeling as though I never crossed that threshold into becoming a man, I never actually went through a rite of passage and you could argue that I have gone on vision quests, right, like I’ve done plant medicines and ventured out into the wilderness for long periods of time, and many people will do that, right? They’ll ask themselves a question and then go off into the forest with psilocybin. We see folks, the fitness community especially, going out and doing things like ayahuasca retreats or ayahuasca adventures or other forays into plant medicine, but there kind of few and far between not very formal and really not a distinct part of culture as much as there something that someone might do when they’re… maybe they’re 30-years-old and they officially decide they want to go try and find themselves and they discover psilocybin or something like that. But, in terms of making this transition from boyhood into manhood or from childhood into adulthood, more of a structured and readily available thing that young men can do at a certain point in their lives, I’ve got some questions for you if you’re game.
Tim: Yeah, yeah.
Ben: First of all, is there an age in which you think a young man, and correct me if I’m throwing around the term “young man” too much, this is something appropriate for young girls and women too, but an age that they would go through that rite of passage into adulthood. Do we see 13, 15, 18, 20?
Tim: Sure, year. I think what’s important to recognize is that here in our modern world, we actually have a new phase of life that our earth-based ancestors did not have, and that of course if adolescence. You know, if you look back to the old cultures, the kids would transition from childhood to adulthood somewhere between 13 to 16. There was no adolescence. They went from childhood to adulthood. Lots of reasons for that from the fact that they didn’t live as long to the vast difference in culture and so it’s easy to look at that and say, you know, poor us, we’ve screwed up culturally speaking and now we have to extend childhood unnecessarily. But, I believe there’s actually a gift in adolescence and when we talk about purpose, the greater purpose of the Western world is to really leverage the possibility of fully harnessing the opportunity that adolescence is providing us.
So, to answer your question, the way I see it, puberty is marking… that’s a biological process that’s marking the shift out of childhood. So, for example, when I take boys on rites of passage, I look for their bodies to tell me, right, acne and you know, the sexual development, puberty. Their bodies are indicating when they’re ready and that’s not something that can be rushed, you know. There is a natural process to our development as human beings. And so, when I do that, I’m initiating them, taking them through that rite of passage through childhood into adolescence and I use the term young man to describe them, when they’re in the phase of adolescence. Then, there’s another rite of passage, an ideal scene, then around the age of 18 to 24, I would say, there’s a second rite of passage, which could actually be a third of the fourth because there are other rites of passage before adolescence, but there’s a second on there at 18 to 24 where they’re leaving adolescence and entering into adulthood and the key indicator there being when they’re leaving home. When they’re truly stepping in to independence when they’re not dependent on their parents for survival.
So these are real, basic elements of what it is to be a human being and as an adult male, as a man, I see, and I’ve learned… this is one of the things I learned from my indigenous teachers and elders, is that I have a responsibility not just to my family, right, but to the community. So, for example, your sons, I see them a couple times a year and that’s not a ton, but I’m holding them in my heart, like I have a responsibility to them, I’m keeping an eye on them, I’m checking with you, we talk occasionally, you know, or corresponded, and I know there’s going to come a time when they reach their puberty and they’ll be ready for that rite of passage and I’m going to be there for them. And so, I think the bigger… a part of the conversation we need to address is that a rite of passage is really part of a longer mentoring process in the ideal scene. And so, at this time of transition when we’re coming back to what it means to be a holistic human being, I really want to encourage people out there to invest in community and culture and okay, there may or may not be a wilderness school where all of our listeners are living- actually, there’s a lot, I mean, we’ve got a network of over 200 wilderness schools across the US doing similar work to what I’m doing, many of them running rites of passages, but to build those relationships, right, like if you and I, we’re friends, we’re brothers, we connect, and there’s times I may be there for your boys and there’s times where you may be there for mine, and by working together like that, then our boys have a stronger network of adult males that they can rely on. That’s the vision, you know. And I’m not saying we’ve achieved that perfectly, but to hold that vision, you know, who are… because who are going to be my boys’ mentors, I need to trust them, right, as their dad, I’m not just going to throw them to anybody.
Ben: Oh yeah, I don’t want my boys disappearing into the wilderness with just a person who says they’re going to take them on a rite of passage.
Ben: Now, before we kind of get into the nuts and bolts of the types of rites of passage that you do, I actually want to ask you about this network that you just alluded to of, I guess, places that folks can go do a rite of passage. What does it look like? Like you mentioned, for example, when you take… What I would like to know is what it looks like for a young man, like a boy, to do a rite of passage to cross over that threshold into becoming a man, but then also what it looks like when one is embarking on a rite of passage later in life, like an adult rite of passage. Can you walk me through kind of the nuts and bolts of what it actually looks like? Does someone show up and you give them an old, ratty backpack and tell them to go disappear off into the wilderness for a week or how does it actually look?
Tim: Yeah, well, so we have this distinction then between our age and our stage. And there’s the ideal scene and then there’s reality. So yeah, in the ideal scene, every young person at the age of 18 to 24 would have a mentor who’s been mentoring them, or a team of mentors, and would take them through that rite of passage. But, not everyone gets that, obviously. We know that. So, the essential question that we need to address is, can you still make up for it when I’m 30, or if I’m 40, if I’m 60? Can I still go have that? And the answer, thankfully, is yes.
So, what does it look like, you know, to step you through it, again, in the ideal scene the rite of passage is part of a bigger, a longer mentoring journey. So, if you do a Google search on rites of passages, you can find men’s rites of passage or women’s rites of passage and the vast majority of what you’re going to find, 95% of what’s out there, are going to be a weekend or maybe a week long or maybe a 2-week long, but a limited time frame experience. You’re going to go and essential have that process, you’re going to have some sort of a framing experience for a couple days or more where there is some mentoring happening and then there’s going to be some sort of a challenge, right.
So, when we look at rites of passage, there’s the three classic phases. There’s separation, ordeal, and reintegration. So, for a rite of passage to occur, it’s got to start with separation. It’s got to start with leaving the familiar. That’s why I’m a big believer that a rite of passage can’t be facilitated by parents. I know you’re asking about the adult one, but even going back to the adolescent rite of passage, it can’t be done by dad actually because they boy or the girl is dependent on those parents. So for the young person to go through a rite of passage, they actually, by definition, are leaving… starting to leave that stage of dependence. So, they need to leave mom and dad and have other community members taking them through the process. But, yeah, separation, ordeal, reintegration. Separation, leaving the known, leaving the nest, leaving home, leaving the familiar, and then going to some sort of new place, and having an experience withheld by individuals who themselves are initiated in whatever phase that person’s going to step into.
Ben: Can you get more specific? Just walk me through, like, exactly what it looks like, where people go, what they do, what they bring with them, like, get into brass tacks here.
Tim: Yeah, yeah. And again, it can go a lot of different ways. Say for a young person who’s 18, you know, or 25/24 ready to do that, in the ideal scenario, they’re going to have that mentoring relationship. So, there’s going to be preparations ahead of time where they’re looking back on that previous phase of life and asking what are the gifts that I’m taking with me, what am I leaving behind, and there’s reflection on that. Then, there’s the actual experience itself, and there’s a lot more to it, I’m not going to cover every last detail, but then there’s the experience itself. So yeah, in the ideal scene, going into some remote area of wild nature, having mentors, having guides who are initiated adults themselves that take them through a process where they’re going to have… and it can involve a lot of different things. Probably the most common element here and, you know, for Western Americans is going to be the vision quest, right, where they’re going to spend those days, those four days, alone in a quiet place in nature.
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How did they find that quite place in nature and what do they have with them? Are you… I mean, we’ve got naked and afraid where people show up with a TV crew and they just got to kind of play at the same place for 21-days and hike their way out. Let’s say I were to show up and I were to personally want to go on a rite of passage and, you know, you and I have known each other for a few years, let’s say perhaps you were the mentor I was turning to for something like that, like, do you hand me a knife and a bag of trail mix and go to this spot in nature with your GPS satellite phone and just sit there for four days… I mean, how does it actually play out when it comes to the nuts and bolts?
Tim: Yeah, no, there’s going to be very limited gear. It’s going to be, like, maybe a little blanket, maybe not, depending on the time of year, depending on the weather. It’s going to be… The idea is to make ourselves vulnerable to the natural world. So, that starts with the physical aspect. So there’s going to be no food, there’s going to be limited water, but you would have water, very little shelter, kind of just enough so that you could survive, but you can connect with the natural world. On the one of the spectrum, if you went out there in an RV or if you went out there with fancy tents and knives and all this gear… or even primitively, if you had a big, fancy primitive shelter that you spend days working on that really insulates you. So, the idea is to go out there with very little and expose yourself in terms of finding the spot, classically, you know, it’s going to be… The main location would be selected by that guide, that mentor, and then the specific place, you would talk some time and you would follow your own heart and walk out on the land and kind of like, you know, a magnetic connection, you would just find yourself. You have probably experience this, others probably have when we walk in nature certain places call to us. So you’d have a place that calls to you and then you’d claim that… perhaps mark the four directions.
Ben: Now, for this land that one is walking out on, let’s say they were to be going through your program or one of these fold who you have run these programs, is it those people’s lands?
Tim: Well, I mean, it could be a variety of different places in terms of the specific land, sure. Sometimes we run programs on private property, but it could also be wilderness area, maybe BLM or National Forest or whatnot.
Ben: Okay. Yeah, so like, public land, that type of thing.
Tim: Yeah. Sure.
Ben: Okay, got it, and as far as where they go, who… let’s say, obviously if someone’s coming in to you or someone else for rite of passage and they’re immature to a certain extent, maybe they are trying to cross that threshold into manhood and there’s some kid from San Francisco who’s never spent so much time in nature and who has decided, “hey, you know what, I listened to this podcast, I’ve decided I really want to learn what it takes to become a man” and, you know, perhaps they come to you, they get mentored a few times, and maybe they go through one of your survival camps and then they get sent out on this rite of passage, how do you know that they’re safe? Is there some kind of tracking beacon on them, like, if I were to send my boys out on a rite of passage, how do I know they’re not just going to disappear in the wilderness and get eaten by a bear?
Tim: Yeah, good question. Well, that’s part of the function of the guide of course, to ensure safety. So, (a) we would select a site that’s going to be safe, and (b) you know, there’s going to be check-ins, classically what I do is have a little place… I don’t like to disturb people, generally speaking when they’re on the actual… when they’re in there, their actual rite of passage. It’s important for them to just have that aloneness. So what we do is, we might have a little marker circle of rocks, you know, a distance away, and then every morning at dawn, the person comes out and puts a unique… makes a shift in the rocks in such a way that I know that that was done by them. You know, we have a pre-agreement ahead of time.
Ben: Ahh, I gotcha.
Tim: So, there’s a check and balance system to make sure everyone’s safe. Absolutely.
Ben: Okay, okay. Got it. And so, this person’s out there with whatever equipment they’ve been provided with, you’re ensuring that they’re checked in on, that they’re safe. How many days does someone typically embarking on a rite of passage in a situation like that?
Tim: Yeah, and again, there’s difference stages- life stages- and there’s different rites of passage. So if we’re talking about the rite of passage into adulthood, you know, and that’s a facilitated experience, that’s going to be 3/4 days, typically four days, 96 hours, four full cycles of the sun.
Ben: And during that time they’re providing for their own food?
Tim: Nope. Fasting.
Ben: Okay, so you’re fasting the whole time.
Ben: Does the person who’s out doing the rite of passage, do they have a book or journal or anything along those lines?
Tim: Some places will do that and they’ll have people take journals out. I don’t like to. I like to give people just the pure experience. So, you know the act… There’s kind of a meditation like quality to it, right, Ben? There’s this act of getting real still and quiet in yourself and holding that essential question you know “what does it mean to be a man?”, “why am I here?” And so it’s asking, really, in a spiritual way for answers. And, classically, again, this is a classical piece of indigenous wisdom, is that those answers come to us when we’re in that place of inner silence. So, a lot of the… When I did my first vision quest, my mentor was like, a part of the prerequisite was go to a sit spot, you know, find a little place in nature, and just go there for, like, 20-minutes every day for a year and only after that will I put you on a vision quest. I don’t put people through that. But that was a reasonable challenge because what did I learn there? I learned to get comfortable just on my own outside of nature. I learned what it was to quiet my mind. I got to know my place and that was all preparation for the bigger rite of passage, the bigger vision quest.
Ben: And then what did your rite of passage look like?
Tim: Well, when I did mine, it was 4-days in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and it was just a small circle. Right, it was like a 10-foot diameter circle that I was basically locked into unless I had to go to the bathroom or go check my marker box to let them know, “hey I’m safe, I was there.” So, part of it was simply being quiet- real quiet, not just not speaking, but quieting my mind and holding that question, finding that passion within me “what is my vision?”, “what does it mean to be a man?”, “why am I here?” You know, to the extent… The initiate, right, we can use that, right? The initiate has got to connect with their own sense of passion, and give from that place whether it’s a prayer or an intention. Some people are comfortable with prayer, others not so much. That’s fine either way, but the bottom line is connecting with that passion and that intention.
And then there’s different things that can happen and no two experiences are going to be the same. So, there’s… Definitely the solitude, the fasting, those are key elements and some other elements in there could be sometimes you could be dancing for your vision, you can be, literally, pouring that passion into physical movement on the land. Sometimes, it’s prayer. Sometimes, it’s dreams. Honestly, the most powerful dreams I’ve had in my life happened to me on vision quests and rites of passage. And that’s really how our soul speaks to us through dreams, images, signs, symbols, and nature connection moments. I had my second vision quest – thousand pound bull moose come down 10-feet from me… well, 15. Scared the hell out of me, I was in that state I was sure it was coming to kill me, you know. And maybe, symbolically it was. Maybe it was coming and killing the young man so that the man could be born.
Ben: Tell me that story. There’s more to that story. I think you’ve talked about it a little before. We’ve got time. Delve into this moose story because this occurred during a rite of passage, right?
Tim: Yeah, well okay, it’s two parts. So, on my second vision quest, this would have been, oh gosh, 2001. I was in the green mountains of Vermont where I was studying in a wilderness school. I was 25-years-old, I think, and I’d done one before so I kind of thought I had it down, right. I had a little bit of arrogance going on, although I didn’t realize it. So, I decided I was going to go off on one by myself, which I definitely do not recommend for people. And I was recommended against doing that, but I was like, “no, no, no I can do this, I’ve done one before.” So I went out into the green mountains, Stratton Mountain Vermont, Southern Vermont, and I just created a base camp with a tent, brought food and stuff, and then from there, trekked in another mile into the wilderness noting landmarks along the way, picking the perfect spot close to the peak of Stratton Mountain there. A lot happened during that time, but it was on my second day, you know, a lot of that time, it’s just you relaxing into being alone in nature, right? And that can be challenging. That can be uncomfortable, but it’s all worth it, right?
So anyway, into my second day, I’m just kind of sitting there, kind of in my meditation, I’d had some couple smaller animal encounters, I think an owl had swung by and you know, there were squirrels and chipmunks and stuff, and I hear this, now this is a different story than the one I think I told last time, but I hear this huge crashing coming in, I was facing south, so this was coming in from the east, and I was sitting up against this small red maple tree and there was… I was pretty much surrounded by shrubs, like four or five feet high shrubs. So, I didn’t have a good view from my seated position. So I’m hearing this crashing and I’m like, “oh god, something’s coming” and I figured a deer, but honestly, I had seen a lot of track and signage of [47:04] ______ piles of moose and everything on my way in and as the sounds get closer, I can almost feel the ground shaking. I get this fear rising up, you know, my heart starts beating, I swear, it’s going to jump out of my chest, and sure enough, from my vantage point, I could just see the top half of the head and these massive, massive antlers. Those things are huge, right! This things was like seven feet high at the back or so, and I’m just like “oh my god” and right now, I’m two days in, I haven’t eaten, I’m fasting, it’s an altered state of consciousness and for me, I was scared. I’ll own it, you know 100%! And so, aw man, my mind… And so it comes in and slows down and as it slows down, I’m like, “oh my god,” you know. But, sometimes, you have to face that. You have to…
Part of the rite of passage, sometimes, and growing up is facing your fears, right? And that’s okay! We’re so averse to facing fears in our modern world and it drives me nuts. We’re so overprotected by our parents and everything else, but part of my message is it’s okay to face your fears, right. So here I am, facing my fear. I’m sure is going to come charge me, right, it’s irrational, right. Moose don’t just charge people for no reason. Maybe if it’s got a baby or something or if it’s there in the rut if it’s mating season, but this is just a lone little moose and it was September. So, getting close to mating season, but not quite there.
Anyway, so it comes in and just slows down and just plops down and I’m just like “you’ve got to be kidding me.” You know, my heart was just like racing and racing and I don’t know how much time went by, I had lost all track of time, it felt like hours, but on the one hand, I was kind of freaking out. Truly, I’m like planning my escape, right, I’m like “oh my god, what do I do if this thing charges me?” Do I climb the tree? Do I run away? I was really in the midst spell of that fear, right? And yet, there was another part of me that was just like, it’s hard to put into words, but it’s like feeling the bigger connection that was happening. And so, eventually, the moose stands up and goes on its way not towards me and of course I was fine.
Later on… Yeah, it took me some time to process that and I really struggled. And this is when a guide is really key because you can have these powerful experiences, but to integrate them, to process them, to have the lessons reflected back to you, a person really needs a guide- a guide who’s been through that, a guide who has been initiated, who’s gone through the vision quest themselves. So, I struggled and then what did I wind up doing? I wind up seeking out a guide after the fact to help me process my experience. And he was helpful, you know. Luckily, I was able to find someone pretty quick, but I really needed that. So, part of what he told me… He was a great guy with an old connection to the natural world and mentored by indigenous elders himself, and he talked about that power of the moose and that fear, you know… when I was in that fear, it was really being more of transmission state of connecting with that moose. And, you know, helped me see that what I was doing was really releasing that fear and sometimes that’s what we have to do, we have to go through it, we don’t get to skip it.
So, that was part one and years later, which is actually just a couple years ago, I found myself here in Idaho not feeling the full fulfillment from my work at Twin Eagles that I once had. And so, I could sense a new phase was coming, so I went on another vision quest and this time up to a place called Hunt Lake out south of [51:31] ______. A beautiful little mountain and I was up on this scree field, right, close to the Hunt Peak, not quite on the peak, but this is like where there’s just a field of boulders that are tiny, right…
Ben: What did you call it? A scree field?
Tim: Scree field. So there’s…It’s a mountainside covered in rocks and boulders, some as small as a golf ball all the way up to boulders as big as a car. And I picked one that was huge and kind of positioned where it was flat on top and underneath there was a cave. And, I used that as my spot- again, a four day process. Most of the time spending time on top of the rock, but a couple times, when a big rainstorm came in, and would swirl around this kind of mountain… this little mountain lake like the boulder right there it was sitting in, the wind and the clouds would just swirl around like a tornado or a vortex in there and, you know, some intense rain came in and I would just… At that point, I ducked underneath the big rock. There was a big enough opening in there and I could stay dry. So, it was like a little cave.
But before I did that, the first night, I had brought a small tarp with me because it was later on in the season and the temperatures were cold and I didn’t want to get soaked because I knew if I got soaked, I’d actually be in physical trouble. So, I had just a little 8 x 10 tarp and I made, before I realized that the cave was there… I made this little shelter for myself and it rained all night on me. And, I had limited water, I was going on a quart a day I think, which is pretty low, right? Recommended is like a gallon a day and so, it was about a quarter of what I should have been at normally. And… So I had my little water bottle… Well, at some point during the night, under this tarp and the rain, my elbow knocked my water bottle and it falls down amongst the rocks, right, where I couldn’t easily reach it. And I was psychically conscious when that happened, it was the middle of the night, and then I go back into my sleep and I have this dream and in my dream I go after my water bottle and I crawl down in there and I don’t find a water bottle though. In the dream, what I find is this big giant moose and it was white and glowing, right. And, it was like the spirit of the moose!
Tim: And it was that same moose that I had seen, physically, in that vision quest 10-years prior.
Ben: That’s crazy.
Tim: And there was this whole moment of connection in the dream and I processed that later with my guide. And for me, what that was representing was the completion of something. Like, moose was an animal that, you know, I was walking with, you could say, during those years, spiritually speaking. With the medicine of moose, it helped me start the school and there was a real connection there. And it was like I graduated the moose years, kind of, right, to kind of use that modern term.
Ben: Wow. So, is a moose like your spirit animal?
Tim: Well, at that point, I really connected with that. You know, I’m always sensitive about that language. I have such a reverence for all of this, Ben, and for the natural world. So, I always hesitate a little to say a quick yes and again I was trained indigenously by indigenous people where it’s a real sacred thing, but yeah, I think in my heart, I do have that kind of connection with the moose. But, it’s never anything that I would want to be arrogant about or boast about or anything like that.
Ben: Interesting. My kids are always… Terran is usually a panda bear and or polar bear and River is typically a sea otter for their spirit animals. I’m usually a gray wolf or an eagle or a falcon or a hawk or some kind of flying bird of prey. It’s interesting what kind of comes to you when you begin to analyze yourself what your spirit animal would be.
What about for a boy doing a rite of passage? How would that be different from that a man doing a rite of passage? Are the boys typically paired up with other young men? Are they off by themselves? Is there… Are there different considerations when we’re talking about, you know, young men or people who we might even consider to be? Because they are, until they’ve finished the rite of passage, still kids.
Tim: Yeah, yeah. Sure. I mean, it’s… they’re in a different phase of life. They’re not as old. They’re not as physically capable. So, it’s a different process that they’re going to be taking through, but there’s a lot of similarities, right. Like, typically for boys, what I take them through is, maybe a 24-hour solo and they’re not asking the big question of what’s my purpose, they’re just stepping into what does it mean to be a young… to be a teenager? What does it mean to be a young man? What does it mean to be an adolescent? So there’s more guiding, there’s more connection time, there’s less solo time, but there’s an element of that, right. So, where they get to just be on their own with wild nature, with spirit, with God, you know, however you want to phrase that. But there’s still that essential element of it. And then, we can look back because there’s actually rites of passage.
There’s something we call the rite of competence that a child goes through when they’re maybe 7, right. If we’re really going to flesh out the full developmental cycle, when a child… You probably remember this with your boys, when they started to be able to help out more around the house and when they weren’t just totally dependent and constantly needing input and they were starting to be able to help out… Competent, when they were being competent. And in that time, like when I took my boys through this, I gave them a rite of competence, and it was a literally, like, they spent an hour and a half sitting in the tepee in the woods. And so, it was this micro-solo- this micro vision quest. But the point, even in that, was kind of the same, like, okay, spend time just with yourself and be brave, you know, and just have that time to yourself and of course the whole community was there holding the space before and after.
But you know, it’s also worth talking about emotional maturity because, right now, we’ve spoken a lot about the rite of passage itself or the vision quest, which… I mean, yes, but again, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to see it in a bigger context. And so especially for maybe the listeners out there, one of the big pieces, and this is what I did not get from my indigenous mentors, is the piece of emotional maturity and training modern people, as you’ve said, if there’s some 18-year-old out there who’s listening to this and getting pumped up, part of it is about learning what does it mean, emotionally speaking, to be a man. David Deida “Way of the Superior Man.” “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover.” These guys totally know this journey. And so, simply put, as men, are we aware of our feelings, our emotions, and are we accepting of them in ourselves and are we expressing them? Right, this is basic emotional intelligence. We’re not getting it in the modern experience. There’s men’s groups out there. There’s rites of passage, you know, where you can get this, but that’s a process and young people need to be exposed to mentors, especially males, right. There’s this old story that you’re either… What are the options? You can either be a machismo kind of bully or you can be the wimp and just collapse.
Ben: Yeah, those are two of the personality types you find in that book the “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover book.” They’re two kind of ends of the spectrum in that book.
Tim: Right, so, there’s a third way: what does it mean to be an emotionally mature man? What does it mean to stand up, feel my feelings, express them, speak my truth powerfully, but not use my power to hurt others? And so, I have a spine, I’m not that collapsed energy of anybody-can-just-walk-all-over-me, but I’m also not out there doing damage, hurting people emotionally or physically or otherwise. I know my truth. I know who I am. I stand up for that. I ask for what I want. I know what I may not always get it, but I’m going to have my own back. I’m going to ask for what I want and I’ll be there for my brothers, and for my wife, and for my community, and for the kids. You know, I’ve got this strength, I’m a man. I’ve got this life experience. I’ve got these gifts- that’s not just for me, that’s to give. So, I’m an asset to my community.
Tim: So, that’s a huge piece: training young people and training adults in emotional maturity. That’s a huge part of what’s missing in our world and so, with rite of passage work and vision quest work and purpose discovery work, that’s an essential element. Essential element.
Ben: So, with somebody like, let’s say River and Terran, they’re 10-year-old twin boys right now. They’ve been to your wilderness survival school. They’ve been to some of your camps and will probably continue to, kind of, attend your camps each year, do they reach a certain point where you’ll, like, “okay, these guys are ready. They’re ready for their rite of passage”? And if so, how does that look and what happens then?
Tim: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So, typically around the age of 13, like I said, when puberty kicks in, in their case, I will have… Because what? They were six when I first met them I think?
Tim: So, I will have known them at that point for what is that, six, seven years. So, you know, I’ll be seeing them at least a couple of times a year would be the idea, if not more, and watching for those signs. Of course you and Jessa are watching them grow. And what starts happening? Puberty starts kicking in. They start getting less… less interested in all the family routines and the stuff happening in the home and they start individuating, right. So, they start being more interested in, it’s the classic teen scene, think how important the social setting is for teenagers. That’s developmentally appropriate, you know. They need that. They need to separate socially, to some extent, from the parents and family and move in to a greater social scene. That’s natural and normal.
So, we’re looking for these signs. They’re stopping the fantasy play and it’s kind of trailing off, and maybe they’re starting to have romantic interests. These are all the classic signs. So then, you know at that point, I would… we’d be talking. We’d be watching and saying, “Hey, they’re ready! They’re exhibiting the signs!” So then we’d start talking about it, you know. There would be a conversation between you and I and Jessa. And, part of that I really see, the conversation starts with the parents because it’s, like, okay, are you ready for this? There’s a lot of parents that when their kids gets to that age, they can’t hack it. They’re still tied in with their child as a child and they… and so they need mentoring oftentimes, not always, but oftentimes just to let go, right, and start to really take a deeper look at the relationship. And then it’s going to be some sort of a calling.
You know, I always send a calling letter to the boys. I don’t put it out there as an invitation. I don’t say, “Hey, do you…” I don’t treat it like a summer camp. I don’t say. “Hey, do you want to go to camp?” or “Hey, do you want to come to this rite of passage?” The way I see it, life’s going to happen. Adolescence is going to happen. It’s just the same. Adulthood is going to happen. So the question is not is it going to happen- it’s going to happen! So, what are we doing to prepare for it?
Ben: Mhmm. Yeah.
Tim: So when they’re under 18, my take on it is the same as, like, how, as a parent, I choose if my child goes to school or not and where they go, right. They don’t pick, I do. And do I have the same philosophy. Some people would call that rigid, that’s okay. But the way I see it: adolescence is going to happen; they’re going to have to face challenges, so what am I… what are we doing to prepare them?
So, the way that unfolds is I send them a letter and I say “hey, your rite of passage is coming.” I don’t ask them; I tell them and I say get ready, you know. Start preparing your gear, I give them questions, yeah, I’ll hop on the phone with them maybe… and this is typically a small group going through the experience together. Ideally they’ve got their friends: similar age, similar stage, also going through it. We might 6… 4 to 10, 4 to 12 boys grouped together.
Ben: Oh wow.
Tim: Because it’s a tremendous bonding experience, Ben. The boys I’ve taken and are going through to become young men, the young men I’ve taken through who have become adults, the people they go through that with, like their peers, those bonds are like… they’re like blood bothers.
Tim: It’s amazing- the bond.
Ben: And what exactly is it that they’re doing there?
Tim: In the adolescent rite of passage?
Tim: Yeah. Well, there’s going to be that preparation phase. They’re going to get ready. They’re going to put their gear together. They’re going to start reflecting. They’re going to look back on what were the gifts of childhood that I’m going to… the essential qualities I’ll always cherish and have with me. What are the childish qualities I’m letting go of? And again, that would be the same for an adult one. Just looking back, generally speaking, on the previous life phase, asking the questions “what am I taking with me?” “What am I letting go of?” And you know, I’ll be honest, there’s mystery elements that I don’t get give away because there has to be a surprise element for them. If they knew everything they’re going to face, it would ruin it because life doesn’t work that way.
Tim: We all face unknown challenges in life where sh** happens. We have to deal. So had we had training in our lives dealing with unknown challenges that just come up spontaneously, and that’s probably one of the biggest gifts a rite of passage can offer. A person is then facing some challenges that are unknown. And again, we have this society that’s so controlling and we’ve got to know everything and it’s got to all be accounted for and then we struggle and we wonder why.
Tim: The old school traditional way [1:06:54] ______. The person would know what they’re going into. So, I’ve shared a lot actually. But, there’s definitely mystery challenges as well.
Ben: Yeah, I feel as though, I kind of sort of pieced together some of my own rites of passage as I did, you know, the Spartan Delta and the Agoge and the Kokoro Camp, all these crazy, masochistic endurance events and crucibles I’ve put myself through, I feel like, to a certain extent, I was doing because I never felt like I crossed that threshold into becoming a man and had to prove to myself that I really could rise to the occasion, I could train myself how to do things like bow hunt or how to do things like, you know, learn how to get down to 80 feet in the water freediving with a breath hold and spear fish, and how to conquer some of these crucibles, like the Navy Seal Crucible and the Spartan events and a big, big part of that, to a certain extent, I think I was searching out because I never personally had a rite of passage and you might even say a lot of the modern day infatuation with many of these so-called obstacle course races and Spartans and Tough Mudders may be, to a certain extent, guys and girls seeking out that rite of passage.
Ben: And, I think that we probably see a lot less of that constant striving and that constant searching in the people on their 48th Ayahuasca Retreat and the people who simply don’t have any other way to scratch the itch of feeling like a man or feeling like a woman unless they go out and do a Spartan Race, not that there’s anything wrong with it, but there’s no distinct “yes, this was the day that I became a man” or “this was the day I found myself” or “this was the day that I discovered my purpose” and having that strongly delineated… if that’s a word… Strongly defined and an actual point that someone reaches in their life, that’s what I want for my kids. That’s what I want for them to be able to achieve and I brought up that term “purpose” I know you… You refer now to the rite of passage, this kind of network that you’ve created of people who can take young people or adults on rites of passages as Purpose Mountain. Why do you call it Purpose Mountain?
Tim: Yeah, so Purpose Mountain is my new business and it actually just started in the past year here. For me, Ben, it was the next expression of my vision, of my purpose, it was that vision quest where I was in that scree field on the mountainside where I had the dream of the moose, when it really came to me that, okay, connecting people with nature is great, but I’m at a phase in my life now where I’m being called into something deeper. I’m stepping into that next phase in my life and, for me, what that is is to guide people and to really claim it in a bigger way to guide people to discover their purpose. And so, I like the idea of Purpose Mountain because, you know, it’s the metaphor that there is this mountain we have to climb, this metaphorical mountain, at the top of which lies our purpose and it’s waiting there for us to claim it. But, there is a journey that we must take to get there. So, it’s the metaphorical Purpose Mountain and what I’ve realized is that, while it’s really sexy and fancy these rites of passage and these, you know, vision quests and everything, yeah, they’re super valuable. Yes, they meet a deep developmental need. Yes, they address the needs of the psyche. There is still a lot more needed. And so, at this phase, I’m actually… this is a somewhat radical approach, but I’m relatively not supportive of people just going out and doing a vision quest and calling it good. My experience has been that people who do that still struggle with feeling like they haven’t really gotten what they need.
Ben: Really? That surprises me. Some people go out on a rite of passage and they still feel like they don’t have their purpose?
Tim: Well, no, no. What I said is people can go on a vision quest, like the 4-day event that I was describing, and maybe they’re more connected with their purpose, but they still struggle to express that purpose. Because, right, there’s a difference between finding your purpose and living your purpose. And guys like you and I, let’s face it, Ben, we’re the exception, right. I want everyone in the world to be on track and be successful, but most people out there are struggling. And, I don’t say that arrogantly, I mean, struggle is a huge part of our world today and I’m convinced, what I found was that, because I struggled, sure as heck, for a lot of years even when I was running the Wilderness School, which I still am, but in the early years. And a big part of the reason for that is because I had these layers of fear and resistance that I wasn’t addressing.
For me, I had really had the old traditional cultures up on a pedestal and definitely there’s so much we have to learn from them, but I no longer believe that they hold all the answers. And it was about 5, 7 years ago when I started getting to this point of realizing “Oh, I need to be more open to the modern approach- the modern understanding of the psyche, in-depth psychology, and that there’s answers there.” And that was when I started my emotional growth journey and really started facing my deepest fears and my deepest resistance and acknowledging it for what it was.
And so, there’s a whole journey, there’s a whole mentoring journey, of working with those fears and resistance. So many people, those people you’re describing on their 48th journey, are still really suffering from all that fear and resistance and so many people out there have a sense of what they’re here to do and yet resist and don’t actually do the hard work of implementing their purpose here in life. And so the answer isn’t to just work harder and pound the square peg harder into the round hole, the answer is to pause and to look at with some care and some maturity. “Oh, what is that resistance and fear about?” Because we all have those parts of ourselves that, you know… I got a little nervous before the call. Totally natural, right, and there’s a part of me that would rather stay home and eat chips and sit on the couch rather than put yourself out there.
Ben: That’s right. [1:13:55] ______ big podcasting stage now. Got to step up.
Tim: Right, right, yeah. But here’s the deal, that part of me that would rather not be here, there’s nothing wrong with that. My job’s not to beat that part up or demonize it, if I want to find success in my life, I need to actually care for that part and realize “oh, what is that?” That’s a part of me that learned to stay small when I was a kid because this part of me learned it’s safer to just stay small and not put myself out there and not take risks.
Tim: And that was a good thing back then. That was a strategy that worked. I mean, I’m alive. It got me here. So the answer is not to demonize that and to beat ourselves up for these sides of ourselves. The answer is to actually appreciate those aspects of us and let them know, “hey, life has changed; I’m no longer a kid.” You know, we develop these survival strategies when we’re young and then they stay with us. Our circumstances change but the parts of our psyche that act that way, it’s like they haven’t gotten upgraded. It’s like they’re running like, Microsoft Windows 3.1- it’s 20 years outdated, right.
And so, our job is to, as we step into emotional maturity, is to not cultivate the inner battle, but to cultivate inner peace and find these parts and let them know, “hey, it’s okay.” And then we get into the deep work, I mean Gillette and Moore talk about this in “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover,” the book you referenced earlier. The inner parenting journey that, “Oh, you know, when I was a kid, I had some needs that weren’t met.” We all did. No one had the perfect childhood and we had those survival strategies that our psyches brilliantly responded with, but they haven’t gotten updated. So, here we are at 30, 40-years old still with the same survival strategies that can appear to be holding us back. So, the work now is to appreciate those parts and to help them learn to grow up, but not to continue all that lack of harmony in the inner landscape. And that’s the old [1:16:13] ______, right. As long as there’s that inner conflict, we’re going to have outer conflict, you know.
So, for all the people listening who are… it’s a big part of my message for anyone out there who’s listening who’s struggling with resistance and fear and doubt: (a) it’s totally natural, nothing wrong with that; (b) don’t beat yourself about it; care for yourself; acknowledge those parts of yourself; and if it’s an ongoing issue that’s preventing you from living fully, get some support. That’s a role that I now serve for people is in one-on-one mentoring. Supporting people through their… to work with their resistance, to work with their fear, to work with their doubt. Not that that gets to, you know, drive the car of their life and lead the show, but for them to find peace with that, which is huge.
And so that’s…
Tim: That’s the missing piece in the vast majority of deep purpose work out there and vision quests, its people aren’t getting the support they need on the inner level to actually go and live their purpose. And that’s what I’m really excited to bring to the world right now.
Ben: So, what’s it look like in terms of this whole purpose? Let’s say someone’s in New York or Florida or wherever and they’re like “hell yeah, I want to get my kids to the point where by the time they’re going through puberty, they can embark upon a rite of passage and cross that threshold or, I myself want to go do a vision quest or a rite of passage.” Obviously, as we’ve just alluded to, you don’t want to go off into the wilderness with just anybody and anybody can slop up a website and put out a picket sign and say, “hey, I’m going to lead people through rites of passage” and you don’t know who your kids are going off into the wilderness with. So, walk me through how Purpose Mountain works, this business that you’ve built to actually create things like a rite of passage.
Tim: Yeah, so Purpose Mountain, I want to be clear, is really designed for adults. So, for adults that are 18+, if a person is out there, they’re interested, come check out the website, give them list, and let’s start connecting because I’m offering, at this point… I’m offering one-on-one mentoring. In the future I’m going to be offering group processes. And that can start on the phone. We can start building a relationship and laying the foundation for a proper rite of passage or a proper process for discovering purpose. You know, it takes some time. These are huge questions. It’s not going to happen in a weekend, you know. And again, it’s our consumers who get so addicted fast answers. Part of the message here is encouraging people to slow down and invest in relationships.
So, anyway, Purpose Mountain, people can… There’s different opportunities for people to connect, to build one-on-one relationships with me…
Ben: But do they have to travel all the way to Idaho or do you have… You mentioned that you have some sort of a network of people in different areas.
Tim: Yeah, so, that network is for kids. So, if they’re an adult, I can work with people remotely and then, if they’re for kiddos, it’s a little bit of a different scene. I believe that kids need in-person mentoring. So, I’m… Our school, Twin Eagles Wilderness School, is part of a bigger network of wilderness schools and deep nature connection organizations, like I said, 200 strong now across the US, really all parts of the United States. There’s a website which is WeAreNatureRising. It’s WeAreNatureRising.earth and a good friend of mine, a colleague, Mike Morey, put this together and it’s got a map of all of these different wilderness schools across the country, many of which are providing rites of passage work and people can get involved and gets involved in long term mentoring relationships. So, We Are Nature Rising, that’s a great directory of… for people out there if they’re looking to get their kids involved in this kind of work.
And for adults interested, I really encourage them to check out my new website Purpose Mountain. It’s just PurposeMountain.com, www.PurposeMountain.com, and I’ve got a free purpose discovery kit in there that really has these two essential elements. One, connecting with, you know, loving these parts of yourself, working with the resistance, sometimes I call it the “Ecology of Self”; and then two, taking this deeper journey out into nature and yeah, would welcome people to come check those resources out.
Ben: Okay so, then, once somebody has checked that out, let’s say they want to go and do an actual rite of passage, let’s say I’m me, I’m a 36-year-old guy and I’m like, I want to go out and do a rite of passage. Would I then travel to Idaho where you’re at and you equip me with what I need and then send me off into the wilderness?
Tim: Mhmm. Yeah and so, again, step one is going to be make building relationship, we can do… we’d be doing some one-on-one work on the phone or Skype or whatnot. And then there would come a point where they would be that physical rite of passage, that one big moment, and yeah, those are in-person events that happen here locally. And as Purpose Mountains grows, I may be expanding that. I may start to offer these in different parts of the country, but for right now, those are happening locally.
Ben: And that one big moment you’re off by yourself or a group of people?
Tim: Well, that would be a group coming together to have a shared rite of passage experience during which time, so maybe we’d meet for a week, and then during that time, people are going to off and have their solos and then come back and have the community come back to process their experience with- a combination of community and solo time.
Ben: I like that. Hey… Okay… One other question I have for you, you’re going to do another father-son wilderness survival camp again you think?
Tim: Yes! Yeah, yeah. I’ve actually got one coming up just in about a month, actually.
Ben: Oh wow.
Tim: Here in Idaho, yeah. That was the first time you and I… Well, one of the first times you and I connected, yeah. So, we got that coming up.
Ben: Okay, for people listening in by the way, if you have boys… I don’t know if I’m going to this one in a month, but… because, honestly, I got to pay close attention to the newsletter, dude. I get your newsletters and I have someone who monitors my email inbox and I tell them to star the emails from Twin Eagles and occasionally I have so many newsletters starred I don’t have time to read them all.
Ben: The father-son wilderness survival camp though, that’s still something my kids talk about. That was an amazing time, especially when you hid all the children from their fathers and we had to go out and find our kids camouflage with mud and sticks in the wilderness. That was one highlight.
The other highlight was the Native American sweat lodge ceremony that we guys did. That was epic! Guys screaming and losing their minds and running out into the snow and you know, that incredible, uncomfortable… it was claustrophobic, it was hot, there were drums beating, hot rocks getting thrown into the middle of this sizzling hole in the middle of the tepee, but that was a very intense experience, man. It was very cool.
Tim: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. That’s quite a description there. I think you overdramatized that just a little bit.
Ben: Hey, in my mind, that’s… I know you’d done it before. That was my first time.
Ben: So I was calm on the outside. I was freaking out on the inside, I can tell you that. So, all right.
Tim: You did great.
Ben: What I’ll do, for those of you listening in, is I’ll put links to all this stuff. If you just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Purpose. That’s BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Purpose, I will link over to Tim’s website… also, for Twin Eagles Wilderness School where I first came to know Tim, but also his new offering, this Purpose Mountain for adults who want to embark upon a rite of passage. And just so you guys know, I’m personally planning on my children not only doing their rite of passage when they come of age with Tim through his program, but I myself really want to go through my own rite of passage and work with Tim to do that because he’s one of the guys in this sector who I trust and who I respect and who… He knows how to wild plant forage, he hunts, he survives, you can send him out in to the wilderness with a knife on his back and he’ll come out the other end alive in most cases- unless the grizzly bear is just too big. But, he’s a guy who knows what he’s doing.
Ben: Yes. Soft-spoken family man, but also a wilderness bad ass, that’s why I respect you, Tim.
Tim: Well, thanks, Ben. I appreciate you good words. Yeah, it’s always great connecting with you, my friend. And, yeah, to any of the listeners out there, if this is something that calls to you, if this is something that speaks to you, come check it out. You know, I’ve got a lot of free resources, especially the Purpose Mountain; come check it out. Let’s… You can get on my list and make a little relationship and if things feel right, maybe this could really help you out. That’s why I’m here.
Tim: I’ve had people help me out and now I get the honor of giving that gift back to others.
Ben: Awesome. Well, thanks for coming on the show, Tim. And again, the show notes for those of you listening in are at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Purpose. And until next time, I’m Ben Greenfield along with Tim Corcoran from Purpose Mountain and the Twin Eagles Wilderness School signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
I first met Tim Corcoran when I was looking for a local plant expert to teach me more about wild plant foraging. Not only did he come to my house to record this podcast episode, but we also shot a host of videos in which he taught me and my boys how to harvest plants from our land such as wild nettle, mullein, comfrey, Oregon grape root, wild mint and beyond.
This guy is a true wealth of wilderness knowledge. As a matter of fact, each year I send my children to attend his wilderness survival camp and also his winter adventure camp. Tim himself is a heart-centered father of two brilliant boys and husband to a magnificent wife.
Recently, I was talking to Tim about the concept of vision quests and rites of passage – for both youth and adults alike, and he told me about a new program he is creating to achieve just that – a program based on a concept he calls “Purpose Mountain”. Tim is the founder of Purpose Mountain, where he offers Nature Based Purpose Guidance to support people with a love for wild nature who feel a deep yearning and a burning desire to discover their purpose, as well as work with resistance and fears through the Ecology of Self and Voice Dialogue.
Tim also serves as co-Director of Twin Eagles Wilderness School, an organization he co-founded with his wife, Jeannine Tidwell, in Sandpoint, Idaho in 2005 dedicated to facilitating deep nature connection mentoring, cultural restoration, and inner tracking. Tim is a leader of men’s groups, holistic rites of passage for boys, and wilderness quests, guiding and initiating men and boys into the new paradigm of the mature masculine.
Since 1999, Tim has dedicated his life towards consciously furthering this vision of living in balance with the Earth, community, family, and self. Healing the cultural rift between the mainstream and indigenous cultures, transformational consciousness work, the spiritual journey, ancestral work, deep nature connection, family and health are all deep commitments in his life.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Why men and women these days suffer from lack of a proper transition from childhood into adulthood…10:00
-Ancestral societies that have a rite of passage, such as the Australian aborigine walkabout…12:00
-The difference between a vision quest and a rite of passage…17:45
-The right age to embark upon a rite of passage, and why adults should also do a rite of passage…23:00
–How a moose nearly killed Tim during his rite of passage but eventually became part of his growing experience…44:30
-What a rite of passage actually looks like for a boy vs. a man…55:30
-Why Tim refers to his rite of passage as “Purpose Mountain”…1:09:00
-And much more!
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