Photo by Gurps Chawla

A Year of Adventure, Initiation and Alternative Masculinity

Eamon Armstrong
Dec 31, 2018 · 7 min read

In 2018 I took an adult gap year to travel the world pursing adventure, initiation and a better understanding of what it means to be a man. This list of highlights and lessons is also my thank you speech, in every case I couldn’t have done this without my community.

Adventure Around the World and a Book About Alternative Masculinity

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” — Lao Tzu

I always dreamed of traveling the world on a wild odyssey of unexpected challenges, new cultures and strange rituals. From Australia to Zanzibar and from Bali to Ibiza, I just said YES to each new adventure and lept to the next challenge. I was supported by friends and given opportunities to speak, write and serve for which I am enormously grateful. I wrote a journal of ideas for the duration of the journey, mining the ore of my experience for refinement in this coming year as a book.

“Healing Masculinity” Talks Across Australia, India and Indonesia

“I’d rather be whole than good.” Carl Jung

I said yes to an invitation by my friend and mentor Ian MacKenzie and leveraged my festival network to offer talks on mature masculinity. I taught a full day of masculine archetypes in Byron Bay, spoke of gentleness with Men’s Rights Activist in Mumbai, and discussed sexual shadow and spiritual bypassing at the Bali Spirit Festival. Teaching new ways to understand what it means to be a man in the homeland of my father was profound for me.

Holi, the Festival of Colors, in the Ancient City of Varanasi

“Holi has its own consciousness,” — Akash Rathod

As a festival adventurer, Holi, the Festival of Colors has always been high on my list. While in India, my assistant and friend Akash Rathod and I traveled to the ancient city of Varanasi to drink bhang lassis, discuss philosophy and throw vibrant handfuls of dust into the dancing crowds.

Yin Yoga Teacher Certification in Bali

“The body keeps the score.” — Bessel van der Kolk

Yin yoga is an embodiment practice based on three ancient wisdom traditions: long holds of Asana poses, the meridian system of traditional chinese medicine and the mindfulness practices of Buddhism. Our instructor, Tina Nance taught me how to release trauma stored in our fascia. At the same time she modelled a profoundly nourishing leadership. After two weeks of twelve hour days I was a yin yoga teacher.

Shamanic Initiation with the Bwiti in Gabon

“And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.” — Joseph Campbell

I spent 10 days in a shamanic initiation with the Bwiti people of the Congo Basin using the healing plant medicine, iboga. This experience tore through the very fabric of my being and revealed my deepest trauma and roots of my addictive patterns. The Rite of Passage that I sought offered a threshold of maturation where the “I don’t wanna” voice that held me back melted away in the face of ancient ritual. The final piece of my

The Erotic Bases of Being with Transgender Taoist Master Zhenzan Dao at the Mogadao Institute in Santa Fe

“The erotic — the multiplicity of desires both explicit and subtle — is the will to be, to be fully alive, which is often expressed through intense sexuality and desire, but also — and not separate from — our attentiveness to all of life, especially to our relationships and to the natural world, and to the life of the imagination through which power we are able to perceive reality.” — Zhenzan Dao

I was called to study with Zhenzan Dao after watching a video of her mythopoetic antidote to pornography addiction. In the honey drawl of a sensual jaguar, Zhenzan firmly planted my sexuality back in my body and released the need for sex to be fixed or resolved. I learned about the MogaDao concept that erotic energy is the call of destiny and developed somatic practices for internal alchemy and erotic vitality.

The Penis and Vagina Dialogues, a Naked Talk About Gender at Burning Man

“The Church says: the body is a sin.

Science says: the body is a machine.

Advertising says: The body is a business.

The Body says: I am a fiesta.”

― Eduardo Galeano

They say when you give a public talk you should imagine everyone naked, The Penis and Vigina Dialogues was the opposite. Elana Meta and I bared it all in the Cosmic Heart Temple of Camp Mystic at Burning Man and talked about all the things men and women have trouble discussing about their bodies.

Overcoming Seasonal Depression with a Nourishing Morning Ritual

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” — Mark Twain

I usually get seasonal affective disorder each autumn and I’ve gotten used to accepting depression as a teacher, slowing down and just trying to make it through the solstice. This year I had the most robust self-care toolkit in my life. The centerpiece was my morning ritual, including 30 minutes of vipassana-style meditation each morning. I accomplished some of my best writing and developed better ways to support others. I managed to make it through 2018 with almost no depression at all. A first in the past 20 years.

Love & Letting Go

Photo by Gurps Chawla

“To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go” — Lao Tzu

I had three significant romances this year and each one taught me the wisdom of letting go. The first was a dwindling long distance love where I finally overcame my pattern of holding on until the last drop when love turns bitter. The second was a brief, passionate flame where I learned to let go quickly without taking it personally. The third is the woman I’m seeing now, a relationship with a foundation based on letting go of traditional romantic structures. This love requires patience and self-reliance yet at the same time meets my needs better than any before and proof that relationships like these are not only available but abundant when I come from truth.

Launching the Life is a Festival Podcast

“Observe, Orient, Decide and Act” — United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd

At the end of 2018, I published four episodes of my new podcast Life is a Festival. I garnered over 7,000 listens in the first month thanks to the brilliant stories and ideas of Mikey Lion, Gustaf Tadaa, Brad Burge, and Rebecca Jean. Starting my own new business with the support of my producer Ari Anderson and designer Andy McErlean was a huge boost to my motivation and self-esteem. Each weekly iteration helped me cut past my limiting perfectionism and taught me the skills to rapidly prototype interesting content. I’m honored to have created a platform that serves my community and to allows the leaders in my circle to share their ideas.

I am so grateful for everyone who was involved in this epic year of travel and learning. In the coming year I intend to complete my book, offer a TEDx on kink and consent, grow the podcast as a platform for leadership in the festival community, study Zen Buddhism and write new music.

Life’s like a movie,

write your own ending.

Keep believing.

Keep pretending.” — Kemit

Eamon Armstrong

Written by

🎙 #LifeisaFestivalPodcast 🖋 Writer. Speaker. Host. 👨🏻‍🎤 Integrating Masculinity. 🎪 Bimbling Around Festivals. 📍 San Francisco | Black Rock City

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