Balinese Rites of Passage: from Birth to the Great Departure

August 12 – 25 , 2020

A Cultural, Spiritual, and Personal Healing Journey in Bali

“A journey can become a sacred thing . . .
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.”
– John O’Donohue


Rich in dramatic scenery, ancient temples and graceful people, Bali remains one of the few places in the world where the traveler can explore and discover untouched places and witness religious rituals that have not diminished with the passing of time. Every back road is a gateway to the heart of the Balinese people

In this two-week tour, we will explore both inner and outer landscapes as we delve into the Balinese spiritual and cultural practices (rites of passage) that are seamlessly woven into the fabric of daily life. Under Surya and Judy’s expert guidance, we will be welcomed into temples and the homes/studios of artists and healers. Under Alexandra’s gentle guidance, we will take time each day to deepen and integrate our experiences in this rich, soulful culture through group discussions, guided meditation/exercises, dreamwork, journal writing and periods of silence. The mythological, spiritual and ancestral environment of Bali can stimulate deep psychological insights, transformation and healing. It is our intention to return home with a renewed faith in humanity and more capacity to fully embrace this wondrous life—with all its passages, including the Great Departure.

Over the two weeks, we will be spending four nights each at beautiful resorts in three different locations in Bali: Candi Dasa on the east coast of Bali, Ubud, the cultural center of Bali, in the central foothills of the Gianyar regency, and Munduk in Bali’s lush and forested central northern highland region.

In laidback Candi Dasa we will have time to bond together as a group, snorkel, enjoy the expansive ocean views while learning about the Balinese culture, customs, religion, rites of passage and language. We will visit Tirtagangga, a beautiful water palace, and Tenagnan, an aboriginal village, where Bali’s finest baskets and textiles are made (one of the only places in the world where double ikat textiles are woven).

Next we will spend four nights in a beautiful resort just outside of Ubud from which we will travel to temples, attending two purification ceremonies and a cremation. We will each have a session with a powerful trance channeller and, as needed, a healer. We will also visit the home studios of a sacred mask maker, puppeteer, and batik textile artists, enjoy an evening Kecak performance at a stunning temple and have the opportunity to shop in downtown Ubud.

Finally, we will travel into the scenic, spiritually charged mountainous region, stopping for lunch at one of Bali’s most beautiful temples on a volcanic lake. At the village of Munduk we will stay at an eco resort in bungalows that overlook rice fields and distant volcanoes. Here we will be guided on two hikes into the countryside (one to Bali’s highest waterfall) with an option of a third around a volcanic lake visiting several important small temples. We will have delicious family style dinners with the opportunity for daily massages and time to reflect and drink in the magnificent views and sunsets.

Reviews from our 2018 tour:

“I loved our circle each morning and the wonderful bonding that took place. I will remember that most! Between Alexandra, Surya and Judy (with the inside Bali scoop and connections), what a wonderful experience!” C.B

“The way we came together each day, communed, shared so deeply, lived, cried, laughed, shared/explored TOGETHER, was the richest, most juicy and divine gift. . .

The brilliant facilitation of sacred circle, and the extraordinarily intuitive wisdom, kindness and gentle-strength that Alexandra wielded with the group and each individual was quite touching to witness. I personally broke through some barriers and expanded my heartspace and my thinking. . . It was really life changing- -seriously, this was one of the best trips of my life!” N.G.

“Whenever I feel a little bit anxious about life, I always bring myself back to the mountain in Munduk, at that meditation space overlooking the mountains. It usually calms me down immediately. Thank you so much for allowing me to participate in such a wonderful trip! Your guidance is phenomenal. What I will remember the most are the people I met during the trip. Because of you all, I can claim this is truly the most unforgettable trip I ever had.” O.L.

“I have never had a deeper, more meaningful group experience.” J.M.

“I loved the combination of Surya and Alexandra. The knowledge, sensitivity, love and insight into Bali that Surya shared with us made the trip for me and allowed me to experience Bali everyday in a more thoughtful way, with greater awareness to everything around me. Alexandra opened paths within each person through meditation and self awareness that helped each of us look deeper into our experiences of grief and ancestors. Together they facilitate a greater experience of, and insights into, ourselves and Bali.” L.C.

“I really liked the double focus of the trip: exploring the outer and inner landscapes. Surya’s superb knowledge and insights into all the different facets of the Balinese culture and religion gave us an insider taste of the spiritual and historical world of the Balinese. Judy introduced us in a very entertaining way to the arts, crafts and customs of Bali that helped us navigate our outings in a more skillful way. Alexandra managed brilliantly to lead us into an inner exploration of our griefs and losses with great care and sensitivity. The combination of the three group leaders was quite successful.” I.R.

“The Balinese people once again renewed my faith in the goodness of the human race. Their sweetness, patience, strength, and friendliness inspire me to try to be a better person.” M.S.





Sun. July 28 Day 1: Transit The journey begins. Depart USA around midnight, groggy but excited. Cross international dateline and lose an entire calendar day, which is made up on your return and which, if you’ve never experienced this phenomenon, is sort of cool.

Mon. July 29 Day 2 : Candi Dasa Arrive at Bali’s new Denpasar airport mid-afternoon, where you are met, and escorted to our amazing beachfront bungalows at Candi (pronounced Chaan-dee) Dasa in east Bali. Check in and unpack before gathering for opening circle, followed by dinner together. Enjoy a swim in hotel’s glorious infinity pool.

Tues. July 30 Day 3: Candi Dasa First morning session with Alexandra, and breakfast (this duo is repeated every morning—meditation, dreamwork, sharing, stretching). Then venture off to our waiting boats and enjoy a snorkeling excursion in a nearby coral reef preserve with views of Bali’s stunning Mount Agung. Back to Lotus Bungalows for lunch, and our first orientation session focusing on basic Indonesian manners & customs, including a demonstration of how to wrap your traditional sarong, important for our temple visits. At 5:30 we gather for a seminar with Made Surya: Introduction to Bali-Hinduism, followed by dinner.

Wed. July 31 Day 4: Candi Dasa Morning session with Alexandra in the yoga space. Breakfast, and our second orientation/ language session focusing on Bali’s unique religious composition and caste system. Excursion to east Bali for a visit to Tirtagangga, a stunning “water palace” built by the region’s last Raja (king). Swim in the crystal clear, Olympic-sized freshwater pool, followed by lunch in the gourmet restaurant overlooking the palace grounds. Afternoon free. During Happy Hour, Made Surya will discuss the rites of passage in Bali-Hinduism. After dinner at the hotel, an ethnographic film focusing on traditional ceremonies for babies.

Thur. Aug. 1 Day 5: Candi Dasa Morning session with Alexandra, then breakfast. Third orientation/ language session, on bargaining, then a visit to nearby Tenganan aboriginal village, where Bali’s finest basket making and textile weaving takes place, and where we enjoy a personal demonstration of calligraphy and weaving. After lunch in Candi Dasa, the afternoon is free. Happy Hour seminar with Made Surya focusing specifically on cremation ceremonies, followed by final dinner in Candi Dasa. Evening ethnographic film on the cremation ceremony.

Fri. Aug. 2 Day 6: Ubud Morning session with Alexandra, then breakfast with final orientation/ language session. Depart Candi Dasa for Ubud, Bali’s “cultural center,” stopping along the way at Bakti Senang Hati, an NGO for disabled Balinese adults, to tour the compound, hear about their programs, have lunch and be entertained by the members. A brief visit to visit the 10th century Hindu/Buddhist temple Pura Samuan Tiga where Made Surya explains Balinese Iconography. Check into our hotel, and then a brief walking tour to acquaint you with local amenities and purchasing sarongs. Late afternoon meet with Alexandra in the yoga space. Amazing evening performance of Kecak (Ramayana) dance and fire trance dance.

Sat. Aug. 3 Day 7: Ubud Morning session with Alexandra in the Yoga space, followed by breakfast. Seminar with Made Surya on traditional Healers. Most of the day is free, then late afternoon, we travel to the temple of Tirta Empul in Tampaksiring for a purification ceremony in the healing waters, followed by a visit to the temple for meditation. This evening we will have dinner together, and Alexandra will lead a discussion on impressions of the day’s activities with Made Surya, along with a guided meditation and sharing.

Sun. Aug. 4 Day 8: Ubud Morning session with Alexandra, followed by breakfast. Excursion to south Bali to the compound of a High Priest, for an interview, including questions, and a purification ceremony for each trip member. Lunch nearby at the home of your guide, Made Surya, meet the family, and tour the compound, including the family temple. In the afternoon visit a famous trance chaneller in nearby Sanur village, to watch her work with different clients, and with Made Surya translating. Each trip member will meet her, and experience a “reading.” This day’s events will prove one of the highlights of the trip.

Mon. Aug. 5 Day 9: Ubud Morning session with Alexandra, followed by breakfast. Then we visit artists and craftsmen in their home studios, beginning with a factory in nearby Pejeng, where they create beautiful batik in the traditional way, then on to a compound of shadow puppet makers and performers where we enjoy a brief performance. Our final visit is to the home of one of the few carvers on the island who creates sacred masks. Late afternoon session with Alexandra.

Tues. Aug. 6 Day 10 Munduk Morning meeting with Alexandra and then breakfast and check-out. Depart for island tour of volcano country and north Bali. We wind our way through stunning landscapes and Bali’s fruit and vegetable basket, stopping at the fruit and flower market, and Pura Ulun Danu, Bali’s most beautiful temple, named for a goddess, floating on a small island in a volcanic lake. Picnic lunch at the lake. Arrive in Munduk mountain village early afternoon and check into hotel. Late afternoon meet at the Sunset Bar for a talk with Made Surya on symbols Balinese use in the cremation ritual, and deification of the ancestors. Evening, we will have the first of our family-style group dinners, followed by ethnographic film: The Three Worlds of Bali.

Wed. Aug. 7 Day 11 Munduk Morning session with Alexandra, then breakfast, followed by a gorgeous, relatively easy trek through the neighboring countryside: small villages, rice fields, coffee and clove plantations, culminating at the magical Growing Stone. Late afternoon meet at the Yoga Bale for a session with Alexandra.

Thur. Aug. 8 Day 12 Munduk Morning session with Alexandra and breakfast. Depart the hotel for a trek through coffee and clove plantations to Bali’s highest waterfall. In the afternoon meet with Made Surya who will interview a local Priest affiliated with the Temple of the Dead. After this, a session with Alexandra. Evening dinner together.

Fri. Aug. 9 Day 13 Munduk Alexandra’s final session and breakfast. This morning there will be an optional walk around lake Tamblingan, one of the volcanic lakes that feeds Bali’s irrigation systems, stopping at several important small temples Free afternoon (for massages, resting, journal writing) until our final session with Alexandra meditation, group sharing/discussion, closing ceremony. Final dinner together with time for any final questions for Surya, followed by a performance of music and dance by the local village dance and gamelan group.

Sat. Aug. 10 Day 14 Transit After breakfast, depart for the airport and your flight home, or stay on and enjoy more of Bali and Indonesia.

One of the days of our trip there will almost certainly be a cremation ceremony that we may attend, and the itinerary will be adjusted accordingly.

Other situations may arise that we can take advantage of — other rites of passage, temple festivals and purification ceremonies. In case any activity must be canceled, another similar activity will be substituted. There will be no refunds for any activities participants do not attend, and anyone who leaves the tour itinerary at any time FOR ANY REASON is on their own


  • Round-trip airfare from San Francisco or LAX
  • Airport transfers and all mini-shuttles
  • Daily group sessions with Alexandra
  • Snorkeling excursion in Candi Dasa (excluding mask and fin rental)
  • Attendance at three traditional dance & music performances
  • Guided tours of Tenganan aboriginal village, Tirtagangga Water Palace, Samuan Tiga temple
  • Visit to a traditional Batik factory, home of a shadow puppet maker with demonstration, the home/studio of a master carver of sacred masks, Ulun Danu and Lake Tamblingan Temples, fruit and flower market
  • Treks through the neighboring countryside: small villages, rice fields, coffee and clove plantations, culminating at the magical Growing Stone, and Bali’s most magical waterfall
  • Purification ceremony at Tirta Empul sacred springs, and a traditional cremation ceremony
  • Breakfast every day, lunch at an NGO for disabled Balinese and also in your guides family compound, four family-style dinners in Munduk
  • Seminars and talks on local customs and culture, language, Hindu religion & caste system, traditional healers, rites of passage, symbolism in cremation, ancestor worship, trance and sacred masks, history and politics
  • Two performances of traditional dance/music, and a performance of shadow puppets
  • Visit and reading with a trance channeller
  • Visit and purification with a High Priest
  • Undying services of Madé Surya & Judy Slattum, Bali specialists
  • Four nights in seaside Candi Dasa
  • Four nights in Ubud cultural center
  • Four nights in Munduk mountain village
  • A copy of Alexandra’s book Honoring Grief
  • Pre-trip information. On-site handouts. And more.

Not Included:

  • Meals that are not noted in above itinerary (expect $6-$12 per meal)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Laundry services
  • Overweight baggage fees
  • Snorkel equipment rental (just a few bucks)
  • Any additional activities or excursions not listed

Trip Cost: $3989.00 includes airfare from LA or San Francisco.

NOTE: Price is based on double-occupancy room, each with private bath (all hotels have western amenities and two have swimming pools). Includes full breakfast, excursions listed, classes and workshops, services of Judy and Surya, along with several orientation and language sessions. Also includes all hotel transfers, land arrangements. Please note that an unexpected rise in fuel taxes may influence the final price.

Those arranging their own air travel will be responsible for transfers from the airport to hotel and back. Minimum 10 participants, maximum 16. For ground only, deduct $1140.00.

Deposit: A payment of $500.00 per person is required at the time of booking. Final payment is due June 12, 2020.

Cancellations and Refunds: For the flight portion, cancellation will be governed by the rules and regulations as listed in the flight contract by the participating airline. For the land portion, a cancellation fee of $350.00 will be collected up to 60 days prior to departure, after which half the final payment will be refunded. No refunds will be made from one week before departure. Trip cancellation and medical evacuation insurance is highly recommended.

Baggage: Two (2) pieces of luggage, not exceeding 62 inches. Each cannot exceed 50 lbs. Pack light. It’s Bali.

Accommodations: All accommodations are based on two persons sharing a twin bedded room with private, western-style bath. Single supplement based on availability for $460.00 additional.

Roommates: Single folks may sign up for accommodations desired on a share basis and will be assigned a (totally awesome) roommate as circumstances permit. If a roommate is unavailable, the participant will be notified of the adjusted price for a single supplement.

Passports, Visa & Health: A passport, valid six months from date of entry with proof of onward transportation. Indonesian free visa for 30 days granted on arrival to US citizens. No inoculations are suggested or required, except the one against fear and/or worry your guides.


Alexandra Kennedy, MA MFT is a psychotherapist in private practice (43 years) and author of Honoring Grief: Creating a Space to Let Yourself Heal, Losing a Parent, The Infinite Thread: Healing Relationships Beyond Loss, and How Did I Miss All This Before? Waking Up to the Magic of Our Ordinary Lives. Lecturing at universities, professional organizations and major conferences, she offers a unique perspective to grieving through her work with the imagination, weaving together case histories, practical advice, and experiential exercises.

Alexandra has been interviewed in USA Today, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Examiner, New Woman and the Boston Herald as well as on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation and” CNN’s “Sonja Live”. She is an adjunct faculty member of John F Kennedy University (since 2003), was a faculty member of University of California Santa Cruz Extension for twelve years and at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology for eleven years. Her articles have appeared in Yoga Journal, Mothering Magazine, The Monterey Herald, Magical Blend, and the California Therapist.

Tour Organizers/Leaders: Madé Surya would be considered a unique individual in any culture. Born in Denpasar, the capitol city of Bali, his father was a freedom fighter against both the Dutch and Japanese. After the war his father became an undercover policeman, until his nightly meditation sessions revealed his calling as a Hindu priest. A religious scholar, his studies eventually placed him in the Office of Religion (Parisada Hindu Dharma). As his eldest son, Surya was given private religious instruction to prepare him to take over as head of the 400 year old family compound. His parents, with help from academic scholarships, also managed to put Surya through graduate school.

He is also a performer of traditional mask dance, a mask carver, and is frequently asked to sing Kawi religious texts at ceremonies.

Thirty one years ago Surya married Bali scholar Judy Slattum (Masks of Bali, Spirits of an Ancient Drama, Chronicle Books, 1992) and together they organize and lead theme trips for visitors to Bali. One of these trips, The Healing Arts of Bali, involves bringing visitors to the homes of Balinese Healers to watch them work and answer questions. Through this, Surya has become familiar with and in many cases, close to some of Bali’s foremost Healers.

Two years ago Dr. Sukie Miller, Former Director at Esalen Institute asked Surya to be Senior Researcher in Bali for the Society for the Study of the Afterdeath. This involved interviewing 25 of Bali’s foremost religious authorities regarding Bali’s belief systems, and recording the previously undocumented information. Once complete, Dr. Miller asked Surya to continue into the more specific question of why children die young.

For eight years Surya conducted trips for the Institute of Noetic Sciences, on traditional healing, and family and community relations in Bali. Part of the process involves intricate philosophical translation with the Healers and Western health care professionals, especially psychotherapists.

Presently he is working with Dr. Adi Putera writing the first book in English on Traditional Healing practices in Bali.

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