Star Journey’s Grand Redesign & Re-Opening
In case you are not familiar with it, you are probably asking “What is Star Journey?”.
The Star Journey Symbol Method is a tool for self-reflection, based on the principle that answers to life’s questions can be found by looking within one’s self. Users explore a personal topic such as work, money, health or a relationship by using card symbols to play “games of meaning”. It can be used for solving problems, making decisions and exploring relationships. Star Journey appeals to people with interests in psychology, self-help and spirituality, and is used by counselors, therapists and others in the helping professions.
Star Journey in Second Life is a beautiful, 3-D immersive rendering of the tools, symbols and processes that are part of the Star Journey Symbol Method. On Star Journey island, a person can explore the Star Journey symbols and games in a tangible and visual way, either via self-guided exploration of the island, or though live group sessions led by Richard Geer (Starman Heron in SL) and his associate Gerry Marr (Dharmadog in SL).
The island’s design was originally led by Rebelmum Slade in 2008, and was enjoyed and utilized in that form for years. But newer virtual technologies have enabled a more detailed, user-friendly experience. Luna Bliss, a well-known SL landscaper, and Fuschia Nightfire, a renowned SL artist, have assisted in re-doing the island to be more beautiful and immersive than ever. To promote the redesign, Max Kleene, a popular SL singer, is helping kick off the event on May 1st 2016, 2 PM SLT, with a live concert.
I caught up with the Star Journey creator himself, Richard Geer, to ask him more about his island, the redesign, and the re-opening event on May 1st.
Lorraine: Richard, can please tell me a little about the current iteration of your Star Journey island, and what you focused on in your redesign efforts?
Richard: In 2008 when we first launched Star Journey island, it was done by a group of friends, each creating a section of an overall design. Rebs (Vanessa Taylor of Australia) had the initial concept, vision, and acted as project manager of the builder’s group. We always thought a time would come when we could make it a more uniform and consistent design. By 2015, I was more involved in the daily management of the sim, and I decided it was time to update it as much as upgrade. The newer mesh tools and other technology growth were now in place to do so much more than we could back in the beginning.
So I worked with some designers who had these newer tools and tried to re-imagine, collaboratively and with fresh eyes, how we could make things more appealing and easier to use. We essentially re-did everything. The twelve Gardens on ground level were redone to emphasize visual appeal, and a new landing area was designed in the center of these, a special open-air pavilion. On another part of the sim, we completely redesigned the twelve Gateway Art Galleries. These show the work of SL artists and also tell of the basic themes found in the Star Journey tool. We also greatly simplified our navigation, replacing our HUD with a simpler set of teleports. People can now walk up to symbol cards and click to get quick info in chat, or open a notecard with a page from my book. Finally we redesigned the Star Energies area, taking abstract concepts of energy types and making them fun, inspiring places to explore. And to support all this, I also created a full companion website that acts as a guidebook for exploring and using the Star Journey sim.
Lorraine: What are some of the activities, individual or social, that people can engage in at Star Journey?
Richard: Star Journey is a tool for self reflection, so in Second Life people can come and take a journey of personal exploration. They can be free-form or following a guided game of meaning. We also offer group sessions twice a week to show people how to use the tool, and these sessions have become a vehicle for people to share their experience with others.
While most of Star Journey sim is rather contemplative, our STARS dance club provides the accent of “rockin” live music and the people in SL who love to follow it. STARS has a 24/7 music stream for anyone to drop in for romantic dancing to contemporary music. And several nights a week we have musicians with their own live stream. Many come for an hour of live music, then stay either for dancing or exploring the sim.
Lorraine: I love how you have represented the Star Journey symbols with immersive representations on the island. Can you tell me how the visualization of the Star Journey symbols helps people understand and use the SJ Method, maybe with a specific example?
Richard: One of the most powerful parts of the process of using Star Journey symbols is visualization. It’s a technique called “Picture Stories”, and it involves freely imagining how you interact with symbols within a mental scene. For example, a person in a recent group session got the symbol Lamp. When she shared her mental “picture story”, she described the light from the lamp making her feel warmth when she lifted the lamp up to light her way along a path.
The second part of this technique is the “best picture” where one consciously makes the mental image the best or most positive. In this case, the woman opened the little door on the lamp and the light came out and surrounded her, not only making her feel warmth and comfort but merging with her as she continued to walk the path.
We represent the Lamp symbol in Star Journey with a special Lamp room that looks like a fantasy forest, complete with a gazebo, books, benches, a waterfall, and fantasy lights all around. The environment of the Lamp room I think helped greatly in creating a mood that led this woman to her visualizations. This mental “best picture” also becomes the visual representation of how to deal with her real life situation in some new and constructive ways.
Lorraine: Would you consider Star Journey a spiritual method, or can a person be non-spiritual and still enjoy using Star Journey to learn about themselves?
Richard: While some people with interests in spirituality do find Star Journey appealing, Star Journey is not a spiritual method. It is more of a psychological tool or game. Star Journey’s purpose is simply to help people help themselves. It takes you on a path of personal exploration, one that results in tapping intuition and gaining insights about your real-life situations through the use of interactive symbols and life-force energies. No particular belief system is required to engage with Star Journey, and people from many different backgrounds and beliefs enjoy our methods.
Lorraine: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about Star Journey or about your re-opening event?
Richard: I’m just very pleased that all this redesign is making a more appealing place and hopefully more rewarding experience for anyone who visits Star Journey. People need spots where they can come to relax, think about things in their lives, and get in touch with feeling inspired, and I think we have done that here. Talking does not do it justice, so we invite people to come and see the island first-hand.
The re-opening even is an ideal time to get acquainted with Star Journey. As a reminder, here is our Re-opening Event info:
The Grand Re-opening of Star Journey in Second Life
- Date/time: Sunday, May 1st, 2016, 2–3 pm SLT/PDT
- Location: Garden Landing @ Star Journey island
- SLurl: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Star%20Journey/137/126/29
- Entertainment: Live music by singer/musician Max Kleene
- Details: http://www.sj-virtual.com/#!opening-event-facts/uutls