Legend Tripping

In all honesty, this is a term that I was unfamiliar with until earlier today… and no, it has nothing to do with drugs. A legend trip (or ostension) is a journey made, most usually by a small group of adolescents, to a site of alleged legendary significance. Basically, it’s a journey to a place of legend.

So what constitutes a “place of legend”? This is a location in which some tragic or horrific event (supposedly) occurred where the possibility of a supernatural event or haunting is reputed to occur. The thrill behind the legend being that it places you in a position where you might see or hear something unique, and through visiting that place of legend you become witness to that event and your story is added to the legend. In adolescent circles you might then gain some notoriety among friends… of course, that’s not always the case but it is the idea behind the journey—It’s a rite of passage among adolescents.

Legend trips are made at night and usually by foot. These trips usually have at least three people on them—the person who is dared or who has dared friends to go on this journey and at least two witnesses who can later confirm the story. (Three is the magic number for any story to be believable.) As the travelers make their journey to the location, the legend is re-told at a whisper.

Often times, these trips require some sort of ritual be done to dare whatever haunts the location to show itself or manifest in some way as to support the claims that the location is haunted. This could be something as simple chanting some sort of prose or taunting the legendary entity with words. On other legend trips, a task must be completed to prove that the trip was made such as climbing a specific tombstone in front of the witnesses, sitting on a grave at a particular time or for a particular duration of time, spending the night in a specified location, making a mark on a specific item, or retrieval of an item.

When the journey is over, once the task or ritual has been completed, the travelers retreat. Psychologically speaking, every sound, shadow or event becomes a witness or sign that the legend is true and that the travelers were lucky to escape with their lives! The success of the trip is determined in the telling or confirmation of their experience—usually with something having been witnessed to all the travelers to suggest that what was experienced during the trip really happened and also that the experience confirmed the truth of the legend. Most importantly, it confirms the bravery of the travelers who have defied the entity.

Popular culture has its own version of a legend trip in the 1999 film The Blair Witch Project, in which three college students are doing research on a haunted portion of woods wherein the Blair Witch resides. The students then venture into the woods to gather information on The Blair Witch and subsequently begin to experience strange things that have been associated with The Blair Witch. We know now that this legend was made up—as are the stories behind many places of legend—but there are some locations which hold some basis in fact that are still destinations for legend trips.


One thought on “Legend Tripping

  1. I think I’ll stick to using snot to spike my hair and prancing around in bra and panties for my rite of…. oh wait… I didn’t do that. I didn’t join a sorority in college. *smacks forehead*


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