Vision Quests & Transitional Rites
As individuals and culturally we have lost connection with our true souls’ purpose. In many cultures long forgotten (though there are a few that still exist) it was recognised that there was a need for a person to go through some kind of initiatory process, a deep inner journey out in the wilds of nature in order to find themselves and in order to connect with the gift they were born to live. There is an astonishing sanity and innate knowing that comes from these traditions of earth-based people’s. When a person spends a number of days and nights (usually 4) alone and without food in a wild place they come to know something about themselves that they didn’t previously know. They come to see the world in a new way. Everything is stripped down. No tv, no screens, no radio, no books, no people and no food! When there are no distractions or comforts, the mind has nothing to cling to. It can be a difficult and challenging time. It can bring the initiate to some profound places internally.
A Vision Quest is often referred to as a dying because something needs to die, to be released, let go of, so that something new, alive and truly powerful can be born.
The initiate is advised to spend time in preparation for the ceremony which can be a number of months. They may choose to have a pre-fast ceremony, some way of marking the intention perhaps. And they may like to take a day simply walking the land, (see Medicine Walk) looking for signs along the way. The activities themselves don’t take the entire preparation time, nevertheless the initiates psyche certainly begins to do the work and this is often revealed in the night dreaming.
For the fast itself they will be witnessed crossing a threshold as they enter into that liminal space where they are then mere ghosts to the world that they have formerly known. After the 4 days and nights are finished they will be witnessed coming back through the threshold and welcomed back into the ‘village’ if you like. Then begins the integration, including the telling of their story and often the mirroring of it to give clearer seeing and deeper understanding. Eating is an important part of the integration and a much appreciated aspect as well!
See Events page for details on upcoming ceremonies…..
Variations on the Vision Quest
It feels important for me to remain available to the emergent quality that is Life. I am in continual dialogue with myself and others around what it means to spend time on the land, with the land in a way that matters, and indeed, what a Vision Fast is. The traditional form (as above) is exactly what is needed for some, whilst for others, it may be a variation on that. For example, it may be that someone is not at a stage in their life where a vision or life purpose is called for. It may be that someone simply needs time out on the land in a sacred way – in ceremony and held yet not necessarily wishing or needing to go without food. It may mean that healing is what is needed, not a vision. It is to this end that I may call these simply Land Ceremonies, or Healing Quests.
Does it need to be 4 days? Perhaps it could be 3 or 2 even. All of this is optional if the person really feels this is going to serve them and their people. Everybody’s edges are different. For some, just sleeping out is challenging. For others, being with the dark is terrifying, and others may be challenged by staying close to base camp where their pattern might be to go as far away as possible from other humans.
I feel strongly about always being open to what is needed in the moment and to listening for what and how a given person needs their ceremony to be. Individual physical needs and life journey stages are all taken into account and the ceremony that fits the journey will be found. Ultimately, when the intention is there, we can trust the ceremony, whatever shape or form that may be.
See Events page for details an upcoming ceremonies
Vision Quests are one way of marking a transitional rite, or an initiation process, but it is by no means the only way. I can offer support for an earth burial and I offer guidance for self-generated ceremony of any shape or design.
These ceremonies could look like a 4 day Medicine Walk also without food, or it could be re-enacting a mythological story in order to embody the archetype that is required in order to live more fully on this earth. The idea of any initiation is that there is an element of challenge to it. If it is an easy, comfortable experience then it is unlikely to bring about change in a person. And it is change that people are looking for. It is often done at a transitional moment in a persons life, for example, from adolescence to adulthood, or from being a middle-aged woman to mark the threshold to elderhood. It marks a transition in a supportive, regenerative and soulful way.
As humans I believe we need to meet ourselves in all our stripped down, bare-boned authentic selves in order to reach the lost parts of ourselves. It’s about retrieving our souls and acknowledging our humanness. These are the parts that, when they are met, give rise to our true, unmasked, less limited version of ourselves.
I offer 1-1 or group guidance for Vision Quests as well as any Transitional Rites Ceremony. Please contact me if you have questions and for costs.
Here is an audio recording of me speaking about transitional rites on an 8 Shields monthly call: