When someone decides to do a vision quest or any solo land ceremony they usually think they’re doing it for themselves, for their own personal healing and wholing (by wholing I mean claiming our Wholeness/all parts of ourselves as part of the Whole). This is true. However, I would like to extend that viewpoint out further and suggest that when anyone is going out on the land for any length of time to be in ceremony, that is to say, with an intention and usually to mark something significant in their life, it is never just for them. Their family, their friends and anyone they come into contact with thereafter has the potential to be affected by the initiatory process of such ceremonies.
As a vision quest guide I make it my business to encourage people to very consciously include their communities when they are preparing for and during these ceremonies. I will also strongly advise that they continue the contact after the ceremonies for this is where the real work starts (more of that another time). That way, they are strengthening the ‘ropes of connection’/deepening relationships with their people and tempering the way for others to make a similar journey. Not only this but there is healing that I believe can happen in this inclusion.
We all have a longing to belong (notice the words are almost identical) and inviting others to support us when we are undergoing these kind of deep journeys has the potential for people to feel that they are needed and that they belong. Here is what I mean by this – When we ask someone for support it means that we are acknowledging their gifts, their ability to hold space, to listen or simply to be a steady presence through a strong moment. We are saying, “I value you and I trust you enough to ask for your support in this way”.
We are, therefore, acknowledging their gifts and that they are needed. This is healing. This is one way of reclaiming our lost connections as a culture and one way of offering each other the possibility that transformation and healing really are possible.
The person who goes out on the land will bring back something, however small, (though usually it is quite big!) and this won’t just benefit them, it will benefit anyone they are in contact with. They are bringing back a gift to their people and this is one of the most powerful reasons to take part in such a ceremony.
Put simply, it’s not about ‘me’ anymore, it is about ‘we’. It isn’t about ones individual healing, so much as the collective healing (although we need to heal on a personal level in order for the collective healing to happen). In any case, it is the same thing as far as I am concerned – healing and wholing ourselves is akin to healing all of us. It has an effect on everyone and everything, whether we know it or not. I simply wish to offer that the emphasis could shift from ‘me and my issues’ to ‘us and our collective wounding’.
By healing I mean, at least in part, really knowing in the core of oneself that we belong. As a culture most of us in the west have lost a sense connection with ourselves, each other, and the land we inhabit (which doesn’t necessarily mean the land where we’re from). The healing I speak to here is healing those lost connections in order to find once again our ancient and innate knowing that we belong. It is a profound Home-coming for anyone who recognizes this longing and who is willing to be available to it.
When I speak, or write, about Home-coming I am eluding to the part of the ceremony called the Incorporation, or the Return. This is the time when the person is coming back to their homes, to their friends and families. To consciously include them from the start can make the return home so much more rich and, yes, healing. We can ask our loved ones, and the people who are supporting us, to welcome us back. I believe that being fully welcomed is as important as the ceremony itself, for this is where the work really begins and is, therefore, where we need the most grounding and the most support. It is one of the key aspects of what has been lost – as individuals and as a culture. And so, to bring in a wholehearted and deeply present homecoming is vital. This, then, includes others.
And so, this is why I offer ceremonies that include people’s friends and families. Because I believe in the power of community and re~membering our lost connection to ourselves, each other and the world that we are inextricably part of. To this end, I offer nature-based initiation processes and cultural healing practices, sometimes known these days as Eco-therapy.