Rites of Passage
December 8, 2017
 

Vision Quest

V ision Quest is an old, traditional and natural process to align with one’s next step in life. The individual must be called to this process—and then—guided by a trained leader. It takes a village of supporting community to hold the container of the Vision Quest camp. Today Vision Quest is still undertaken by those seeking to know themselves who want to reconnect to their natural being through this “rite to passage.”

It’s an experience not to be taken lightly, or fantasized about; one that can be called an ordeal. If you’re thinking about this, know the Vision Quest requires commitment, and a strong nudge or inner stirring to complete four days in the wilderness.

Today individuals pursue this quest for the same reasons no matter one’s age or their timing in life (16-70 years old). Their goal is to seek deeper knowledge and remember oneself and their connection to the creator.

Vision Quest is not done in a weekend. Some camps are a whole week or longer depending on the prescribed preparations. A person who pledges is saying they have chosen this process and have spoken with an elder who determines if it is their time to prepare for this ordeal or rite. It takes in most cases months, or even years, to be truly ready.

Choosing this path of action and agreeing to the process and preparation is called “pledging." Pledging means the person commits to follow the guidance, traditional requirements, and to prepare all required items.

We are “called to the mountain” as adults these days. In ancient times it was a normal passage for all children to go through, however, this is rare today.

 

The old ones would say daytime schools would steal their souls and connection with nature liberated them.

Community is also a big part of the questing experience. Questing is one of many sacred rites throughout ancient cultures. It is a time when the community witnesses the quester's initiation and completion. This is similar to witnessing a marriage and the commitment of two people to join. In this way, the pledge is supported by others in Vision Quest camp who bear witness to what they have undertaken and the opportunity for change in their life.

As in the past, a quest is officiated by elders who determine if it is time for a youth/adult to go on the hill for their vision quest. Today, we meet with the elders to determine is we are ready, and seek guidance if it is our time to perform this rite of passage.

My teachers explained that this quest was sometimes like a “near death experience” where one can see many things we would like to change if we saw what was coming ahead of time. He told me that we go must go and cry out in in the wilderness to know ourselves and our connection to the creator. Asking to know and to understand one's original purpose in the world. And sometimes we see things that will come. Or we may see undertakings we must perform.

We pray for true encounters with guidance and remembering. And in some cases of how we can serve our community. Some of our biggest obstacles to overcome when seeking a vision is our own pre-conceived notion of what we are and our cultural domestication, which produces false beliefs about ourselves.

Questing is a very personal experience.


In these times, we seem to have few answers as to who we really are. In many ways, we have lost the need for the elders or wisdom-keeper teachers who would notice, guide, and help us to interpret our experience of life. A guide in life is vital to our survival. We need to bring back the multi-generational support and deepen the respect of ancient ways that are natural and foundational. Questing is one such method.

Some think going to the mountain and seeking a vision is going on a four day’s retreat. My experiences with this transcendental process has sometimes been painful or physically challenging, and there are mental and emotional obstacles to overcome within ourselves. These can take place and are normal for one who has separated themselves from daily life, food, and water to be with themselves and their prayers waiting for answers. Some of the greatest gifts from this journey is to discover and trust what is natural.

My grandfather teacher would say that once we have entered into this side of truth within ourselves, the life we once lived cannot be re-entered with the same thinking. Our life will be forever changed.

Sweet Medicine