“Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.” — Terry Tempest Williams
Cultures across the globe and from time immemorial have incorporated rites-of-passage. as meaningful ways to mark stage of life and to become fully human. We believe wilderness rites-of-passage or vision fasts are a missing component of our culture.
The modern day vision fast is a new/old practice of setting time aside in sacred ceremony to be by ourselves in wild nature in order to leave behind the voices of the world, cross over into a liminal space where our senses re-awaken and we are able to re-member our place as a part of and a-kin to nature. In vision quest, we cross a threshold into what the ancients called the dream time. What we find there is a world alive with sentience and with meaning and we come into a conversation with animals, trees, rocks, and our own true natures. From this conversation we may come away with treasure; inspired and imbued with pieces of our truest purpose.
There are typically three stages to a rite-of-passage:
Severance: You sever ties to the old life, the old habits, the old ways of thinking and doing-those no longer serve you or your people. Preparation for the threshold involves forming and refining your intentions and saying goodbye temporarily to friends and family.
Threshold: You step across the threshold into a liminal state to fast solo on the land for a period of time. Traditionally, this is often 4 days and nights. In the attempt to be more accessible to more people, some of Wild Nature Heart programs are 24-48 hour fasts.
Incorporation: You return to council circle to hear the stories that your journeys into wild nature have gifted. Your guides will listen, and then mirror your story back to you as medicine for yourself and for the group. You then carry the vision and new understandings back into the world and your community.
Sometimes there is confusion around the term ‘vision’. There are no doubt as many ‘visions’ as there are seekers. For some, a “vision” is indeed something that happens or is received. Vision also means gaining a deeper clarity and insight into the vision/dreams/values that are already living inside of you – and the threshold is an opportunity to claim it. Some people may expect the Big Eagle vision…it is often much more grounded than that.
Another way to approach vision is how Meredith Little and Steven Foster, founders of School of Lost Borders, put it: “Vision is that something which must be done. A work that must be accomplished.”
Solo Wilderness Rite-of-Passages are also an option. Most Wilderness Rite-of-Passage programs, including Wild Nature Heart’s (next one is late spring 2020), are group programs, so the solo journey is a rare opportunity to design a unique experience and get specialized attention. This can be something which 1-on-1 earth-rooted mentoring sessions lead up to, or can be done as a stand alone ceremony. While the group Programs are during the late-spring to late-summer months, Ryan facilitates Solo Journeys year-round.
For more details of the group program, see the description for last May’s Wilderness Rite-of-Passage Program.