Indigenous cultures from around the world have historically marked life’s transitions with a ceremony, a right of passage from one stage of life to the next. From child to adolescent, then to adulthood, elder-hood and even in preparation for death, the community would gather to honour, celebrate and embrace the initiate.
Such a foreign concept for me to understand, given the culture and environment I grew up in. Whereas a right of passage is all about the visibility of the initiate, my situation taught me that invisibility was preferred. Being unseen often meant I was safe. I remember vividly the months leading up to the end of high school. Even as I hated school, I was terrified of the vast unknown beyond. There had been no discussions or preparations for life after, and all I could see was a cliff ahead. My parents were individually making plans for their own escapes and I was abandoned in a very different way than before. Of course, I handled it all rather poorly.
I recently returned from taking part in a Vision Fast, an intended variation on the more common term of a vision quest. The founders of this program spent many years researching and experiencing various ancient practices from around the world, and blended their findings to create a hybrid ceremony that would call out to the white man’s ache for meaning in this life. I was drawn to take part largely because I had felt the need to face myself in this world as I am. I wanted to commune with spirit without using the interpretive powers of ayahuasca or other “medicines”.
In this program, we were shown that we could take our aches, our questions and our burdens to the land. We were asked to open ourselves to commune with spirit and accept that the wisdom of the universe was available to us all should we show up.
We prepared to fast for four days and four nights in the Eureka desert and surrounding mountains in California, a barren and beautiful meeting place between earth and sky, between man and spirit. The facilitators quickly created a safe and supportive environment, and it wasn’t long before a deep and loving bond developed between us all. As the time came close to enter the desert, the energy was palpable. The time of challenge had arrived.
Each of us had very personal experiences during our time fasting, and yet we were united in our reverence for the power of the land. To enter deeply into a relationship with spirit, while in the presence of immense love and support, was a lasting and formative experience.
Indeed, in my time on the land and the short interval since, I have a new relationship with this life, this universe. It remains for me to be open to the ongoing lessons and teachings of this life, to continue to allow what is.
And to ………. take it to the land.