Playing coyote: a ceremony of relationship, distance, and subjectivity: by Charles R. Carlin

Link to Playing coyote

Abstract This article explores the contemporary vision fast ceremony as a more-than-human therapy with the capacity to offer participants a focused experience of the material and social realms as continuous with one another in order to consider the human self as an emergent product of relationship among many types of beings. The ceremony, centered on 4 days of fasting by oneself in a wild landscape, has arisen as the product of dialog between Native American and Western psychological traditions. I offer a narrative account of my own experience as a participant in the ceremony. In order to make sense of my experience, I draw on Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology and animist theorizing to describe the vision fast ceremony as a more-than-human therapy that can help to connect theorizing in relational ontologies to felt experience. I suggest that the ceremonial space allows participants to take seriously an understanding of the human self as arising out of intersubjective relationships with landscapes and other species as well as human relationships. I argue that geographers should pay close attention to the experiential constitution of subjectivity as well as its conceptual diffusion.

We do not go into the desert to escape

people but to learn how to find them:
we do not leave them in order to have

nothing more to do with them,
but to find out the way
to do them the most good.

Thomas Merton-