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 are here to witness the creation
and to abet it. . . 
We are here to bring to consciousness the
beauty and power that are around us and
to praise the people who are here with us.

Annie Dillard