How to Prepare for Your Vision Fast Ceremony
Most likely you are reading this because you have signed up a vision fast. Or maybe you are just flirting with the idea, wondering if being alone in nature for four days and nights is the right thing for you. “What” you may ask, “is the point of putting yourself through such hardship and risk?” And yet, perhaps, even with the doubts and worries, something is tugging at you, trying to pull you across the border and into your life. If you are ready to take the step, read on...
Why a rite of passage?
In our fast-paced world, we see an increasing desire for quick and easy transformation. This is evident by the multitude of self-help books and weekend workshops available today, many which tantalize with the promise of a happier, more satisfied life. While we appreciate much of what is offered to those who hunger for a better life, we also know that transformation is almost never quick and certainly not easy. This has been true of rites of passage throughout the ages. In fact, a rite of passage may not make life easier at all, but rather, more difficult. To step into your life fully, to take on your shadows and gifts, can invite intense challenges and turn your life completely upside down! Nevertheless, there is ultimately more to lose in living a half-life rather than facing the agony and joy of the initiate’s path toward wholeness. Deep down, we know this. It’s in our bones. It is ancient knowledge passed down through our psychic DNA.
How to prepare for your ceremony
We ask that you take your preparation seriously. Ideally, you’ll give yourself months, if not a full year, to prepare for your ceremony. The more time and effort you take to prepare, the more meaningful your ceremony will be. It is important to keep in mind that the vision fast ceremony is not a quick-fix deal. It is a practice that demands your full attention and commitment. It is likely that during your preparation phase, you’ll feel frightened, inadequate, or that you’re not up to the task. All of these feelings can indicate, paradoxically, that you’re on the right path. On the other hand, if it feels overwhelming, you may need to step back and reflect; perhaps talk with one of the guides about your readiness.
Preparing for death
All rites of passage entail a psychological death, which is no less than a radical altering in one’s identity; a shattering, or dissolving, of self-image that reverberates all the way down to the bedrock of the soul. Such a death is necessary for the rebirth; the new way of being that follows. Imagine, therefore, that in preparing for your upcoming vision fast, you’re also preparing for death. What old ego-identity is waiting to die? Who do you need to “make it good” with in order for you to fully step through the threshold? What sacrifices need to be made so that the new life that awaits can come in cleanly and freely? In other words, how can you best prepare for your death? For some, these questions may foster a great deal of anxiety. For others, who have already faced death in some way, they may entail a confirming, or a reaffirming, of what is already present and true.
Planning your ceremony
Another step in preparing for your ceremony is to deeply engage the question, “What is my intent for my upcoming ceremony?” In other words, right now, and from the deepest place in your psyche, what can you say about that which is compelling you to embark on this vision fast? Referring to the three phases of rites of passage, Steven Foster and Meredith Little offer the following questions for helping formulate an intent.
- Do I want to mark a severance (separation, termination, parting, letting go, conclusion)?
- Do I want to mark a threshold (transition, change, adjustment, shift in role, status, or task, period of extended depression, transformation, renewal)?
- Do I want to mark an incorporation (return, joining, union, re-establishment of harmony, new responsibilities, new beginnings)?
Identifying your intent and creating a meaningful ceremony for yourself can be challenging, and most likely your intent will shift and change as the vision fast draws closer. During the four days preceding your threshold/solo time, your guides will help you further clarify your intent, which can be a process as powerful and profound as the actual ceremony itself.
The solo walk
The solo walk is a tool to help you clarify your intent, preferably done about a month before your actual vision fast. We recommend that you begin your walk at sunrise and end at sunset, although there are no hard fast rules about this. Any intentional time you spend on the land, alone and possibly without food and minimal shelter, is in service to your upcoming ceremony. Begin your walk by crossing a threshold, a physical or imaginary line, as you enter into your dreamscape where all that you encounter speak with the voices of the spirits of the land. The “voices” may be obvious or they may be subtle, speaking through the soft wind in the trees or even the rattling of a rusty tin can. They may come in the form of memories or indirect thoughts. The task is to pay attention to all that is present.
During your walk you may find something, a symbol, which is particularly important to you, or resembles you in some way. You may want to bring this to your vision fast to help further clarify your intent when working with your guides.
Safety is of upmost importance during any solo time. Please make sure you have plenty of water, good directions, the right clothing and gear, and that someone knows of your whereabouts. Also, see the handbook, “The Trail to the Sacred Mountain” for more information on safety.
Equipment and physical preparation
Physical preparation is a central part of the ceremony, just as much as any psychological or spiritual preparation. You’ll notice this once you begin to gather your backpack, sleeping bag, tarp and all else you’ll need for your solo time. Give yourself plenty of time for your physical preparation. We recommend that you carefully go through the equipment list and diligently mark off each item. This equipment list can be found in The Trail to the Sacred Mountain: Vision Fast Handbook for Adults.
Nature is not an abstraction. If unprepared, rain and cold can cause hypothermia, the sun can burn skin, and snakes and scorpions can bite. But, the truth of nature is what makes your solo time real, mysterious, and meaningful. Good preparation and some basic knowledge will help you stay safe. Be tuned into what your body needs. If you have a medical condition or are taking any medication, let your guides know beforehand. Your guides will also help you prepare physically for your solo time, but we encourage that you read the handbook carefully before you arrive and check with your physician if you have any concerns.