It is a matter close to my heart to let Steven Foster speak, who together with Meredith Little in the seventies recognized the urgency of reviving ritual transitions for modern times. Vision Quest as we know it today has developed out of their decades of pioneering work, their “School of Lost Borders”:
« So we endured, and we listened to the silence. At night we lay on the stony ground and watched the constellations slowly wheel across the winter sky. We fathomed loneliness. Our bellies ached, our fingers and toes were cold, we walked the four corners of the earth and we prayed, and the sound of our own voice in our own ears was strange and powerful. Perhaps we were crying to ourselves.
What did we learn? Here’s something we learned, but each in his or her own way: How to endure loneliness, isolation and deprivation.
Each of us learned a secret something, a way to endure, a hint at how we might survive the night and the cold and the hunger. Can you remember how you did it? That is the clue, the secret, a glimpse of the way. Do you remember how?
… And the waiting, waiting for time to pass, until we would again see and speak to each other. Perhaps that is a way of seeing life and death. And when we were together again do you remember what happened?
Did being alone and starving help you to understand the meaning of love? I remember especially the eyes of those around me. How clear and starkly beautiful, like the atonal desert, were the eyes of those around me. People had a wise look to their face, a little older, firm yet relaxed.
If the desert lured the animal from us and made us burrow and climb and shit and drink, it also lured love from our hearts. Only those who are lonely know what love is. I guess that includes almost everybody. Why do we love each other? Because we are lonely and because we can share/exchange/communicate with each other our own sense of loneliness.
It was so easy to give that night. Remember how we lay awake that night, talking, looking up at the stars, lying all in a heap? Friendship is a gift.”
Steven Foster, unpublished diary, 1975
The ceremony of vision quest draws its strength from simplicity. It is original and therefore so radical – a precious way to let the soul mature and experience the magic of being alone. Get in tune with the silence of nature. Let thoughts and feelings come to rest in it. A space is created from which clarity and intuition can grow.
The core of this nature ceremony is time out. Four days alone and fasting in the womb of Mother Earth, only a tarpaulin as shelter, a sleeping bag, an iso-mattress and enough drinking water. We vision quest leaders stay in a centrally located base camp, ensure safety and are there in case you need help. 100 hours threshold time, alone in the wilderness, as a way to your very own nature, your authentic being.
This retreat time follows a 4-day preparation phase, during which you can get in the mood for the land and the people who are going with you on this journey. Together we will create a benevolent and caring ambiance, which will be our home and support during this rite of passage. The true wisdom lies in the land! And in you!
At the end of your inner retreat we will meet again to share our insights and experiences in a circle, to exchange and listen from our hearts. In this phase of reintegration we begin to bring together our experiences into our everyday lives and our life’s plan.
«The layer of civilization that separates us from the wilderness is no thicker than three days.»
Robert Greenway, psychologist and wildlife scientist