“Initiatory rites of passage are as old as dirt. Deeply tuned in to the cycles of nature, ancient societies around the world created rituals of initiation to mark, celebrate and make sense of the great mysteries of life, death and rebirth.” Betsy Perluss Phd
The vision fast rite of passage ceremony is a human practice. It is encoded onto our psyche by the natural world and the seasonal cycles of death and rebirth. While there are many specific forms that a vision fast may take, they all express a common deep structure, that of preparation, severance, threshold, return and incorporation. As we are moved by the cycles of life we go through major life stages and transitions as well as times of crisis, upheaval and traumatic life changes. A vision fast rite of passage is a supported way of navigating these thresholds, of dying to what was, stepping into the unknown and asking who am I now? So we can begin a new phase in our lives. These life changes ask not only that we survive them but that we grow deeper and wiser from them.
All Nations Sweat Lodge Ceremony
“It is our role to show up as human beings to ceremony, and spirit and nature will come and join us. It is co-created.” Meredith Little
Ritual use of the sweat bath is an ancient pan cultural human ceremony. It has many names and forms such as the Russian Bania, Finnish sauna, Islamic Hammam or the Lakota Inipi. The All Nations Lodge was generously created by a deeply respected Lakota holy person and gifted to non Lakota peoples so that human beings of all nations might practice this ceremony for healing and to restore their relationship with all beings. The lodge is a beacon, a lighthouse for the soul.
“The silence that lives in the grass, on the underside of each blade and in the blue space between the stones” Rolf Jacobson
Once we have tasted silence we know that it is medicine. Silence is not an external absence of noise, rather it is found in the deep wellspring of the soul. To dwell with silence is to experience it as a companion presence. It is a comfort and a source of deep riches. It restores and renews our being and thus refreshes our capacity to truly be in relationship. We learn to be present and to awaken to our own inner communion. We know we can come back to that wellspring within us, even in the fire of our busy everyday lives.
“Be still and the earth will speak to you” Navajo saying
To be alone used to be seen as being ‘all one’, to be wholly one. Intentional solitude is the balm for the sickness of our perpetual distraction. It heals our weariness. Traditionally women set aside time to go to a place that was sacred to her, a tree, a river, a cave to come into communion with the song of nature and her own melody within it.
“But my bones knew something wonderful about the darkness” Mary Oliver
The dark is our own personal wilderness. A woman may struggle to meet her soul in the broad daylight of the village. The day world of work and family cultivate particular strengths and connections but there are times when she may need to sink into more fertile, darker soil to tap into her wild soul possibilities. The greatest gift of the dark will not be what she finds there but how the dark changes her. Going into the literal dark of the night or sitting together in the darkness of the lodge serves as a synergetic companion for the work of the symbolic darkness; dream time, active-imagination, working with sacred wounds as well as our shadows and projections and confronting the inevitability of our own death.
“Movement is what we are, not something we do” Emilie Condrad
Words can only take us so far. Where words end, the ancient wisdom of embodied experience begins. Engaging in the movement of life we remember our inherent wildness, our creatureliness. As we live more deeply in our bodies with all its grace and flaws we cannot help but become more compassionate to ourselves and towards all of life. We begin to return to a feeling of being at home in our bodies, perhaps for the first time since we were very small children.