Last week, I spent five days camping in the desert of Central Oregon. I felt a very strong calling to fly up North and meet this older Native American woman named Sweet Medicine Nation (Sweety for short). She facilitates Vision Quests.
Vision Quests were traditionally practiced by indigenous children as a way for them to understand their role in society, as well as their relationship to others and the planet. Children would retreat into the wilderness alone and fast for four days and four nights. During that time, they would receive a Vision about the work that they needed to do in their community.
When learning about Vision Quests, I felt instantly drawn. Why had I never had a Vision Quest? As someone who is fascinated by rites of passage, especially for women, I became curious – could the Vision Quest help the modern woman to gain greater clarity about her calling on this planet?
Anyways, there I was, camping in the desert supporting a stranger – whom I never met or seen – who was completing her Quest at a nearby Mountain. As done in the traditional way, this woman's friends and family camped together to support her journey. And even though I didn't know the woman, I decided to support and learn about the whole process.
It turned out that this woman's husband and children had been very resistant to her doing the journey. They were extremely afraid for her. Would it be safe to go without water for four days? What kind of animals were out there?
I admit that to the contemporary person, it seems radical and insane, even though it's been practiced by Native children for hundreds if not thousands of years...
It is definitely beyond reason and logic.
I spent four days camping with this woman's family, as they wondered and feared and above all, learned to let go and surrender. The choice had been made. She was on the Mountain, by herself without food and water.
From a distance, I could feel this woman's wild courage. I wondered how and whether she was able to separate others' fears from her own.
For many of us, we tend internalize other people's fears. We let their fears become our fears. The fears of those who want to keep us close. The fears of those who want to keep us protected. The fears of those who love us the most.
But if this woman had allowed the fears of others to stop her from going on her Vision Quest, she would have stifled her growth. She would have muffled the calling deep in her heart.
For those of us who have been loved and protected all our lives, we must become aware of this phenomenon.
How are we absorbing other's fears and letting them stop us from taking the leaps we need to take?
PS: These pics are from my new Instagram. Let's connect there when you get a chance.
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