What Is a Rite of Passage?
There is much to say about what a rite of passage is, or is not. Condor Clan and it's initiating offer of the Condor Vision Quest is based on the traditional four day, four night water fast alone in the wilderness.
A rite of passage can appear in many forms and occur to mark many things in one's life. However, one aspect is always true: A rite of passage is meant to induce a transformation of one's identity in how they see themselves and how they are seen by their community. A Wilderness Rite of Passage is a ritual death and rebirth: dying to the old and being born to the new. In many indigenous traditional cultures, rites of passage are used to mark and celebrate the transition from childhood to adulthood. The marking of other life transitions, such as an empty nest, a divorce, the passing of a parent, are also appropriate reasons for undertaking this ceremony.
A rite of passage is comprised of three components: Severance, threshold, and incorporation. In a wilderness rite of passage, the threshold component is also comprised of three elements: Solitude, fasting, and wilderness. It is generally understood that incorporation, the third component of a rite of passage is the most difficult. While the severance phase is relatively brief, and the threshold component even briefer, incorporation is an extended practice, perhaps for a lifetime.
Severance is what it sounds like: The letting go, or severing, from behaviors, practices and ways of relating to yourself, others and your activities and pursuits. It is a time of assessment. A time of closing doors, of giving away and lightening one's burden for the journey ahead. A tree is pruned of wayward shoots and dying branches to spur new and healthy growth for the coming season. The process of pruning back a tree is in essence an anticipatory visioning of how the new shoots will grow to fill out the tree in the future to support the most bountiful harvest. Dead leaves, cut branches, and rotting fruit; your "past," are composted around the base of the tree to provide a boost of nutrition and vitality to the new life that is to come. So it is with severance in the process of the vision quest.
Threshold is the actual time of the "ordeal," the fasting time of a wilderness rite of passage. Here one is in the final purging of old ways. As your body empties, so too, will your thoughts and ideas. You are not just fasting from food; you are fasting from your job, your relationships, your habits, your way of perceiving the world. As your hunger arises, it is not just for material sustenance, there is a deeper hungering within the spirit looking for sustenance. Here, any final vestiges of idealistic notions about who you are becoming wither away along with your body. On the mountain, there is no distraction to obfuscate your purpose, only the deep mirror of nature to peer into; an uninterrupted meditation upon who you are becoming. The time of threshold is challenging, but the gift you receive from the mountain brings deep gratitude.
Incorporation begins as you return down from the mountain with a light heart, open and ready to connect to "your people" and offer them the gift of who you are. In severance, you gave away old parts of yourself and your life. During the threshold you literally gave away part of your mortal self during the fast. As incorporation begins, it is time to rejoin the body; your own body and the body of the communities you belong to. After all, we live in a physical world and how we move our bodies through the world; the actions we take, the words we make, the people we join with, is what makes our world real and manifest. This is the flowering on the pruned tree, foreshadowing the promise of bearing fruit. Incorporation takes time. It requires the support of your loved ones and social groups and communities to receive and recognize you as the newly transformed person you are. The gift you carry and how you offer it is sustenance for them. Incorporation is a practice, not a destination. It is the new way of being that you take into each and everyday going forward.
There are many ways to metaphorically speak of the vision quest, or, rite of passage. Every conversation reveals a new facet of this jewel set in the crown of humanity. We encourage you to reach out if you have more questions about this ceremony or just want to talk more about how we faciliate the Condor Vision Quest program. The internet is of course a wealth of information as well. Wherever your inquiry takes you, we trust you find the "way" that speaks to you the strongest.
The Condor Clan