My Blog

BEGINNING THE WISDOM CIRCLE

August 29, 2015

Tags: vision, wisdom circle, wisdom, mind/body/spirit, earth spirituality, vision quest, vision fast, rites of passage, ceremony, Meredith Little, Sun Bear, School of Lost Borders, Book of the Vision Quest, hero’s journey, life, love, advice, purpose, philosophy, hope, future

In my last blog I announced that, with this entry, I would begin building the “My Circle” page of my website by interviewing Meredith Little, one of the founders of The School of Lost Borders, and a key person in returning meaningful rites of passage to modern society. I had a wonderful long talk with Meredith, a friend for decades, and began writing the entry. In doing so, I had a few realizations. The first is that what I am doing in this blog series is showcasing people whose work I admire and, hopefully, helping to expose their work to a new audience. The second is that what I am building, while it is from my circle of friends, is really a Wisdom Circle. The people I will feature are all teachers with whom I have had the privilege of learning and working. They are also people who have and are making profound changes in the world. Third I realized I should not assume my readers know what I do about the work these people do. Just because I know what vision quest means, I should not expect you do. I know some of you have a deep understanding of the term. But others may only relate it to things you have heard about in history classes or seen in movies or on television. Before I introduce you to Meredith and her work, I want to give you the framework to understand the importance of what she has done.

To do this I need to remind you (and me) that I have had an interesting and unique life. I alluded to this back in my first blog in 2013: http://www.marlisewabunwind.com/blog.htm?month=2013-08

“I have been privileged in my life to take (what Joseph Campbell calls) a true ‘hero(ine)’s journey’. I have been allowed to step out of the culture into which I was born and experience life from a whole different worldview. This experience, added to my long desire to help myself and others find ways to live up to our full potential as human beings, has allowed me to encourage many people to find and follow their own visions, their own strongest path. Lilias Folan, a well-known yoga teacher and author, wrote about one of my books, ‘I would like to warn the casual reader of Woman Of The Dawn, this book will reach inside you and speak to your own visions. Her courage and honesty will challenge you …’”

“Sun Bear always used to tell me, ‘Your vision is what gets you up in the morning and keeps you going. It gives sense and purpose to your life.’ I had to experience a lot of adventures, adversity, and challenge to find … (my vision), even more to follow it. Still, I am fortunate to have ever discovered the gift of vision.”

In my Vision Seed blog series, two of these seeds dealt with vision. The first was, “Everyone is born with a vision to guide his or her life. Our mission is to find and follow it.” (http://www.marlisewabunwind.com/blog.htm?post=999722)
The second was, “Never step on someone else’s vision”. (http://www.marlisewabunwind.com/blog.htm?post=1001349)

I wrote in the first blog: “What do I mean by vision? Eyesight? A beautiful light that illuminates everything you should do each day of your life? My definition of vision is neither of these, although it is connected to both. I hear so many people, especially those in their late teens and twenties, saying they feel lost about their purpose in life. Part of this feeling comes because we live in a world that values product, not process, a world that doesn’t believe everyone is special and unique. Finding and following your vision can help you find your purpose, and more happiness.” I also reminded readers that vision is not static. It can change and grow as you do.

In times when we lived closer to nature, the vision quest was built into the spiritual life of many tribes. Before a young person was considered an adult, they would undertake a vision quest. A guide would prepare, watch over and then listen to the questor. Although the ceremonies surrounding the quest would differ greatly, most quests then as now lasted for one to four days. After the beginning ceremonies the questor goes alone into nature, and usually fasts from food and all the other distractions of daily life.

There are four stages to the vision quest: preparation, the threshold time, the quest and then reincorporation. In older times, the preparation would begin in childhood when youngsters would see the stages played out as their older relatives undertook the quest. Today, when a person seeks to go on a vision quest they are often already in the threshold time, which can take weeks to years. This is when the person realizes that the way they were is no longer the way they wish to be. This is a difficult stage, rather like balancing on the edge of a chasm and not knowing what is below or how far you need to jump. During this stage the questor needs to find a guide who can prepare them and help them through the other stages. Then they need to follow the guide’s instructions on how to prepare.

During the quest, it is just the person and mother earth. At first people are often bored, and then caught up in their thoughts. It usually takes a while to slow down enough to begin to see all the wonderful parts of nature. Many people see them then mentally catalog them. When that stage is done, the questor is left with his or her own thoughts and feelings. And when even these familiar distractions become boring, the magic can happen. The questor begins to listen to his or her inner voice, or to have wonderful dreams. From this experience most people begin to “see” what has often been there all along: the correct next step for them to take to allow life to unfold.

Following the fast, the person returns to the guide, and sometimes to a group of other questors and begins to tell the story of their experience. When someone shares his or her vision, it is imperative to respond slowly, thoughtfully and supportively. Vision, purpose in life is highly personal. A good guide recognizes that and does not impose his or her beliefs, thoughts, values or opinions on the questor. One unthinking conversation can really hurt a sensitive soul. Following the quest comes another difficult stage: reincorporation. The questor needs to go back to the world from which he or she came as a different person, possibly with a new purpose, and discover how to allow that purpose to become part of daily life.

A vision quest is a rite of passage. It marks transition in life: from childhood to adulthood, from single status to coupled, from childless to parental, from adulthood to old age, from health to illness, from life to death. Rites of passage are designed to mark these important events in human life, and to acknowledge them as part of the natural circle of life. A vision fast can be used as part of any of these life passages.

Meredith Little has guided people from many parts of the world through these important rites, and taught thousands of others how to do so. As a vision quest guide I learned a great deal about the vision fast from working with she and Steven as friend, publisher, agent, fellow teacher. In the next blog I will have the privilege of introducing you to her and the wonderful work she continues to do.


Copyright 2015 by Marlise Wabun Wind