Reasons People Go on Vision Quests:
Though impossible to list them all, there are a few basic reasons why people undertake a vision quest.
1. As a Rite of Passage:
A rite of passage implies a movement — the end of one thing and the beginning of something else. For example, puberty rituals marked the end of childhood and initiation into adulthood in tribal societies. There are many beginnings and endings in modern life that can become powerful and real when consciously undertaken as an act of power. Parenthood, retirement, choosing a path, divorce, or coming of age… These powerful beginnings and endings can be experienced deeply, and provide teachings or result in changes on a soul level far beyond any of their social consequences.
A vision quest can also be used to catalyze or cause an inner change. There are many internal changes — the end of living as a victim; a decision to no longer play small and avoid risks; a commitment to leave behind guilt or shame and love oneself; the choice to become a healer, etc. — that may be effected and powerfully experienced through a quest. In the following short video, several participants spoke about why they chose to undertake a quest.
2. To discover one’s direction, passion, purpose, or medicine:
“Vision” refers to an opening, an encounter with what’s transcendent, a story or energy larger than the ego and socially-conditioned self. For centuries going on a vision quest was the primary vehicle to encounter this larger dream, and people discovered their passion and a profound sense of purpose in being a vehicle for its expression in their communities. Poet, teacher, shaman, healer, musician… Realizing one’s calling provides direction, a compelling and fulfilling path to bring one’s gift to the world.
3. Renewal and reconnection:
The passage of time and demands of daily life often results in loss… loss of the sense of wonder experienced as a child… the loss of dreams once so important… lapsing of a commitment to a path, purpose, or practice that was meaningful. On vision quests, all the rules, roles, and routines of normal life are left behind, and – in both simple and profound ways – we experience a resetting of our compass, and a renewal of core truths and commitments that can guide us through life.