“If we surrendered to Earth’s intelligence, we would rise up rooted like trees’ – Rilke

Throughout human history, our ancestors all over the globe have developed practices to help individuals and communities make sense of life, find meaning and purpose, and navigate key transitional periods such the transition from childhood to becoming adult.

These ‘rites of passage’, as they have become known by anthropologists, have almost always involved rituals, ceremonies and connecting deeply with the wild to help find the answers to big questions like ‘Who am I?’, and ‘What are my gifts that I can offer to the world?’.

A vision fast is a modern rite of passage that involves spending time alone in nature for an extended period of time – anywhere from a few hours to several days – with minimal or no food, leaving behind human-made distractions and daily comforts.

The practice can produce deep insights into our lives, our aspirations and the stories we choose to live by. The process follows three stages, recognised by anthropologists in rites of passage across the globe – Separation, Threshold & Incorporation.

At The Visionaries, these stages look a little like this;

1. Separation

Consciously leaving behind the parts of ourselves and our lives that no longer serve us. We explore our intentions and ask ourselves the question ‘what do I need to let go of, or embrace, to become the person I truly want to be?’. In our case, this stage involves physically separating ourselves from our daily lives by coming to live wild with a group of peers for a week. 

2. Threshold

Here we leave behind the group and embark on our solo time in nature, anywhere from 5 – 24 hours. This creates magical space to slow down, to be with the power of nature, to reflect deeply and to create personal ceremonies – an embodiment of the new you that is wanting to emerge.

3. Incorporation

We return to the group, share our stories from our solo time and begin to incorporate the visions and insights that came to us. We are each supported to make sense of the experience and explore how we are going to carry our gifts back to our home lives and home communities.

Nadège’s Vision Fast

Last year Nadège attended our rites of passage camp, The Village At The Edge of The World, during which she took part in a ‘vision fast’.

“An activity that had an incredibly profound impact on me was the vision fast. We were sent into the wilderness alone for half a day – no phones, no books, no pens, just ourselves. I went into the vision fast with the affirmation, ‘I trust in my path’. Out there in the wilderness, there were no distractions. There was nothing external to me influencing my thinking. While I was out there, I felt like I could own my thoughts, own my time, and own my ‘self’. I had some candid revelations about where and how I hold myself back. I held a ceremony for my mum, who died when I was five – it just so happened to be her birthday that day. By the time the fast ended, my affirmations were ‘I am on my path’, ‘I am true to my heart’, and ‘I have a beautiful family’.

The things I feared most going in and found most challenging, like the rain and cold, bats, slugs and bugs, and using an outdoor shower and toilet, ended up being the things I most appreciated. I faced my fears in a gentle and supported way, which has enabled me to see myself in a different, more capable way. So grateful to The Visionaries team for allowing me to be a part of this life-changing experience.”

Honouring our roots

We were introduced to the vision fast practice by our friends at Way of Nature UK and The School Of Lost Borders, both organisations draw inspiration from and apprenticeship in the rites of passage practices of different indigenous Native American communities.