Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Vision Quest ceremony, Hanbleceya

Tomorrow morning at 0-dark-hundred I'll be heading out to support a Vision Quest camp. Specifically, I'll be supporting one lady who is going up "on the hill" as it's termed, to fast. I figured I'd just post a few thoughts or introductions to this ceremony as it is performed by the Redwind family.

The Hanblecheya ceremony outwardly means sitting alone in the desert, in a small altar (not big enough to lay down generally), praying. The idea is that you are there to pray and nothing else, so you don't eat, you don't drink water, and you don't even sleep if you can pull that off. If possible you don't even sit down. At least that is where you set your sights. It can last anywhere from overnight, to 4 days/nights -- there are rare occasions where people "do a double" and stay 8 days. In my experience, "doubles" are so rare nowadays as almost to be a thing of legend. My first teacher had performed one in the 60's, and the only people he mentioned who had done it were all heavy medicine people. In some lineages, 4 full days are expected from Sun Dancers, but this isn't a hard and fast rule by any means.

Hearing about the ceremony, people who are unfamiliar with the tradition generally get caught up thinking about the physical realities. It's a daunting proposition, being without food and water in the desert (at least we go to the desert) for 4 days. From a purely physical standpoint, that's really pushing it. From a spiritual standpoint, you just do what you need to do to walk in the footsteps of the tradition -- and all the details built into the ceremony have their reasons. The only way to really realize the wisdom behind the ceremony is to experience it.

This is an intensely personal ceremony. The length of time a person has committed to being up is a secret, and details about what they experienced in their altar are only shared (initially) with the Intercessor of the ceremony and possibly not even them. Questers are instructed to keep their dreams and visions and prayers close to the heart and let them sink in before attempting to share them.

In the end, at least from my personal experience, it's almost impossible to relay what happens to anyone else. It is like trying to describe a dream to someone that had great power for you. The details and references from the dream are so personal that often you cannot really share it a way that can be understood. For me, the Hanbleceya experiences I've had never did translate. Most attempts I made just seemed to drain the power or magic of the experience away. In the end, I drew some pictures and kept some notes, and I go back to review them when I am called to. I always find more information when I do this. The more time passes, and the more I have lived into the prayers I made there, the more I understand the results of those intentions.

Hanbleceya in the old days, as I was taught, was basically a threshold ceremony for young adults. A ceremony performed in the transition to adulthood, where the individual could have an intense experience of their own connection to the divine and pray for direction in their life. I have also been taught that it was performed by anyone who found themselves without direction, or in need of clarification about big decisions in their life. It wasn't, even in the old days, only performed by young adults.

In my opinion, the modern world stunts our development as adults. Many adults find themselves without purpose or direction, and without a connection to a greater cause or meaning. This, to me, is a delayed adolescence. Many people never develop beyond this stymied adolescent state. This ceremony, in my opinion, is a fantastic way to begin walking as adults again.

I could go on and on, but have another final to take and a trip to pack for. I expect I'll post more before I leave tomorrow morning, at least a quickie goodbye post.

I request folks send good vibes, thoughts, and prayers to the Redwind family over the next week, most importantly to the Questers. They are doing important work, not only for themselves, but for everyone else too.




Tate said...

nice post bp. i am glad your finals were earlier than you thought. Miss c was over yesterday helping Ricardo in the garden and she says she feels strong and ready.. My supporter is back here today and we will get some time, before packing and driving up to redwind tonight.Look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Bpaul said...

Thanks Tate. You are a stud for going up, and I can't wait to get out to the desert with you.

I'm glad the post read right to you, I hesitated to write it at first, but I think it's important to get at least some info out. Folks who do some internet research will have at least a little bit of info from this post. There isn't much written about it, and rightfully so.

Anyway, I am glad it passed muster.

see you soon (tomorrow)


Tate said...

lol ya i also hesitate writing about this stuff, but you were very informative in a VERY general way...
I think if people are interested in this stuff they will do research.

Tate said...

you say i am a stud for going up, but we both went up before, so stud to you to

CtheG said...

you're both studs.