The Vision Quest and Native American Indians

Published on May 11, 2013 by Casey

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The Vision Quest and Native American Indians
The Vision Quest and Native American Indians

The Vision Quest and Native American Indians

A Vision Quest is sought by various means by Native American Indians but are most commonly undertaken as a rite of passage. This form of Vision Quest followed the following steps:

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  • When a boy came of age (fourteen or fifteen) his entry into manhood started with his journey on a Vision Quest
  • He entered a Sweat Lodge for a cleansing ceremony and Smudging Ritual
  • Inside the Sweat Lodge stones were heated and water was poured on them to create the steam that would purify the boy
  • The boy would then bathe in cold water and was led into the forest or woods
  • He would then spend three days in isolation and fasting
  • During this time he would seek his vision
  • At the end of the time of the Vision Quest he was collected by tribe members and taken to the Shaman
  • The boy was then deemed to be a man and the Shaman would discuss the meaning and significance of the Spirit Guide revealed during the Vision Quest and its significance in the life of the young man
  • The Vision Quest would be concluded with a ceremony and feasting
  • The symbols revealed in the Vision Quest were transferred to a sacred Medicine Shield

Vision Quest – Crying for a Vision

Some Native American tribes, notably the Pawnee, Mandan and Sioux, practised rituals and ceremonies involving self-torture in their Vision Quest traditions. These Vision Quest rituals and ceremonies varied from tribe to tribe but usually participants were required to undergo rigorous physical challenges such as exposure to the elements, solitary vigils, prayer and fasting in order to achieve a trance-like state to succeed in their vision quest. The Vision Quest was once called “Crying for a Vision.” The ‘Crier for a Vision’ would voluntarily undergo extreme discomfort to evoke a mystic experience. The total focus of those undertaking a Vision Quest was on the world of spirits in which vulnerability and the presence of the fearsome unknown opened the soul to the Great Mystery.

Vision Quest Rituals – The Sun Dance

Some cultures augmented the Vision Quest experience with hallucinogens, torture and self-mortification. One such ritual was the Sun Dance of the Plains Indians. During the Sun Dance ceremony the participants pursued their vision quest through a four day ordeal in which they were first cleansed in a sweat lodge, undertook a long solitary experience exposed to the heat of the day and the cold of the night, had parts of their bodies slashed and were hung up by ropes attached to skewers in the shape of sharp animal claws, that were embedded in their flesh. The scars they bore served as a mark that they had undergone the Sun Dance ritual and had undertaken a difficult journey on their Vision Quest.

Source: warpaths2peacepipes

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@ article {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com2015,
    title = {NativeAmericanEncyclopedia.com Unabridged},
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}
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