The story of the vision fast I was going to undertake in June 2005 begins with the preparations I made in the threshold phase. The vision fast was a component of the three-week residential portion of the summer semester at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. This would be my fourth trip to Boulder; I’d previously attended three other residential sessions. The last one was in January of 2005, in Boulder, when my class met our two vision fast guides and we had the opportunity to ask questions to help us prepare for what lay ahead.
The two guides, Nancy Jane and John Boyer, were very patient with us. I was worried about wild animals, and whether my sleeping bag would be warm enough. I was somewhat belligerent as I spoke my questions to these two strangers who would be guiding me and my classmates. Other people in my class asked about different aspects of the ceremony, such as meal planning before and after, and what to do on the solo time. As we sat around the table in the Naropa cafeteria, excitement mixed with anxiety as our questions tumbled out. I didn’t realize yet how significant these two people and the vision fast ceremony would be to me.
Nancy Jane and John had guided together many times. For many years, they had taken the Grade 12 Waldorf School students in Boulder out for a rites of passage vision fast. Nancy Jane also guided for the School of Lost Borders, and John had put hundreds of fasters out on the land near his ancestral ranch in Wyoming. My group was going to fast in the red desert of Wyoming too, at a special place that John had known since his boyhood when he had gone out gathering fossils and arrowheads. It was a place that the Native Americans had used for sacred ceremonies, perhaps for thousands of years. Ancient stone circles and other evidence of sacred ceremonies remained on this land, and wild horses lived there too.
To help us prepare for the ceremony, we had been given various tasks to perform. The medicine walk was one. Another was to write a letter of intention, stating what we were claiming on the vision fast—our reason for undertaking this rite of passage—an ordeal that would involve sacrifice, discomfort, and the risk of death. I had also been writing down my dreams, and performing impomptu sacred ceremonies on my land. During this time of preparation, it seemed that everything was infused with mystery, magic, and significance.
One cold evening at Monkey Valley in February, wondering what my intention really was, I went out into the cold starry night to find out my true heart’s desire. I found it was to be right there, in the cold starry night, on a rock with snow and trees around. Nowhere else. Not different than exactly how I was and reality was in that moment. It was to meet my man-god, fully matching my godself. It was to open out and be consumed by the whole valley and hills. To dissolve into the breadth of it. It was to have the black mystery swoop in and engulf me, annihilate me. It was to know the mystery. And too, to know the sacred embrace of making love with all that—the dark mystery. The passion of being alive filled me there in the darkness. To be continued.