Rites of Passage is a non-profit organization whose mission is to reintroduce meaningful rites of passage for people of the modern world, so that they may be able to mark and celebrate important life transitions with courage, strength and wisdom. Since our founding in 1977, we have guided thousands of adults and youth from a wide variety of backgrounds, occupations and geographic locations on Vision Quests, retreats, and training programs.
We affirm an unbreakable bond between the human and natural world, and all our programs incorporate time spent alone in nature, from the desert wilderness for a Vision Quest to a local park for a weekend workshop. We nurture community, from the circle of friendship and support that develops with each new group, to ongoing friendships with past participants, to the community of staff and board members that keeps our organization alive and growing. If the Vision Quest or other programs or training opportunities call to you, then perhaps you’d like to join us.
We’re not so far from the lives our ancestors lived, close to the intimate rhythms of nature. Travel back a hundred years, a thousand years, and it’s all right there: the sound of birdsong cutting through a crystal clear morning, the majesty of a sky full of starlight so bright that you can walk around under its glow, the wind whipping through a terrain of deep silence, the feeling of animal beings in their own home territory. We are not separate from the rest of creation, and the loss of our relationship to nature has meant losing part of our own soul. In the natural world, a mirror of “human nature,” we can rediscover our wholeness, and there we have the capacity to renew ourselves.
In traditional cultures, rites of passage ceremonies served to support individuals to recognize and take possession of their unique gifts and potentials, for the benefit of the entire community. We hold this same principle in offering the Vision Quest ceremony and other Rites of Passage programs to the modern world. Our programs will appeal to people who are at a point of change or crisis in their lives, and to those who wish to deepen a spiritual or healing path.
With its core elements of wilderness, solitude and self-reliance, our youth Vision Quest and other youth-oriented programs provide an opportunity for young people on the threshold of adulthood to test their courage, self-understanding and capacity to live independently. And a surprising number of adults will come on a Vision Quest for these same reasons, to mark a true initiation into adulthood, the meaning of which is not dependent on outside circumstances but must be recognized and claimed for oneself. There are, of course, many other circumstances that may bring adults to a Vision Quest or other Rites of Passage program. Just to mention a few—grieving the end of a love relationship or marriage; facing an “empty nest” as children leave home; entering elderhood; marking one’s accomplishment of long-term sobriety; facing career change; marking the healing of childhood wounds. For each passage undertaken, corresponding gifts of understanding, forgiveness, love and compassion flow back to loved ones and community.
You’ll know if this work speaks to you. What will bring you to undertake a Vision Quest, or any of our programs, is an inner calling, or perhaps something even more insistent— “a roaring in your ears” like Jumping Mouse heard in H. Storm’s story (in Seven Arrows). This situation is like that faced by the hero or heroine at the beginning of their great journey:
The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand. (Joseph Campbell, Hero With a Thousand Faces)
Ask yourself: Why would I want to participate in a Rites of Passage program? What old life would I be releasing? What new life would I be calling in? If you want to learn more, check out other sections of our website, which have more information about the Vision Quest, about the stages of a rite of passage, and about our schedule and staff