A rite of passage is an experience by which an individual or a group formally expresses the attainment of a new life status, a symbolic experience of dying and being born in a new way.
— Steven Foster, The Book of the Vision Quest


My training is from the School of Lost Borders, which teaches a pan-cultural form of wilderness rites of passage. It is of the highest importance in the School's tradition that no single culture's sacred customs are copied. Rather, we are trained in a universal, bare bones form found at the core of rites of passage ceremony across cultures.

Rites of passage are an innate part of being human*. Rites of passage are an acknowledgement of moving from one phase in life to the next phase in a conscious, ceremonial, and communal manner. They have functioned as a time-honored form of cultural cohesion and individual renewal, and can be found across all cultures and all times. At their most basic, a rites of passage is characterized by three stages: separation (leaving the familiar), threshold (the testing time), and reincorporation (or return).

Rites of passage ceremonies are traditionally rooted in earth, enacted out in wild nature. When the time came, an initiate left the safety of their community and went out into the wild unknown for a specified time, alone and with only the essentials needed to survive. The initiate was supported by the entire community — prepared by the community, prayed for by community during solo time, and celebrated by the community upon return.

To experience a true vision fast or wilderness rites of passage today — at its core —is the same experience. It opens the pathway to authentic initiation into true human maturity. It gives a glimpse of and strengthens your true purpose. It offers a profound opportunity re-member who you are and what your place and soul's work in the world is.

Rites of Passage in the Modern World*

Nature-based rites of passage have been culturally ‘lost’ in modern times as we have become divorced from a sacred connection to the earth. However, many of us still intuitively (and often unconsciously) enact rites of passage for ourselves, as it is a basic psychological need. Many more of us sense the shallowness or ‘flatland’ of a culture that is devoid of genuine, culturally sanctioned rites of passage. We yearn for something that is real.

To be ‘initiated’ in a culturally appropriate form of a vision fast is to re-discover one’s own powerful inner compass to navigate and co-create in these times. When we slow down and enter sacred space, we begin to see ourselves in the mirror of nature — how and what we experience during this ceremonial time literally reflects us in our truest nature. The metaphoric mind (our perceptual, creative, imaginative, symbolic mind) taps into ways of knowing that the rational mind cannot reach. It taps into the energetic evolutionary field of creation itself, guiding our personal unique expression of what culture needs to evolve and survive.

Modern rites of passage also include "rites of renewal" and "rites of re-connection," which are about slowing down, re-connecting to self and Source in a profoundly authentic way so that we can return with new clarity, to create powerfully in the world.

A number of great thinkers today have said that humanity is at a threshold, in a collective rite of passage. We are in a time of Great Turning, when we are being called to consciously shift from a techno-industrial, dominator society to an eco-centered, life-sustaining society. Not only are we being called to shift, our very survival as a species depends on it!

Because we gain access to a field of knowing that is far beyond our own personal minds, because we are supported and share with a community of like-hearted people, and because the design of Nature flawlessly reflects back to us our own true self. wilderness rites of passage are a tremendously powerful tool for awakening self and thereby awakening culture. They are a critical component of the new world.

For more information about the current rites of passage trips offered through New Moon Rites of Passage, click here.

Part of the process of becoming conscious of ourselves is an “initiation” experience or a “coming of age” ceremony. The spirit requires such an experience or ceremony as a marker for emergence into adulthood; when this marker is absent, a conscious or unconscious negative impression or void manifests itself in psychological weaknesses. Some of these manifestations are: a continual need for the approval of other people, which can give rise of unhealthy identifications with gangs, cults, or other inappropriate groups; an inability to appreciate oneself; and an inability to develop a healthy sense of oneself as an individual. The ability to glean guidance from one’s own spirit rests on a strong sense of self and on respect for that self.
— Carolyn Myss, PhD., Anatomy of the Spirit, pg. 83.