Vision quest

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For the film, see Vision Quest.

A vision quest is a rite of passage in some Native American cultures. It is usually only undertaken by young males entering adulthood.[1] Individual Indigenous cultures have their own names for their rites of passage. "Vision quest" is an English umbrella term, and may not always be accurate or used by the cultures in question.

Among Native American cultures who have this type of rite, it usually consists of a series of ceremonies led by Elders and supported by the young man's community.[1] The process includes a complete fast for four days and nights, alone at a sacred site in nature which is chosen by the Elders for this purpose.[1] Some communities have used the same sites for many generations. During this time, the young person prays and cries out to the spirits that they may have a vision, one that will help them find their purpose in life, their role in community, and how they may best serve the People.[1] Dreams or visions may involve natural symbolism - such as animals or forces of nature - that require interpretation by Elders.[1] After their passage into adulthood, and guided by this experience, the young person may then become an apprentice or student of an adult who has mastered this role.[1]

When talking to Yellow Wolf, Lucullus Virgil McWhorter came to believe that the person fasts, and stays awake and concentrates on their quest until their mind becomes "comatose."[1] It was then that their Weyekin (Nez Perce word) revealed itself.[1]

While most cultures with this practice are from the Plains, Inuit peoples also have a tradition of seeking vision from the spirits.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h McWhorter, Lucullus Virgil (1940). Yellow Wolf: His Own Story. Caldwell, ID: Caxton Printers, Ltd. pp. 295–300. 
  2. ^ Merkur, Daniel: Becoming Half Hidden / Shamanism and Initiation among the Inuit. (Series: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis / Stockholm Studies in Comparative Religion). Almqvist & Wiksell, Stockholm, 1985.