Monday, April 7, 2014

Ginger Simpson asks...Vision Quests Anyone?

No, you aren't imagining things.  With Rita convalescing with a bum wrist and me sick with asthmatic bronchitis, I'm taking a lead from TV and sharing a 'rerun'....a blog I did for Cowboy Kisses  I think the topic is most interesting, and I hope you do too.

I've always been the kind of mother who worried if my child wasn't home the moment I expected them.  Rather than chalk the tardiness up to just being late, I pictured them kidnapped, dead in a ditch, the most horrible scenarios one could imagine.  I've always been that way, so I can't imagine being an Indian mother and sending my son off on a vision quest.
What is a vision quest you ask?  In most tribes this trek into the wilderness to bond with nature and commune with spirits was a young brave's initiation into manhood.  Usually clad only in a breechclout and moccasins, the lad is banished to a lonely existence in a vision pit where he'll stay for four days and nights without food.  Whether the vision he receives is from delirium or truly a spiritual occurrence, we may never know, but to the Indian nation, a vision quest gave the budding brave an experience to see life through the eyes of his determine an image of himself as an adult.  As in all rituals, preparation aided the participant for his journey, in this case, time spent in a sweat lodge purifying his mind and soul.

Now I've raised another question.  Sweat Lodge?  Usually a small and beehive shaped structure of willow
covered with buffalo skins in which stones heated outside were passed inside where water was poured on them to create a purifying steam. With the flap closed, occupants (all male) sat naked inside with the boy, chanting and praying, and claiming to hear spirit voices.  Afterwards, the  steamed  men dried themselves with sage leaves and the boy left for his quest.  A very similar ritual took place before each war party departed the village.  Unlike a women's first menses, which was a once in a lifetime celebration, vision quests took place as frequently as a Lakota Brave needed spiritual help.

When a young brave returned from his quest, his visions were interrupted by a medicine man who gave him clues to his  adult  name and the animal that would henceforth be considered the lad's protector.  For instance, a man might garner power from an elk, while another might have envisioned a bear during his quest.  Each animal represented a particular skill or attribute such a bravery, healing, speed, etc.

The Lakota Sioux are a fascinating tribe, and I'm so happy to be able to share some of their legendary history with you.  In my novel, Destiny’s Bride, my heroine takes up residence among the Sioux and learns very quickly that they, like the white men, have hearts and souls. I’d like to address the two one-star ratings I received, but I’m just going to bite my tongue and remind myself that some people just don’t GET every story they read.  Clearly, in this case, two people didn’t.  You can find all my books on my Amazon author’s page:  Please also visit my website at


Unknown said...

interesting. Different tribes have different rites of passage to adulthood. And as the mother of 5 I didn't worry when my kids were/are late getting home. They will call if there is an issue.
communing with nature is a daily experience in our family.

Unknown said...

So, Jae...can I use you as a resource when I need one? Never hurts to have someone in the know. :) thanks for stopping by.

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