Sunday, October 2, 2016

"Classic Ginger" Vision Quests????

comingofagebetweenojibweandusa.blogspot.com
I have the good fortune of being part of a western blog that's also got a new FB group, and I love doing research.  This is what I learned about the Lakota people.  I'm recycling blogs.

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 off 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.  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 heart...to 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.

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