I’m packing and fasting in preparation for a Vision Quest next week. On sacred country where initiation has been held for thousands of years, Leon Cossar and I are going into nature’s womb to court silence, be alone and fasted for 4 nights.
I’m starting to observe my mind go through the process of future-craving a fire, hot tea.. a guitar. I found my mind wandering what relief I would get just by smuggling a book or journal into the backpack.
But in reality, I won’t take anything apart from water, a tarp, a sleeping pad and sleeping bag. Even a tent would take away from the rawness of direct experience that this ancient rite of passage offers.
So it is, no distractions.. the inessential stripped away, familiarity renounced… to discover the treasure on the other side of comfort. As I pack gear and drop into the threshold I find myself at, I notice something fascinating.
Lately, an upsurge in men coming to me for support and counsel. Men with children, wives, businesses, careers, and all that seems on the outside to signify “success”.
These men find themselves want something more, something new, something different… they yearn for the freedom they once had, to strike out into the unknown, to feel free, adventurous and independent.
They face a threshold- what our culture calls “mid-life crisis”… and the weight of the decision is crushing. Lives are on the line. Often times, men at this threshold will lunge into the unknown clumsily grasping what they think will give them the feeling of freedom: The Harley Davidson… the affair.. the new project, the big move… all distractions, bandaids over gaping wounds.
Let’s be honest: Yearnings of a boy in a man’s body.
The truth is that for such men, in my humble experience, it’s their soul that yearns for freedom and expression… and this has nothing to do with getting a new motorbike or lover.
The soul silently asks for the person to step up and initiate into a sense of Manhood/ womanhood that they are yet to step into. The soul asks of us to Become, to remember all that we are. To shed skin, to die and be born again and again.
Of course, they come to me because somehow they sense I’ve been through that or am going through it. And I have.. and still, I am. It’s fresh in me this threshold… and after this will be the next… and the next.
I know very well the urge the run away from relationship and responsibility. I know very well the feelings of being trapped or restricted… and my patterns of fighting or fleeing anything that threatens my sense of freedom.
In my youth, I started a journey of freedom-seeking, that began with breaking out of a religious cult and continued with breaking out the corporate world, relationships, countries, ideology, addiction, perceptions of self, beliefs… and more. I became a master of freedom- on that physical level. I
But since when is “freedom” gained by being on the run? Isn’t that kind of freedom just falling into another trap of escapism?
Freedom, I have learned, is about standing solid, in the midst of the storm, being able to consciously chose one’s attitude and response to stimulus and threat.
Freedom is found in having the skill to navigate emotional pain, trauma, confusion and complexity… and through these experiences to initiate one’s self into something new- a higher level of awareness, a new level of Being.
Yesterday I celebrated a 3 year wedding anniversary and it felt to me like the honouring of the old and the birth of something new.
A new response to what threatens my freedom. Rather than fight or run recently I have been inviting myself to respond in a new way: to stand solid, to find more “innerstanding”, to be curious and to integrate the lessons from all that grinds and grates against me.
By doing so, I know that I will gain the clarity and wisdom for these triggers or pains to no longer grate, grind, wear me down… and in this way, I can transcend that previously level of limited consciousness and grow.
So this Vision Quest I’m embarking on next week marks initiation into an embodied expression of masculinity that is solid, consistent, loving, giving in growing wisdom and service… and done with the fickle cravings and fantasy yearnings of the boy.
I invite myself into training to become the wisest most compassionate elder and ancestor I can be.. when the time is ripe.
The Human Call to Initiate
I find myself thinking about initiation, the time-honoured rituals to become all that we are.
I realise… if we don’t initiate ourselves, nature will… usually with great pain and suffering.
Prostate cancer probably initiates more men than a good ol’ fashioned wilderness vision quest these days.
Several women close to me in my life, have in recent years been going through natures original initiation- pregnancy and childbirth. What an honour it has been to witness such profoundly beautiful metamorphosis and courageous shedding of the old and surrendering into the new. I bow to the spirit of these women who I have witnessed choose to cross this threshold with such power and grace.
But for men… what is our natural initiation? What is our equivalent of a new life seeding in our bodies, to crack us open and steadily dismantle all versions of what we were, to tear us open into sacred responsibility for life beyond our own?
It is probably not the gap year. It is perhaps not the bachelors weekend. It’s not the wedding day. It’s not a new business.
Maybe part of is it fatherhood (I’m yet to find out)… but my senses tell me its something more primordial and dangerous.
In the old days, it was spearing of the lion, the walkabout to go find one’s truth, the cutting of flesh, the knocking out of a tooth, the joining of the initiated men to go hunting and face possible death again and again… the courageous walk into the desert to go without for days… the ceremony in which you face the painful truth of your personhood again and again until you decide to either hold onto it or to let it go to allow in something new.
Initiation for the Good of the Earth
I feel into the state of the world…. And I know in my bones it is initiation that plays the most central role in the fate of our species and home.
The systems and governments of our civilisation are run by un-initiated men… boys in grown-up bodies who have never crossed the threshold that leads to the emergence of inner, wild wisdom.
So of course, they think and behave in child-like ways that boggle the minds of those who have crossed thresholds to become.
Of course, they act from the mind and not from the heart.
So what are we to do? Complain, wail, panic?
Or take responsibility for our own initiations and those of others. That’s the way I choose. And that’s why I quest again and again.
That’s why I chose to go into the darkest caves of my psyche, to find the treasure and silently write love letters that capture the painful ecstasy of Being Human.
In November we will lead our first Flowstate Vision Quest, and lead a pack of intrepid humans (Men & women) onto this same sacred country to quest as we are about to do.
And then, these sacred Vision Quests will be the cornerstone of our Flowstate offerings and retreats.
Why? Because our souls yearn for the potent and transformative experiences that will take us far beyond the comfort zone, into the mythic territory of fear, ordeal and remembrance of all that we truly are.
Please send me your blessings for the journey ahead!
With love, Jiro