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Level I – 4-H Rite of Passage

The 4-H Adult Rite of Passage parallels the format of the 4-H Youth Rite of Passage with the additional task of learning the role of the facilitator.  Each adult will experience a three day and night fast in a wilderness place and go through the same steps/processes as the Youth.  However, throughout the training, the trainee must wear two hats: apprentice to the initiatory process and the one who is being initiated. Warning: It is not always easy to wear both hats!!  This training gives the participant an understanding of how the principles of the vision fast can be applied within the 4-H community.

On the first day of the training (the training is one week, including both surrounding weekends), we convene at a wilderness base camp.  The first three days are given over to preparation (severance).  Morning and afternoon meetings are the norm.  Instruction includes: the mirroring dynamics of elder’s councils; screening and preparation of candidates in four areas: physical, psychological, mental, and spiritual; the four shields of human-nature; the sacred and the profane; the dynamics of fasting; self-generated ceremony; the power of taboos; the “death lodge,” the “purpose circle,” the mirror of nature; and the shaping and confirmation of intent.  Trainees go out looking for a place to fast and set up communication stone piles with their “buddies” during this severance time.  On the fourth, fifth, and sixth days the trainee lives alone and fasts in a wilderness place (Threshold).  On the morning of the seventh day, the fasters return from the wilderness to base camp and a celebratory feast is held in a nearby town (Incorporation).  On the eighth and ninth days, each story is told in the council of elders.  The elders witness, mirror meaning, and empower intent and then we look at the process that has just unfolded from a training perspective. Trainees are encouraged to learn the form and process of the traditional Rite of Passage, and then to give it their own unique expression within life and work.

Preparation (Severance)
Your vision fast begins as soon as you decide to do it.  The more thoughtful and honest you are with yourself, the more you will get out of the experience.  Spend time thinking about why you want to do the vision fast.  Write in a journal or talk to a trusted friend about your intentions.  It is highly recommended that you complete the Day Walk described in the Handbook.  You may also want to read The Roaring of the Sacred River by Stephen Foster and Meredith Little.

Threshold (Solo Time)
The traditional 4-H Rite of Passage Solo is based upon the following guidelines (taboos): no company, no food and minimal shelter.  Within these guidelines leaders will assist you in planning for the solo experience that meets your needs.

Incorporation (Return)
Your guides will assist you to authentically mark what you have done on your Rite of Passage.  You will return immediately to civilization to have a celebratory feast in a nearby town and then return to the wilderness to tell your stories to the elders council and begin to prepare for the return to your new life.

Questions to consider as you prepare for your vision fast:
from John Davis and Nancy Jane of School of Lost Borders

  • What is the purpose, intention or focus of your fast?
  • What do you hope to gain; what are you willing to give up?
  • What transition are you going through at this time in your life?
  • What “old skins” or self-images is it time to shed?
  • What previous transition, not fully completed, needs to be completed now?
  • With what do you need to reconnect?
  • What do you seek at this point in your life’s journey?
  • What is the greatest gift you could give yourself during this vision fast?
  • Who are your people; whom do you feel called to serve?
  • What is the greatest gift you could bring back for your people and your place?
  • What inner tools and resources do you bring on this quest?
  • What are your strongest fears or resistances; how might you sabotage your journey?
  • What am I going to mark, claim, celebrate or confirm? What is my intent? Who will benefit from my training? Who are my people?

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Washington State University Extension