The Gods are calling! The Sun is rising and illuminating a new and yet very ancient story about the value and worth of what it means to be a man. Joseph Campbell knew about this desire, this seeking. He knew that the life of a man was not only about meaning but also about “…the experience and rapture of being alive”. Each one of us must add to this re-membering by bringing our own story fully alive! We owe it to our ancestors, our selves, our families, and all of life. To have the courage to ask the “Big” questions: “Who Am I?” “What do I live for?” “Who are my people?” “What does it mean to be a man in the world today?” and “What am I working towards?” Strong, fiercely alive questions that require each of us to make a stand for what we love, serve, and are dedicated to. A dedication grounded in the knowing that what we do is both right for ourselves and good for the world at the same time.
This Vision Fast in the Inyo Mountains will be a time to let what is not important fall away. To go alone, with an empty belly and a bare minimum of equipment, into the heart of the wilderness, for four days and nights, to feast on what we truly hunger for: beauty, silence, the expanse of time and being surrounded by mystery. In this sweet solitude, a man can surrender to the mirror of the wilderness and his memories and enter the mansions of soul.
Severance: The twelve-day ceremony involves four days of preparation, four days and nights of fasting alone in a wilderness place, and four days of incorporation. You will be readied to physically, psychologically, mentally, and spiritually benefit from the experience of fasting alone in the wilderness. You will be given an ancient means of looking into the mirror of nature (the Four Shields). Preparation will also include the study of symbols, archetypes and ways common to vision fasts and rites of passage the world over.
Threshold: The time of fasting and aloneness will take place in the Inyo Mountains. Your guides will maintain a safe perimeter around the area while you are alone and make sure you have sufficient water. Another person will fast nearby. The two of you will be “buddies,” each day leaving assurance of your well-being at a stone pile erected along the borders of your respective areas.
Incorporation: You will return to human companionship and a feast. In the council of elders you will confirm the attainment of a new maturity. With the other men you will tell your story, “listening each other’s souls into disclosure and discovery”. The telling of and listening to the stories of fast will help us to understand our relationship to both self and other, and challenge each man to give his vision practical feet -- to live the life he has earned.
We are challenged today as men to live fully into who we are, and to embody completely the entire scope of what it means to be “man”. These are questions we live; ones that sometimes need only the company of other men; ones we will carry into our circle as it gathers within the wider circles of earth and sky.
The Trail to the Sacred Mountain: A Vision Fast Handbook for Adults, is available through Lost Borders Press.
“’The School of Lost Borders’ operates under permit on the Inyo National Forest.”
A man cannot live and temper his mettle without such honor. There is deep in him a sense of the heroic quest; and our modern way of life, with its emphasis on security, its distrust of the unknown and its elevation of abstract collective values has repressed the heroic impulse to a degree that may produce the most dangerous consequences.
Laurens Van der Post