Vision Quests

   For many Native Americans, traditional initiation rituals, especially those celebrated at puberty, are marked by a vision quest, in which a person goes to a remote and possibly sacred place and seeks to encounter a powerful other-than-human helper. This may be an animal or a spirit being and may be seen after prolonged sensory deprivation, for example, fasting and continuous wakefulness. Neo-shamans often demonstrate their New Age credentials by presenting vision quests as opportunities for self-discovery, seeking the “soul” or true inner self, rather than altered styles of communication in an animist world. Neo-shamans such as Sun Bear have been strongly criticized (and labeled “plastic medicine men”) by the American Indian Movement, among others, for charging clients to participate in vision quests and related, purificatory sweat lodges.

Historical dictionary of shamanism. . 2007.

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