Anthropologists have found that across different cultures, rites of passage follow a three-stage process that can be said to be universally human, arising from the core of human nature in contact with Mother Nature. We call these stages severance, threshold, and incorporation. Understanding them will be helpful in preparing for and undertaking a rite of passage such as a Vision Quest.
Severance begins as soon as you feel the call to quest. It is the phase of preparing to leave everything behind, gathering together in soul and body just what you will need for your journey. You are preparing to die to an old life, and the unknown awaits you.
Threshold is the time between worlds, or the Sacred World, when you shed your old skin but are not yet reborn. This is the time of aloneness, hunger, exposure and the powerful currents of soul, trials that will test your spirit and your purpose. During the threshold period, you will live simply in nature, learning her lessons, as human beings have done for thousands of years.
Incorporation begins when you leave your place of vision and return to base camp to the people who are waiting for you. You have to come off the sacred mountain and return to family, friends and community. This may be the hardest part of the journey! To live the hard-won knowledge and insight you've found will take courage, but the world needs the gift of your vision. No one undertakes a rite of passage for himself or herself alone.