A Vision Quest is an ancient wilderness tradition that draws on the arc of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, namely separation from community, initiation and return with gift. I experienced this very special opportunity to reflect on my life and my path forward when I was twenty-three and I wanted to Pay it Forward to the students at TSiBA. Therefore, our students’ experience at the university was bookended by time in the wilderness. The nine-day long Rites of Passage programme that we offered the students when they had finished and were on the brink of entering the world of work, included two days and nights of solo time.

Here is Ntombiza Lingani, an alumnus who has become a colleague and dear friend, talking about her wilderness experience:

Naming ceremonies can be a beautiful and personal way to welcome children in to the world. Here my friend Julie writes movingly about the ceremonies that she and her husband Iain crafted for their babies.

“Children come to us in many ways. My husband and I have adopted both our children and adoption calls for a careful introduction into a family circle. I didn’t have the luxury of pregnancy to get used to the idea of a baby; a birthday is something an adoptive mother doesn’t get to witness. The day our daughter arrived in our life was the day she was born into our hearts and as a couple this was profound. Two years later the three of us as opened our hearts once more when Jack arrived home and was born to us.

Introducing our children to the world was a time for celebration. A time to pay attention to the new little person as they took their place in our world, in our universe and in our hearts.

We felt it was important to create a single day completely dedicated to the spirit birth of each of our children. And so we discovered the naming ceremony as the perfect ceremony in which to do that. Leigh custom designed a program around each child. She created the space for us as a family to feel as if our child had been seen in a way no other child had been seen. It was unique and precious. Guests were asked to bring a Spirit Gift that would embody their wish that could take the form of a book, a leaf, a tree, a poem, a song, a word… they were invited to speak out their offering or stay silent. What was so profound was the feeling of love for our child, there was a sense of deep spirituality but without connection to one religious calling. The ceremony opened a pathway to all that is bigger than us that will always offer us spiritual guidance and support. We will always remember this day with great joy.

Together we came up with symbolic offerings each person at the ceremony could give to them. In Zoë’s ceremony, we chose a bowl of beads and each person chose and strung their bead to create a unique necklace for Zoë. For Jack we chose white stones that people could write a message on and give to him.

It felt like our family was being held and carried by waves of love and acceptance. The name we gave our child was spoken in so many ways that day that it had a real opportunity to settle on the child, on the family, and in the community. The naming ceremony was a beautiful gift to receive as a family and I believe has impacted on how we are received by the witnesses and how we are still perceived today. It was a defining moment in the character that our family embodied and is held deep in our spirit memory.”