Fasting and Vision Quests are Indigenous methodologies and ways of knowing that have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years for gathering research, qualitative and quantitative data.
Fasting for the Anishinaabe has been and continues to be a good thing in so many ways. On a fast when you are alone sitting out there on the land in a state of introspection you are developing a relationship between you and our very first family, original family – Creation.
People around the world conduct forms of fasting and each individual ceremony differs from culture to culture. The intention, values and virtues of fasting ceremonies are the connecting commonalities globally; introspection, giving thanks, humility, respect and personal sacrifice.
After you have been on a fast there is a feeling of spiritually replenishment, rejuvenation and resurgence. In my own personal experience of fasting over the past 25 years I have learned a lot about myself.
Once you have decided you are going to fast you have to find a good fasting camp lead by a spiritual person and or traditional teacher you are comfortable with. So that’s means getting to know them and spending some time with the person who is leading the ceremony. As Anishinaabe you will need a few things before you fast. An Anishinaabe Noozwin (spirit name), know your Dodem (clan – Crane, Loon, Bear, Marten, Fish) and spirit colours (guardians/protectors) for your cloth offerings.
Once you arrive to the fasting camp most times you will go through a sweat lodge to determine how many days you will go out on the land for. The spirits will tell the fasting camp leader during the sweat how many days each person will receive; It can be from one to four days without food or water. During the fast food or water cannot pass your lips. You will usually sit inside a cedar circle which protects you and when you are there it is understood by creation (animals, spirits etc…) your intention. When your fast is complete you arrive back at camp to endure another sweat followed by a give-away and feast. The experience is between you and creation and will be for your lifetime.
Elders tell us that the messages, guidance, information, teachings, dreams and visitors we receive during our fast will inform us on our path in life. This is an Indigenous methodology for gathering research and data. Our first family, original family is gifting us information and data to live a good life – Mino Bidmaadziwin just by simply offering the spirits Sema (tobacco) and spending time with them in prayer on the land.
I am just touching the surface of this Indigenous methodology and hope to continue the conversation.
Eddy Robinson M.Ed