4 stages of severance
Before you begin reading:
If you are unfamiliar with what a “quest” is, please reference my other blog post, “What is a Wilderness Quest?” before this one.
Having been in and around many quest ceremonies for years now, I have noticed a pattern in others and myself that needs to be named. The stage of severance has a unique flow and evolution, so I decided to name the four stages of severance that I always see: calling, dancing, commitment, and deepening. I’ll focus here mostly on the first stage, as that typically lasts the longest and is the stage people are most often in.
The first stage, the calling, is where we see the most mystery and nuance from the power of the quest. Think of this stage as the beginning of the quest “courting” you. How might it do so? Typically, this “courting” will present itself as an invitation inward. Often this invitation comes from outside circumstances changing – loss of a relationship, a friend moving, a change in location, the dynamic of a relationship shifting, having been impacted by death somehow, the beginning of a new relationship, having a baby, work transition, or another role you have in your life changing.
There may also be internal indications of this invitation. Perhaps you experience a shift in your values or your vision, or shift in your belief system or relationship with a higher power. Maybe there is some deep internal pattern, dynamic, or way of being that has come into your awareness that you’re ready to renounce. There may even be a general feeling of discontent or disconnection that needs resolve. Whatever it may be, the main thing to look out for is disequilibrium. What has shifted from normal, or how does “normal” no longer feel right?
This stage may also be years in the works! Things have been changing in your life slowly, ultimately inviting a deeper shift within yourself. The main questions to ask yourself in this stage are: Am I being asked to step into a new way of being? Is it time to mark a big transition? How long have I been needing or trying to make this shift? Is the shift something that I can actually make in my daily life? Most importantly, how badly do you need this? This calling stage is the quest inviting you in. Oftentimes people don’t even know what a quest is, so this stage can last a long time! Yet, I trust that for those who hear the call AND are ready, that the quest will find them.
The one prerequisite for the second stage is that you must know that the quest ceremony exists. Once the quest comes into your life, the duration of the dancing stage depends on one thing: how long you choose to dance! The dance of severance may be prolonged by the question of “readiness,” either circumstantial or internal. Maybe the quest needs you to take more time, or maybe you choose to ignore. The call may be pushed to the back of your mind for some time, then resurface. How long are you willing to dance before you heed the call?
The third stage is commitment. This is where you finally commit to the quest. You’re registered, you have the dates in your calendar, and you’re willing to free up your schedule to make it happen. What now? This is where the severance gets interesting. There’s a push-and-pull that happens with how much severance work you do and how the ceremony unfolds in mysterious ways. This stage requires listening, listening, and more listening! Now that you committed, ask yourself these sacred questions: What am I noticing? What does this mean to me? What is this teaching me?
I firmly believe everything that happens between the commitment and the threshold is teaching you something important for your quest. This commitment phase is a great time to journal, to open up deeply to others, and to practice self-awareness. What needs to be sorted through, resolved, let go of, in order to fully show up for the threshold? Be aware, though. Now that you’ve made the commitment, the magic of severance is at play and you may experience big changes in your life, internal or external. It’s important to trust this process. Trust the ceremony!
Finally, the deepening. This happens on the land with the small “village” you create with your fellow questers, guides, and assistants. Now you are finally held and seen by the container of the quest. The ceremony is real and the threshold is coming closer by the minute. Rapid deepening into yourself, your intentions for the quest, and the loving embrace of nature happens in this intentional community space. Everyone there will help you sift through the last pieces so that you can walk out onto the land with the full confidence of declaring, “this is why I’m here, and I am ready.”