What’s Holding you Back?

Are you feeling stuck? Do you know that deeper expressions of the human experience are possible but can’t seem to find them within yourself? Do you yearn to open up the fountain of all that you are - freely, without judgement and step into your life, fully and more deeply that ever before?

We live in a culture skewed to the expression of joy and enthusiasm and avoidant of grief and emotions considered “negative”. Grief is as natural a part of the human experience as are all our emotions - just as night is to daylight. Yet grief in our culture is often run underground, hidden behind shame and denial, left to fester in the further recesses of our psyche without the same loving attention and open sharing we offer to our more jubilant emotions.

Unexpressed grief, like all forms of energy, has to move. It searches for a way out of the box in which we have attempted to lock it. Grief needs to be seen and heard - our experiences of loss acknowledged as profound rites of passage in our lives.

Loss is part of Life

As modern culture has moved further away from the cycles of the natural world we have learned to avoid the natural turning of the wheel of life. We push away the darkness with electric lights and screens, shield ourselves from winter with central heating and heated seats and shy away from our grief with endless entertainment or busy-ness. Indigenous cultures know all to well that night always falls, winter is inevitable and we all experience loss at some point.

Whether it be loss through the death of a loved one, the end of a signifiant relationship, transitioning out of a job, moving away from a beloved community or the growing awareness of the loss of species and precious ecosystems on our planet grief finds each of us in time.

Grief is to be Shared

We are not designed to experience our grief lone, however personal it might feel. Since the beginning of time humans have come together to share their grief and help move it though so it doesn’t get stuck in the body and psyche causing lingering sadness, physical pain and disease or disruptive behavior patterns passed down through generations. In indigenous cultures grief rituals are held for the health and wellbeing of the individuals and the community. It is our collective responsibility to hold each other through the most challenging times in life.

Indigenous cultures have always known this. It is only in modern times that we have banished our grief and so we turn to cultures with intact rites and rituals for dealing with grief in community.

What is a Grief Ritual?

The Dagara tribe are from Burkina Faso deep in West Africa. One of their respected Elders and medicine men is Malidoma Somé whose first name means “friend of the enemy”. His purpose in life - ascribed to him before birth - is to help bring the teachings of his tribe to the modern world to reconnect us with our hearts. The Grief Ritual offered by Rites of Passage Council is an adaptation of a three day grief ritual traditional in his village.

Our version is a closed container that brings 20-40 people together for four days in a beautiful natural setting. Here we create our own village, build community and learn to trust each other. On the last day we collaborate to create a ceremonial space, gather our bundles of grief, and set up the drums. That evening, and often late into the night, we grieve together, as a village, as a people who share a common life experience.

This Indigenous African Grief Ritual offers a soul cleansing rite to release grief, lighten our soul and let our true spirit be heard, deepening our sense of balance and fulfillment. From the indigenous perspective, grief is not only for the living community, it is also a source of sustenance for and connection to the ancestors. Our communal tears will flow as a river from this world to the other as an offering that activates connection and healing in both worlds.
— Kedar S. Brown

Why do a Grief Ritual with Rites of Passage Council?

We have been guiding people across their personal thresholds for 25 years. Our team of facilitators and ceremonial midwives have all trained under the guidance of Kedar S. Brown M.Ed. Our team has varied backgrounds in psychotherapy, wilderness rites of passage, somatic therapy, professional counseling, Hakomi body-centered psychotherapy, depth psychology, marriage and family therapy, ecotherapy, shamanism and sound healing.

Rites of Passage Council is the premier organization of the East Coast USA and the UK offering wilderness rites of passage and group ritual work.

During your four day and four night encampment you will be supported by highly skilled guides through the various phases of this powerful ritual, including:

  1. Learning how to access and express hidden emotions

  2. Building community and safe, open communication

  3. Unleashing your creativity, joy and connection with other

  4. Deepening your connection with Nature

Our guides are all highly trained through the 18-month Rites of Passage Guide training and are certified Wilderness Emergency Responders.

“In a short 2 ½ days, I was able to experience an eye opening weekend. I
went in with an open mind and came back with a better understanding of
where I came from. I was able to leave with a feeling of a connection with
a higher power that I can call my own. I feel as though someone is looking
over me trying to guide me on the right path now.
— 27 year old male

What’s Included?

Bring your camping gear and get yourself to the meeting spot - everything else is provided, including:

  • Breakfast and dinner each day

  • Traditional West African grief ritual

  • A beautiful private property to camp, roam and swim (depending on the location you choose)

  • The full attention of our dedicated, highly-trained staff

  • Drumming movement and poetry

  • Instruction in the Four Seasonal Shields of Initiation

  • Personal myth making and storytelling

  • Self and group generated ceremony

  • Ritual process, body centered, group psychotherapy

  • Healing ancestral trauma

We will provide you with a full gear list and many more details on the activities after registration

When and Where can I Participate in a Vision Quest?


April 25-28, 2019, near Nairn, Scottish Highlands, UK 

July 25-28, 2019, Cumbria, UK

September, 12-15 2019, Southern England, UK

September 19-22, 2019, Portugal, EU 

What’s the Cost?

Early Registration:
 $295 if paid in 6 weeks before start date
Late registration: $345 if payment is made within 6 weeks of start date.

All payments are due in full 1 month before the start data

The Well of Grief”
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface of the well of grief
turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown away by those
who wished for something else
— David Whyte