Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

pp 1859-1861

Vision Quest

  • Richard W. VossAffiliated withDepartment of Undergraduate Social Work, West Chester University of Pennsylvania Email author 
  • , Robert PrueAffiliated withSchool of Social Welfare, College of Arts & Sciences, University of Missouri – Kansas City

Ate wiohpeyata Father, to the West

nawwajin yelo. I am standing.

Waayanka yo! Behold me!

Ite Otateya nawajin yelo The wind blowing in my face.

I am standing.

Vision Quest Song (Lakota Ceremonial Songs 1983).


The term “vision quest” describes a psychological metaphor based upon or inspired by the spiritual practice among Native American Indians. As a psychological metaphor, the “vision quest” has been used by some clinicians to illustrate the journey of understanding one’s dreams and experiences in terms of archetypical symbols related to self-understanding and individuation (see Temagami Vision Quest Program, http://​www.​langskib.​com/​outdoor-programs-for-adults). However, as the indigenous, American Indian practice, “vision quest” is what the traditional Lakota call the Hanbleceya or “crying for a vision” ceremony (see Black Elk 1953; Lame Deer (Fire) 1972; Lame Deer (Fire) 1992). Elsewhere, this ceremony is also called a “pipe fast” since the individual faster seeking ...

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