Journey woman

Corla Bertrand

As a re-entry student in Washington state many years ago, Corla Bertrand took a Native American literature class that helped her reconnect with her childhood years spent camping and hiking in northern California. “I really liked the whole Native American worldview of interconnectedness and that we’re a part of nature,” she said. She created her own bachelor’s program so she could study rites of passage, which she felt were lacking in contemporary American society. She sent her two daughters to coming-of-age ceremonies and wrote about her role in that process. She eventually completed a master’s at the California Institute of Integral Studies in east-west psychology, and mentored with vision-quest leaders. Bertrand and colleague Kelly Munson have put together Raven Dawn Rites, a program offering girls a week-long coming-of-age journey in August. She offers rites of passage for adults and vision quests as well. Contact Bertrand at or 826-6659.

Where will the girls spend their week in nature and what will they do?

We found a wonderful site up near Mount Shasta that will be a safe scenario, but we’ll be out in the wilderness. We want to provide girls who are 13 or 14 with the opportunity to really immerse themselves in nature and learn more about their inner voice and inner knowing. We’ll use heart-centered conversation, art, song, reflective activity and ritual to deepen girls’ relationships to their inner selves, families, communities, and their own version of what is sacred.

What do you hope the girls will experience?

The coming-of-age journey for girls is a unique opportunity to help them reach young womanhood with a deeper sense of themselves, their own inner and outer beauty, and the gifts they bring to the world so that they may walk through their teen years with strength and self-confidence. Overall, we want them to learn to feel comfortable in nature and know they’re connected.

How did your own daughters benefit from their rites of passage?

What I saw was that it was very beneficial in helping them to really own their own inner knowing. In conversations with them now, they express that they really thought they could trust themselves much more. They didn’t have to rely on what others thought, but could be wholehearted on decisions they made.

Why are rites of passage important right now?

We’re an uninitiated society. Our society is trapped in childhood. We don’t know when we’re adults.