What is Vision Quest?
The journey into the wilderness: to seek vision, wisdom and self-knowledge is as old as human civilisation itself. In all cultures and societies it has existed in one form or another and all great spiritual leaders, from Jesus and Buddha to Knights of the Middle Ages and modern day Medicine men and women, have tested themselves and sought enlightenment in this way, bringing back what they have learned to their people, so that they may all benefit from the experience.
Every earth-based culture has had a tradition of enacting formal rites of passage of one kind or another, such as the Celts, Siberians, Africans, Tibetans and Native Americans. The most effective way of moving from one life stage to another, is by ‘marking’ that transition with ritual and ceremony. One of the most effective and simple ways of doing this is to allow ourselves to really feel, deeply feel, our connection to the land and allow the land to move us.
This stage begins when you make the decision to undertake a Vision Quest. It’s time to look at your life until this point and describe the key events in an autobiography of your life.
Before you even step foot on the land the ceremony has begun and it will become more and more difficult to keep holding onto those things which are no longer serving your life. Change is about to happen, you are about to enter into a powerful ceremony and fear is going to be a natural part of that process.
You stand on the edge of a new land – all the preparation has lead you to this point. Now is the time to step off the cliff that was separating you from the comfortable and familiar into the unknown. The process of facing yourself has started.
Everything that happens here is loaded with significance, because this time alone in nature is time in the “spirit world”, your own inner landscapes. There are childhood toys, words from a forgotten argument, an old injury lying on the ground around you – they all carry a story and now is the time to listen and let go, as you do so you’ll the voice of your soul lies waiting underneath.
You will feel alive and invincible – but the real “work” has just begun. The revelations and insights will fade away and not count for anything until you bring the medicine of the quest back into your life and your community. They have been visitors to you and now you need to integrate them and allow them to gently guide the changes that will ripple out from your quest.
Keep your story inside for one year and watch it grow into your life – now is the time to incorporate what you have learned.
What does it look like?
Before you arrive
Your journey starts as soon as you pay your deposit. You will be sent a 60 page guidebook, with instructions Now you must write 10 page autobiography of your life to send to the guides. In addition you will be asked to go on a medicine walk before the training starts.
At Base Camp
At basecap you will undergo basic training about the wilderness both inside and out. With the larger group you will be given an inner map called the Teachings of the 4 Shields that will help guide you on your quest, as well as “earth medicine” tools that you can use to work with your soul. Certain ceremonies will be performed and you will understand the significance of your actions.
The guides will also work with you individually helping to find clarity about your life story and to make sure you are prepared and safe.
On the land
Alone in Nature.
Aside from a tarp to keep you dry (not a tent!), a sleeping bag and carry mat – you are alone and exposed to nature. Without the distractions of the modern world you will quite quickly discover you are actually part of nature and will find a deeper way to commune with that.
For 4 days you will be fasting from food. You can drink water and take this out with you. If you have diabetes or hypoglyciemia then we have ways to manage that. The fasting helps one connect to the “spirit world”, and creates an altered state where we are able to access deeper parts of the subconscious.
Write it all down
Everything that happens is significant, your psychology spills out of your head and pours into the objects and events surrounding you. Nature starts to mirror your unconsious mind and even if you don’t understand it all you write down what happens – it will become part of your story later on.
The Vision Quest itself happens in the wilderness. This is the real teacher which reflects and stimulates your own innate nature. You will spend 4 days and nights fasting here alone.
In this area you could be visited by animals and many species of birds living in the forest: hares, foxes, wild boars, elks, deer, badgers, beavers, lizards and even a lynx or mountain lion depending where you do it. Before and after you will be a stationed at a basecamp – this is the place you will set out from and return to. The trained guides will be waiting there for you and are holding space and keeping you safe.
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© James Stevenson 2020