WHAT IS VISION QUEST?
A vision quest is a Native American rite of passage, similar to an initiation. In traditional the Lakota culture, Hanblecheyapi (crying for a vision) is one of seven sacred rites. A vision quest is a journey alone into the wilderness to seek personal growth and spiritual guidance from Great Spirit. The seeker finds a special place and sits in a rectangle, approximately 4-6’ wide and 6-8’ long. Usually the seeker brings nothing with them except water and a blanket. A usual vision quest lasts 4 days within this rectangle. The isolation in nature and the associated hunger is designed to trigger a vision or a message from Great Spirit. Visions from a quest can guide an individual for a lifetime.
Vision quest is a time of transition, a death or ending of something old, and a passage to new beginnings. In that respect, preparation for quest is a psychological grieving process. Thus vision quest is done with great sacredness.
Anthropologists have identified three universal stages of vision quest:
1. Severance (Departure) - Severance begins as soon as you answer the call to quest. You prepare to die to an old life as the unknown awaits you. To prepare emotionally, you must be willing to separate, detach, and let go of the old.
2. Threshold (Trial/Initiation/Transformation) - This is the time of aloneness, hunger, exposure and the trials that test your spirit and your purpose. Threshold is entering into sacred space, ritual and ceremony, and being with Great Spirit, one on one. You must empty out that which no longer serves you before you can be filled with something new. You awaken to a new way of seeing.
3. Incorporation (Return) – A quest never really ends because the vision is brought back to make your life better and to create changes for you and your people.
The goals and purposes of a vision quest include:
1. Gaining power and clarity through self-discovery of life goals and purposes.
2. Healing emotions, relationships, and illness.
3. Receiving a vision or message that will spiritual helps your soul.
4. Develops self-confidence by surviving in the wilderness and your fears alone.
5. Strengthens connections to your higher self, spirit guides, nature, Great Spirit, and Mother Earth.
6. Taps directly into your own source of wisdom assistance from books, churches, or teachers.
7. Fosters a greater appreciation of life after the temporary deprival of material comforts.
Vision quest is not only a Native American tradition. A very famous vision quest was done by Usui Mikao, a Japanese doctor. During his 21 day fast on Mount Kurama, he received the wisdom of Reiki.
In Buddhism, a peaceful warrior is defined as one who is willing to know oneself and willing to face one's fears. This is the intent of vision quest in a nutshell. Change your perception, change your life.
WHAT IS A JOURNAL QUEST?
In 2008, I did a vision quest at Mount Shasta, spending 4 days and 3 nights in a small square encircled by 808 prayer ties. Preparation and execution of vision quest is quite rigorous. A seeker sits in sweat lodge before entering the sacred space and sits in sweat lodge again when returning and before breaking fast. It is a very powerful experience. However, not all are able or willing to undertake this intense journey.
I believe that there are other roads that can be traveled to obtain the same results. For one, someone might consider camping out in their back yard for several days. Another way is to take a shamanic transformation class most commonly marketed as “going around the medicine wheel”.
I combined the intent of self-discovery with the art of journaling to create a “journal quest”. The journal becomes a record of your journey of self-discovery and revelation. By examining the deepest, darkest recesses of your soul and bringing your secrets into the light, a transformation of vision occurs. I have prepared a series of questions designed to prompt a self-examination. My integration stage includes a ritual to anchor your vision in the material world.
The benefits of journal quest is that it is done at home, in your own time, and at your own pace.
I expanded the three stages of vision quest (Severance, Threshold, and Return) to four, so that the model represents the four directions, hence a medicine wheel of transformation. The four stages are:
1. Initiation – South Direction. Know Yourself.
2. Foundation – West Direction. Love Yourself.
3. Transformation – North Direction. Be Yourself.
4. Integration – East Direction. Share Yourself.
The only materials required for journal quest are a journal and pens. However, additional items that support the journey are music that entrains the brain or shamanic journey drumming or rattling tracks that facilitate dropping into a beta brainwave state that facilitates deeper meditation.
Journal quest can be customized to your style and needs. Associated activities might include:
1. Creating a vision altar placing items that represent your intent for this journey. Perhaps finding a vision stone in nature, lighting a candle, placing cornmeal, sage, tobacco, flowers, herbs, crystals, and/or prayer ties as offerings.
2. Creating a vision stick decorating it with feathers and other natural items. Focus on the intent of your journey as you create the stick.
3. Creating a small sacred circle with rocks or crystals to sit in just as you would on a vision quest.
4. Taking an Epsom salt/herb bath before and after the journey. (This is a substitute for sweat lodge.)
5. Opening sacred space.
6. Saying a prayer requesting clear vision or messages. (see below)
7. Doing your journey in isolation, perhaps taking a day or two from your schedule to do nothing but focus on your journey.
8. Fasting during this time to intensify your experience is also an option.
9. Do some drumming, rattling, singing, chanting, or dancing.
10. Fire ceremony to conclude the quest, burning petition papers so that your prayers and intentions are taken on the smoke to the spirit world to be manifested.
While journaling, sit, meditate, breathe, be, think, watch, listen, feel, surrender, be in the present moment with no judgment, expectations, or goals.
I offer the questions and mentoring support for your journal quest. If you are interested, please contact me.
SAMPLE VISION PRAYER
Heya, Great Spirit, Ancestors, and Spirit Guides. I feel you here with me, showing me the way and sharing your wisdom. I open my heart, mind, and soul to your spirit voices. Open the doors of opportunity as I am ready to step through them. Let me meet my guides and be shown a vision to help me as I travel my path and live my purpose in this lifetime. Protect me from my fears and any harm that might come to me. I have so much love and gratitude for all my spirit guides and teachers who help my Highest Good. Thank you, Great Spirit, for the clear vision that I will have. Let my love and gratitude float on the four winds to the corners of the Universe. Aho!
COPYRIGHT © 2015 DRAKE BEAR STEPHEN. EXCEPT AS ACKNOWLEDGED. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED