So what is Visionquest? Why would I want to do one and how would it benefit me? Where would I go and how would I do one if I wanted to? How would I know which one is best for me? Can I do it alone and if not, who should I work with?
There’s no one answer for any of these questions. But the following should bring some clarity to at least get the basics.
Visionquest is in the process of taking inventory of our lives today, right now at this very moment. Who am I in the world today and how do I feel about where I’m at? Not “who was I yesterday, last month or last year”, but “who am I now?” Considering and drawing upon all the new information and experiences of the past year to answer these questions accurately. All too often we get stuck in patterns created from the stories of our past and ascribe to notions we don’t believe in, or may have, but don’t anymore or even worse yet, never did at all. Living our lives as puppets to others expectations of us and assignments that are given to us to who they think we should be. Ouch!
To take stock in what is working in our lives, and what isn’t, is invaluable to our growth. A business will fold if it ignores the need to look at what really exists (take inventory). Doing this regularly in our lives helps us better understand our experiences and refines the energies we are surrounding ourselves with. It helps us identify those that are impeding our growth and those that are enhancing it. We can get so caught up in the demands life puts upon us, we rarely ever stop to contemplate what is really important to us…if we even knew what was to begin with.
A structured Visionquest is a discipline that gives us the time we need to sit without distraction to contemplate the relationships we have with ourselves, our families, our communities and our Creator/God/Goddess. Questioning where we stand within the social dictates that govern society. Looking at our relationships regarding the finned, the feathered and the furred as well as the plant, mineral and animal beings and all the vital resources, water, air and earth necessary to sustain life for all those we share this planet with. It can be overwhelming even for those who are practicing in the process.
That is why it can be very beneficial to have others hold that space in support for us while we allow ourselves to do this work. It helps us let go more completely from the stories we’ve told ourselves and the distractions of the outside world and go deeper into our prayer and our own inner world. This process can bring us into a more fluent dialog with our Spirit Guides (entities that intercede on our behalf) as well. Can you do that alone? Of course. Though it may not be as effective and could take a lifetime to understand their language and internalize what is there to be learned.
We often feel we can’t afford the cost of or the time it takes to immerse ourselves in such a practice or a program, yet it actually expedites our learning curve and brings abundance into our lives by sorting out our relationship with the people, places and things that are no longer effective in helping us grow making room for those that do.
This is an ancient practice that all cultures used to partake in in one form or another on an annual basis. Almost always, a mentor, along with supporters, would hold space to help us. These would be elders and people who have gone through visionquests themselves. They would offer counsel on the mechanics of process but they would leave the individual to interpret and internalize what was to be learned for themselves. By doing that in this way, the Quester develops their own internal wisdoms and eventually, in turn, would assist others behind them. As life got more complicated and demanded more of our time just to keep our head above water, these practices started to drop off the radar. Some Indigenous cultures still practice such disciplines, but for the most part it’s truly a lost process for the majority.
So…When’s the last time you gave yourself a 24 hour dry fast to simply be? Have you ever gone a day without your cell phone or going on the internet? When was the last time you’ve gone a day without being around any people sitting in stillness with nothing but yourself in silent contemplation looking inside to ask yourself who am I today and what do I really believe in now? Where would I like my life to go? Why have these things happened in my life so far? What part do I have in what has happened? Is it too late to change what I do? How do I feel about how I interact with the world that I live in? More importantly where am I going from here? Where do I want to go and how will I get there? The list could go on ad infinitum.
A Visionquest is not a rite of passage so to speak. It is a soul searching ritual approached ceremonially to deepen awareness as we look at these and other aspects of our lives. One “chooses” to do this. It is your birthright to do so, but it is still a choice of yours to make or not. A rite of passage is when a young woman has her first Moon or a young man goes on his first hunt and they are initiated into their adulthood and acknowledged as such in their community. There are many many others but these two should illuminate the difference amply.
Life is a series of choices in between our first and last breaths. Certainly some events are circumstantial and most of us instinctively know how to deal with those as they arise, but all too often we get stuck in habitual patterns that may never have been our choice to begin with. This process assists us to break free from such ruts. It can help us to move forward with healthier ways of being. How can we really know who we are if we don’t give ourselves the time to contemplate what has transpired in our lives and what the repercussions of the actions we have chosen to take are?
Most of our feelings are driven by perspectives formulated by the social dictates handed down to us by the family units we were raised in, the events that we have lived through, or a combination of both. It’s not “who we are”, it is merely “what” we have experienced. We are not the events of our lives yet we all too often get stuck in looping behaviors that no longer serve us and diminish our capacity to be happy, joyous and free. These things are our birthright and the state of grace from which we were created. If there is sadness or depression, anger or fear in relationships that are standing in our way of becoming our highest self, then taking the time to question those perspectives can be of immeasurable benefit not only for ourselves but for those in the periphery of our life. The opposite is just as true that unresolved blockages can keep us from ever knowing that happiness and freedom.
For the almost 20 years I have been living and working with indigenous cultures in both North and South America for months at a time each year. I’ve been blessed to have been learning directly from them about their ways and these forgotten tools of remembrance. In time their trust in me and my understanding of the importance of ceremony and ritual has in our lives has deepened.
I Sundance with the Lakota people. I paddle on tribal journeys with the Coast Salish people in the Pacific Northwest. I have been initiated as an Andean healer by the Q’ero in the mountains of Peru. I have become a Reiki teacher, an ordained Priest and have officiated many weddings, celebrations of life (funerals) and assisted dozens of members of my growing Spirit Family through such things Ceremonially.
I was taught by and gifted permission from several Indigenous Elders from many different tribes who have mentored me and shown me how to utilize certain ceremonies and shamanic tools to bring people through the Visionquest process. This isn’t something I sought to do, it’s something they told me I was being groomed by Spirit to do and because of how they have seen me walk through all the tests I’ve shouldered along the way, they have given me their blessings to do this work. It has brought some of the greatest challenges I’ve ever faced as well as some of the most beautiful experiential gifts I have witnessed in my life. By helping my Sisters and Brothers remember who they are, I am remembering who I am. There is no greater blessing than to be of service and offering this service has brought my own journey to a whole new level.
VISIONQUEST LOGISTICS as gifted to me by the the Indigenous Elders and Mentors of several lineages who brought me through this themselves; adapted by me (with their permission) to navigate the current global circumstances safely and still honor the ancient ways by utilizing some tools of technology available to us today…
Visionquest is a four-year process. Each year is virtually the same in preparation, in execution and in the follow through except for the length of time we sit on the hill in dry fast, (dry fast is no food, no water). If there are medical reasons for people needing these things to stay safe then those accommodations will certainly be made. We’re doing this to enhance our lives not hurt ourselves.
The first year those who have pledged, after having tied their Prayer Ties, will sit in a sweat lodge of divestment (a symbolic deathing of who they are to make room for who they are to become). Questers will sit in prayer and contemplation for 24 hours in a circle of the prayer ties they made that hold their intentions and keep them safe. They sit with no food and no water, not to suffer, but to pray for and remember those who don’t have these things in their lives. Every time hunger or thirst sets in, it brings them deeper into their prayers of remembrance. It’s a form of Service and Service is the greatest expression of love. It also honors the law of Sacred Reciprocity in which we give first in order to receive.
After 24 hours have lapsed I go gather them from their Sacred Space with a little bit of food and water, wrap them in a blanket to keep them safe and walk them back to the lodge where they sit in a rebirth Sweat Lodge. Post Lodge a meal will be shared with other Questers and they will take some time to journal their experience so as not to forget.
The second year pledges sit in dry fast and contemplation for 48 hours within their circle of prayer ties. The third year they sit for 72 hours and in the fourth year they will sit for 98 hours.
While you’re in your Sacred Space you sit without distraction. No drum, no rattle, no phone, no people...just you alone with yourselves and your Creator amongst its Creations.
There will be Zoom meetings of instruction before we gather in person regarding what to expect and how to prepare in the weeks and days before your quest. Once we’re together, there will be more gatherings of instruction around the fire at the location. WE will build our Sweat Lodge and there will be people present, lodges poured, and a fire kept lit throughout your entire Quest in support of your prayer to give you strength while you are on the hill.
The day after your Visionquest we will gather around the fire for instruction of post-Quest protocols and to give you all an opportunity to share a little of what you experienced. It is a deeply intimate experience you will share with those in attendance. This will also be your opportunity to gift those who were holding that space for you while you did your work. The Lakota call that Wolpila. It can be anything you choose as long as it comes from your heart.
We will have a chill day and relax until we prepare for the community lodge in the afternoon. After the Thanksgiving Lodge/Prayer, we will share a community potluck meal to give thanks and close our Sacred Space. People are free to leave after everything is cleaned up but can and are encouraged to stay the night if they are too tired to get themselves home safely.
We are a leave-no-trace community and everyone is expected to help ensure we are invited for the next year by how we leave the land we have been blessed to pray.
All of your meals will be provided for you from the morning of the 18th through the evening of the 21st. These will be mostly organic vegetarian meals that are clean and healthy to support the best experience for us all. If you have special needs or dietary restrictions you will need to bring those with you and let me know well in advance so we can make accommodations accordingly. Any snacks or special beverages you wish to have before or after your quest you will need to bring yourself and keep separate from the main kitchen area so it doesn’t get accidentally consumed by others.
You will need to bring a tent and sleeping gear that is appropriate for temperatures down to 40°F. It gets cold in the high desert at night and it gets warm during the day up to 90°F so you will need to bring clothing appropriate for that climate.
On September 22 we will all do a group sweep to leave no trace of the entire area we have used. We will need to have this completed by 10 o’clock in the morning. It is imperative that everyone gets up early and packs all of their campsites up and helps in the ground sweep.
The exchange is $1495 for People pledging to commit to questing. That includes all the preparation and follow up work that we will do together throughout the year. The exchange for supporters is $250. They too are invited into the follow up work but need to be a part of the preparation work as well. They will help support the pledge that they’re there for as well as the other people in the experience by helping with meals and the grounds while those questing are out in seeking their visions.
Anyone planning to quest needs to get one square yard of non-synthetic solid color cloth of each of these colors… Yellow, white, black, blue, green, and purple. Also they will need two square yards of solid non-synthetic red cloth and one big sack of pipe tobacco for their prayer ties. Two small pouches of American spirit tobacco are also needed before arrival to the location of the Quest.
The pipe tobacco will be for making prayer ties before getting to the location of the Quest and the American spirit tobacco will be wrapped in red cloth for gifts once there for the facilitator and Fire keeper.
If this is your first year you will make 28 prayer ties out of 3”x3” squares filled with a pinch tobacco to carry your intention and keep you safe during your quest. those 28 ties will be on one continuous string (it’s 0K to re-tie that string if it’s too short. They should be spaced about 4” apart. These prayer ties need to be wrapped around a piece of cardboard like you would do with Christmas tree lights to store them free from tangles.
You will also need to make one prayer flag of each color out of a cloth roughly 7”x 24” filled at one end of that cloth with a fist full of tobacco leaving one end free to blow in the wind. You will tie that flag to the thinnest end of a 24” long, straight stick that is about a 1/2” or so thick at its thickest end and stays that thick for the most part of it. These flag will be used to support your prayer ties and circle your Sacred Space while you are out on the Hill. Feel free to call me if you need clarification on these 516-769-5137.
I feel very blessed to be offering this service to all who are called to deepen their relationships with themselves, their families, their communities and all that is in existence.
Thank you for taking the time to read all this and for considering joining us in this process. Please feel free to contact me directly @ 516-769-5137 reserve a spot in your spiritual awakening.