Vision Quest

A few weeks ago I decided I needed to go on a vision quest. I’ve been feeling the need for a few years now and only recently did things come “to a head” so to speak and cause me to take action. So on November 12th, at first light, I’ll head off alone, into the woods, to sit for 4 days and 4 nights without food.

This won’t be the only time I’ve done this. The first quest I ever did was back in May 2004 in Idaho with Earth-Heart, right before I moved out West to go to Wilderness Awareness School. In fact one of the questions I had while I was on my quest was whether or not to go to the school. That quest was one of the hardest things I had ever done at that point in my life and also incredibly rewarding. I remember walking down off the mountain with my rubbery legs, beaming from head to toe. I felt weak, but totally refreshed and glowing with the energy of moving beyond my edge and coming out better for it on the other side. I remember noticing these small, spindly flowers when I walked in on Day 1. They were closed, I couldn’t see any of their color. When I walked out on Day 4, those flowers had opened and were a beautiful orange color.

Since then I’ve quested four time. Twice in the darkness of a small sweat lodge looking structure that I built and twice sitting outside. This will be the first time I’ve ever quested in the Fall and during such a cold, damp season. Sometimes in the mornings recently I walk outside and think, man it is cold! What’s it going to be like when I’m out there in a couple weeks?! Only one way to find out…

Tom Brown has said, “The vision quest is as old as dirt”. It is a tool used by native peoples across the world. It is often referred to as a “Rite of Passage” and is used at significant times or turning points in people’s lives. And in our modern day culture it is a way to slow down and really tune in to the world around us, tune into our selves, and listen deeply.

To me questing gives me space to grow into who I am more fully. I step away from my day to day distractions, including food and physical digestion, and go into a space where my life’s experiences can be digested more fully. It is also a time to pop the crust. Crust is a consequence of living, it just happens, it’s part of being human. The Quest helps crumble the crust. When I leave I feel clearer, more connected, and much less crusty! Right now, in life, I feel like I’m at a crossroads and before I decide which way to go I need to stop and listen.

And ever since I’ve decided to quest, life has gotten strange. Really strange. But also really wonderful too. It feels like my heart is literally being stretched. I physically feel that in my body.  And it feels like the quest process has already begun. Frankly, I don’t know if it ever really ends. Life is a quest. A search. An adventure. Sometimes it’s a living hell. And sometimes it’s pure magic. I’m not really sure what we’re all doing on this spinning globe called Earth. I don’t know if I’ll ever know. But I’m along for the adventure.

Have you ever quested before? Have you ever thought about vision questing? Tell me below.

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5 Responses to Vision Quest

  1. Yes. I have quested 4 times, and each has been so different. And each carried with it lessons that continued to enrich my life well past the point of “completion.” Some things I am only realizing and getting clarity on with the passage of time.

    My most recent quest was this passed June, out in the arid, spiny and stoney land of Joshua Tree National Park. I felt in my body what snakes and lizards feel, and acted as they did. I was reminded again of my place in life, and it is a humble one. The full moon lit up the landscape for miles around, and I could see clearly across the entire valley to the distant mountains. The night wind did not let me sleep much, but it gave me a bitingly clear sense of aliveness.

    Roadrunner reminded me what it means to be both hunter and hunted, when I watched it hide from the eye of a passing prairie falcon. Raven reminded me, as he always does, that I was on the right path and that though life is deadly serious, its also funny as hell. Even more so, that the upper-right heart and mind gives us a buoyancy that allows us to flow with the currents of life instead of trashing around uselessly against them.

    Those were the things that bubbled up in my mind. Others are still being … simmered.

    ~ Fil

    • electrickat says:

      Nice Fil, thanks for sharing.
      The next time I quest I think it will be desert landscape. There’s a little place I know outside of Moab that would be perfect. I’m ready for that wide open view:)

  2. Catherine de Marin says:

    I recall feeling absolutely exhilarated when I took my backpack out to Drakes Bay in Pt. Reyes National Seashore. I hitchhiked from my home in Marshall on Tomales Bay. I hiked out past cows grazing not the bluffs above the beach – thinking “I’m not afraid of you. You are so cool. How close will you let me get?” I made camp on the beach at a little isthmus between a pond and
    the bay. I did a sketch of the pond which I still have. I slept in my sleeping back and heard water and animal sounds all night long – I think they were mice or ground squirrels looking for my food. The salt air was heavy with moisture that condensed on my sleeping bag. I was cold and warm in places. The ground was hard and soft in places. The night seemed long and I could see lots of stars. I was happy.

  3. Catherine de Marin says:

    Hello my friend! I’ve only done “mini” quests without fasting. This means backpacking & spending the night out in nature by myself. I recall being very cold. I did this years ago yet the memories are still so vivid. There was something really cool about trusting the universe – just going out into nature and saying I’m going to spend the night at your house tonight. The first time I didn’t feel so welcome – I was about 18 years old. The second time I felt right at home. Your passion to stay awake to life inspires me. (As one of your fervent fans – I hope you are warm enough and nature welcomes you.)

    • electrickat says:

      Thanks Catherine, I hope there is some warmth out there for me too!

      Yes, memories from the natural are often quite vivid, aren’t they? What is one of those memories?

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