A Vision Quest is a sacred rite of passage in some Native American cultures, traditionally undertaken by young men as they enter adulthood, to receive a message from spirit for their purpose. As with many teachings of the native cultures, it has reached western society – and women.
“The Vision Quest is a great opportunity in which you go and make a nest, for the first time in your life, to occupy it in a sacred way; a little piece on Earth which you know it is only a crossing point.
You make a little square as a coffin or cradle and enjoy setting an energy cable through many tobacco ties around oneself to connect with Great Spirit, with the Four Directions, the Sky and the Earth. It is a beautiful design, you go to bury, to dedicate yourself, to give your life in that place. You go to lay down your life at the mountain.
It is a beautiful way that exists to untangle one’s life. Because first we tangle it and after untangle it when setting all the prayers around oneself.
The Vision Quest is the Spirit Quest, oneself’s quest, the totality of being. The Vision Quest is a four years commitment, we take four steps, facing the four sacred directions.
To the Vision Quest you go to get advice inside a path, inside the commitment you made with a sacred instrument, The Pipe, with a sacred way of walking.
The Vision Quest is related with the human being, with the sacred being inside each one of us. This being has an aim, a purpose to carry out in harmony, in a connection, a unity of being in balance with everything, so we can use the direct communication that exists.
The Vision Quester is the person who recognizes the power in everything.
The Vision Quest allows you to see with clarity. You have to be aware of not falling in the trap of loosing the humility. Always, always, even if you can see, you need to keep the humility.
We go up the mountain to receive the instructions. It passed so much time since this knowledge existed, that it has been a bond of centuries for having all of this again in our daily life.
The Vision Quest is something beautiful. We would need many words to explain it. That is why it is important people lives it. Those who want to know about the Vision Quest must go up the Mountain.” – Aurelio Díaz Tekpankalli, Chief of Chiefs, World Leader of the Sacred Fire of Itzachilatlan
A few weeks ago, I took part in my first Vision Quest, in Ibiza. For four days and four nights I was planted on a mountain, in a 3 metre by 3 metre square space, with no food or water and unable to speak, surrounded by 365 prayers of tobacco. I was the last to be planted and in my space, which was mostly overgrown, was a huge spider web, hanging over the only flat element and with a grand spider inside. Already with my voice taken I stood and stared, intrigued by this medicine and a little afraid. The people planting me exclaimed how good it was to have the spider with me, my younger self, hugely afraid of spiders, did not agree, my inner self, knowing the power of this animal medicine – feminine energy, wisdom keeper, divine creation, patience, receptivity, Mother, weaver of life and destiny, shadow integration, as well as the energy of number 8 – knew it was right.
As I created my space, with tarpaulin for shelter (the shelter shape reminded me of the birth canal), I was careful not to disturb her, but a thread did remove and by the next morning, the web was woven again, as she created a new story.
Examining my mountain space the next day I found an egg nestled on some leaves, it had fallen from the tree above yet was still in its perfect form – also a strong symbol of new beginning, life and fertility. Bees and butterflies came to visit and every day a robin came to say hello.
Although I had very little energy, I found the fasting surprisingly easy – I imagined absorbing water from the air, and, as I observed the spider’s every move, each time she ate, I felt like she was eating for both of us. Even though sometimes I did think about my favourite foods (pizza kept coming up!), hunger did not bother me.
Each sunrise and sunset I and the other questers in their secluded spaces on the mountain, were greeted by songs from the base of the mountain, giving us energy for the days and nights ahead.
I spent the days praying and meditating, remembering each of the prayers I set in the weeks preparing for the quest, thoughts ran through my mind; I thought a lot about people who are homeless, people who have no water – who do not choose this life they have and I prayed for them. I stretched my body a little, but mostly I rested.
The nights are when the visions came – I had many cleansing and releasing dreams, the visions of which reminded me of some of the scenes in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ‘Holy Mountain’, which I had watched only a few weeks earlier. It felt like an unthreading of the past and a releasing of deeply held beliefs and fears.
By the arriving of the fourth night I became very tired and thirsty. I thought about rain constantly, she came a few drops in the daytime, teasing a little as I tried to catch her with my tongue out. That night she arrived in all her grace, a gift from the skies, and I had never felt so grateful as I drank from the earth and tasted the purity of this water of life.
I descended the mountain after the fourth night weak, but calm, unsure of what had just happened. In the first Temescal we were given our voice back and we prayed as we smoked tobacco in the darkness. I found my voice had become very weak. As with the teachings of Vipassana, I had very little words, yet I was more focused on the energy I was feeling.
I found the Vision Quest teaching subtle yet profound. The Moon Dance is prayer in action (my annual prayer in Costa Rica); we dance and twirl and sing and move. Here I was still and silent, it felt like a deep refinement, something I cannot fully express with words, but a shedding of subtle layers which can only release in stillness.
It has taken me a few weeks to embody these teachings and I anticipate a lifetime to integrate, as I give my self permission to enter more deeply into my authentic self. Daily I observe, sometimes I get lost in the older thought pattens and like a spider weaving her web, or a new road to explore, I create new ones, in alignment with my divine purpose and truth – as I create the reality I weave and surrender to the divine plan on earth.
A huge thank you to everyone who held space in this powerful time.
This post was written by Kim Booth
Main image by Susan Seddon Boullet