Vision Quest Perspectives
For decades, I have taken time-outs to immerse myself in the natural world’s authentic presence. These wild nature sojourns and solo vision quests have evoked timeless moments of profound centering with my soul’s presence, a sense of my bigger destiny. In this ecstatic connection to the expanded field of consciousness, flashes of knowing flow in.
In this article, I explore some of the aspects of soul connection in nature from my experience and share sage observations from several sources.
The Call to Pilgrimage
When your heart issues that call to pilgrimage and you answer and go to a place with great natural energy and power, you receive cellular level stimulation, awakening. Entering with a child-like sense of awe, heart wide open, in reverence and prayer opens the door. This is really a pilgrimage to your own heart– an act of great love and courage to just be with you.
You don’t necessarily get a technicolor movie spelling out your big vision, but you become more tuned in, more receptive in your day to day life.You listen more to your heart’s yearning and each new bold step out opens more doors of creative expression taking you places you never would have imagined.
The microcosmic world of our cells, our body is organized along the same principles as that of the earth, the stars and the solar system. Our galaxy is a spiral form as is our DNA. Physics is now verifying what ancient people of the earth have always known: we are all connected.
We are vaster than our mind, than our body. And in the purity of wild nature we have a direct pipeline to Source. As you relax, quit thinking and doing and just be alive to the moment, Nature always gifts us.
Trips into the world of wild nature and Native cultures of the Colorado Plateau can open people to a felt experience of empathetic unity, which is central to indigenous thought and being. Tribal people maintain strong family bonds, connection to their community, and a sense of place and belonging. They tend to speak from the heart more than is found in urbanized worlds. Visitors to this world often have heart opening moments.
These words from Shakaim Marian Chumpi, Shuar (formerly known as Jivaro) shaman from the Amazon basin of Ecuador are very insightful:
“We Shuar are taught to read people, to peer through the fluttering leaves as they smile at us. With the gringos, we see that they lack the fire that burns in the hearts of our people. They are longing for love.”
( From Spirit of the Shuar, by John Perkins and Chumpi).
The wind softly gliding on your skin is the earth Mother’s soft breath of acknowledgement of your presence. As you breathe in, liquid light from the stars, the sun, the mountains feeds you. With every out breath, the whole of the cosmos knows you.
Shaggy-bark juniper friends stand dark green against the red rocks. Their branches often grow in a spiral pattern on wind-swept cliff sides. Juniper needles grow in a spiral and are burned for spiritual purification and boiled as a medicinal tea by Hopi and Navajo peoples. Pungent smelling smoke rising from juniper camp and hearth fires is a classic Southwest scent. Fire, purification, healing are some of the medicine Juniper offers. A Hopi medicine man once told me, “If you have a question you are seeking an answer to, go find a big juniper. Pray to it, visit it for four days and you will get your answer.”
Trees have filaments of energy running up and down their bodies just as we do. Rooted in the earth, they reach to the sky, their leaves receptors of light that metabolize nutrients for the plant. Each tree has a unique medicine or biochemical field. Ancient peoples learned this medicine by direct communion with the spirit of the plant.
Rocks, trees and animals were here before we humans. They emit vibrational energies, a kind of consciousness that can help us humans ground and re-charge our physical bodies. Plant and animal spirits communicate in dreams, signs, energy fields. What keeps us from hearing? From feeling this direct connection to life?
Dancing on the Edge
Modern society is full of distractions, busyness, watching life on TV, instant gratification, noise, intellectual stimulation. Moving fast, living in our head, we seem to have lost touch with direct knowing of the heart, of trusting our own instincts.
Subtle signs come to us constantly. From nature, in our dreams, in the words of friends and co-workers. Do we slow down enough to listen? If I slow down I will have to be with me. That’s too frightening. So we keep dancing on the edge of an unlived inner life that calls to us.
To heed the call of our wild heart or that big dream will take us outside our comfort zone around a bend from which there is no return.
David Whyte speaks eloquently of this edge place in Crossing An Unknown Sea:
“We all have our own ground to work, you know. You have yours, too. You just have to find out what it is. But you know what? It is right on the edge of yourself. At the cliff edge of life. That’s the edge you go to. Put yourself in conversation with that edge no matter how frightening it seems. Look down over that edge.”
And poetically Whyte relates vision and nature:
“Genius in Latin originality means, the spirit of a place. The genius of an individual lies in the inhabitation of their peculiar and particular spirit in conversation with the world…You only have to touch the elemental waters in your own life and it will transform everything…We journey from one unknown sea to another, the wind on our face, meeting the elements. Out of this conversation we create a directional movement that ensures our survival and creates exhilaration–an immersion in the present whilst we simultaneously experience the joy of speeding toward our destination.”
Vision Quest Meanings
Going alone into wild nature is an ancient way of connecting with your own soul. Simply being alive and fully present in the moment opens a direct connection to all of Creation which shamans call a state of ecstatic union. If you can feel this even for a moment, it will change your life forever. In the seeming simplest ways is hidden profound wisdom. The gateway is within.
“The vision quest is a spiritual journey to wisdom that has been practiced by people for as long as history can remember. The resulting visions are recorded in cave drawings and described in the oral traditions of cultures throughout the world. Native North Americans believed that animals took vision quests when they hibernated during the long winter months. Christ’s forty days in the wilderness was a vision quest. Many of the prayers, meditations, and rituals used by the world’s religions originally were developed as vehicles for the vision quest. .. We and the other “moderns” on this planet are perhaps the first people in history not to practice some form of the vision quest as a regular part of our education process.”
(John Perkins from The World is as You Dream It, Shamanic Teachings from the Amazon and Andes)
Barbara Furlotte came from eastern Canada to Sedona, Arizona last fall after months of preparing for her solo journey in nature never having camped before. I was honored to support her in her powerful intention for deepened soul awareness.
I close with her insightful words:
“There was a lot of preparation before going out into the desert. This was something I was drawn to do for a long time. On my Solo journey I could feel a deeper knowing . It is hard to put into words, but I just knew that I was not alone. I had nothing to fear alone in the desert or in my life. That feeling is with me still.
What you accomplish on a Solo journey depends on your reason for doing it. What is your intention for going into nature alone, and how willing and open are you to what may come to you? Most people I think use the Solo experience to find themselves or to deepen an already strong connection to spirit. Whatever the reason, if it is done authentically, it will change your life forever.
A journey alone is really the only way to connect with yourself. You rely and trust only on your own instincts. You pay more attention to your gut feelings. You are not following another’s advice or opinions, you do not have the false security of others around you. You are not trusting another to keep you safe and out of harms way. Nothing and no one can give you the confidence and courage to trust yourself, to live your life fearlessly only your own connection to spirit can do that.
I do know that all spiritual masters spent many years of their lives alone with nature. This should tell you of the powerful energy of nature. The same life energy in nature is also within us, we just have to stop our way too busy lives long enough to feel it. Being alone gives you a more peaceful and aware feeling towards your own life. You begin to see things in your life differently and you begin to react with more understanding and Love to the situations in your life.
And I do believe that LOVE is the most powerful energy known to us all !!!!”
updated January 5, 2017 from article first written in 2001