I have been on three Vision Quests at different points in my life. While I did not have an encounter with spirit guides on any of these quests, each time I learned something important about myself that helped me to move forward with my life.
With my first Vision Quest, I was a young woman doing a job I had dreamed of, but finding it extremely stressful. I selected a site beside the lake, out in the open, on a large slab of granite. I set up my circle with prayers and sat in the middle as darkness fell. Several times through the night, I stood in each of the eight directions on my circle and meditated on the energies and the spirits for each. At one point, I found myself dancing the energy of each direction as it was expressed in my life. I pounded my feet into the ground and pressed my fist into the air aggressively in the north, the place of the mind, while I danced myself into a sobbing child in the south, the place of emotions.
In the darkness of the night, with emotional armour stripped away by fear and exhaustion, I saw how my beliefs were shaped by my emotions, and knew that I worked so hard in an attempt to earn the love I had never felt as a child. There was beauty in the clarity of my vision, if not in the vision itself. This would be the first step towards leaving my job.
Several years later, in a different job with a young son of two, I went on my third Vision Quest. This time, I selected a site deep in the forest. I called upon the energies and spirits of the eight directions while it grew dark. At the beginning of the night, I was scared of every sound. I peered into the darkness at shadows that seemed to be moving. I felt separate from the forest. I felt like I did not belong. And I felt like every living creature in the forest could sense my presence.
I meditated in the centre of my circle. I focused on my breathing. I sent my energy into the earth. Several times through the night, I walked to the perimeter of my circle and called on the energies of each of the eight direction in turn. I asked for clarity and direction in my life. But each time, I mistakenly skipped the northwest, the direction of karma and destiny, until I finally asked myself: “What piece of my destiny am I trying to avoid?” For months, I had been trying to decide whether to have a second child. Two years of sleepless nights with my “high needs” son had almost done me in. I really felt that I could not survive mentally if I had a second child. But every time I thought of not having a second child, I broke into tears. I realized in that dark forest that a second child was written into my script; it was a choice I had made before I was born.
When dawn arrived, I was quiet inside. I felt like I was part of the forest. I no longer felt afraid of the forest or the creatures living in it. I felt a peaceful sense of alignment with all the energies around me.
Now 18 years later, as the mother of two children who are preparing to leave home, I feel the need for a Vision Quest. I feel worn down by the material demands of life. I feel disappointed in people; discouraged about the world. I feel disconnected from the earth. I don’t feel finished yet, but I don’t feel passionate about anything any more. I need to remember what it feels like to sit alone in the wild; to feel a part of the earth; to re-connect with the mystery.