The wilderness quest

by Jesse Wolf Hardin — 

A quest is not a test of endurance or strength, but rather a test of our ability to surrender to the forces of which we are a magical part. In the quest, there is no such thing as “failure.”

A quest is not a test of endurance or strength, but rather a test of our ability to surrender to the forces of which we are a magical part. In the quest, there is no such thing as “failure.”

For tens of thousands of years, people from many diverse cultures have consciously embarked on ritual vision quests. They intentionally leave behind the comfort of the familiar in order to be challenged, tested and stripped of any padding or illusions that ever held them back.

While on a quest, we seek alliance with Earth, Spirit, the energies and healing medicine needed to know and do what is right. We go in hope of receiving gifts — an omen or sign, an essential lesson, a spirit ally or an animal guardian — that will reveal our hidden intuitive skills. We need these gifts now more than ever.

A quest can last from one to seven nights, alone somewhere out in nature, in a place of enchantment. Much of a quest’s magic comes in learning to be truly in solitude with no distractions from the feelings and visions that come, and learning to depend on and trust ourselves in potentially difficult conditions. The quest often is preceded by a medicine sweat and dunkings in cold water, which still our busy minds and direct us fully into our empathic and intuitive bodies. No food is eaten during this time, only water.

The following suggestions will help you plan a vision quest:

  • Find someone you trust to help with your preparations and wait for you while you are on your solo quest.
  • Pick an exact spot that feels good to you, next to a stream or up on a rock. Your spot should have at least some shade, and be out of sight of all things man-made.
  • Cast a circle no more than 10 feet in diameter, and plan to stay fairly still inside that circle until the quest ends.
  • The most difficult part is keeping the mind from distracting us from our focus on Spirit and purpose.
  • Going without sleep helps open us to the shamanic twilight state, where new insights are revealed.
  • Set aside preconception and remain open to what comes.
  • Sense the ways in which you connect through the wind and ground to the entire living world.

A quest is not a test of endurance or strength, but rather a test of our ability to surrender to the forces of which we are a magical part. In the quest, there is no such thing as “failure.”

Each quest is an encounter with power that takes us further into ourselves and our life purpose — each one leads us always to the next.

 

Jesse Wolf Hardin, author of several books including Gaia Eros: Reconnecting to the Magic & Spirit of Nature, shares a riverside sanctuary which hosts retreats, quests, internships and the Wild Women’s Gathering every June. The Earthen Spirituality Project, Box 820, Reserve, NM 87830. www.earthenspirituality.org.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 3, June/July 2005.

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