Vision/Nature QuestOctober 15, 2014
With an upcoming Nature Quest in May 2015, I thought it may be useful to write a little about my experience of a Vision Quest. I have undertaken numerous quests in different parts of the world, such as the Sahara desert, California and Wales. Each has been unique and connected to that particular land.
So how do I capture these amazing experiences in a short article? Perhaps a little background; most cultures in the world have embraced some form of retreat from community and going out into the wilderness, to quest for a vision, answers, or at times of life transitions, such as moving from child to adult, or moving from working or being a parent into a more reflective time of life. Unfortunately a lot of societies, especially in western culture, no longer have ceremonies or rituals for these events. This has largely had resurgence in our times and in the West through the work of Steven Foster and Meredith Little (see: The Book of the Vision Quest- personal transformation in the wilderness).
In brief the journey into the wilderness consist of three stages, that of Severance- leaving the life we know behind. Solo time- this is the time spent on your own in the wilderness doing a water fast and seeking for a vision. The third part is the return to your people and is the Integration phase. This is where you take what you have learnt from your time in the wilderness and incorporate it into your life.
To begin this journey can feel like a big step into the unknown, common questions and fears are; Can I survive without food? What is it like to be on my own in the dark? Is it safe? On my first quest I had all these questions and at the same time I knew it was time for something important in my life. I was going through some major life changes and challenges, and was struggling to find my way through them. So a trip to the wilderness was a little scary but also something I felt on a deep level that I needed. My first Vision Quest took place in the Sahara desert, and in the days of preparation and sleeping under the stars, I felt a lot going on, too much to make sense of at the time. I also felt a sense of peace, of letting go and expanding. Being in nature has always been good for me, and at times I do forget this. So the time came to go into the wilderness on my own and that first day I was thinking, “what the hell am I doing?’ We had a very powerful ceremony of release the night before and I was in that place of feeling a letting go and, what now? We had various rituals and ceremonies suggested to us that may help us in our solo time. I settled in to this space and really confronted some aspects of myself at a deep level- no distractions here! I got sad, angry, happy, peaceful, restless, restful, all the time in communion with the land around me, feeling held and supported. By day three I was having such a wonderful time of letting go, relaxing and just being that I was in no hurry to return and felt I could have stayed quite a while longer. I did return though and we shared our wonderful stories and experiences of our solo time and then over the next few days looked at how we would be taking this back with us.
I am finding it difficult to name specifics here but for me I felt a real opening to my purpose, and myself. This did not all happen at once, and it was, and still is a continuing journey. On another quest I worked with grief and healing. That one was tough and I struggled, especially at the time, again wondering why I was doing this to myself. Yet again the release, healing and growth that came from that experience, as well as the wonderful interaction with nature, of which I realised more and more we are not separate from but a part of, made it all worth it!
Needless to say these were very powerful and transformational experiences for me and led me to train in facilitating this process.
Each person will have his or her own unique experience, and it will be just the right experience for you. The impact of these quests is profound and on going.
Our upcoming Nature Quest for 2015 will take place on the Applecross Peninsula in the Scottish Highlands, known as ‘a Chomraich’ in Gaelic meaning ‘The Sanctuary’. Further information on Nature quests can be found here.
Some suggestions for further reading:
The Book of the Vision Quest – Steven Foster and Meredith Little
Soulcraft – Bill Plotkin
Partnering with Nature – Catriona MacGregor
The World is a Waiting Lover – Trebbe Johnson
The Hero with a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
The Lonely Tumbling Waters – Ken Griffin (especially for a flavour of the Highlands)