Now this is the day.
Into the daylight
You will go out standing.
Preparing for your day,
We have passed our days.
When all your days were at an end,
When eight days were past,
Our sun father
Went in to sit down at his sacred place.
And our night fathers
Having come out standing to their sacred place,
Passing a blessed night
We came today.
Now this day
Have come out standing to their sacred place.
our sun father,
Having come out standing to his sacred place,
Our child, it is your day.
The flesh of the white corn,
To our sun father
This prayer meal we offer.
My your road be fulfilled
Reaching to the road of your sun father,
When your road is fulfilled
In your thoughts may we live,
May we be the ones whom your thoughts will embrace,
For this, on this day
To our sun father,
We offer prayer meal.
To this end:
May you help us all to finish our roads.
Some day, if you are lucky,
you’ll return from a thunderous journey
trailing snake scales, wing fragments
and the musk of Earth and moon.
Eyes will examine you for signs
of damage, or change
and you, too, will wonder
if your skin shows traces
of fur, or leaves,
if thrushes have built a nest
of your hair, if Andromeda
burns from your eyes.
Do not be surprised by prickly questions
from those who barely inhabit
their own fleeting lives, who barely taste
their own possibility, who barely dream.
If your hands are empty, treasureless,
if your toes have not grown claws,
if your obedient voice has not
become a wild cry, a howl,
you will reassure them. We warned you,
they might declare, there is nothing else,
no point, no meaning, no mystery at all,
just this frantic waiting to die.
And yet, they tremble, mute,
afraid you’ve returned without sweet
elixir for unspeakable thirst, without
a fluent dance or holy language.
~ Geneen Marie Haugen
The Shamanic journey starts when we begin to live what we have grasped of the Great Plan.
Where do we start? Physically from where we are, however tempting it may be to wait until “the conditions are right,” until we move to another place, until we get a new job, until we find more understanding, more congenial people, until… until…
The Grandfathers say, “Start now,” Now is all we have, all we shall ever have. Start now.”
Our journey is a resumption of the long way we have come, not a totally new start. Spiritually we start from that moment and that place where we decide to re-commit ourselves to the journey, to re-surrender our wills to the will of the Great Source, to enlist with finality in the Company of Light.
Sooner or later this great moment comes to us, but it must be with finality, total commitment, we must stick with it, or it will be only another half-hearted attempt to take a few hesitant steps on one of the ways leading to the Center, and away from it. We must go forward firmly. or we may find ourselves again in the “dark wood.” Each time this happens it gets harder to resume the journey, and whether we go on foot, or “over wonderful slippery water” in a Shadow Canoe, resumption of the journey is what our spirits crave.
At some distant point in mythological time, the living being which we call the planet Earth joined together with the Great Spirit of All That Is to co-create humankind. As the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, so is every child more than a joining of two parents. Distinct from the rest of creation, humankind achieved self-awareness and by so doing gained the right of free will.
Because we are children of form and spirit, we have access to both the Earthly and the Divine within ourselves. Further, every individual is a collection of many parts: emotional, mental, spiritual, physical. Each part affects the rest in invisible fashion. But there is a way to achieve balance by seeking the center point of stillness where all parts will merge. If we learn to move from that center, responding not to the various insistent voices of body, heart, spirit or mind but acting from an awareness of the greatest good, then all four are served. They may not receive all their wants, but their real and essential needs will always be met.
By seeking to balance the plurality of our existence, we have the ability to balance the entire planet. This is the challenge that faces us. But there is no way to point at humanity and say, all right, take responsibility for your actions, make these realizations, because humanity is a collection of billions of individual beings who have lived, live, and may yet live. Our movements as a whole are difficult to perceive. But the awareness of a few can profoundly affect the rest of humanity through the invisible but powerful winds of change. Humanity can evolve through movements in individual lives.
The Earth as Gaia, a living being imbued with the spirit of All That Is, is faced with the same challenge that we face as individuals seeking to balance our plurality. If we choose of our own free will to accept our destiny, releasing the weakness, inadequacy and resistance that binds us to our old vision and world view, then yield to our greatest potential, we can be the wielder of will for the Earth as well, making the decision that will end this cycle and allow a new one to begin.
The gift of free will gives us the right to choose any direction and any path. Somehow the gift seems most powerful if it is used to do other than what is expected. Destruction appears to us so much more powerful than creation, taking so much more powerful than giving, controlling so much more powerful than yielding. But this is a distorted view. The other side of the gift of free will gives us the right to choose to be what we are intended to be. While non-human beings accept their roles without choice, we are given the freedom to choose to take our part. From here we make our own paths, then choose to walk upon them, taking responsibility for every choice that we make.
No one is going to tell us what we have to do. No force outside us is going to provide an easy solution to our global crisis. No ultimate authority is going to deliver an absolute truth in which we will all finally be able to believe. No relationship, no religion, no acquisition, no achievement, nothing that we find outside us is going to make us whole.
As we journey within ourselves, searching for the center point of stillness, we may discover it is a place we can only approach empty-handed and alone. But turning our backs on the world we may find, to our endless joy, the whole world waiting there for us to arrive and our empty hands holding everything we need.
From: A Voice From The Earth
The path to Vision is simple, if you can take a few hours or a few days to spend in an isolated spot upon the land. Fasting and sitting are useful and common ways to help open yourself to spiritual reality. It is important to find a place to be alone, where you won’t be disturbed.
It may be a good idea to have a non-judgmental friend nearby who can be trusted for whatever support you feel ou need, from checking on you at regular intervals, to listening to your stories and helping you to interpret what you have experienced.
There are no rules for a Vision Quest you create for yourself. Whether you spend your time inside a tent, in the open woods, on a beach or mountain top, it is only necessary to let your intuition draw you to a place where it seems that you are meant to be. It is crucial, however, to have direct, physical contact with the elements and to allow yourself to be affected by the natural world. Experiences on the land are often powerful because you are vulnerable there, willing to look at what you see, instead of just seeing what you expect to see.
The Earth is a mirror reflecting your real self. Cities, which were created by humanity, will more readily reflect the faces that you also created. The Earth cannot discern borders between nations, races, species and life-forms, between animate and inanimate, between form and spirit.
It is when you forget these distinctions that you begin to open yourself to Vision. Releasing your judgments of yourself, your purpose and your identity, you reach past familiar explanations of reality towards a higher comprehension.
From: A Voice From The Earth
In their traditional system, Ojibwa children are guarded by a spiritual vision they acquire after their births. Their first names are taken from a vision or dream their mothers have during pregnancy, some event of spiritual significance that happens during their early lives or through a medicine person’s intercession with the spirits who seeks a vision and a name on their behalf.
But at adolescence, children are free to search on their own for a vision and a name to serve them through their adult lives. All boys are urged to quest for their names and girls are free to do so as well, though it is not required.
Children are separated from their people for a period of time and left alone upon the land, very often fasting, sometimes journeying, sometimes lying still, but all praying and waiting for a touch from spirit. They seek to learn what dogma cannot tell them, what not even the wisest one among their people can give them: an understanding of their innermost self and an awareness of the greater purpose for which they were born.
Girls may, if they choose, accept the vision of the Earth mother as Guardian Spirit and take their power from her through their capacity to bring forth life. The occasion of their first menstruation would then be an important rite of passage.
Both boys and girls who choose to seek their own visions are isolated from their people, consciously entering the world of the spirits with a willingness to release what they have believed about themselves in the past, while they fast and pray. At the end of three or four days, the elders or medicine people help to translate the visions.
Those who have returned from their fasts very often are named for the Guardian Spirit which revealed itself through their vision, some energy or spirit of nature that is believed to be each person’s personal access to strength and wisdom. The Ojibwa believe that every animal and plant has both a physical and a spiritual purpose in the Earthly ecology. The guardian is often closely associated with purpose, so those whose guardians are involved with healing might become aware of their own healing gifts through the contact.
The name and the vision are shared or kept secret, depending on the nature of the individual vision. But the acquisition of a name from the spirits is a cause for public celebration. Traditionally, this ritual made sure that all adolescents entered adulthood with some vision or purpose to which they were responsible. This was practical psychology, helping to ease the transition period for the young from the dependency of childhood to the responsibility of adult life.
Out of the context of its significance as a specific cultural drama, the ritual of the Vision Quest is a potent reflection of the rite of passage into spiritual maturity that can come at any physiological age.
When we were children, along with the protection and sustenance that we required, we allowed the world to create our contexts and our environments. We were given identities by our parents, our religions and our schools and we tried to match what we had been given. We were rarely encouraged to question or outgrow the visions that had been bequeathed to us, often being rewarded for accepting and staying within the structures, censored for our opposition.
But for many of us these visions just don’t work and we fall into confusion or despair. The moment we begin to grow is the one in which we question the identities we have been given and wonder who we are apart from our relationships with others and the work we do, and what our purpose is for being on the Earth at all.
The first impulse in seeking vision is thus an admission of ignorance. Whenever we release a definition of ourselves which served us for one period of our lives in search of a deeper, more powerful understanding, whenever we question the majority view or leave a group with which we have been an active part, we are beginning a Vision Quest.
With the release of the past and the willingness to leave the people behind and to go on alone, we lose both security and certainty. Fear, depression and confusion are all emotions evoked by the beginning of the quest, symbolized by going alone into the woods and into the night.
~From: A Voice From The Earth
A vision quest is a rite of passage, similar to an initiation, in some Native American cultures. In traditional Lakota culture the Hanblecheyapi (vision quest, literally “crying for a vision”) is one of seven main rites.
Vision quest preparations involve a time of fasting, the guidance of a tribal Medicine Man and sometimes ingestion of natural entheogens; this quest is undertaken for the first time in the early teenage years.
The quest itself is usually a journey alone into the wilderness seeking personal growth and spiritual guidance from the spirit, sometimes Wakan Tanka.
Traditionally, the seeker finds a place that they feel is special, and sits in a 10 foot circle and brings nothing in from society with the exception of water.
A normal Vision Quest usually lasts two to four days within this circle, in which time the seeker is forced to look into his soul.
It is said that a strong urge to leave the Quest area will come to the seeker and a feeling of insanity may set in. However, the seeker normally overcomes this by reminding him or herself of the overall outcome of the quest, causing the mind to stop wandering on random thoughts. The individual can generally find solace in the fact that he or she will not die in just two to four days.
Some have claimed grand visions on their first Vision Quest while others have not. It is an individual experience and often subject to the emotional, spiritual, and physical make-up of the person.
Native American totems are said to be capable of speaking through all things, including messages or instructions in the form of an animal or bird.
Generally a physical representation of the vision or message such as a feather, fur or a rock is collected and placed in the seeker’s medicine bag to ensure the power of the vision will stay with the individual to remind, protect or guide him.
Since the beginning of this cycle of time, humanity has returned to nature to connect with spirit and to seek answers to problems of the physical realms, especially in this timeline when the messages of prophecy reveal themselves to the seeker.
There is something about being alone in the wilderness that brings us closer and more aware of the 4 elements and our connection to a creational source. We go to seek truths and divine realization, just as many of the ancient prophets did in their time.
In its own way – the vision quest is an Initiation not unlike the days of the ancient mystery school teachings where one learns about themselves and the mysteries of the universe are often revealed to them. It is a time of internal transformation and renewal.
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
In a vision quest, conditions are set up that allow the soul to move beyond the illusions of the little self and enter the unity of the inner whole. It is a time of fasting – praying – and being in nature.
It is a period of solitude in which we seek an inner revelation – a vision -which grants profound meaning and direction to our life.
This initiation leads to maturity and an understanding of our responsibility to ourselves, our society, our natural environment, and our soul.
Though the Vision Quest is associated with Native Americans traditions – it is practiced all over the world.
As an expression of the archetypal “Heroic Journey,” the vision quest has been enacted in religious pilgrimages, mythological tales (including the story of the search for the Holy Grail), and our own daily pursuit of truth and purpose.
Today, there are companies which sponsor vision quests. They provide a wilderness area in which it is to occur, and they give instructions and guidance before and after the event.
In Native American traditions these times of inner trial are marked liked passages. Time is set aside to honor them. It might take a day, a week, a month – whatever is necessary to complete the transformation and get the answer one seeks.
- Khetani Machangana: Learn To See