A vision without
a task is but a dream.
A task without a vision is drudgery.
A vision with a task is the hope of the world.
Church Inscription, Sussex, England 1730
What is a vision quest?
A vision quest is a rite of passage, which has been
used for centuries by native american indians and other aboriginal
cultures. After a period of preparation, it usually involves a 3 or
4 day period of being alone, in nature, fasting, having brought along
only the bare essentials to survive. Those days are spent in prayer
and meditation, reflecting on life and on the changes the quester
is faced with. The quester seeks Self-knowledge, and is willing to
separate from familiar surroundings in order to find it. Alone in
nature, without food or familiar distractions, the quester is faced
with Self on as deep a level as he/she is ready and willing to open
up to, and so knowledge is found. The quester is then faced with the
task of bringing that new self, the new vision, the new understanding
or knowledge back into the world, for the benefit of the community.
The real voyage of discovery
consists not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes.
Literally, a vision quest is 'seeking
to see'. The seeking emanates from a desire to open one's inner eyes
in order to have a better understanding of Self and life. There is
something the seeker needs to know and the answer has so far eluded
him/her. Probably, for as long as humans have roamed this earth, they
have had a need for the occasional "time-out" in order to
re-center themselves. In our present hectic culture, this need is
likely stronger than ever, but who hears and heeds the call?
bodily food we take is changed into us.
But the spiritual food we receive changes us into itself.
Who goes on
a vision quest?
Anyone can go on a vision quest. You
don't need to be a shaman or a native american indian or a buddhist
monk with a shaved head in order to hear that calling in your heart.
The key is that call deep in your heart, an ancient stirring, a clear
knowing that you need to go into the wilderness, to Mother Earth,
to seek a vision. And you are ready to accept the responsibility that
accompanies this choice. With that calling in your heart, the vision
quest can be used to find one's purpose in life, one's own unique
vision, or it can mark a transition from one stage of life to the
And then the hero left
everything behind and went along
to a sacred place on the body
of the Great Mother.
There the hero was tried by the monsters
of his life (or karma) and visited by a spirit guide, an angel,
God, the Great Spirit.
Through a long, dark night of the soul,
the seeker was rewarded with wisdom, strength and understanding.
He was revived, reborn, inner eyes were opened, a vision was
But the main condition of the gift received was that the protagonist
return to the mortal world with the vision of healing or regeneration.
My personal vision quest experience.
I have personally undertaken two vision quests in the Sonoran
Desert of Arizona. The first, led by Jon Massey of Sacred
Ground Vision Quests, was one of the most awesome and transformative
experiences of my life; I discovered profound answers within
myself. The second quest helped me realize my school:
'Visions Of Joy'.
I also helped guide two of Sacred Ground's vision quests in
Arizona and I have assisted with a quest led by 'Shumray Hagan'
in Israel's Negev desert. So I know how amazing, powerful
and transformational a vision quest is for anyone who experiences
it, and I hope that through my mission and this website I
can encourage others to cross the threshold too.
Esther Joy at her first Vision Quest site, Big Horn
Mountain Wilderness, AZ. Photo by Camilla Van Sickle
The purpose of
life is a life of purpose.
Vision quest guides
If you can feel the call for a vision quest within
you, and you know that you are ready to act upon that call, then go
for it, follow your intuition. If you need some guidance and support,
the following list may help you locate an experienced vision quest
guide near you.
Guides Council, has a list of vision quest guides world wide
In the USA:
of Lost Borders, Meredith Little, California.
Earth-heart, Malcolm Ringwalt,
Lowery and Mary Brooks, California
Debbie Tremel, Olympia, Washington
Air, Circles of Stone, Sparrow Hart, Vermont
Cotef, Children of the
Earth Foundation, New Jersey. Vision quest for teenagers.
There is no
greater tragedy than a life unlived,
and no greater joy than holding to one's Vision
through the blessings and sorrows of life.
If you're not ready for a vision quest but you would
love to get closer to nature (and to your own true nature), then the
following sites may be of help to you:
& wilderness survival school in New Jersey (USA).
Through Tom's classes and through 'Grandfather' I found my spiritual
self. The difference that has made in my life is immense. Tracker school
is simply amazing.
Ray & Nancy Reitze,
of wilderness living. Canaan, Maine (USA).
Similar in philosophy to Tom Brown's Tracker school, but so much
more personal; you won't regret signing up for any of Old
or wilderness trips.
Nurture Through Nature, Denmark,
Holistic canoe trips and wellness retreats for women and girls.
Jen's mission is to guide women back to themselves and Spirit
by finding sanctuary in nature.
Thomas J. Elpel, Hollowtop Outdoor Primitive
School, Montana (USA).
Great school, great teachings. I love Tom's storytelling
page, just please don't read it all in one go, and remember
to blink and breathe while you read ;-)
Lundin, Aboriginal Living Skills School, near Prescott, Arizona
Cody walks his talk. His teaching style is fun, sincere, and to the
Young, Wilderness Awareness School, Duvall,
Washington (USA) (Jon's
of the Earth Foundation (USA)
Lowery and Mary Brooks, Earth Skills, Frazier Park, California
Williams,Yellow Hawk's Journeys, Greenfield, Massachusetts (USA)
and Novella Kennedy, Earth Vision Inc, Liberty, North Carolina
and Mary Ann McClellan, Earth Mother Awareness, Folsom, Louisiana
Stratton and Sandy Masse, Heron Walk Healing and Retreat Centre,
Langton, Ontario (Canada)
Your vision will
become clear only when you look into your heart.
Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
Carl Gustav Jung
A few suggested books
related to vision quests:
by Steven Foster PhD and Meredith
Book of the Vision Quest
Trail to the Sacred Mountain: a Vision Fast Handbook for Adults
- The Roaring of the Sacred River: The Wilderness Quest for Vision and Self-Healing
- The Four Shields: The Initiatory Seasons of Human Nature
|by Tom Brown
- The Quest
by Paula D'Arcy
- Gift of the Red
It is in the purity of wilderness
that we must learn,
free from the distractions of man.
It is wilderness that brings us close to the Creator
and to the realities of life.
Here in the bosom of creation
all spiritual things are born...
Stalking Wolf, as quoted by Tom Brown Jr, in 'The Quest'
the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live
Bette Midler - 'The Rose'