One of my dear clients has been struggling with unexpectedly disturbingly intense, extended morning sickness. My spirits showed me during a session with her that she is on a vision quest. Not being familiar with vision quest, she emailed me for more details about the purpose of vision quest, and how this might be related to what she is experiencing right now. This blog entry is my response to her questions.
In the tradition of the extended Lakota family I am part of, the vision quest is done for several reasons. And has some traditional history.
In the traditional history as I know it, the ceremony was such that the person would be sent off to be closer to Spirit and to receive a vision for solving some kind of issue—sometimes it was for the people. Sometimes it was for themselves personally. (Did you ever see the movie Billy Jack? He went on a vision quest.) Jesus went on a vision quest wandering in the desert. The aboriginals in Australia do walk-abouts, the truest walk-about is a moving vision quest.
In my Lakota family, people do a vision quest for that same reason. They go on the hill to receive information to address some need. As a way of preparing for the sundance ceremony, the dancers will go on the hill to receive information about their upcoming dance. My teacher Jan went on the hill (she is part of this family) to expand her capacity to teach and heal. She brought back an amazing learning about choosing joy in the face of adversity.
My shamanic community—guided by Jan at Lightsong School of Shamanic Studies and Energy Medicine—has held 27 vision quests (I have been a leader of support camp for many of them, and have done 3 vision quests with Jan, and one on my own in my little sweat lodge). People have different reasons for “going on the hill”. One year it was for my work in Africa, one year it was for my practice.
Through fasting and being alone, we are stripped of our masks—the programs of our personality that cover up the expression of our true self. We also reach a point of suffering where we are absolutely forced to ask for spirits help. Especially abandoning in many ways the whole reason we thought we went on the hill in the first place. Lots of unexpected things happen to us on the hill that aren’t part of our egoic strategy and plans and aspirations for getting there. the ego gets us there, and then Spirit happens, and it never looks like what we thought it was going be like. The answers to our prayers are always perfect, but seldom as our mind eye saw it to be.
So we ask about our masks here, as vision quest has a way of bringing them up. Example masks from my personality: The professor –knows everything; bad girl— likes to make mischief or get out of things by blaming her badness; class clown/look at me/over here mask—makes jokes and likes to be the center of attention; chef lauri—is proud of and talks about her food; these masks are all strategic costumes for coping with something. Many masks evolve early in life, and we hold on to them, even though they are obsolete. They are composed of: what we think, how we feel, what we do, and what we say, when we are wearing that mask/costume.
The truth of who I am is a radiant being that has been given an amazing place, community, partner, opportunity to channel light, love, wisdom and power to earth in partnership with the divine.
When you feel like you may be on a vision quest in your life, ask What masks or personality programs do you find coming up? What ones seem to be falling away? What is the truth of your being?
Ask Spirit to show you its purpose. Maybe it is making a shift. if you end up on your knees, whatever happens next is a gift. the spirits will always hear your call and give you what you need. sometimes it involve peering deeper into the truth to see what that is. Your true self will always be there glowing behind everything.
Cry for that vision and it will come. especially if you believe and are coming from your true self.