Your Vision Quest experience
August 18, 2017 5:20 AM   Subscribe

My therapist has suggested that I may be ready for a Vision Quest. So I am researching what that might mean for me.

The first thing to do was search the internet of course. I found The School of Lost Borders.

Four days fasting, etc., that’s the classic Vision Quest in my mind (which was largely based on TV tropes and other pop culture). Have you done this? What did you do for 4 days? Did you have a tent? a chair? a book? (Seriously). I’m a big hiker and spend lots of time in the mountains so being outside is not a problem. But I’m also not into “no pain no gain” as a spiritual philosophy. I had my fill of that growing up catholic. Also not into drugs so I don’t want to take the peyote/ayahuasca route.

Or suppose that my Vision Quest is not that. Something less extreme perhaps. Have you done anything like this? Is so, what?

So, note what I am asking. I am asking if you have gone on your own vision quest, in whatever form, and what your experience was like. If you are not comfortable writing about your experiences publicly, I invite you to memail me (and it will be held confidentially of course).
posted by allelopath to Religion & Philosophy (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is second-hand information ymmv, but my aunt did her vision quest 7-8 years ago. She described a lot of fasting, alone time hiking or walking out in nature with an open and curious mind (she described leaning down to sniff a bear turd because it was what she was curious about in the moment.) as well as group time. (described as everyone sitting in a circle and talking, she didn't say about what)

Not sure if that sounds like a positive experience or not to you, but she certainly took it as such and set out on some pretty big life journeys afterwards. Sorry I can't offer more.
posted by deadwater at 6:33 AM on August 18, 2017


My version of this is to get on my bike, with a change of clothes in my pannier, plus money, water and some dry snacks, and to just set off and see where I go.

I've usually set a direction before I leave, with a few candidate villages and towns to potentially stop for the night in. If that's not possible where you are, I'd take another pannier with a tent and more food. Just moving, and seeing, and finding out what is over that hill or round that corner, is enough for that time.

I've never consciously incorporated fasting, but on one occasion when I was in a degree of emotional turmoil, I found that although I was pedalling all day I did not feel like eating, and just occasionally snacked on hedgerow fruit. When I got home and finally felt hungry, cooking and eating a wholesome meal felt like a moment of great healing.
posted by greenish at 6:44 AM on August 18, 2017


AFAIK, a formal vision quest is 4 days without food or water (!!!) on a small spot of land -- no books, no chairs, nothing except maybe a tarp to keep the rain off and your tobacco offerings. You are supposed to pray and reflect, reading is considered a distraction. I have a few friends who have done this as part of the Sundance tradition.

My first vision quest involved being in isolation in the jungle for 7 days. I was partially fasting, eating a small amount of boiled vegetables and lentils - no salt, sugar, or anything else. I was in a small open shelter with a roof, a sleeping platform, and a mosquito net -- no music, no books, no distractions. I did an ayahuasca ceremony every other day. It was an incredibly profound experience. I quickly learned I had to master my own mind, and meditation became a critical skill to develop. In our culture we have so many distractions, so it was quite an experience to simply be in nature with nothing to do except exist. It really helped me to understand so many things about myself. I'm not advocating you follow this formula, just relating what my process was.

I think to get to a profound state of depth within oneself, an extreme is necessary. Of course you can do something less intense, but the results will be commensurately less profound. It's sort of like the difference between having an actual near death experience and going on a rollercoaster.

But that said, taking time to fast and / or reflect alone in nature is never a wasted experience.
posted by ananci at 11:54 AM on August 18, 2017


My version of this is to get on my bike, with a change of clothes in my pannier, plus money, water and some dry snacks, and to just set off and see where I go.

I sort of did the cheap, "I can't go anywhere and can only hike around for an afternoon" version of this. I hiked around the greenbelt area of my town, in a spot I hadn't really been in before, and saw all kinds of things and lost a favorite bracelet of mine I'd made, which I'm still mad about.

My "visioning" pretty much came to the conclusion that if I didn't do something different, everything was going to stay the same. I never did anything different and things stayed the same (except got worse). So yeah, that went well :P I fail at vision quest.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:56 AM on August 19, 2017


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