(From: ‘Earth People’ Volume 2 Number 4)
There is so much involved in discussing the sacred and personal ceremony that is referred to as 'Vision Quest' that I couldn't hope to make a full discussion here. I am here giving some basic ideas based on information from the above mentioned books. This brief guide is to help those interested to be somewhat prepared and have some understanding of this important ceremony that is most often performed at times of transition in one's life; rites of passage. I strongly suggest you experience it for yourself; I am available to be asked.
It is vitally important to have a clear purpose for doing a Vision Quest, whether it be for healing, over coming fears, finding your spirit guides, or seeking answers to questions of life; basically there is no limit to the reasons for seeking help from the higher powers.
In preparation for a quest it is advised to spend 4 weeks, or at least 4 days on clearing yourself of each of the four directions by concentrating: firstly on your spiritual self, connecting it to your purpose (East); and then your emotions (North); your physical self, by eating and drinking lightly in preparation for fasting and being aware of all bodily movements (West); and finally clearing the mind and being mindful, or conscious, of all thoughts (South). It is also advisable to have the questing site already chosen.
Traditionally a quester presents their pipe, stem first to the shaman, then puts it on the ground with the stem to themselves, and then asks the shaman to conduct a Vision Quest for them. The shaman may say: “Hee-ay, Hay-ee-ee” 4times, and then say: “Grandfather and Father, Wakan-Tanka, you are the source and end of everything. Everything belongs to you. It is you who have created all things. We send a voice to you. (Quester’s name) wishes to offer the pipe to you. We ask that you give (Him/Her) help in a few days when (he/she) will offer (His/Her) mind and body to you. (He/She) will place (His/Her) feet on Grandmother and Mother Earth in a sacred manner. I (Shaman) ask all the Powers to bless this pipe that is being offered, so that Wakan-Tanka will bless (Quester).” The shaman then offers the pipe to the six directions and lights it before passing it to the Quester. The pipe is then smoked till finished, and the shaman asks: “When do you want to do this quest.”
The unpacked pipe is layed down in front of the shaman, who asks: “How long (1 to 4 days or more) do you (Quester) wish to cry for a vision.” The shaman then purifies (Smudges) the pipe and everything before entering the Inipi, Purification, or Sweat Lodge
All other participants enter after the Shaman and the Quester, who sit in the East and South respectively. The shaman then says: “O’ Grandfather, Wakan-Tanka, you are the source and end of everything. Everything belongs to you, your pipe, this sacred place we have made, the centre is your dwelling place.” As he/she rotates the pipe and then touches it to Mother Earth.
The shaman and the quester then make tobacco ties, after which the shaman will pack the pipe to the 6 directions and the quester tapes it closed until after the quest is completed. The pipe is then held by the quester, who now sits in the West of the lodge with the pipe stem facing the East. The shaman will then conduct his/her own pipe ceremony. Each participant then mentions their relationship to the quester, or the reason for them participating.
The Shaman begins with the opening prayer something like: “O’ Great Spirit, Grandfather and Father, Wakan-Tanka, you are the source and end of everything. Everything belongs to you. It is you who have created all things. We send a voice to you. (Quester) wishes to offer the pipe to you. We ask that you give (Him/Her) help in a few days when (He/She) will offer (His/Her) mind and body to you. (He/She) will place (His/Her) feet on Grandmother and Mother Earth in a sacred manner. I (Shaman) ask all the Powers to bless this pipe that is being offered, so that Wakan-Tanka will bless (Quester).”
All participants then sing: “Grandfather, I am sending a voice to the heavens of the universe. Grandfather, I am sending a voice that my people may live.”
Then everyone embraces the quester’s pipe before it is layed on the altar with the stem facing the East (spirit).
When the water is brought in, the quester can drink all or some of the water, but they must not spill a single drop.
All other participants now pray for the quester and tell a story about one of their experiences in doing a Vision Quest.
Third and fourth rounds
The shaman prays, asking the powers to help (Quester) as he/she ‘Cries for a Vision’.
The first task is to locate or feel the centre point where the strongest power and connection to your heart ‘feels right’. Then as you collect the direction stones feel for the stones that call to you for the particular directions, connect with the stones. As you create your circle call in the powers of the directions and of each stone person. When completed, stand back and see if it ‘feels right’, it can always be adjusted now but preferably not during the quest. The quest circle should have a pole in the centre, tobacco in the hole, with the prayer ties attached. On the perimeter there should be the 4 direction poles with robes tied. The quester can have a bed, of leaves, with their head touching the centre pole and their feet facing the east.
Enter the circle from the east and symbolically, with intent if not with smoke also, purify yourself; beginning with your head, so as to think pure thoughts, then your eyes, to see the truth, your ears, to hear the truth, your throat, to speak the truth with clarity, and finally purify your heart, so as to give and receive love freely and unconditionally.
As you keep the intention and purpose of the quest clearly in your mind pray to your creator, asking for blessing. Call in your guides and give thanks to them as you centre yourself with seven breaths drawing in energy from each direction and the centre.
The quester can pray by holding their pipe up to Wakan-Tanka at the centre, and then do the same at the east returning to the centre after each prayer to the directions, in the natural order of nature (East, North, West, South, for the Southern Hemisphere). Praying something like: “O’ Great Spirit, be merciful to me that my people may live.”
Walk only according to the cross of the directions. Be attentive. Note all thoughts and beings that come into vision, especially the winged ones. Be aware and pure of heart. The quester may sleep, but should pray mostly in the middle of the night and be up before sunrise, to pray to it.
1. EXAMINE LIFE by re-experiencing every part of your life like an observer, and determine the turning points, the happy moments and the painful ones. Ask yourself, “What is your essence (truth) and your theme (freedom)?” Look at life’s consequences and try to project into your future, based on knowledge of your past and present. Take responsibility for your actions, but don’t get bogged down in guilt or fears.
2. EXAMINE RELATIONSHIPS, looking at your self-beliefs (belief systems), especially the core beliefs, and see how you may like to restructure them. Ask yourself: “Do you identify yourself with your body, mind, or possessions?”; remember that you are spirit. “What is your joy? Where is your power?”
3. EXAMINE PAST RELATIONSHIPS with forgiveness to yourself and others.
4. EXAMINE CURRENT RELATIONSHIPS listing each person and their quality, good point and bad; and any actions to be taken to strengthen the relationship or dissolve it.
5. EXAMINE RELATIONSHIPS WITH PARENTS, listing the beliefs you have adopted from them and how you feel about them.
6. FACE FEARS. RELEASE AND SURRENDER ATTACHMENTS. A fear named is a fear tamed. Visualise a worst case and in the comfort of detachment find a solution or acceptance of any fear, anger, addictions, possessions, children, parents or beliefs by cutting the connecting energy cord, through creative visualisation.
7. TAPPING INTO SPIRIT AND POWER WITHIN by shape-shifting – expanding consciousness into other forms; sensing energy, light and sound; drumming; finding a spirit name, a spirit song – to sing the world into existence, a spirit animal, a spirit guide, or a spirit dance – allowing emotions to flow freer; or making a prayer stick, being specific with your intent.
8. GIVING THANKS for every event in your life, for it has a hidden gift. Give thanks to your body, part by part. And give thanks to nature and your Creator.
Calling for a vision actively by beseeching – calling sincerely from the heart. “O’ Great Spirit, be merciful to me, that my people may live.” Call on spirit guides, ancestors, angels, or allies. Be open and accept, with a still mind, to receive, breathe, and observe all things, all actions, and all dreams.
The quester goes strait into the lodge with the shaman who lights the quester’s pipe and smokes it to the 6 directions before passing it to the quester and back until it is all smoked. While the shaman then holds the pipe he/she says: “Words are very sacred, even more sacred now. Tell us the truth of everything that happened, and don’t leave out a single ant’s movement.”
After the story is told and discussed by the shaman as to the messages that where symbolically given during the quest, he/she hands the pipe back to the quester who embraces it before passing it outside to be placed on the altar, stem to the west (manifestation).
The shaman will pray something like: “I thank you Wakan-Tanka for the vision that you have given, which is for the good of All Our Relations.” At the end of three more rounds of prayers, the whole gathering of friends, relatives and well-wishers join in a feast.
INTERGRATION and REFLECTION are just as important as the purpose for questing, or any visions that you may have received. Give time, persistence and patience to understand all the messages given in each vision or experience. It can take many years.