How the Vision Quest has helped my Spiritual Path

Matt Hansen

The Vision Quest has not just helped me on my path, it pretty much has *become* my path. Almost every year for nearly 30 years, I have quested and/or facilitated quests for others. I suppose I first consciously learned of the Vision Quest when I read “The Vision” by Tom Brown, Jr. Soon after, I took his “Standard Class” and Tom briefly described the Vision Quest among the other advanced classes offered at the time. My interest in questing was vaguely piqued but I was more focused on his physical classes at the time (survival skills, tracking, and nature awareness).

This was about the time when Tom turned Vision Quest facilitation over to Bear Povisils, Malcolm Ringwalt, and Chuck Geowey, and a few years later I quested with them. That first Quest was a major turning point in my life even if I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time. First, it felt like coming home. There was something about the experience that seemed familiar and inviting as I stepped into the circle. Not to say the Quest was four days of comfort and Bliss, but there was a certain “comfort”, a subtle Faith, that the Quest was where I needed to be and necessary for me to get where I *really* wanted to go even if my physical mind had zero idea what that was.

Vision Quest ceremonyThat Quest planted so many seeds. Some I knew right away what they were. A couple were powerful communications confirmed days later in the physical world. Many others needed time to grow. One *very* profound experience/communication received only two short sentences as I journaled after the experience. I simply wasn’t ready to live that Vision, so it was a success to simply capture that seed and allow it to grow. It took a year or two for the meaning to take shape, and for me to take the next step in my physical life towards that Vision. Even now, 29 years later, that Vision grows. I suppose it could be said that the Vision Quest *is* a magic pill but with the caveat that its seeds bloom into fruition at a pace not controlled by physical mind.

When I reread my journal from that first Quest, the major elements of my life are all in there: family, vocation, Medicine Journey, and more. In the immediate aftermath of the Quest, there were varying degrees of clarity around each of those elements, so I failed to appreciate all that was given. There was more work to be done, more healing of personal darkness, more Quests to be undertaken, more Faith to be cultivated. But it was all contained in that first Quest. So, the Vision Quest has been my sign post, guiding me along the way ever since. Perhaps I’ve taken what seems like a wrong turn, getting lost for some time. But the seeds of the Quest are always there, guiding me even if I’m not consciously aware of that!

Bear used to say the Vision Quest is “like walking up to a mirror, closer and closer, until the mirror passes *through* you!” Indeed, the Vision Quest is a mirror. It reflects what is held in our mind at every level. Most humans are lost in the darkness of our human side – the false beliefs held in the physical mind. This is really what makes Questing scary. Intuitively, we know this encounter cannot be avoided in a Quest Circle. But, this encounter is a Blessing because we cannot heal the darkness until we become conscious of it and, with courage, feel it and allow it pass through. That process is only the outer approach of the mirror Bear spoke of.

As the mirror passes through us, it shows us glimpses of deeper aspects of Self including our Heart of Hearts. Even if only fleetingly and lacking full clarity, how beautiful is it to capture a glimpse of our Highest Self?! The Greatest Gift from Creator lives always Within, and in all ways. We already are that Highest Self! We just don’t see it because it because we are stuck in the limiting beliefs of our physical minds. So, it is a gift and a success to become aware of our own darkness because healing that is a required part of our path. We have to feel and clear that darkness to fully enable spiritual growth. And, obviously, it is a success to catch even a glimpse of Highest Self. All of this, and more, is available within the Quest. The Vision Quest gives you exactly what you need at the current point of your path.

Vision Questing is not the only tool available to us as we walk our Path. It is not the only way to heal the darkness, to reclaim the Truth that lives Within. It’s probably not for everyone. But for many, such as myself, it is the “best” tool to break through so many layers of darkness that prevent us from knowing Truth. Truth of Self, Truth of Creation. Malcolm has called Vision Questing the “sledgehammer approach to spiritual growth”. Again, not the only tool, maybe not for everyone. But when you really desire to break through a wall wouldn’t a sledgehammer be useful?

There is not a day goes by I don’t engage questing in some way (one teaching that comes out of Seven Levels of Quest is that not all quests need four days,). And even after I’ve grown to teach the Quest to others, I am called to Quest over and again. And I simply respond to that call.