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Among indigenous traditions, there is a ritual referred to as a vision quest for those going through significant turning points/life transitions to receive guidance from ancestors and spirit guides. The shaman/medicine man assists in preparation for the quest, overseeing building a campsite where the sojourner can be in solitude with mother earth to pray, fast and listen.
Basic supplies: water, a blanket and wood for a fire equips one for the wilderness. This spiritual journey might be three to four days, while the shaman periodically checks in, offering his wisdom. Traveling between realms, the shaman, prays, drums, chants and sings to evoke ancestors and spiritual visions. He may smoke tobacco, their holy sacrament, or drink peyote tea.
After the inner journey, the person returns to the group blessed with insights and direction, ready to contribute to the community and his/her own highest good. Along with epiphanies, animal messengers may also appear, indications of Divine protection and communication. It’s a beautiful ritual we can learn from.
Though not indigenous tribe members, or using their exact practices, we, as spiritual pilgrims, can go on a vision quest. During intense times of change, it can renew our trust in the Divine, and we can call upon the wisdom of our ancestors, spirit guides, or higher self to reveal our next path and how to serve humanity.
It may be questions about changing careers, moving to a new location, or other life-changing decisions. A vision quest can be as simple as driving to a sacred site such as a holy mountain, the desert, or the ocean, setting the intention to ask for messages from higher consciousness or spirit guides.
Traveling to India or the El Camino in Spain on a spiritual quest can be an incredible blessing. However, with today’s travel restrictions, there are energy vortexes close to home like the Oregon Vortex in Gold Hill, Crater Lake, Shanghai Tunnels, Mt. Shasta and Sedona, Arizona.
At Mt. Shasta, for example, the climate is often clear and sunny even in fall and winter. The amazingly pristine energy of the mountain magnifies communication with the Divine and ascended masters. Incredible accounts have been shared of beautiful encounters of a mystical nature at Mt. Shasta.
Another location, about a 16-hour drive from the Willamette Valley, is the desert region of Sedona, Arizona, where places like Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, Shaman caves and Cathedral Rock are known by indigenous and spiritual sojourners as places to pray, connect with ancestors, discover spirit animals, heal from illnesses and prepare for death. It’s a mystical drive through back highways and unbelievable high desert terrain and majestic mountain summits.
The magic begins when choosing to seek answers from our higher self/the Divine. Our intention is the clarion call to the universe. A vision quest can be enhanced by fasting, setting up an altar with sacred items to create space for spirit to enter and provide the answers we’re seeking. To investigate further, Ilchi Lee’s The Call of Sedona: Journey of the Heart is a fantastic account of the healing vortexes of Sedona.
Recently, I discovered incredible healing energy in Mt. Shasta and Sedona, mystical landscapes and mountains close to home. In these elevated locations, I received accurate guidance, spiritual healing and expanded consciousness. My animal guides appeared — the raven, hawk, crow and elk. Energies/messages from my family members who have crossed over also came through to offer wisdom.
A vision quest can clear energetic blockages, open new pathways of higher consciousness and bless journeyers in incredible ways. As Matthew 7:7 says, “Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened.”
Karyn Chambers earned a master’s degree in composition, rhetoric and literature from Oregon State University and a master’s of divinity from Marylhurst University in Portland. She has taught world religions and philosophy along with English composition at community colleges for 25 years. She also teaches Kundalini yoga and has a meditation group that meets in her Brownsville home. Her email is [email protected] if you would like more information.
The weekly “Interfaith Voices” column includes a regular rotation of writers representing the broad spectrum of spiritual voices throughout the mid-valley. The column is coordinated by the Reverend Barbara Nixon, who can be emailed at [email protected]
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