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The ritual known as the vision quest was practiced by many of the indigenous tribes who made the Great Plains of North America their home. A vision quest involved purification, prayer and time spent alone fasting amid the elements of nature. The hope was to find life purpose and direction through spiritual guidance and insight, usually at various turning points in life. Sacred names, songs, talents and gifts were often revealed in visions. The gifts and powers revealed through a vision quest were to be shared with the community through the creative arts. The deep spiritual wisdom of Hehaka Sapa (Black Elk), great Medicine Man of the Oglala Sioux, tells us that the most powerful element of the vision quest is the silence. Black Elk knew that silence is where we hear the voice of the Great Spirit.
Imagine yourself embarking on a vision quest. With an intention to be aware of the sacred nature of traditional culture, the vision quest can be used as inspiration in contemporary times. Healing is a process and the ways of the vision quest can help with the journey. The vision quest reminds us that we are not left here without comfort, guidance, or provision. Mother Earth lovingly provides all of our physical needs with her vast abundance while the ineffable power of the universe, the Great Spirit, provides for our spiritual needs. But we must get to a place within ourselves that is quiet before we are able to listen with awareness. A vision quest can provide guiding principles for a new direction in life, inspired by the Divine.
We are sacred beings and in order to remember that, we must transcend the immediate physical world challenges that never seem to end. It might be time to shift away from old, limiting ideas and move forward. This can be achieved by going back to our original sense of heightened awareness and an inner connection with our Divine Creator. Taking the time and effort to gain a new vision provides the roots of renewal.
The growth and change will shape our future. Momentous change can be experienced as a Rite of Passage, or milestones in the course of life. Creating a few steps inspired by the traditional vision quest can be a helpful tool in finding your sacred path. Create steps that are aligned with your beliefs and compatible with your abilities and resources. Do this under the guidance of a spiritual mentor.
The first step should be to identify a personal power place in nature, somewhere quiet. The amount of time spent there is optional, maybe a few hours or a few days. In the mountains, or near a river or waterfall, or by the ocean are great places for a personal retreat. Choosing locations with a view of a magnificent sunrise or sunset is also ideal. Wherever you choose make it your sacred space.
A second step could be to practice prayer and meditation at your power place location. Purification was a necessary part of traditional vision quests. If your health allows, you may practice fasting. Clear your mind and release the past. Ask for assistance from the Great Spirit’s Medicine Helpers. Just as in the physical world we have others who assist us, so too in the spiritual world. In the silence of your mind and with a clear heart, the voice of the Creator can be recognized in the magnificence of nature. Seek your personal answers and be willing to accept them.
A final step would be to give thanks for the experience. Expand your spiritual identity by putting any vision or guidance into action as soon as possible. If nothing else, the retreat will be a chance to rejuvenate your body mind and spirit. Your deepest self will acknowledge and appreciate the time spent.
When you do catch a vision it will be clear because it will be packed with passion. Focus your energies towards your new vision of life and align all of your thoughts to match. As you journey along on your vision quests you will be a positive example to others so they may be inspired to formulate and follow their own dreams.
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