Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vision Quest Aftermath

I just got back early this week from a vision quest that lasted from Friday afternoon to Monday morning and I've been trying to write about it with no success. At first it was the lack of verbal thoughts, which persisted all of Monday and a bit into Tuesday morning. Having spent some time out on the front porch with my pipe and a wee dram, things are a bit more clear now. 

Perhaps the first reason that it is difficult to put down in words is due simply to the state of consciousness that comes on after a day or so of sitting in the woods with no company, no food and little water or sleep. We went out on Friday afternoon and prepared our secluded positions, taking them up that evening in the continuing rain. After the first night, I was probably already more altered than I realized at the time. That's often the way of things. I was chanting and meditating a lot, with the intention of altering my consciousness, so it's hardly surprising. But it wasn't until Sunday that I really noticed the extend to which I was no longer in ordinary state. I found that I was actually staggering a bit when I did my morning QiGong. 

The second reason it's difficult to put into words is that much of what happened seemed to be happening to a part of me that was not directly experiencing it. There was at least one point at which I had the distinct impression that my soul had gone on a journey without "me" and that I would only find out about it later. (I'm still waiting.)

Then there's the fact that what realizations I had were fairly . . . compact. For instance, a glimpse of myself in slow motion explosion from my center/the one center which is everywhere/everything constantly emerging from that one center which is everywhere. . . that sort of thing. And GrandFather mentioning that I should really consult him more before doing something like a vision quest (oops!).

But this quality of vagary predated the vision quest as well. Going into it, I realized that I have never led anyone else into this particular process before. I've been teaching shamanic practices since the early 90's, but none of my apprentices have gotten to this point before. (And I'm quite impressed with these two for having made it!) So there was a lot of consideration that went into just how this was going to work. On the one hand, there are no clear parameters for what constitutes a "vision quest" outside of particular medicine societies. So I had to look at my own experiences (should have asked GrandFather) and come up with something that was workable. Then I began thinking, "this is not a coming of age ritual. These are sovereign adults. They should make their own choices about what elements they will include." And so I began drawing back from the role of "teacher" into more of a facilitator position for their process. 

Okay - that's all I'm up for tonight. More on this tomorrow.


Aaron said...

I think I might need some diagrams for this one. If your soul left, what was left behind? Would you say your soul and ego (or personality) are parts of your larger self?

Post Tribal Shaman said...

When I speak of my soul here, I'm referring to a deeper part of myself that is capable of separate experience and consciousness. While a lot of my efforts are directed at integrating all these parts into one whole, they do still tend to run off on their own from time to time. Much too messy for a diagram.