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Traditional Native American Vision Quest

The traditional vision quest is a rite of passage, similar to an initiation, in some Native American cultures. In traditional Lakota culture the Hanblecheyapi (vision quest, literally “crying for a vision”) is one of seven main rites.

Vision quest preparations involve a time of fasting, the guidance of a tribal Medicine Man and sometimes ingestion of natural enthogens; this quest is undertaken for the first time in the early teenage years. The quest itself is usually a journey alone into the wilderness seeking personal growth and spiritual guidance from the spirit, sometimes Wakan Tanka.


Painting by BearCloud, BearCloud Gallery, Sedona


Traditionally, the seeker finds a place that they feel is special, and sits in a 10 foot circle and brings nothing in from society with the exception of water. A normal Vision Quest usually lasts two to four days within this circle, in which time the seeker is forced to look into his soul.

It is said that a strong urge to leave the Quest area will come to the seeker and a feeling of insanity may set in. However, the seeker normally overcomes this by reminding him or herself of the overall outcome of the quest, causing the mind to stop wandering on random thoughts. The individual can generally find solace in the fact that he or she will not die in just two to four days.

Some have claimed grand visions on their first Vision Quest while others have not. It is an individual experience and often subject to the emotional, spiritual, and physical make-up of the person. Native American totems are said to be capable of speaking through all things, including messages or instructions in the form of an animal or bird.

Generally a physical representation of the vision or message such as a feather, fur or a rock is collected and placed in the seeker’s medicine bag to ensure the power of the vision will stay with the individual to remind, protect or guide him.

Since the beginning of this cycle of time, humanity has returned to nature to connect with spirit and to seek answers to problems of the physical realms, especially in this timeline when the messages of prophecy reveal themselves to the seeker.

There is something about being alone in the wilderness that brings us closer and more aware of the 4 elements and our connection to a creational source. We go to seek truths and divine realization, just as many of the ancient prophets did in their time.

In its own way – the vision quest is an Initiation not unlike the days of the ancient mystery school teachings where one learns about themselves and the mysteries of the universe are often revealed to them. It is a time of internal transformation and renewal. Who am I? Why am I here?

In a vision quest, conditions are set up that allow the soul to move beyond the illusions of the little self and enter the unity of the inner whole. It is a time of fasting – praying – and being in nature.

It is a period of solitude in which we seek an inner revelation – a vision -which grants profound meaning and direction to our life.

This initiation leads to maturity and an understanding of our responsibility to ourselves, our society, our natural environment, and our soul.

Though the Vision Quest is associated with Native Americans traditions – it is practiced all over the world. As an expression of the archetypical “Heroic Journey,” the vision quest has been enacted in religious pilgrimages, mythological tales (including the story of the search for the Holy Grail), and our own daily pursuit of truth and purpose.

Today, there are companies which sponsor vision quests. They provide a wilderness area in which it is to occur, and they give instructions and guidance before and after the event.

In Native American traditions these times of inner trial are marked liked passages. Time is set aside to honor them. It might take a day, a week, a month – whatever is necessary to complete the transformation and get the answer one seeks.



  • able to fast
  • able to camp out for long periods of time
  • knowledge of first aid
  • prepare sleeping equipment – or sleep on the ground.
  • knowledge of spiritual things like meditation
  • bring a spiritual instrument so you can play or chant
  • be comfortable with the solitude
  • if the weather permits you may wish to remove all clothing or cover yourself in a blanket


Now you are ready to go out alone in nature to spend the time seeking greater truths. They may come as a vision you see in third dimention – a dream – a connection with nature – through meditation You may not understand the vision when you receive it. It may take time for you to process. A sacred circle of stone is placed on the ground. The individual remains in the circle for a certain period of time.

Sometimes a helper will check on the person – in cases of bad weather or to be sure the person is okay. In many instances one is taken out of their body and are confronted by both the angelic and the demonic aspects of their own fears. This transformational experience has been sometimes been done with the use of natural psychedelics such as peyote, mescaline, and the South American Iawaska plant during sacred initiation rites. These plants were held as sacred teachers from the plant kingdom. The insights during the sacred space allowed the veils between this world and the next to be pulled back and for the individual voyager to transcend himself and this dimension.

When the quest is over the person leaves most often with a message.

The benefits of a vision quest

Curing illness – I have spoken with people who have been diagnosed with illnesses like cancer – and have returned after two weeks with nothing to drink but water – no food – and have been cured.

You are given a vision that will help you soul help its issues and move into its spiritual space.

Confidence. If we emerge from the wilderness alive and healthy, we feel more certain of our abilities and our strength, because we have survived raw nature and our own imagined limitations. We did alone, but we also discovered additional sources of power from beyond us.

Stronger connections to creation. We enhance our link to nature, humanity, and spirit.

Appreciation of life. We cherish it more intensely, after facing possible dangers and death in the wilderness. Our temporary deprival s also increase our appreciation of our friends, our food, and our material comforts.

The realization that we have our own source of wisdom. The vision comes to us directly, intimately – without books, churches, or religious teachers.

Our connection to source – oneness of the universe

Meeting your spirit guides – or spirit self so we understand who is guiding our path



From Black Elk

A Vision Quest is an experience of deeper understanding of Nature and Spirit. It is a ceremony practiced by American Indians.

To prepare for this “insight” one must first cleanse the body and mind by going through a Inipi or sweat lodge.

Then with the help of a Holy Man is told certain things and must go to a spot, usually on a holy mountain, and stay 2 or 3 days

During this time no food is eaten and one does not sleep but spends the time in deep prayer and observation.

Many times, but not always, there is a vision. This vision is then shared with the Holy Man to help learn of its meaning.

Sometimes the meaning is not shown for several years afterward.

This is part of a vision quest I was told to share with all who may be interested.

Once, I went to pray at the top of the sacred mountain of my ancestors.

As I climbed to the top I heard voices singing as the wind blew the leaves.

At the top I saw, made from many stones, a large circle with a cross inside.

I knew from my teachings that this represented the circle of life and the four directions.

I sat down by the edge of this circle to pray.

I thought this is only a symbol of the universe.

“True,” a very soft voice said.

“Look and you will see the Center of the Universe.

Look at every created thing.”

As I looked around I saw that every created thing had a thread of smoke or light going from it.

The voice whispered, “This cord that every created thing has is what connects it to the Creator.

Without this cord it would not exist.”

As I watched I saw that all these threads, coming from everything, went to the center of the circle where the four directions were one place (the center of the cross).

I saw that all these threads were tied together or joined here at this spot.

The voice spoke again, “This is the Center of the Universe. The place where all things join together and all things become one. The place where everything begins and ends. The place inside everything created.”

That’s when I understood that all of creation, the seen and the unseen, was all related.

The voice spoke one last time, “Yes, now you know the Center of the Universe.”

I pray to the four directions…..hear me.

I pray to the West which gives us rest and reflection.

I thank you for these gifts for without them we could not live.

I pray to the North which gives us patience and purity.

I thank you for these gifts for without them we could not live.

I pray to the East which gives us energy and emotions.

I thank you for these gifts for without them we could not live.

I pray to the South which gives us discipline and direction.

I thank you for these gifts for without them we could not live.

Grandmother, share with me your wisdom, and I thank you for this gift.

Grandfather, share with me your strength, and I thank you for this gift.

The Medicine of One Vision Quest has much in common with the traditional quest but it is much less of a physical challenge to drive the mind into silence. The Self is the Vision and removing the obstacles is the path.

Painting by BearCloud, BearCloud Gallery, Sedona


In my work with hundreds of people I have found that the vision, the truth of who we are is always there. How could it be otherwise?

“But it is our souls journey through experiences, that are not allowed to complete themselves, and transform, that clouds our vision in its many forms: Doubt, shame, guilt, greed, jealousy and on and on. So we must “clear the way”. Often times it is an old dream that is dreaming us. So we must take this tiger of a dream by the tail and dream it consciously and put a new dream in place. A dream that fills the circle of who we are with trust, strength, true vision, and a certainty that comes from a knowing that lives in our very bones. A new vision that is alive in the very air that we breathe. This begins with the Soul Journey where I, as the Soul Dreamer, live the unlived so that it may cycle back into the earth, and then plant a new dream that is born from within you”

Clay Lomakayu.