Friday 5 July
I left home at 12.30. Excitement, anticipation and a little unsure; but certainly, up for the Vision Quest. 10 days of camping, 4 nights without a tent. I hadn’t camped for years … and over 15 years since I’d had to crawl in and out of a small dome tent. Without any camping gear, I was thankful for one to be loaned to me. Compost loos were a joy, I thought we were digging holes, i’ got my mini trowel to use.
The setting is beautiful, 5000 acres of land at Kentchurch, owned by Sir John Scudamore. Few of us there, in a month it was be lively with Sunrise Celebration and I’m going to go back, with my tent. I’ve got camping now!
Three steps to the Vision Quest, and Severance had started as soon as I decided to come and began reading the preparation materials.
People prepare in different ways. I’d decided I didn’t want to go through caffeine withdrawals so had given up coffee three weeks before. I’d also moved to a mainly light vegetarian diet. This week I’d moved onto 3 protein shakes and one proper meal a day and planned to continue to eat this way at base camp. Firstly, it meant I didn’t have to buy a cooker but also it seemed a good way to prepare for the 4 day and night fast.
I’d also begun to be quieter – the weekend before I’d spent at home, rather than 2 nights out at gigs. I was feeling calmer and centred.
Four of us on the Vision Quest, led by David Wendl-Berry and Jen Gold.
This afternoon we walked some of the 5,000-acre site beginning to get a feel for the place and where we would like to spend our solo fast. Tall redwoods were amazing, and there were 5000 year old trees over in the deer park but I didn’t want to go that far. In the evening we walked again, including walking the path of the ‘Night Walk’ that we would do tomorrow evening.
David has been leading Wilderness rites of package for over 30 years, often taking groups of young people into nature. A perfect time to move into adulthood, as without a formal rites of passage people create their own – taking drugs, minor stealing, and getting into trouble. He has completed 20 Vision quests himself.
Saturday 6 July
This morning we went out for breakfast to a café and chatted. When we got back the prep started. We were smudged with sage and an eagle feather was passed around. We were asked why we had come on the Vision Quest and what did we fear.
David said that he was there as a guide, not as a shaman or guru. We were given activity to help us and some key advice including activities to help us in the 4-day period.
This afternoon we walked individually to find the place we wanted for our vision fast. We had to sit there and see how it feels. Then try a different location, notice the difference and then go back. I went walking again, this time to a wood through the meadow. I liked this area. I found it peaceful and welcoming.
The Night Walk
A lot of people fear the dark, but I don’t. We had to think of a question to ask. Mine was ‘what do I need to make this a powerful experience’.
We set off at around 11pm. David took me to the start of the path. He asked me to wait a few minutes for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. I had my torch for an emergency. It stayed dark. Hardly any moonlight as it was a new moon.
I started walking, thinking that I was on the path, but then came face to face with a tree. So, I walked back to the main path. It happened again. This time I put the torch on for a couple of seconds. I still don’t think that I was on the path. My foot got stuck in mud, then later there was a lot of water and I fell. It was so very hard.
I went off the path, not realising it as there was a lot of space. I was lost. I put on my torch but still had no idea where I was. I found a path, but it was covered in brambles, so I thought it was the wrong path. So, I walked straight across at right angles. Why did I think the road was blocked? I wasn’t scared. I’m fine with the dark. I knew more than an hour had gone by and someone would come looking for me. Eventually I heard David’s’ voice, saw a light and he took me back.
Sunday 7 July
David talked about the 4 shields. Each day of the Vision Quest we will focus on one direction. Each shield has a positive and negative side, light and dark.
During these four days we will slow down and slowly merge with nature. We will find out where we are out of balance. If the West is over inflated, we can focus on the East to bring back into balance.
Day 1 we face South
… and connect with the emotions of the child within us. This will be the day when we set up camp so likely to get dirty. We can be a kid. This night we do a death lodge ceremony. People are often scared by the dark on this night, so it is a way to channel the fear. The death lodge allows us to get rid of our crap.
Day 2 we face West
… and consider the shadow side. We look into the darkness at what is hidden – hidden gifts too. We need to internalise this. We can take our little girl or little boy with us, bring in humour and have fun.
Day 3 we look at the North.
We look at what is our purpose, what we want to do with our life. We can also make gifts for people to give them when we return to basecamp.
Day 4 we face East
… and focus on spirit. This is the day around creativity, inspiration. Maybe we write poetry. It all depends on what we are dealing with. We will close one part of our life and start a new one. This is also the day we create a purpose ceremony. We will balance our shields and find the focus on the next phase on life. It will then surround us like a sphere.
This is just guidelines; we can pack it out with our own thing and create ceremony. This can include singing, drumming, dance, prayer, talking, burning things. We will access old ancient knowledge (Jung’s collective unconscious). We all took a notebook and pens.
Regularly David asks me how I am. He is checking on us to make sure we are ready to go out on the 4-day vision fast. I’m calm. I’m ready. People talk about the edgy wood, and that is where I am going. But it isn’t scary for me, we all have our own perceptions on things.
At base camp I walk around with intention, I notice things. A bird flying above, it could have been a kestrel. I notice the bird glide. I watch the clouds move across the sky. There will be less of this in the forest but the wind in the trees will be magical.
I’m so loving spending time in nature, walking slowly, doing the exercises. Really listening to nature. I’m noticing so much more. I’m not missing technology either.
I like the 4 shields. I like structure so I’ll follow the process.
Discussing my Autobiography
This was a 2-hour session. As part of my preparation I wrote a letter of intent and a 10-page Autobiography. I read out both to Jen and David. We discussed my unknown grandfather. As people’s names were mentioned I wrote them down. All could be invited to my death circle.
Afterwards I went back and checked my Vision Quest spot. It’s perfect. I’m smiling. I love it. I found my space to put my tarp and where to create the death circle.
I’m glad I moved to eating less – it should help with the 4 days and 4 night without food.
Monday 8 July
We learn more about what will happen tomorrow. I get my rucksack packed. We will go through a threshold ceremony and head off to our Vision Quest sites. We have a buddy and will leave a message for each other at a ‘stone pile’ as a means of checking in. I go in the early evening, my buddy in the morning. I learn how to put up my tarp. We aren’t taking a tent, just creating a crude shelter.
Fasting may energize us, or we could get low blood sugar. If it does, we should take some honey. Also, to drink lots of water. We should only leave our Vision Quest site to go to the stone pile.
We need to talk to everything that we see. To initiate conversations. Once nature knows we are serious about responding, nature will also respond. The fear can be helped by using a rattle and David loaned me one. A rattle changes the energy and attracts spirits. It will also centre us and change the fear.
As we finalised our place, we were to choose a stone and bring it back to base camp so it could be put in the threshold circle. They (Jen and David) will pick it up each day to check on us.
We could carry our water out – 4 x 5 litres of water. It would have been tough to carry it all from base camp.
Tuesday 9 July – Saturday 13 July
I completed the 4 day and 4 night fast. I loved following the 4 shield process and found it a calm experience. I truly loved being away from technology and this focus on nature.
Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, That we may record our emptiness. Kahlil Gibran
We met our buddy at the meet point on the 5th morning and went to base camp where we did a return ceremony. We had fruit to break our fast. Then a shower (hot!). First time I had showered since arriving and clean clothes were great, I’d stayed in the same clothes for 4 days!!! We then went to Abergavenny for breakfast. Time to re-enter the modern world.
We got back to camp and shared our stories. Staying overnight was good, a meal at the pub. Then a gently return home.
You may want the detail of the 4 days … but we are not able to share. We need to hold this to ourselves, for the next year as the story and message will continue to unfold over the year. A year today, if you want to know you can ask me.
You will emerge from the Vision Quest with a profound connection to the Earth, and to all of nature. You will in all likelihood know yourself more completely, have dealt with unresolved issues from your past, made plans for your future, discovered who you really are and what your purpose is in life.
And you can read my earlier blog posts via these links
My first post:
and the second: