My 4 day quest for my Soul’s vision-
In March 2021 I embarked on a 4-day, 4-night Stalking Wolf lineage Vision Quest deep in the bush in South-east QLD. For 4 days and 4 nights I was permitted to only inhabit a 3x3m circle in amongst the trees and shrubs on this semi-arid dry piece of bushland under the protection of a beautiful Box tree. For 4 days and 4 nights I didn’t eat food, I couldn’t have any distractions (no phone, book, journal, music etc). For 4 days and 4 nights, I only drank water and ate the occasional glucose tablet to keep my sugars up. I slept in a swag under a tarp under the night sky and for the first two days all it did was pour down with rain, non- bloody- stop! I rose with the Sun and went to bed with the Moon and stars. The nocturnal creatures of the night kept me awake pondering my life’s existence and the days dragged out for what seemed like forever with nothing to do except to just be with myself and my relentless thoughts. My only companions were the spiders, beetles, ants and caterpillars and I learned a lot about myself by journeying within. This is my personal experience of probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life to date but my gosh was it worth every second!
A bit about Vision Quest-
A Vision Quest is a native American traditional rite of passage and has been practiced for thousands of years for spiritual growth and expansion. Its an opportunity to connect with your inner self on a deep level being surrounded by the healing energy of Mother Nature which assists you in finding your vision or purpose in life. You enter quest with some questions that you wish to find the answers to whilst you’re on your own so that when you leave, you feel like you have more direction and purpose in life.
My call to Quest-
My call to quest started in July 2020. My friend Bec had just signed up for her quest starting in October 2020 who she heard about it from her friend. From July- October as Bec was preparing mentally, physically, and emotionally, I felt like I was preparing with her. I felt nervous for her but so extremely excited. A little seed began to plant in my head telling me that this was my next thing to do as well. My next feat, my next challenge, my next life experience to live and my next story to write.
October quickly approached and Bec left for her quest and for the whole week all I could think about was how she was doing, if she was hungry, struggling mentally and what insights she was getting downloaded. When Bec returned from her quest she seemed different, softer, more grateful and more understanding. It was as if in the week she was gone she had been spirited away and replaced by a different version of her. I was awed. What a beautiful transformation and it was in that moment that I decided that I too wanted to have that shared experience.
The following week I submitted my interest in Questing for the March 2021 intake and was soon contacted by Steve, the wonderful man who runs Vision Quest with his business – Soulpaths. Steve chatted to me about the Quest, told me all about it, what to expect and my reasons for wanting to do it. After chatting to him I immediately felt calm and reassured and it felt right to continue with the decision to quest. I said that my biggest fear was not eating for 4 days as traditionally I had used food as a tool to suppress my symptoms of anxiety. He reassured me that I’d work up to fasting through preparation in the weeks leading up to the Quest and this made me feel a little less nervous. The following week I wrote my application letter with such joy. I thoroughly enjoyed writing the application letter as it asked me questions about my previous experience of journeying inward and finding oneself which I had dabbled in over the last 5 years through silent meditation retreats (Vipassana), solo travel, psychedelics, meditation and breathwork. I was soon accepted and paid the $300 deposit and felt super excited for the journey I was to embark on the following year.
From November till about January, I mostly forgot about my Quest. I put it on the backburner and thought about it every now and then but said to myself “That’s something to worry about later on” as life got in the way. However, it was something in my calendar that I had been planning life around and it was the pinnacle of my months experience. I told all my close friends and family about what I was doing, and a few thought I was a bit crazy, and some thought it was awesome. Either way, I didn’t care what they thought, I just knew I needed to do this for myself.
Preparing to Quest-
It wasn’t until February that I started thinking about it seriously. Steve had organised a group Quest call where all 13 of us questers and the 4 quest protectors (Steve, Josh, Maria, and Adrian) could all introduce ourselves and chat about any concerns or questions we had. We all had similar concerns and questions, and a few shared my fear about not eating for 4 days. It was so good meeting everyone over the phone and this made me more excited for what was to come.
However, my fasting practice wasn’t going so well. I would plan to fast for a day but then would convince myself that I needed the food that day as I needed the mental energy… all the excuses the ego makes up! Thankfully, a friend of mine fasts every Tuesday so I joined him which helped me out a lot. The first day I fasted I lasted 16 hours! Jeeze! I felt dizzy and a metallic taste in my mouth which didn’t really lift my spirits that was going to be able to fast for 4 days! Over the month of February, I improved on my fasting and was feeling more confident that I wouldn’t starve to death. I tried the suggested watermelon fast for 2 days which was way easier obviously than no food at all! I love fasting now as I really like having that mental control over my body and know that its good to give the gut a rest sometimes to feel clean within. Bec also helped me to prepare mentally for the fast. She told me about what I might expect based on her experience and the importance of trusting my bodies innate wisdom and myself and staying in my heart space for the whole experience. ‘When you get in your head, you’re dead” she would say.
Equipment wise, luckily, I only needed a few extra bits of equipment to buy. I borrowed Bec’s tarp, rope and mozzie net and I borrowed my brothers’ swag to sleep in and I was all set!
Leading up to VQ everything ran smoothly. I was able to get the time off work easily and it was something important that I was doing so it was in the forefront of my mind for the weeks leading up to it and I used it as my anchor point with making life plans around it. I would find myself lost in daydream wondering what my experience was going to be like, envisioning my circle, thinking about what will be harder- not eating or no human contact for 4 days. Every time I caught up with friends and family, they would ask me how my preparation was going and if I was scared or nervous. It was going to be a massive part of my life.
The 2 weeks prior to questing, I still hadn’t thought of my questions. Why was I questing and what did I want to find the answers to? My only reason was that I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to see what my human body could endure and to test myself and my mind as to the lengths that I’d gone to grow and expand my conscious awareness already. But this was more of my ego talking than my Soul. I pondered on this for some time and finally started to construct a list of questions I wanted answered whilst I was sitting down by a waterfall on my own one day.
Looking at my questions now it seems a little silly that I needed to endure 4 days in the bush on my own with no food to answer them. But it’s all a learning process!
My questions were-
- What’s my life purpose?
- Who do I need to be to attract my life partner?
- What’s my new business flyer tagline/slogan?
- Where do I see myself in the next 5 years?
- Why do I put so much pressure on myself to achieve/be better/learn so much?
- What’s the next step towards changing out of my nursing career?
Now that I had my questions sorted, I felt a sense of ease in the days leading up to the Quest. I said goodbye to my friends and family who all wished me well. I finalised things, tied up loose ends, got my landlady to look after my plant babies, packed my car and triple checked I had everything I needed with me in my circle and felt good.
Embarking on Quest (Pre-Quest) –
On the Saturday morning 20th March, I drove to pick up a fellow quester Michael, who needed a ride. I met him at his house and met his partner Matt who had also done a vision quest a few years prior, so we had a bit of a chat about that which helped disarm my nerves. Michael and I left to go drive the 2.5-hour drive to the site. I was feeling a bit anxious about the whole thing but chatting to Michael put me at ease. I immediately liked Michael as he had a warm and bubbly persona and we chatted comfortably the whole way him telling me a lot about his eccentric life and all about cryptocurrency (which I now invest in thanks to him). Michael and I arrived at the VQ site at Mount Byron and were greeted with open loving arms from Steve and Maria (2 of the protectors) We put our gear in Steve’s trailer to bring to base camp a kilometre away and we walked. We had to walk from the car to the base camp as a way of connecting to the land and to symbolise leaving our old life behind and entering the void. I walked the 1km track barefoot connecting to the earth, listening to the nature sounds, smelling the trees, taking in the sites, and returning within. I felt equal parts anxious and excitement and shed an emotional weight of tears that I had unknowingly been carrying as I felt like a part of me was dying to make way for the new.
As I made my way around the bend to base camp, I saw Josh and Adrian, the other two protectors and greeted them with a hug. They both seemed like warm and loving people to help facilitate our journey within. They told me to go set up my tent, so I picked a spot under a tree to set up my tent for the 2 nights prior to our quest starting. Looking around at the other Questers, I started feeling a bit uneasy, subconsciously comparing myself to the other questers setting up their tents. They all seemed so tough and strong and unbreakable, and it was the complete opposite to what I was feeling inside. I just observed my feelings and thoughts and reassured myself that I would be ok here with everyone. After we had all set up our tents, we all gathered under the Gunya, the undercover area that we gathered under to meet and chat. The Gunya also housed the Quest fire which never went out for the entire week and was a symbol of our time being out there for the week. We pulled our chairs around and started mingling with each other and introduced ourselves. We had a smoking ceremony dousing ourselves in the smoke from the branch of a Moreton Bay Ash tree. Everyone seemed so strong, tough, and sure of themselves and I started to think that I wasn’t good enough to be out there questing with this group. Maybe I didn’t have the mental tenacity as these guys did? Maybe I wouldn’t last the 4 days out on my own? After some time, we all went to the dining hall and got lunch and mingled more. I felt like everyone was sussing each other out, telling big stories of their past life experiences, telling their stories of wild adventures, psychedelic experiences, and previous journeys they’ve taken within. Again, I felt like an imposter, that I wasn’t supposed to be there with these deeply spiritual, resilient minded people. I did my best to stay present with myself and my thoughts and just observed the self- criticism and self- judgement that was floating by in my mind.
After lunch we all gathered under the Gunya and shared our stories and the reasons why we were questing. As I listened to everyone’s stories, I grew more and more sure that I had made a mistake. I spiralled into self-doubt and fear that everyone didn’t think my reasons for questing were worthy enough of being there. Everyone told stories of how they had been preparing for quest for years and their deep, soulful reasons for being there. They seemed to have put months of work into preparing for it by fasting from everything that is bad for the body. I didn’t feel worthy to be there, didn’t feel like I had put the time or effort in to preparing for the quest…
We had a break in the afternoon and went down to the creek for a refreshing swim. I started to chat to people one on one and started connecting more which made me feel better as I wasn’t placing them on a spiritual pedestal anymore. After our swim, we all met to talk about our site selection. There were 3 locations- 4 sites by the creek, 4 sites right up on the ridge and 5 on the medium ridge. The 4 people on the high ridge were selected by Steve as it was a rocky and rough terrain, so you needed to have good fitness levels. 4 people chose down by the creek as it was nice and close to the base camp and the remaining 5 of us were to go to the medium ridge.
Steve took the 5 of us to the medium ridge to go pick our spots. As we were walking up the hill he would point down to a bushy area and say, ‘who wants that spot’. It was pretty much first in first served. You couldn’t see any sign of it being a ‘spot’ but more so just scrubby bush with tall grass and fallen over logs and branches. I felt hesitation at being higher up on the ridge and further away from base camp if anything were to happen. Steve told me that Bec had also quested on this ridge, and I asked him not to tell me which site she was at as we had joked previously about questing at the exact same site. Everyone had chosen their site except for Michael and I and I quickly jumped at the 2nd last site, I just said “Yep, this is me” and made my down the little hill towards the site. I found a different more comfortable site under some trees but it was easily viewable from the main path, so I had to go further down the hill. As I got further down the hill, not really seeing a clear site at all as everything was covered in scrub and grass, Steve pointed out a level spot right underneath a Box tree and said that this was a quest site (it didn’t look habitable at all). I was reluctant to quest there but thought I had no choice but to be there. I started levelling out my little 3×3 plot of dirt with a plough so that it was flat for me to lie on.
I then found out that the site next to me had just become available as a quester had changed her mind and gone down to the creek. I asked Steve if I could look at that site instead and found it to be way less appealing than mine, it looked something like a shallow dug out grave!
After I went back to my original site and finished levelling the ground, I went back to base camp and picked up my tarp, swag and ropes and made my way back to my site where Josh helped me to put up the ropes in the trees so I could hang my tarp over them. We chatted a bit about the quests he’d done, and he gave me a few pieces of advice and said that he had protected Bec’s quest she did last year as well.
We went back to base camp and started getting ready for dinner and I was feeling much more comfortable with everyone as we all started to relax a bit more. After dinner we all met at the Gunya and Steve and the other protectors started telling us about the quest and what was going to happen leading up to it. They all shared their personal stories of their reasons for questing and how it had had an impact on their lives. They gave us information about how to mentally prepare ourselves for it. Releasing expectations, trying not to have a daily routine, don’t be complacent, avoid getting stuck in the analytical mind and avoid distracting yourself by drinking too much water or sleeping. They said the whole reason we do spiritual development is to know thyself. They taught the importance of releasing emotions and how to do the Quest dance which is a great way to dispel pent up energy and emotion in the body.
They said we may get memories float in and out and have lucid dreams at night and to just allow this process to unfold. They taught us the 4 experiences of extreme thoughts and emotions which were- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual and said that we will experience all or some of these during our time in our circle. We were going from the known to the unknown, from the conscious to the unconscious where the veil to the spiritual realm is very thin between worlds and that we may not want to come back to this reality. Hearing these stories and experiences made me nervous and excited for what was to come. We all had an early night that night and I slept peacefully in my tent.
On the Sunday, Michael and I did some early morning Yoga together under the Gunya and went for a swim in the creek before meeting everyone for breakfast. We had a tarp demo from Josh and was shown how to best put up our ropes and tarp to protect ourselves from the rain. We had a safety debrief about what to do if you get hurt or injured and need help and it was simply a ‘cooee’ system down the hill towards base camp. We got given glucose tablets in case we had any symptoms of hypoglycaemia which is commonly dizziness/lethargy/headaches but can be fatal if left untreated for days.
We walked back out to our quest sites with our 2x10Litre water bottles and made any final adjustments to our setup. I dug my poop hole outside of my quest circle and looked at my setup feeling a mixture of excitement and terror. We made our way back to basecamp and had lunch and a swim. I was starting to really connect to everyone by now and had had some great 1:1 chats with people. We gathered again to chat about what more to expect and to prepare our minds for the experience. They warned us that we may have a ‘Little Death’ occur which is a part of the ego dying. They taught us about our ‘Loyal Soldier’, a part of us who has got us through our inner wars and has protected us our whole lives. We were taught how to meet with Fear when it arises and to just acknowledge the fear and reassure ourselves of our safety. Josh gave a great demo on common acupressure points to use if we have feelings of anxiety/overwhelm arise or feel headaches/migraines come on.
We had some time to do any final journaling, refining our quest questions and just sitting in contemplation with what was about to unfold the following day.
In the late afternoon, we all gathered around the fire in ceremony to give our items to the quest wooden staff. We were told to bring an item that best represented our call to quest and to offer it to a wooden staff that would hold all these items and be burnt at the end of the closing ceremony when the week was over. I chose to bring a spiral shell representing my spiral journey and that healing isn’t linear and to trust the path. And, a smoky quartz representing that healing is about as clear as mud and to just trust in the process. One by one we walked up to the wooden staff and tied our items on as a gesture of giving ourselves up. We all gathered for our final dinner and food, and we all piled our plates high and went back for seconds making sure our bellies were full. I was so grateful for that last dinner and savoured the taste of food in my mouth and the tingling of my tastebuds.
The rain started pouring as we were just about to start our opening ceremony. We were supposed to do a sweat lodge, but due to the rain it was too wet to keep the fire burning inside the sweat tent. We all entered the tent one by one, bowing our heads upon entering and saying prayer ‘to all my relations’ gathering in a circle around the alter in the middle of the tent. As Josh brought the hot rocks in from the Gunya fire, Steve paid tribute to the directions of the rocks on the alter burning numerous herbs and grasses. The East rock represented the element of air, the colour yellow, feelings of new beginnings with the spirit animal being the Spangled Drongo. The North rock represented the element of fire, the colour red, feelings of warmth, spontaneity, emotions, and vulnerability with the spirit animal being the Sugar Glider. The west rock represented the element of earth, the colour black, feelings of mystery, soul, dreams, and visions with the spirit animal being the Goanna. And the South rock represented the element of water, the colour white, feelings of stillness, nurturing and midnight with the spirit animal being the Dragonfly. We had our final chance to share anything we needed, instructed that we were to leave basecamp the following morning at daybreak in silence to walk to our sites. We all had the opportunity to let out a ‘mighty Yar’, yelling and screaming at the top of our lungs, getting rid of any excess energy, before going into noble silence. We left the sweat tent in silence, feeling nervous and excited about what was to follow the next morning. I went to sleep and had numerous lucid dreams of spirit guides and spirit animals helping and supporting me on this journey.
… to be continued in the next blog post.