Holiday Vision Quest

Written by Tayria Ward on November 24, 2013

Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft
my voice so tender
my need of god
absolutely clear.


With the unprecedented consumerist freneticism of the holidays amping up right now, Thanksgiving Day itself suddenly having become a big day for shoppers, something mournful in me is taking hold. I want to go down and in and stay still, be quiet, unplug, listen, pray, think, pray, feel, pray, hear, pray, fast, pray. While the culture explodes out into the fray, I feel the need to counter the movement internally, the bigness of what is going on out there feels threatening to sanity. I keep seeing in my mind’s eye the image of a developing fetus – that little bean shape in which the head is connected to the gut and the heart, the spine not having yet straightened to launch the head above it all. The bean shape is the shape I feel the urge to take right now, psychologically and spiritually. Plant my ears inside the gut, see what wisdom comes from there.

I have decided to do a three-day indoor Vision Quest over Thanksgiving – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. A silence fast. Unplugged. I will do as I do with outdoor vision quests and put stones around my property, which will be my questing circle, saying prayers to the 7 directions (North, South, East, West, Sky, Earth and All My Relations). I’ll seal the property line prayerfully with corn meal and offerings to the ancestors and spirits of this place. I’ll stay. Pray and listen. Be with the fire. Call in the images and visions that will prepare me for this next stage of life. Repair broken places in the heart and the wounded land here so recently deforested. Hunker down with spirit and re-commit. Make space for something new to be born. The miracle of life and the mystery of death hover together. I will be calling on ancestors asking them to commune with those of us in bodies and with those spirits yet to be born.

The quest will have form and be formless. Only a slight formula will be applied – like silence, eating only fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, a little wild meat. Other than that I want to allow for whatever is ready to grow in and emerge from this womb space. I feel connected to St. Ignatius of Loyola who prayed long his cave (which I have visited) in Northern Spain, Thomas Merton who wrote from his monastery cell, and the Kogi people of Colombia whose shamans gestate for 9 years in a dark cave. All of these traditions run deep in me.

Trees have mothered and mentored me profoundly in my life. The way a child grows in the primary images imprinted by Mother, trees have imprinted on me. I am moved to root deep, stay still, be Here, present, quiet, strong, immovable yet ever bending like tree. I want to be like that presence you can always find, visit, enjoy and be comforted by.

And so it is with me this season. I hope each of you are deeply nourished through these winter months and that what joys await you will find you easily. My love goes out to you.