Vision Quest in Vermont


I’m sitting in the back seat of the brand-spankin’-new four-dour black F150 I rented to make the trip to Vermont from New York City. The drive up was incredible, like driving through a post card most of the way. I got the rental for the less than the economy price through a chain of events I won’t bore you with. I have pretty great rental car karma apparently. This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten an upgrade to something nicer for a lower price– one more metaphor for (reminder that) God has something better in mind for me than what I would have settled for for myself. I’m just going to start expecting better and see what happens; I think I know what will.

I’m on The Land where the Vision Quest ceremony will take place and its beauty defies description. Call up in your mind every beautiful image of “Vermont Farm with adjacent forest” and multiply that. This is an exquisite place for me and five or six others to go out “on our blankets.” We don’t go together of course, the Hambleycha ceremony is a solitary one– each person taken to a different part of the forest and left there alone to pray and meditate or as the word Hambleycha means literally, to “cry for a vision.” “Cry” as in call out for, I believe, although my first experience with this ceremony did involve some weeping. I’ll show up for anything that comes up or comes forth; I’ll let Wonka Tonka (The Great Mystery) drive.

There’s no cell service out here. My plan is to drive tomorrow morning to where I do get service and use my mobile hotspot to post this blog. We don’t go out on our blankets– Oh! I do want to say one more thing about the “solitary” nature of this sacred ceremony. Even though I said we are each out “alone” I can tell you from my first Vision Quest that I was not alone out there. That is all I’ll say about that but it did bear correction. So, as I was saying, we won’t go out on our blankets until Monday night and although this is my year to stay out for only two days and nights (“only” haha), I will keep by the fire when I return and pray deeply for the others who are in year three or four. The nature of the Vision Quest in this particular tradition is that you stay out for one night the first year, two nights the second, and so fourth up to the fourth year. To commit to Quest is a commitment to go out for four years. Last year was actually to be my second year but just before I was to leave, Mother became very ill and it was impractical for me to make the trip. My sacred duty as her son kept me at her side, this I did with the blessing of the Medicine Woman who is acting as Intercessor for me in this four-year commitment.

There was a time when I wouldn’t speak of ceremony at all outside of the extended tribe with whom I practice these ways. I mostly did this out of respect for these ancient traditions. Many people died at the hands of the United States Government for trying to preserve these rites and I want to remain humbly grateful to those wise and generous leaders of the First Nations peoples who have graciously shared this way to pray with non-Native people. I actually consider myself mixed-race (as all of us actually are) because I honor my ancient Cherokee and Scottish lineage but I do not claim them in a political context because of how both have suffered under the boot of empire and I have benefited from White Privilege my whole life. After much consideration, I have become more forthcoming about my involvement in certain ceremonies because I realized that part of that “keeping it a secret” business was just more of my own ego bullshit. Perhaps my talking or writing about Native America Ceremony will cause someone to further investigate these ways, someone with whom this way to pray might resonate, someone who might benefit from them. I always want to share the benefit of what happens for me in ceremony, never the details; that is part of my showing respect. Most of what happens in ceremony (the “important” stuff anyway– as if any of it isn’t important) isn’t the sort of thing that’s communicated by words anyway. If you are curious about this form of spirituality, there are many websites written by Native people; I’ll let them tell you what they want you to know. Of course the best way is to go to the source in person and if you think your spiritual life may be enhanced by taking part in an Inipi (Sweat Lodge), Hambleycha (Vision Quest) or by attending a Sun Dance, I believe if you put that intention out there, you’ll be lead to the right source. If you approach with a humble heart and with respect, most Native Americans will welcome the interest. Just know that (rightfully so) some may be distrustful and still carrying the grief of what people of European descent did and do to the first citizens of Turtle Island (North America). Also, this is a real and sacred way to seek The Divine; these ceremonies are not for people who want to “play Indian.”

Speaking of prayer, could I please ask for an extra one for my brother Chad? I think the gravity and weight of our parents’ passing has just hit him full-force. He’s really sad. I don’t think extra calls or visits is what he needs right now but if you would just offer a fervent prayer on his behalf. If you are not the praying type, please just keep him in your positive thoughts. I love him so much and I want for him to feel peace. Thank you very much.

My intention was to blog up until the day I went out into the wilderness and to pick up the day I came back in, but even just being on the land I can feel myself dropping deeper into my prayer and I’ve decided to pick up the blog when I leave headed back to New York at the end of the week. I want to just focus completely on why I’ve come here and not on talking about it. Please know that I have read the prayer requests you all have sent and I have already started and will continue to pray in earnest for what your hearts cry out for. Reading them touched me deeply and mostly what came up for me was just how connected we really all are. For your health, happiness, and prosperity and for your loved ones, for the unspoken requests you made, I want to say thank you for the honor of being able to pray with you. I am happy and grateful for the full manifestation of the divine desires of your hearts. May God give you anything you want (that you won’t hurt yourself on– God’s a good parent in that way) and may your lessons come gently. I humbly ask that you eat and drink on my behalf on Monday and Tuesday and up to sunset on Wednesday and keep me in your good thoughts and prayers as well. We’ve been through a lot together in this year. Despite contrary appearances sometimes, everything really is unfolding in a perfect and harmonious fashion. More shall be revealed.

Wow. I’ve ended the blog in the same way for this entire year but tonight it really does work does it? How can I do this? Okay, here we go– imagine that it is Friday night and you have joined my dear friends and me for the Gratitude Feast. At the end, when we were all about to return to our tents for one last good night’s sleep before the end of this particular ceremony, I might turn to you before leaving and say…

See y’all tomorrow.

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