A vision quest is a Native American rite of passage, similar to an initiation. In traditional the Lakota culture, Hanblecheyapi (crying for a vision) is one of seven sacred rites. A vision quest is a journey alone into the wilderness to seek personal growth and spiritual guidance from Great Spirit. The seeker finds a special place and sits in a rectangle, approximately 4-6’ wide and 6-8’ long. Usually the seeker brings nothing with them except water and a blanket. A usual vision quest lasts 4 days within this rectangle. The isolation in nature and the associated hunger is designed to trigger a vision or a message from Great Spirit. Visions from a quest can guide an individual for a lifetime.

Vision quest is a time of transition, a death or ending of something old, and a passage to new beginnings. In that respect, preparation for quest is a psychological grieving process. Thus vision quest is done with great sacredness.
Anthropologists have identified three universal stages of vision quest:

1. Severance (Departure) – Severance begins as soon as you answer the call to quest. You prepare to die to an old life as the unknown awaits you. To prepare emotionally, you must be willing to separate, detach, and let go of the old.

2. Threshold (Trial/Initiation/Transformation) – This is the time of aloneness, hunger, exposure and the trials that test your spirit and your purpose. Threshold is entering into sacred space, ritual and ceremony, and being with Great Spirit, one on one. You must empty out that which no longer serves you before you can be filled with something new. You awaken to a new way of seeing.

3. Incorporation (Return) – A quest never really ends because the vision is brought back to make your life better and to create changes for you and your people.

The goals and purposes of a vision quest include:

1. Gaining power and clarity through self-discovery of life goals and purposes.

2. Healing emotions, relationships, and illness.

3. Receiving a vision or message that will spiritual helps your soul.

4. Develops self-confidence by surviving in the wilderness and your fears alone.

5. Strengthens connections to your higher self, spirit guides, nature, Great Spirit, and Mother Earth.

6. Taps directly into your own source of wisdom assistance from books, churches, or teachers.

7. Fosters a greater appreciation of life after the temporary deprival of material comforts.

Vision quest is not only a Native American tradition. A very famous vision quest was done by Usui Mikao, a Japanese doctor. During his 21 day fast on Mount Kurama, he received the wisdom of Reiki.

In Buddhism, a peaceful warrior is defined as one who is willing to know oneself and willing to face one’s fears. This is the intent of vision quest in a nutshell. Change your perception, change your life.


In 2008, I did a vision quest at Mount Shasta, spending 4 days and 3 nights in a small square encircled by 808 prayer ties. Preparation and execution of vision quest is quite rigorous. A seeker sits in sweat lodge before entering the sacred space and sits in sweat lodge again when returning and before breaking fast. It is a very powerful experience. However, not all are able or willing to undertake this intense journey.

I believe that there are other roads that can be traveled to obtain the same results. For one, someone might consider camping out in their back yard for several days. Another way is to take a shamanic transformation class most commonly marketed as “going around the medicine wheel”.

I combined the intent of self-discovery with the art of journaling to create a “journal quest”. The journal becomes a record of your journey of self-discovery and revelation. By examining the deepest, darkest recesses of your soul and bringing your secrets into the light, a transformation of vision occurs. I have prepared a series of questions designed to prompt a self-examination. My integration stage includes a ritual to anchor your vision in the material world.

The benefits of journal quest is that it is done at home, in your own time, and at your own pace.

I expanded the three stages of vision quest (Severance, Threshold, and Return) to four, so that the model represents the four directions, hence a medicine wheel of transformation. The four stages are:

1. Initiation – South Direction. Know Yourself.
2. Foundation – West Direction. Love Yourself.
3. Transformation – North Direction. Be Yourself.
4. Integration – East Direction. Share Yourself.


The only materials required for journal quest are a journal and pens. However, additional items that support the journey are music that entrains the brain or shamanic journey drumming or rattling tracks that facilitate dropping into a beta brainwave state that facilitates deeper meditation.

Journal quest can be customized to your style and needs. Associated activities might include:

1. Creating a vision altar placing items that represent your intent for this journey. Perhaps finding a vision stone in nature, lighting a candle, placing cornmeal, sage, tobacco, flowers, herbs, crystals, and/or prayer ties as offerings.

2. Creating a vision stick decorating it with feathers and other natural items. Focus on the intent of your journey as you create the stick.

3. Creating a small sacred circle with rocks or crystals to sit in just as you would on a vision quest.

4. Taking an Epsom salt/herb bath before and after the journey. (This is a substitute for sweat lodge.)

5. Opening sacred space.

6. Saying a prayer requesting clear vision or messages. (see below)

7. Doing your journey in isolation, perhaps taking a day or two from your schedule to do nothing but focus on your journey.

8. Fasting during this time to intensify your experience is also an option.

9. Do some drumming, rattling, singing, chanting, or dancing.

10. Fire ceremony to conclude the quest, burning petition papers so that your prayers and intentions are taken on the smoke to the spirit world to be manifested.

While journaling, sit, meditate, breathe, be, think, watch, listen, feel, surrender, be in the present moment with no judgment, expectations, or goals.

I offer the questions and mentoring support for your journal quest. If you are interested, please contact me.


Heya, Great Spirit, Ancestors, and Spirit Guides. I feel you here with me, showing me the way and sharing your wisdom. I open my heart, mind, and soul to your spirit voices. Open the doors of opportunity as I am ready to step through them. Let me meet my guides and be shown a vision to help me as I travel my path and live my purpose in this lifetime. Protect me from my fears and any harm that might come to me. I have so much love and gratitude for all my spirit guides and teachers who help my Highest Good. Thank you, Great Spirit, for the clear vision that I will have. Let my love and gratitude float on the four winds to the corners of the Universe. Aho!


When you begin to feel you are a spiritual being which, in fact, you are, you begin to activate the medicine wheel in your life. –Tony Ten Fingers


Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. –Joel Barker

Vision is not forecasting the future. Nor is it walking around with your head in the clouds or peering into crystal balls. It is a creative act. It is creating the future by taking action in the present. –Jim Collins

What I hear is valueless; only what I see is living and when I close my eyes my vision is even more powerful. –Giorgio de Chirico

I started concentrating so hard on my vision that I lost sight. –Robin Green

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. –Carl Jung

Vision is the art of seeing things invisible. –Jonathan Swift

The nature of the cosmos is such that whatever vision you have about yourself and the world will become reality. Whether we realize it or not, we are all dreaming the world into being. When we’re unaware that we share the power to co-create reality with the universe itself that power slips away from us, causing our dream to become a nightmare. –Alberto Villoldo

Vision does not truly exist because it is ever changing. The vision is really the journey. And your journey is now. –Stalking Wolf


Writing makes a map and there is something about a journey that begs to have its passage marked. –Christina Baldwin

Journal writing is a voyage to the interior. –Christina Baldwin

You are conversing with someone much wiser and saner as you write: your authentic self. –Sarah Ban Breathnach

To have some account of my thoughts, manners, acquaintance and actions, when the hour arrives in which time is more nimble than memory, is the reason which induces me to keep a journal: a journal in which I must confess my every thought, must open my whole heart! –Frances Burney

Writing is medicine. It is an antidote to injury. It is a companion for any difficult change. –Julia Cameron

Writing is a means of prayer. It connects us to the invisible world. It gives us a gate or a conduit for the other world to talk to us whether we call it the subconscious, the unconscious, the superconscious, the imagination, or the muse. Writing is a spiritual housekeeper. –Julia Cameron

Writing is a spiritual tool. We undertake it solo (soul-o). Moving alone onto the page, we often find ourselves companioned by higher forces, by a stream of insights and inspirations that seem somehow other than our routine thinking. –Julia Cameron

Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Your words are the greatest power you have. The words you choose and use establish the life you experience. –Sonia Choquette

The soul lies buried in the ink that writes. –John Clare

The palest ink is better than the best memory. –Confucius

We do not write in order to be understood. We write in order to understand. –Cecil Day-Lewis

A journal is a book that is entirely yours. It not only belongs to you, it is you… the best you, the worst you. –Charlene Geiss & Claudia Jessup

When we write from experience we harvest our lives. –Bonni Goldberg

Journaling connects me with my inner self; it’s like a safe harbor for expression and privacy. –Sondra Holtzman

Every person is a book yearning to be written. Journaling your life will give you the edge to rediscover yourself through the creative power of your journal or diary. –Journaling Your Life

Every minute of our lives is so precious. By documenting those moments, journals can give us wonderful glimpses into our souls, hearts, and minds. –Kelly TM Kilmer

Telling a true story about personal experience is not just a matter of being oneself or even finding oneself, it is also a matter of choosing oneself. –Harriet Goldhor Lerner

For $10 a journal you can be your own self-analyst. It’s the cheapest therapy a person can do. –Janice Lowry

I will write myself into well-being. –Nancy Mair

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. We write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it. We write to teach ourselves to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth. –Anais Nin

Leave self-consciousness at the gate. A journal’s destination is itself. –Jean Francois Podevin

Live life then write it. –Dan Price

Once you begin to keep a journal, the entire world and everything in it instantly becomes material to be observed, written about, drawn, photographed, or collected in some manner. –Dan Price

Seems like most of the good journal keepers are collectors. They have a passion for noticing and gathering all those things of value to them. Collectors of life you might say. When you decide to look at the world in this new way, life become an adventure, because you are always on a treasure hunt, saving things. –Dan Price

A journal is like pages from your soul. A journal is an interior journey. –Sark

Your Journal … It’s not just a book. It is a part of you; a place you can share your innermost thoughts, feelings and reflections. Your Journal is the repository of your experiences. It becomes a guide, a mirror … a confidant and friend. It is important to have a journal that is a statement of who you are. –Gerry Starnes



The Sacred Journey: A Quest for Vision – Carol Hannagan
Quest: A Guide for Creating Your Own Quest – Denise Linn
Book of Vision Quest – Stephen Foster & Meredith Little
The Trail to the Sacred Mountain: A Vision Fast Handbook for Adults – Steven Foster & Meredith Little
Vision Quest – Wolf Moondance


Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth – Open the Door to Self-Understanding by Writing, Reading, and Creating a Journal of Your Life – Kathleen Adams
Keeping a Journal You Love – Sheila Bender
The Artful Journal: A Spiritual Quest – Maureen Carey & Raymond Fox
Writing Down Your Soul: How to Activate and Listen to the Extraordinary Voice Within – Janet Conner
Journalution: Journaling to Awaken Your Inner Voice, Heal Your Life and Manifest Your Dreams – Sandy Grason
Writing Begins with the Breath: Embodying Your Authentic Voice – Laraine Herring
Spiritual Journaling: Writing Your Way to Independence – Julie Tallard Johnson
Complete Idiot’s Guide to Journaling – Joan Neubauer
Journaling Basics: Journal Writing for Beginners – Lisa Shea

Copyright © 2015 Drake Bear Stephen. Except where acknowledged.