To register for this year’s Bear Heart Vision Quest, please follow this link.
The following is adapted from Bear Heart’s notes on Vision Questing.
Why you might consider a Vision Quest: If you feel that you are at a crossroads in your life or if you have questions about the intent and purpose for your life, then you may benefit from a Vision Quest. What is my life purpose? What is my gift? How can I manifest my special talents? What are my special talents? What am I supposed to be bringing to the world to make it better? These are some questions that a Vision Quest can help answer.
How to prepare:
Your Vision Quest begins once you have made a commitment to Quest. It is suggested that you take some time each day to reflect on your purpose for Questing. You may keep a journal during this time to record any insights you may have. Think about what you want in life: How can I best serve? What is my path? What role will I play? What am I here to fulfill? Have I felt it? Have I sensed it? If not, these are things to strive for.
How to prepare physically:
Continue with your regular exercise program. Set aside regular periods for meditation and reflecting on the purpose of your Quest. Learn to eat lightly. Eat until you are almost full and then leave the table. The month before your Quest, attempt to eliminate meat, dairy, and all animal products from your diet. Gradually over the month eliminate caffeine and tobacco. This will decrease cravings and the side effects of caffeine and nicotine withdrawal during your Quest. The week before the Quest attempt to eliminate sugar and sweets from your diet. Attempt to drink at least eight glasses of water daily as this will help remove toxins from your body.
WHAT TO BRING
VISION QUEST — Questers
- A Sacred Pipe or a prayer staff/ power stick. (You may make this from a one or two-foot long stick with objects that have meaning to you.)
- A red altar cloth (4 ft X 6 in) with a hawk or eagle feather attached to it with an abalone shell that has two holes in it (quill of feather should point up).
- Tobacco offerings for the Sponsor and your Supporter.
- A tarp, ropes, and tent stakes to make a lean-to for inclement weather, but it is important that you be open to the sky day and night as much as possible. No tents will be allowed inside the Quester’s circle, but they may be used in camp before going out on the Vision Quest and after returning from the Vision Quest.
- Comfortable clothes for the Quest itself. Layered clothing with cold and rain protection (such as a Gore-Tex parka and rain pants or a poncho) is best because we will be in the mountains and the weather can be warm and mild or snowing, raining and freezing even in September. You will be sitting down, so you might need more insulation and you will not have food as fuel to heat you. Wool or synthetics are better than cotton. We recommend you have one or two more layers than you think you will need. A hat with a wide brim is advised for the NM sun and a stocking cap for warmth or use as a night cap.
- A sleeping bag (warm, preferably with a synthetic fill instead of down in case it gets wet) and ground pad (it is nice to have a pad that also can be used to sit on when it is rolled up).
- A blanket or pad to sit on.
- A flashlight with an extra set of batteries.
- Glasses and sunglasses.
- Insect repellent since there may be some flies and mosquitoes if the days are warm.
- Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 since we will be at an elevation of 9,200 feet.
- Any required medications and other frequently used personal items, such as aspirin, eye drops, and chap stick.
- Several bundles of sage to bless and smudge your Vision Quest circle.
- Any sacred objects you want to have with you (can be meditation aids, fetishes, or anything that will be blessed by being there with you and that will remind you of your Vision Quest after you get back home).
- A drum is optional.
- A trowel to dig a latrine away from your circle, toilet paper, and wet-wipes.
- A note-pad and pen to record your experiences, visions, and reflections.
- Something to carry everything in when you go to your selected Vision Quest site, such as a backpack or duffel bag.
FOR THE SWEAT LODGES BEFORE AND AFTER THE VISION QUEST
Two complete sets of sweat lodge clothing (gym shorts, bathing suit, towels, etc) for two Sweat Lodges: a Going-Out Lodge and a Lodge at the end after all Questers have returned.
- Tobacco offerings for the Sponsor and the fire tender. Rest of donation for the Sponsor if you haven’t already sent it before the start of the Vision Quest (give it to him before the Going-Out Lodge). For the nights you aren’t actually “on the hill” Questing, you should bring camping gear and clean clothes. If you get your vision the first day then you may be in camp for the remaining three days since all Questers and Supporters must stay in camp until the last Quester has returned and we have completed the final Sweat Lodge. You will be asked to commit to how many nights (one, two or three nights) you will be out after the Going-Out Sweat Lodge.
FOR CAMP BEFORE YOU GO OUT ON YOUR VISION QUEST AND AFTER YOU RETURN – QUESTERS AND SUPPORTERS
- A Give-away item. This is an object, keepsake or possession of yours that may or may not have some intrinsic value that has some special meaning for you. The idea is to give away this item and any attachments you may have with it in this ceremony. This is done as a way to let go of the past and release any attachments to it.
- A food item to share in a light feast following the Quest.
- A gift for your Supporter, where an appropriate gift might be paying for the Supporter’s donation, a Pendleton wool blanket, or something comparable since the Supporter will be staying in camp praying for you and checking on you during your Vision Quest.
- Gifts for people you meet in camp during the Vision Quest (if you are so moved).
All participants (Questers and Supporters) must arrive Tuesday to set up their camp and in order to participate in the Wednesday evening campfire circle discussion of Vision Questing. The organizers of the Vision Quest (Cliff Buchanan and Mike Andrews) will arrive at the Vision Quest site at least two days before the start of the Vision Quest to set up camp and build the sweat lodge, and all Questers and Supporters are encouraged to arrive early and participate in these activities. We will try to finish by Noon on Sunday. It is best to give yourself a day or two to recuperate before driving/ flying home.
QUESTING AT THE VISION QUEST
Comments from Cliff and Mike:
You will select your spot before the Going-Out Sweat Lodge. Use your prayer staff or a stick (if you are a Pipe Carrier) to scratch a circle in the earth of your perimeter and stay inside your circle until you have your vision; or until the last day around noon; or until you decide its time to come back. There will be a Sweat Lodge before you go out and again when all Questers have returned. Supporters will be awake all the time you are out and take turns “keeping the fire”. The task is to be by yourself during the Quest in order to get to know yourself. The Supporters will “check” on you from time to time. The elements are the easy part. Being without TV, phones, and conversation may be the hard part.
You also might want to read (or re-read) the next-to-the-last chapter of Bear Heart’s book, “The Wind Is My Mother”, since it covers the Vision Quest. It also provides some assurances on the way Two Bears works to protect you while you are out on your Vision Quest. By fasting and going without water (and possibly without sleep if you so choose), you are stressing your body so that the normal mental responses are short-circuited and you are more open to a vision. In Bear Heart’s tradition, you will be asked to go without food and water, unless you have special medical requirements, which should be discussed individually with Two Bears before the Vision Quest. The Vision Quest is a VERY powerful experience and one that you will remember for a long time.
You may take a tarp to get under in case it rains and to use as a sun shade. Some people might choose to go out with only a wool blanket, while others may choose to take more on the mountain.
You will also get instruction directly from Two Bears immediately before going out.
SUPPORTING AT THE VISION QUEST
What does it mean to “Support” at the Vision Quest? Some people attending the Vision Quest as Supporters may have been Supporters in past Vision Quests, and some may have been past Questers on a Vision Quest, so they all have a pretty good idea of what it means to support at a Vision Quest. For those that have no direct experience attending a Vision Quest, this will introduce you to the responsibilities and benefits of being a Supporter at the Vision Quest.
Ideally there will be at least as many Supporters as Questers since each Quester can have a specific Supporter that places them on the Quester’s spot on the mountain, prays for the Quester, and can check on the Quester (without disturbing the Quester) during the time that the Quester is out on the mountain. In addition, the Supporters will help support the Sponsor and maintain the camp.
We are asking that Supporters arrive before the start of the Vision Quest and stay until after all Questers have returned and gone through the closing sweat lodge. We feel an important part of the Support process is creating a community focused on supporting the Questers and the Sponsor. It is important to close the circle with all those that opened it. We discourage and do not allow attendance of the Vision Quest by drop-in visitors.
Supporting is a form of Quest in itself. Those that are Supporters will have a time for reflection and meditation like the Questers, but they will not necessarily be fasting like those that are the Questers. The Supporters can look for insights in the company of the other Supporters. In addition, you will have daily interaction with Two Bears and will participate in a sweat lodge for the Supporters.
The Supporters also will participate in keeping the Sacred Fire burning until all the Questers have returned. This is an excellent time to meet and get to know the other Supporters. Usually the all night vigil with the fire is shared among the Supporters in shifts. The Supporters also will assist in the communal kitchen in preparing meals and in cleanup/ doing dishes.
One significant benefit to being a Supporter is that you will have first-hand experience of a Vision Quest and it may help you eliminate some of the fears you might have about the question “Can I do a Vision Quest?” Seeing the Questers coming back from the mountain with their visions and all the benefits of their visions might encourage you to “sit on the mountain” in the future.
Download brochure (TBD, Check Back Soon)
Right click and choose “Save target as” on Brochure or just left click and it will open in Adobe Reader. When printing be sure to turn off “print scaling”.
If you have any questions, please contact us:
Drive to Cloudcroft, New Mexico (The nearest airport is in El Paso, TX, but some may prefer to fly to Albuquerque, NM and drive from there). Take Hwy 130 South out of Cloudcroft for 1.2 miles. Turn left at Sleepy Grass Campground or 0.7 miles. Turn right on Forest Road 5661 for 3.9 miles. Turn left before forked tree on left before turn. Then turn left again immediately (about 40 feet) and follow road. Signs will be posted.