It was Fall 1999, and my Spiritual Healing class was sharing highlights from the summer. I spoke about holding the space for my friend, Jean while she vision quested on her land in Weed, California. Out of the blue, June asked, “Will you do that for us?”
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever consider leading a vision quest. Could I? What would it look like? What might be needed?
I was fueled by the group’s unbridled enthusiasm, and began to imagine…….. Once Jean agreed to co-facilitate, we set a date around the full moon that August. Quest was born.
We opened a ceremony in full view of sacred Mt. Shasta. Six questers and six supporters, as we called them back then, drummed, rattled, and prayed with the purest intent. We called to the highest Beings of the Light – Spirits, Masters, Healers, Teachers, and Shamans. Power Animals. Ancestors. Apu Shasta. Pachamama. “Come, come. Help us. Heal us. Show us the way.” We prayed for miracles.
Everything was a collective effort. Food, water, cook stoves, kitchen accoutrements, camping equipment, and the tepee all had to be organized. Jean and I were at the helm, yet my mystical, spiritual council were our true leaders. I received teachings and guidance before and during Quest. Compelling knowings arrived out of nowhere. Feeling supported by all realms and realities, I was ready.
We prepared the questers as best we could, relieving fears and helping them awaken to their individual purposes and intentions. They found their special sites, and at sunrise on the morning of the fourth day, each was accompanied by a supporter and left to settle in for their solo vision quest.
With questers secure and supporters resting, I had what could have been an uncomfortable conversation with Jean. We did something that’s never happened in all the years since and we still laugh about today – got in a car and left camp.
Over luscious coffee malteds at the Hi Low Diner, I told Jean I needed to lead solo. I had become the conduit for the energy and information; the central spoke in the wheel of Quest and needed to follow through in my own vision. Jean completely understood.
The supporter camp ate, drummed, and received healings for the questers. We connected with them throughout the three days and nights, and even though our six friends weren’t physically with is, we felt tangibly together.
As the full moon illuminated camp, supporters stayed awake in solidarity with questers, who were praying for visions that night. The next morning at sunrise, supporters set out to retrieve their counterparts. Questers returned enlightened, exhausted, and in various states of energetic array and disarray. I had to do a soul retrieval for one.
That evening in the tepee we drummed, rattled, and reconnected with our ceremony and one another. Sharing stories was the best part. It was mind-blowing to hear how truly interconnected we had been. Quest lasted another day, and on the final night, fourteen open hearts closed what had become a life-changing week. No one would ever be the same. We took camp down the following day and left the land in a newly enhanced state. When the last car drove away, I sat at the picnic table and cried.
Word spread. “Are you having another Quest?” New people wanted to join. Supporters wanted to quest and questers wanted to give back and support. Something beautiful had been created and continued for sixteen years.
As Quest grew and evolved, I realized it didn’t matter what role one chose, as healing was the common thread, so I changed the name to Healing Quest. Supporters became Camp Questers, and Questers became Mountain Questers. I had a few assistants until Chris became the steady one. I realized our template: Shamanic Rebirth. A participant brought us the sweat lodge and its teachings. Each Quest had a different theme until I was told Unity would be the theme forever.
Healing Quest was about experiencing Unity with All Things, including Ourselves. Especially Ourselves. How else does one become free? That meant we had to choose to trust and attend to personal wounds and stuck places within the landscape of our unique souls. My teachers in the other realms consistently told us we had no concept of what was happening, and how dramatically we were affecting the collective Human Soul. It was that profound. We just knew we were doing our individual parts with as much integrity and clarity as possible.
Opening a ceremony at the beginning of Healing Quest was foundational, and everything unfolded within the center of that magical “bubble.” Guidance and protection were palpable. It was an altered realm where stagnant heavy energy loosened and released, which created space for refined energy. Shamanic Rebirth is one of the most powerful templates I’ve ever worked with, and I continue to explore it both personally and professionally.
Chris and I were tested too often. New predicaments always arose, and we had to discover ways of working with diverse situations – The drama that made organic food a requirement. People leaving camp before Quest was over. Anger. Someone exiting the sweat lodge and wandering away in the dark. Family dynamics. A heavy energy release so dramatic I had to discern whether or not it was a psychotic break. (It wasn’t.) Mountain Questers coming down the hill before completing their three days. Fierce commitment to the wound. ET sightings. Bears. Spider bite hallucinations. Detoxing. Emotional purging. People labeled one Quest the “Heavy Energy Quest” and another the “Quest of Love.” Then there was the time someone threatened suicide. (We resolved it.)
A grounded and collective sense of community remained throughout it all. Unity, whether the official theme or not, supported us, and we safely made our way through every challenging opportunity we were offered. Thankfully, the mystical Beings within our ceremony took good care of us.
I went to Little Big Medicine Sundance three times during Healing Quest season. My biggest gift was learning about the role of intercessor. I observed Leonard Crow Dog, Sundance Chief, Medicine Man, and Spiritual Leader. What an amazing teacher! He was connected with the spirit realm in a way unlike anyone else and led from that perspective and relationship. His influence gave me greater confidence in my role at Quest.
I believe I can speak for everyone who joined us at Healing Quest and say, “The only way one might begin to understand Quest is to participate.” Although after over sixteen years, I still don’t understand it. Ceremony. Food. Spiritual Healing. Laughter. Intensity. Magic. Mystery. More laughter. Challenges. Chocolate. Camaraderie. Death. Rebirth. An outdoor organic, gourmet kitchen. Little sleep. More chocolate. Support. Love. Hot showers. Unity. And yes, more laughter.
Healing Quest is my Teacher and Healer. A friend said it’s been my religion. There are no words for the gratitude I have to every person who joined me over the years, some once, and others many times.
A Big Thank You To:
Jean – for your inspiration, land, support, and friendship. June – for the challenge. The first group – for paving the way. Chris – for your trust and care. I could count on you, and that was everything. Rich – for all your infrastructure magic and for teaching me there’s no such thing as a small Quest. Linda – for the caramelized onions. I’ve never forgotten them. Susan – for your support, commitment, and expansive insights. Brenda. Casey. Kimo. Susan. Kirk – for your commitment to being the amazing, grounding, “regulars” in the beginning years. Eden – for suggesting the Council of Elders. Deb – for all the jokes. Lisa – for your kitchen magic. Michael – for the sweat lodge. Joy – avocados, avocados, avocados. Christina – for that life changing healing. Pete – for always helping us. EarthTeach Forest Park – for being such a wonderful home when we had to leave Weed.
All the dogs – Spirit, Amigo, Maya, Moki, Riley, Cocoa, Buddy, and Skipper. I wish we could have another season so my new dog, Apu could become a Quest dog.
And everyone else – I’m sorry I didn’t name you – who came, gave it your all, and helped make Quest what it became. What it is. You taught me more than you’ll ever know.
Someone said, “Healing Quest saves lives.” Another, “Healing Quest is ten years of therapy in one week.” Both are true. The wondrous, uncomfortable, miraculous, and sometimes even a little too intense for me experiences of Healing Quest have healed and shaped my life. Quest lives in my heart and the hearts of everyone who participated in it. And come on, no matter what might have been happening, we always had chocolate, late night coffee, entertaining dogs, and limitless, contagious laughter.
Healing Quest as I’ve known it, is complete. Maybe a rebirth is in the making, a newly formed spirit getting ready to be born. Time will tell. There’s so much more to say……. Here’s one more insight – a letter a dear friend wrote after her time as a Mountain Quester. She offers the perspective of participant. A Taste of Healing Quest.
As they say in Peru. “Muchisimas Gracias!!”
Amigo, Quest dog extraordinaire, chilling at his last Healing Quest.
The final group, Summer 2016.