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Reflections of my Journey into Shamanism
with Ty Walking Deer
by Clayton Silent Crow
Several years ago, I was feeling that I was losing my way in my journey and that things were coming to a stop. I had a yearning to experience more, to gain more knowledge, and of course, I was in a hurry to get there. Later, I would learn nothing happens in a hurry, when it comes to the spiritual journey, with it's twists and turns because it can only happen when you are ready and that can take some time to reach. I had decided to do a meditation course with a well-known teacher, and I was excited to be pursuing my dream. Just before it was due to begin, I received the news that it had been cancelled and I was totally disappointed at not continuing my journey.
Feeling at a loss due to the cancellation, I decided that night to meditate for an answer, and the next day, in the newspaper was an advertisement for a meditation group, starting in Cooroy soon. My prayers had been answered! I rang the number, to be greeted by a very softly spoken male, who announced himself to be Ty Walking Deer.
We talked for a short while, then Ty asked me to come and see him one night before the classes began, which at the time I thought was strange. Why did he want to see me? Couldn't I attend the class and meet him then. Anyway, I agreed to his request to meet him before the class began.
I was greeted at the door by a thin, softly-spoken man who hugged me and welcomed me inside. It was quite dark, being lit by a few candles and there was no noise to be heard. We sat opposite each other at the table and I began talking to Ty about my journey and what I had done to that date. As I spoke, he would look at me with his pale blue eyes, his stare locked on me which was unsettling, then he would quickly break his gaze and look down. This staring routine continued during our conversation and I became aware of the feeling that he was looking inside me. I was feeling that I was being evaluated where I was in my journey, what I was energetically or even the deeper fears and secrets that I kept hidden from view.
But there was something about this man, the quiet, gentle nature, the aura about him, that made me jump for joy inside of me, when he said, "classes start next week, I'll see you then." I left Ty's home that night, excited to the possibilities that might be from the meditation class nights. And let me tell you, they didn't disappoint!
That was my first meeting with Ty Walking Deer, an incredible Shaman with great humility.
After meeting Ty Walking Deer before commencing his Spiritual Workshop, I was so excited to start learning that I was counting the days down to Tuesday night. The days couldn't go quick enough! Finally, Tuesday night arrived and I was at Ty's doorstep, knocking on the door, ready to start my spiritual journey. Ty came to the door and greeted me with a hug and gestured for me to go through to the living room of his house, where I was introduced to Dave, whose face was very familiar, a mother and daughter from Brisbane and joining us later was Kylie from Caboolture. Dave turned out to be very familiar, as when I talked to him it came to me that Dave had supplied me with polo shirts with a logo for my business years ago, and he had left me with a good memory of him being very helpful, fair and considerate-a good soul.
So everyone introduced themselves and the night kicked off with Ty explaining about auras and how to see them. Next we all had a go at viewing one person at a time and reporting what we had seen. Great stuff! Of course, what each person saw varied but we all had a good experience and we had made a start to help us see more in the later weeks. Some reported seeing colours, from gold, blue, green or a thin off-white aura around the body or spots in the body that had a specific colour.
At the end of the night, we all sat around, became comfortable and did a meditation, guided by Ty. The lights were turned off, so the only light was from a candle, incense was burning, and relaxing music was playing to help achieve that meditative state. Ty introduced us to the chakra meditation, connecting to each chakra from the 1st chakra to the 7th chakra. For me connecting to the chakras, seeing the colour of the chakras, came quite easily and I could feel myself being taken to a deep space of relaxation, while listening to the soft tone of Ty's voice. I was in another space when I heard Ty 's voice calling out my name and asking me to open my eyes and look at him. It was very difficult to leave that relaxing space, but I opened my eyes to see Ty staring at me with such intensity, it felt as though he was looking into me. How right that feeling was, I later found out.
As I looked into his eyes, he said to me " Don't blink, don't shut your eyes". Well let me tell you, I couldn't have shut my eyes if I wanted to, such was the intensity. My eyes started to burn and water, I felt uncomfortable but I continued to stare at him. It was then that something strange happened. As I stared at him, he started to become less clear, he was disappearing in front of me, becoming darker and darker, until in a second he was gone. I couldn't see him anymore and I was only a couple of metres away from him. I remember shaking my head, a couple of times, he appeared then he was gone again. It blew my mind away! How did he do that? Did I imagine what had just happened or more alarmingly, what if what I saw was real and did occur. Now that would challenge your beliefs. Ty asked me to close my eyes to my relief, as my eyes were truly burning from not blinking and holding that intense stare. My mind was going into overdrive, trying to work out what had just happened. Next I heard Ty call to Dave to open his eyes and I knew what was going to greet Dave, that intense "stare", and I wondered how Dave was handling it.
Ty went around the group, doing the same staring (later I would find out that it was called "shape-shifting") and you would hear him asking people to open their eyes or to look at him. Then we all came out of the meditation, still in a "out of it" state. I asked about seeing him disappear and Dave mentioned that he had had the same experience. Ty said that it certainly was real, that what we had seen did happen, and he explained that he didn't warn us before the meditation as he wanted us to truly experience the "disappearance" and not have any preconceptions of what it might be like. Well, he achieved that goal! It left me with a sense of disbelief, but I was excited by what I had experienced and eager to experience it again. Dave was more analytical and asked questions that seemed to make him more confused. He agreed that he had seen and experienced Ty disappearing but there was a big "but" that couldn't be satisfied.
The next week, I was looking forward to the next thing to learn and when I met Ty, I commented on last week and the meditation where he disappeared, to which Dave said that it didn't happen. That Ty had tricked him into believing that it had happened, that there was a logical answer to what had happened, he must have fallen asleep and dreamed it. And so he went on dismissing what he had experienced. Ty drew his attention to the week before, and how he had agreed that it had happened on the night and now after a week, he had turned what he had seen into falling asleep or being tricked. He wouldn't have it any other way.
On the night I couldn't fully understand why he had taken such a determined stance, but later with Ty's help and guidance, it became clearer. Daves mind had turned what had happened that he agreed had happened on the night to one of being tricked or not happening at all. That's how strong the Mind can be, but also, it challenged all that Dave believed in, being analytical, he had difficulty in trusting what he had experienced. Better to go with what he knew. The comparison with me couldn't be more different. Although I had disbelief at the moment it happened by shaking my head, thinking that would create normality, I had accepted what had happened and was excited by what next we would do. I was open to all that might be. It was a good lesson in how powerful the Mind is, and how if we allow it, the Truth can be taken away from our True Path. When you trust and believe, all the possibilities and opportunities will come forward to you from Spirit, don't deny them and your future fulfillment will be yours to live.
The Journey Begins......
As the workshop was coming to it's end, I was anxious to keep learning and experiencing more, wanting the long conversations with Ty to continue, to hear about his journey and the trials and tribulations that he had overcome. It certainly was funny how I had a multitude of questions to ask Ty, (just like Carlos Castaneda had for Don Juan), as though when one meets someone with a spiritual connection, you let out all the conversation and questions that you have bottled inside until that like-minded person appears. In fact, I'm sure Ty did mention that it was time for me to go home more than once, I must have chewed his ears off with my incessant questioning, and then, trying to understand the answers from Ty. Many a time, did I go home contemplating the answer. This is a pattern that continues to this day. When you think you don't need to learn anymore, that you know all, that is when you know nothing at all.
I had experienced some healings from Ty which were unique, provoking, always insightful with wonderful visions that left me wordless to describe the journeying, it just wouldn't do it justice to put it into words. Revelations appeared, that then I dismissed only to re-appear in later years, to become my truth that I had avoided since then.
One afternoon, I went to see Ty, determined to ask him if he would teach me, to show me the Shamanic Way. I was unsure whether it was appropiate to ask to be taught or that you had to wait til the teacher asked you. Thus I was in a dilemma as to what to do as I walked through the door to see Ty. He was looking at me but not saying anything, then he questioned what I planned to do after the course finished. For some reason I didn't ask him to teach me, but then he asked me in a gentle, soft voice whether I wanted to train with him. Inside I was shocked, relieved, felt priviledged and jumping for joy at being asked. I felt honoured to be asked but there was this feeling of destiny, a desire to learn this path, and Ty was an inspiration, that encouraged me to search and learn the Shamanic Way, and what a wonderful teacher I was studying with.
And so started my journey with Ty Walking Deer.....
Over the next 3 years, I would regularly see Ty for one-on-one meditations, healings and attend meditation nights conducted by Ty at his home with other like-minded people. I had thought I had progressed down my spiritual path sufficiently but that came crashing down when I commenced with Ty. He would consistently direct me to look at my thoughts, opinions, experiences from a different perspective, to go deeper , to find the true meaning behind actions, thoughts, emotions, of what people said, to be aware of my body language and how I reacted to that of others. It was a huge learning curve! To be able to go deeper into a subject or statement, to not accept the face value of what you are hearing or reading, but discover the underlying motives, possibly manipulations to direct our attention away from the true agenda, the real Truth, this was very challenging to me.
I remember often Ty would bring up information or show me an article or a video on a subject and I would think " This man is crazy, he's a conspiracy nut", it would be that challenging to my perspective of the world and the way it ran. I think, The Titanic turned sooner than what I did! It has taken me a long time to see what some call "The Greatest Lie", but once you become aware of it, it starts to appear everywhere, from listening to the news and how it is reported to create fear, distrust, to alter our beliefs, to mask other agendas, to our politicians who are spokespeople for organisations, lobby groups in the background to do their bidding not for the people, like you and me. This only comes with great patience of a teacher who is prepared to challenge you on your Path but willing to wait while you discover the True meaning. There were many times, that it got too intense, I became filled with anger, frustration, "What has this got to do with my spiritual development?", I would ask Ty.
Ty replied, " In some ways, it has nothing to do with your own personal journey but it also has all to do with how you perceive the world and how you live in that world of lies and deceit, to find the Truth, being connected to Spirit every moment of the day, creating that awareness so you are not affected by the stories you hear, read, see, but accept them for what they are and recognize that there is a bigger picture and a purpose for every moment in this life." There were many times that I could have walked out the door, not to be thrown a curve ball that would challenge all that I had been told by my parents, teachers, ministers, politicians, my experiences, fears and the list could keep going onwards, but I DIDN'T. Why was that? It was the fact, that somewhere within me, I felt there was Truth in what Ty was saying, coupled with the unbelievable meditations and visions that I was having, that I was being healed, taught something within me that I had yearned for most of my life, and my soul recognised that even if my Mind fought to stop that realisation occurring.
There were many times that I would comment to Ty after a meditation or healing, or talking about a vision I had while meditating at home, that I would feel about what I had experienced was more a confirmation of what I already knew within myself and it seemed I was being shown these visions to re-awaken that knowledge. We, all have that knowledge within us, but most of us choose to ignore all the signs, the "coincidences" that occur in our lives, to continue on in our world of consumerism, short attention spans, social media, never to realise the possibilities of reacquainting ourselves with the Divine knowledge. I had walked that path of ignoring that which I was searching for, for a long time. I always looked for someone to guide me, to do the work and I would be instantly illuminated. How little did I know! All the prophets, gurus, spiritual leaders will tell you that the answer is never found from someone, or a book, but only by looking "within" yourself. There lies your answers and your Truth. So every amazing vision that I experienced brought me closer to the conclusion that we are born with this knowledge , only to lose it as we become indoctrinated by our parents, experiences, media, environment, relationships etc., only to feel that there is something missing and we begin to search for answers to fill that "big hole" inside us. At first we do seek others for guidance but ultimately, it is our journey and we must travel it alone to reconnect within us that Divine knowledge.
When I first started meditating with Ty, I was unable to sit on the floor in a cross-legged position, let alone a lotus position- that seemed like an impossibility. If you could see me in my version of sitting in a crossed-leg position, it would have the appearance of a grasshopper, with my legs sticking up in the air, ready to spring into action, such was the tightness in my muscles and joints. In addition, I couldn't straighten my back and sit upright, so I had this lean backwards that became extremely uncomfortable in a short time. I must have looked totally stiff, not relaxed ( how is that possible when every part of your body is screaming out in pain, saying enough!), so Ty suggested that I move to one of the recliner chairs, which I was relieved to go along with and so were my legs and back. Leaned back and up came the foot rest, I was in heaven, but that feeling came thumping down to earth, when Ty said that I wasn't to go to sleep during the meditation, I needed to focus and not drift off, to allow myself not to get too comfortable and become too relaxed. What were the odds that I would fall asleep once he said that.
So once I fell asleep, I was not connected in the meditation, the Mind had come in and distracted me away from the meditation and advancing my journey with Ty's guidance. I have to put my hand up, and declare that at times, I definitely heard myself breathing heavily, although the others present would say that it was more snoring than breathing heavily. What does a few words mean? Well, it means a lot if you intend to journey on your Path, it's also about discipline, being honest, humble, attune to everything around you and within you, to get past old values, thoughts, beliefs, to not allow the Mind to prevent you in moving forward, by such things as falling asleep, being uncomfortable, because they are only temporary and will pass as you evolve and deepen your connection to your Higher Self and to the Creator.
So I was very determined to be able to join the rest of the group on the floor, to sit cross-legged (lotus position might take a bit more work-but not impossible), be relaxed and totally in the moment during the meditation. While I sat in the recliner for a good while, I worked on some exercises that Ty had shown me to stretch the legs and joints, I began taking advantage of anytime available at home to sit in a cross-legged position, and gradually the legs started becoming more flexible. The grasshopper position started to disappear, my legs started to lower enough that I could sit on the floor in reasonable comfort, and with a few cushions to prop up my legs from the shaking and pain, I thought I could join the others. It was hard work but the pleasure was great to join the others on the floor and meditate.
Over the next few years, the tightness in my legs gradually gave way but it was hard going, having to prop-up my legs with cushions and support my back with a pillow, but the legs got more flexible and my back became stronger and more straight. Because my legs didn't have the flexibility at first, all the pressure of my legs not bending would be felt in my ankles and feet. The legs would shake and the outside of my ankle and feet would be screaming in pain and gradually my feet would go numb or have pins and needles going through them. There were many times that I came to the brink of uncrossing my legs and wanting to feel the instant relief of the pain and shaking, that is once the feeling came back into my feet. There was no way I could get up and go anywhere, my feet and legs would be so numb that I had no confidence that they would support me.
Ty would say to me that at the beginning, it was far better to be comfortable rather than be dogmatic about sitting in a cross-legged position in pain, thus not allowing you to reach a meditative state, but I persisted and gradually the pain subsided enough and the knees lowered adequately that I could concentrate more on the meditation, to allow myself to get to those deeper states of mind. Another important factor, was to keep as still as possible during the meditation. Each time we move, become itchy and scratch that itch, be distracted by sounds, find images too confronting whilst meditating, we often will become more conscious taking us out of that deep meditative state that we wish to achieve. Then, we have to go through the whole process of letting go and reaching that meditative state that we were in before. This scenario can repeat itself over and over again, if we give in to being distracted by our thoughts and lack of discipline. Meditation does involve discipline and focus, without these you could not develop the skills to enable you to go deeper and deeper. This is part of the mind's way to not allow you to experience your meditation deeply, by distracting you and by, you allowing yourself to be distracted. Remember, an itch can take up all your attention in a given moment but it cannot sustain your attention for too long, so if you don't pay any attention to it, that itch will start to fade from your focus and you are still in a deep meditative state, not having to go through the whole process all over again. It all depends on how you look at it! By not giving in to the distraction, and allowing those thoughts to pass, you are taking a step forward in your meditative development.
Subsequently, the mind asserts its authority also, by distracting you with a myriad of thoughts, as soon as you deal with one then another appears, but over time they start to diminish and that is when you have an opportunity to see past the mind's influence and connect to Spirit and your Higher Self.
As my physical capacity improved, so had I to deal with the actual gaining of a meditative state, in bringing myself to a deeper state, to experience all that Spirit can show us. To do this, I began by the breath. Breathing deeply in a slow rhythmic fashion, can quickly relax the body and mind into a theta brain-wave zone, the heart starts to beat at a slower rate allowing you to relax every part of your body, not feeling any tension in the entire body. At the same time, the mind needs to be emptied of all thoughts, to be present and in the moment, not affected by thoughts of the past or what will happen in the future. Many will tell you to block these thoughts from entering your consciousness, but in my view all that will create is a focus on blocking thoughts, not being relaxed and in the moment of relaxation, resulting in tension throughout the mind and body. Ty suggested to me that a better option was to allow these thoughts to be recognised not blocked, to acknowledge these thoughts but be firm in letting the mind know that this present time is for meditating only and you will deal with these issues later, then let it go completely. Do not continue to focus on thinking about the issue or something you need to do or you will be distracted the entire time during the meditation and never achieve that meditative state we are wanting to experience. At first, the conversations will come at you in a flurry, a million and one thoughts(so it seems at the beginning) but gradually if you follow the suggested process, they will slow down until we have no further thoughts than concentrating on the breath. That is a practice that the prophets like Buddha, Jesus, Krishna followed on their way to illumination, and it enables you to find the answers you seek by the only way possible, looking 'within'.
Now that you have cleared your mind of all the everyday thoughts, possibilities and inner conversations, it's time to connect to the breath and energise the 7 chakras, which are energy centres in the body. With all the stresses of our lifestyle affecting us on such a deep level, it is so important to meditate each day, including practising deep breathing into the stomach, by pushing the diaphragm down and up, thus allowing the bottom of the lungs (which rarely are filled, especially as we get older and breathe a more shallow breath only in the chest) to fill, and balancing the chakra points. Every meditation with Ty would include connecting with each of the chakras, starting with the first chakra (base or root) and move upwards to the next, until we reached the crown chakra. By doing this we had raised our vibration sufficiently so as to give us a deeper, clearer experience of the night's happenings, whatever that brought. Although it has to be said that every time you meditated with Ty, it was an amazing experience. Sometimes challenging, sometimes exhilarating but never dull or boring.
My First Vision Quest
A year had gone past since I had agreed to be shown the Shamanic Way from Ty, and I was learning many things that seemed to be heading in a certain direction but at that time I didn't have a clue where that would be. Nevertheless, every meeting with Ty, whether one-on-one or in the group meditation, would bring a new revelation for me. Some I would have great difficulty understanding, to the point of totally rejecting what Ty would tell me, this led to many heated discussions that would have me thinking deeply as I left for home and pondering what had been said while driving home and during the period of time before our next meeting. With that time between visits, I would go from a stubborn, pig-headed point of view, that only accepted my outlook, that was based on my parents views, past experiences and what I had accepted as truth from the media, politicians, ministers, books etc and gradually see what Ty was saying and the deeper meaning behind things. He would often say to me a shaman always looks deeper than what is accepted, to find the true meaning which generally is totally different to what is being said.
This was the generosity and wisdom of his teaching, in that he allowed you to go away and think about what had transpired, what he had challenged your beliefs, and he encouraged you to go and do your research and come back with a different answer. But never to dismiss what was said immediately before researching whether what he said was true or not. My ego would take a beating, as every time I researched what incredulous statement he would make to me and every time I would react the same way and dismiss as crazy talk whatever information he would say, but in time he would always be proven to be right although some would take longer to accept than others.
One day at Ty's home, sitting around the table, I had arrived for a meditation when out of the blue he stated to me that " It's time to do a vision quest- you're ready to do one". I sheepishly answered, "ok, what is a vision quest?". He explained that it was a tradition for tribes (most commonly associated with American Indians) but most tribes around the world had this tradition, where boys would go out into the wild and meditate for a period of time, day and night, and if they survived the ordeal they would be looked upon as men in the tribe and given a name that was appropriate for the person. Often an animal would appear to the boy, and it would be interpreted that the animal had a connection with the person and the animal and it's power became part of the young man's totem. He said it would be a challenge for me and would take all my energy and determination to get through it. It wasn't something to consider lightly as it would be confronting and physically demanding. I would be sitting in a position that I would pick out for 3 days and 3 nights, meditating, with the minimum of movement during the time-only toilet breaks and to eat or drink to sustain me enough to continue meditating. My thoughts went immediately to the fact that I would have to sit in the crossed-legged position for such a long period of time. I could feel the fear come up. How could I sit that long? The pain that I would feel in that position, as I could only sit for an hour with legs propped up. How could I cope over 3 days and 3 nights? Ty could sense the thoughts going through my head and reassured me that he wouldn't have asked me to do it, if he thought I couldn't do it, but in the end, it is whether I think I can do it and this is the very test that you do a vision quest for, to meet your fears head on and go past them, so they no longer have a hold on you and stop you in moving forward in your spiritual growth.
So I agreed to the challenge. It meant that I would be on a restricted diet for the 4 weeks leading up to the vision quest. On the fourth week out from the vision quest, I would be eliminating red meat from my diet which wasn't much of a hardship as I don't eat red meat. The third week, chicken and fish are eliminated; then the second last week would be vegetarian and lastly, the final week consisted of nuts and berries. No coffee, tea, alcohol, bread, pasta for the duration. The point of the diet is to make the body as pure as possible, to be able to connect with Spirit, Mother Earth, Nature, the Full Moon, in fact, all around you, and the only way to lighten the body is by eliminating any processed or heavy food (such as red meat) from the diet and replace it with fresh, organic fruit and vegetables. The fact that red meat takes so long and uses so much energy in digesting, is why it is the first food to be removed from the diet in week 4. Just think how you would feel if you meditated on a full stomach. This is why we meditate on an empty stomach or if you really need to eat to keep up the blood sugar level, something small and light to eat or some water is a better way to go. During the vision quest, the only food I would consume would be some dried fruit and nuts so as to keep me just going but only in small quantities. As it turned out, you don't have much of an appetite during the vision quest anyway with the constant meditating. Water is more of a concern as you burn up a lot of energy meditating and dehydration can occur. I allocated myself 6 litres of water for the 3 days, which isn't a lot, but I had to hike to the camp site and that would be all I could possibly carry. Later, at the vision quest, Ty would bring me extra water each morning if I required it, but at the planning stage I wasn't aware of that.
During the weeks leading up to the vision quest, I was meditating daily, at least once a day for an hour or more to prepare for the long periods I would be sitting in one spot. I could feel my connection to Spirit was becoming stronger and stronger each day. At night when going to bed, as soon as I closed my eyes I would have images appear as clear as the day. Many faces appeared, of all races, but I could sense that these faces were appearing for a reason. They were appearing to prepare me for the vision quest, to feel the power in their eyes as they looked at me in the same way as Ty did, showing me the Shaman Way. There was definitely an indigenous connection, as I would wake to see symbols painted on the walls in my bedroom, mostly I sensed they were aboriginal symbols that at times rotated or moved, other times the walls would be flexing in and out around me. There was no fear in what I was seeing, for me it was a confirmation that this was my journey and Spirit was with me. In fact, it was reassuring to experience these images. The first time it occurred, I was unsure whether I had my eyes open or closed when looking at them. It amazed me when I opened my eyes and I could still see the symbols and faces looking at me. There was no difference between waking and dreaming states. As the weeks progressed, the images became more and more intense as my vibration was raised by meditating by myself, other times with Ty, and the diet, which helped me to become open to the energy from Spirit and those guides around me.
When discussing with Ty what I needed to bring for the 3 days, he mentioned that I would have to do some climbing and part of the climb up the mountain would be quite steep, so it would be better for me if I brought only what I needed and keep it to the bare minimum, as I would be carrying it. Food, water, sleeping bag, warm clothing were essentials, but at the end of the conversation he mentioned getting a ' hoochie', which I had no idea what it was. As he said it as an afterthought at the end of the conversation, I didn't give it much thought and concentrated on preparing for my quest. It would be a steep learning curve in listening fully to everything Ty said, as I was to find out that the most important information from Ty came usually in the disguise of an off-hand comment or suggestion that seemed not to have any bearing on what was discussed. So this happened to me in preparation for the vision quest. That one word, 'hoochie' would later be a word I would never forget to this present day.
Another part of my preparation was doing mirror work, which entailed staring at my reflection in the mirror without blinking, whilst talking to myself in an affirmative manner such as a good friend would do, offering positive feedback and compliments to help build the self-esteem of the person. I did this every night leading up to the vision quest. For some this is very difficult to do, the fact to look at oneself is very daunting and can trigger up our insecurities and emotions, leaving us feeling very vulnerable but by doing so we allow ourselves to go past those very vulnerabilities and see them for what they are. Once going past these fears, you notice that they are never as frightening as you had thought, and you wonder why you had let a fear stop you from experiencing all that this life offers. As I connected to myself and became more comfortable with looking in the mirror, I had that discussion with myself and I definitely felt changes within myself as I heard the voice of unconditional love being spoken to me. At first, it seems strange to be talking to yourself aloud but persist for at least 15mins, continuously speaking positive, affirming comments about yourself, and over time you'll find that your self-confidence will increase and you will feel better and life and it's pressures won't get to you like they did before. Give it a try, you won't regret it!
Other times when looking into the mirror, I would see 'clouds or fog' appear in front of my eyes and change into clouds of purple or gold colour, that would block seeing my face. I would re-focus looking at my face and see my face light up on various parts then light would surround my face, but it was always a mix of light and dark on my face. This would then appear on my body, illuminating areas in white light, then turning to colours in other parts. At all times, my face would be lit in this intensely clear, focused light and feel totally at one with my reflection. Then faces would appear in the mirror. It was a kaleidoscope of faces, American Indian, Australian Indigenous, Asian, African, all appeared to me but in such detail and as though they were physically in front of me. The more I think about it, you can only say they really were in front of me. Especially one night, when I was focusing on my face and an American Indian face appeared and began looking at me with such a powerful stare that it seemed to draw me into his eyes. I felt my body stiffen and become rigid as the connection was so strong and the the energy caused me to witness my body starting to vibrate and move left and right and I became unsure what was happening. Fear had raised its presence to me and I could feel it gripping me, but I refused to be overcome with fear and began saying a mantra that eased my mind and allowed me to regain focus on my mirror work. As I was doing this, the Indian face staring at me with such power,'blinked'. This threw me, as I knew that I had been staring at this face without blinking, yet I had just seen the image in the mirror blinking whilst staring at me. That really took me back. It added another dimension of thought as to what had happened. This meant that the image in the mirror was a separate, independent individual, not a reflection of me. This was reassuring to me at the time, the fact that I was not alone in doing the vision quest. I had the guidance of Ty and now I knew I had guides from the Other World looking out for me with their wisdom and knowledge.
As the time fast approached for me to undergo my first vision quest, I was busy getting last minute things in preparation for the trip, and one was the 'hoochie'. I went to an army disposal store but when I asked for one, the woman gave me a puzzled look, indicating that she didn't know what a hoochie was. I bought everything else and decided to not bother finding the hoochie anywhere else. That decision would haunt me later! It would be a cruel irony and a hard lesson to learn over the next few days that would affect my meditation in the bush dramatically. I was becoming anxious about what would happen, imagining all kind of scenarios that might occur and how I would handle them, but all it did was increase my anxiety and drain me of the waning energy that I had. I would remind myself that it was the mind playing havoc with me so as to prevent me from moving forward in my spiritual development, that would result in the weakening of the hold of my mind over me. In the end, I knew that deep down I had the steely resolve to get through it and go past my fears and reassert myself over my mind. What would worrying achieve? I had no real idea what I was in for, how I would react or be able to finish, but I knew that worrying wouldn't help me to find my way during the hard times. This was the conversation going on in my head during the last week.
My energy levels were low, as I was still working during the week and all I was eating then was berries and nuts to sustain me but it wasn't enough to fuel me sufficiently for work and preparing. Still, I managed to get through the week and the mixed feelings of emotion and excitement continued to Friday, the day we would go out. Tomorrow, would be the day I go out to face my fears, let go of old pains, release all anger, find peace and harmony that I sought so badly, to connect with the Spirits, the bush, the ancestors, animals and trees, the sun and the moon and be enriched by the experience, with a deeper understanding of myself and all around me.
Friday arrived and I was full of mixed emotions. On one hand I was so excited about the adventure that was to begin but the unknown, kept rearing its head and causing fear to sweep over me to challenge that excitement I felt. Constantly, I was talking to myself to not let the fear take over my thoughts, so as not to affect the rest of the week-end and be relaxed and trusting in my connection with Spirit, which would get me through the vision quest. There was no way that my fear and the voice in my head would defeat me in experiencing all that came up during the 3 day meditation, such was my resolve to embrace all that came my way.
Arrived at Ty's home , early afternoon, and we talked whilst having a cuppa. It was interesting that I would hear him, then my mind would drift from the conversation, and it would be a blank stare from me, when I realised that Ty had spoken to me and was waiting for me to reply. Where did that time disappear to? I definitely had to concentrate on what was being said, to be alert to our conversation. In this concentrated state, I heard Ty ask whether I had the hoochie. There was this sick feeling in my stomach when I replied that I couldn't find one and no I didn't have one. The look Ty gave me was a questioning look, that seemed to have more meaning than what was said. He replied that I might regret not having bought one if the weather changes and it rains. The hoochie is a small tarp that is used in the army, as it gives protection from the elements but at the same time takes up very little space in your pack and weighs nothing. Ah, that is what a hoochie is! It was too late to get one now, so I would have to pray that the weather would be fine over the week-end or there was cover where we were going.
We left later than we had planned, heading towards an area of bushland that was about 2 hours away. I was driving my car up the highway when Ty asked whether I had ever looked directly into the sun. It was around 3pm and the sun was blazing through the car windscreen, when Ty showed me that yes, he could look at the sun and not become blind or cause damage to his eyes. Couldn't believe what I was seeing. There was no way I would be repeating his effort, my mind was screaming out he is mad, what would the rest of my adventure be like? What insane thing would he have me do? He then advised me not to do the sun gazing at this time of the day as it would damage my eyes. You have no idea the relief those words gave me. He added that I could do the sun gazing at a later time in the day when the sun's rays were not so strong and would not damage my eyes, just before sunset when the sun has an orange glow around it. I really thought I would have to stare into the sun that afternoon whilst driving to my rendezvous and end up blind or with permanent eye damage. This man keeps amazing me with his abilities but he always does it in a matter-a-fact way that is so unassuming and with such humility, you can't not be impressed by the demeanor of the man.
We turned off the highway and headed towards our destination, passing fields of cattle grazing in picturesque countryside, until we took a turn off the road and proceeded along a dirt road passing more dairy cattle and farms as the road gradually became more narrow. It was late in the afternoon, much later than we had planned and the shadows cast across the road by the trees, indicated that we didn't have a lot of time before it became dark. We had by now passed all the farms and were in the forest, with the road cutting it's way through old forest, shadows becoming longer and creating an eerie feeling in the half-light of dusk. A turn led us into a clearing, surrounded by tall trees and silence, to which Ty said that we were here. The car would be left here and the rest of the way would have to be done by foot. I have to be honest and say that the whole scenario, with the fast-approaching dark, the silence and the immense power of the forest we were in, plus the anxiety level which was rising every minute as I became closer to experiencing the unknown was overwhelming. Ty was agitated and was hurrying me to grab my gear and head off as it was getting darker by the minute and we still had to go upstream, then scramble up the mountain.
Ty led the way up the river bed but it became apparent that there had been a lot of rain and the river level was higher, so we couldn't walk the river bed but had to negotiate the river bank, dodging branches and jumping from one rock to another, all the time racing to beat the setting sun. Well we lost that battle, and now we were completely in the dark. I had a torch and thought I could shine the way for Ty, whilst walking behind him. That was a disaster! I had on a backpack with a foam mattress rolled up and attached to the top of my pack sideways. I had thought that I'd reduced what I was taking to a small amount but when I packed away the gear, it quickly filled the backpack. So as I walked along the river bank and avoided trees and branches, when I jumped from rock to rock, of course, the torch stopped shining in front of Ty to show him the way and you can imagine the conversation between us. It would be an understatement to say, things became very tense between us. I realise now that he was only concerned that we wouldn't reach our destination if we didn't motor along, and he was pushing me to move faster. Meanwhile I was quickly becoming frustrated with the cumbersomeness of my pack and that 'foam mattress' catching on every branch or tree that I had to squeeze through. There was a moment that I could have given it all away, the pressure was so intense but I didn't, and a few days later, I would be thankful that I didn't listen to my mind and continue on.
As we walked further along the river bank, with Ty leading the way , it became apparent that it would be better that he had the torch to find our way due to the constant interruptions I had in illuminating ahead of us whenever I became entangled in tree branches as they caught hold of my pack or foam mattress roll. I would have to move to go around or back up to pass these obstacles and in so doing, I would leave Ty in darkness waiting for me to negotiate the obstacle and refocus on the path ahead. The frustration between us was palpable at this stage, until I handed Ty the torch thinking that this would solve our problems. It soon became obvious that this wasn't going to help me in my travels because as soon as Ty had the torch I was left in darkness while Ty moved forward then he would have to turn and shine the way for me to negotiate. It was very time consuming.
After a while climbing on rocks and finding our way around trees that grew right up to the river bank, we came to a clearing where Ty was waiting for me to catch up. He said, ' Take your backpack off and kneel, facing that rock across the river '. He pointed the torch at a large rock almost straight across from us, and continued ' Do you see that marking on the rock? It is in the shape of a shield and I want you to ask the Warrior Spirit in the rock for permission to enter beyond this point and to be able to meditate for the vision quest. You must stay in that position until you get approval from the Spirit Warrior to pass. Do you understand?'. I nodded and asked the Spirit for permission and waited for a reply. After what seemed an eternity, I began to feel a sensation through my body that developed into a vibration that pulsed throughout , from head to toe, I was unable to move. Then a voice spoke to me, saying 'Welcome Clayton to country, we have been waiting for you and Ty to appear. You are late. You can pass past this point but be aware to go no further than the rockpool ahead as it is used for women's business only, no men are permitted to enter that area. Turn left at the pool and head up to the top of the mountain, where others are waiting for you. Rise and go now as it is getting late.'
This message confirmed what I was feeling when we arrived here. The tall trees, the rugged landscape, the darkness created by the shadows of the magnificently, majestic gum trees, the sound of the running water of the creek all gave me a sense of the power of Mother Earth and Nature, that was being absorbed in every cell of my body, there was this unmistakable connection to all around me but further still I felt at one with this land. That inter-connectedness, where all things are interwoven with each other, that we are One and not alone, became an ever present force in my thoughts as I climbed up the mountain.
Ty nodded as I mentioned that we had permission to go further ahead and before I could tell him the rest of the conversation he was gone, moving along the river bank then crossing the creek at a point where the water was low enough for us to jump from one rock to another. Ty made it look easy, but when it came to my turn, I soon found out the benefit of travelling light as whenever I jumped from one rock to another I had to lean forward to prevent the weight of the backpack pulling me backwards and falling into the water. That was the last thing I wanted to happen as it was dark, windy and cold. My technique worked I managed to cross the creek, feeling confident and better still, bone-dry. In the moonlight I could see the light reflecting on the water of the rockpool that was for women only, the energy of the area was different, much more a softer, gentle energy as you would expect for the rockpool. It was a nice distraction from the frantic, fast pace of our journey up to then, but I knew we had the climb to the top of the mountain to complete and the night was not getting any younger.
As we headed up the mountain Ty said that some areas were very steep and to be cautious in where you put your feet as the rocks and ground could be loose under foot. He suggested that I climb on all fours that is to use my hands as well as my feet to scramble up the steep parts, as my backpack could cause me to overbalance and fall. He was right about the steepness. I was soon breathing heavily, working up a sweat as I scrambled up the slope, avoiding tree branches, rocks and wait-a-while vine. The vine has thorns on it that are hooked in one direction, so that when a person or animal becomes entangled in the thorns the only solution is to go backwards so as to release yourself from its hold. The more you go forward the more you become entangled, causing a lot of bleeding and tearing of flesh and clothes. Not a good situation to be in. Well, you can guess what happened. In the dark, I was crawling through some bushes when my arm and backpack became ensnared in its thorny clutches and the more I moved forward to escape its hold, the more I became caught up in the thorns and the pain became more intense as the thorns dug deeper into me as I tried to free myself of its clutches. Ty shone the torch on me to reveal my predicament, I was in the middle of a group of vines, their branches clinging on to me not wanting to let me go. Ty yelled to stop moving forward and to move backwards so as to release myself from its thorny hold. The method worked and all I had to show was a few tears in my clothing, some scratches but otherwise unscathed. On we went to the top. There was no track to the top, but Ty had this innate sense which way to go and after what seemed a long time we reached the top of the mountain, both physically and mentally tired, totally spent. The wind was blowing a gale, eventually chilling us once our bodies cooled from our workout up the mountain. Ty suggested we might have a fire tonight so I went to collect firewood so we could get warm. It was a good diversion as I needed some time to myself to gather my thoughts after such a trial. It had brought up a lot of emotions and fears in me that I had to overcome to get to the top of the mountain, I had been running on adrenalin and the crash was coming as I relaxed. Once the fire was started, and we were settling in to our camp, Ty said that in the next few days and nights I would be sitting in one place in the campsite to meditate during the vision quest, so I might try sitting in a few spots tonight to see whether I felt comfortable in one of them. He said that I needed to be aware of the fact that some spots can be positive energy and others can be negative, so it required me to sit and be aware how I was feeling, that a negative spot could make me feel ill, uncomfortable and if I continued staying in this spot I would not have a good experience. I needed to use my intuition when approaching the spot, then as I sat what I felt through my body from Mother Earth. It was part of the training to be able to work out areas that have a positive energy and those that are negative when walking in the bush. This can apply to anything, such as trees, plants, animals, people, homes, in fact, once you become aware you can connect with everything. It is based on the fact that everything is interconnected, that we all are One, that all are made up of energy and so we can feel and communicate with all energetic bodies. This is what a shaman can do.
After the fire was alight and giving us some warmth against the blustery, cold wind that had prevailed from the moment we arrived at the top of the mountain, the trees creaking and branches moving like Spanish fans being held in the trees hands, opening and closing to the whim of the wind, I looked for a spot where I would do my quest from. The first spot I chose, seemed a good spot, it had a fallen tree as a support for my back and was situated in the middle of the campsite but as soon as I sat down I could feel a nauseous, sick feeling in my stomach and it continued to take over my body as I sat in the spot. The longer I stayed in the spot the more intense it became, so it was clear that this would not be a good spot to be sitting for the next few days, so I moved around the area, spending some time at each selected spot until I was satisfied with the area that I had chosen. It certainly wasn’t the best area as far as comfort was concerned, as I had hardly any support for my back, a tiny tree that provided very little support while I sat in a crossed-legged position but this was the spot and I would make the best of it. I unrolled my foam mattress on the ground, placed my sleeping bag on top of it, with the backpack leaning against the tree, then sat down to relax, take stock of what had happened so far in our adventure and settled down for the night. Ty was across from me in the clearing and had decided to stay at the campsite for the night as it was too late to go back to the car. He asked if I was satisfied with the spot I had chosen and mentioned in passing conversation that we might have rain that night and it was a shame that I didn’t have some cover just in case. I heard a little sigh as he said it was what it was, and I would have to manage without one. It sounded very ominous to me.
That night I commenced meditating, putting myself into a spiritual state and connecting to Nature, the moon, the animals and all around me. It took a while to get into this trance state, as the slightest noise in the dark would bring me out of my meditative state and I would have to go through the process of relaxing enough to allow myself back into that connection with all. This continued throughout the night, only with the pain of my back and legs reminding me of their resistance to being in one position for a long period of time. I had to arrange my pack against the small tree that supported my back, to find a comfortable position so that I wouldn’t be distracted by the pain when meditating. During the night the weather became very windy and cold, with dark clouds suddenly appearing and as quickly disappearing across the night sky, which reflected how I was feeling in my sitting position because I was going from extreme pain in my back to aching legs, my feet were numb and my backside lost all sense of the ground upon which I was sitting. The events of the day; the preparation, the driving and the gruelling hike, seemed to come together when I commenced meditating and my mind started to go into overdrive trying to distract me by analysing these events. It was a tough night spent letting go of these thoughts so as to stop my mind chatter and achieve a meditative state deep enough to connect with Spirit, Nature, Mother Earth, the Moon, the Sun, the Ancestors, my guardians and all who were with me at that time.
Every now and then, I would glance over to the direction where Ty was and see him lying down but I was aware that he wasn’t asleep, that he was with me as I journeyed throughout the night. It was comforting for me to have someone that I trusted completely, be with me, and his presence reassured me that all was ok during my first night on top of the mountain.
In the early hours of the morning, just before dawn, my worst fears realised themselves when I felt my face becoming damp as a few drops of rain moistened my skin and progressively became more heavy until we were experiencing a downpour that was unrelenting. As I sat on my spot that I had chosen the night before, all I could think of was Ty’s words about bringing a hoochie and now I was regretting not putting more importance to that advice. The hoochie would have given us good cover from the rain but it was what it was and there was no point in contemplating what could have been, so here I was lying in my sleeping bag with my feet in a pair of shoes that should have been a pair of flippers, as they were in a pool of water inside the sleeping bag. Initially I had thought I would be alright as I had assumed that the sleeping bag and also the backpack were waterproof, but that assumption was to turn out incorrect. Yes, everything that I had was now wet. Nothing could be done now except wait until the rain stopped. After dawn appeared and after raining for a couple of hours, it finally stopped.
Ty survived a lot better than I did, as his sleeping bag was waterproof, but he couldn’t resist saying that I must like water, after the hike along the creek and stepping into the water and now being completely soaked by the rain. The foam mattress had become a sponge, soaking up all the water that had run in my direction, contributing to my wet state and helping the sleeping bag having a lake of water inside it. All the clothing I had on was wet and when I checked my clothing inside my backpack, they also were all wet. The backpack was definitely not waterproof. The sun still hadn’t appeared to dry my clothes, so I was resigned to be in wet clothes until the weather improved. I took my shoes off, and water poured out of them.
The sun still hadn’t appeared yet to help dry my clothes, so I was resigned to being in wet clothes until the weather improved. I took my shoes off, and water poured out of them. I proceeded to wring my clothes out, to make the best of a bad situation, hoping that it would speed the drying process when I put them back on, with the help of my body heat. I always remember the feeling of putting on my wet socks and then into my soaked shoes. My feet were desperate for some warmth, as they had that dried-prune like appearance and steadily became worse with all the moisture in my clothing. Thankfully, I had decided to bring a jacket that was gortex treated (waterproofed), so I pulled that out of the backpack and put it on, trying to get warm.
I was feeling dejected and miserable, thinking that I might not be doing the vision quest after all, but that thought was quickly swept aside when Ty started talking about what the quest would involve during the next few days. He mentioned that each morning he would ring a bell to announce that he was coming up the mountain with some water and food for me, and that I needed to find something to sound to let him know that I had heard him. I would proceed to join him halfway down the mountain, to a spot he would show me later when I accompanied him down the mountain to where we would meet. I decided that I would have two stones that I would hit together to sound out that I had heard him. Picking up some stones, I hit them together which resulted in them breaking up into pieces and no sound being heard. Great selection there! I looked around the camp site but all the rocks were made of the same soft material. I would have to look for a more suitable stones so as to be heard a reasonable distance when Ty called in the morning. With that sorted we moved on to ceremonies that I would do every day, namely a sunrise meditation and a sunset one, where I would find a suitable spot that I could sit and see the sun rising and setting. In this position, I would focus staring at the sun, with eyes not blinking, fully open, connecting with the sun, becoming a part of it. I needed to sit in this position without moving. In the morning, that meant being in position before sunrise, ready for the sun to rise in the sky and in the afternoon, the same again. I would be seated in a spot to see the sun before setting, and hold that unblinking gaze into the transition from day to night. I became really excited about doing this as Ty gave me an example of him doing it when we drove up to the campsite. He blew my mind when he did it. Now I had an opportunity to experience what he had shown me. There would be no fires, only a tea light that I had brought but it was decidedly wet. I had plenty of water, some nuts and dried fruit that would sustain me just enough during the meditation. We talked about allowing me to be in a spiritual state throughout the time, that when I felt myself coming out of it, I needed to focus on bringing myself back into that state so I could fully experience the connection with Spirit and all around me. This was essential to my experience over the coming days. My thoughts were swinging from “Can I do this?” to “Let’s get on with this”, so as Ty was outlining these details, a part of me was thinking, “Can you please go, so I can start this meditation” and the next thing I hear Ty say to me, “I guess you want me to go now?”. He was reading my mind again.” Yes, please go!” I thought to myself so I can start.
Ty got to his feet, offered me his sleeping bag that was waterproof to use for the coming days and for whatever weather that eventuated, as he wouldn’t need it as he would be cocooned in the warmth and dryness within my car at the bottom of the mountain. I accompanied him to the halfway point where we had arranged to meet every morning. Along the way we walked a track from the top of the mountain to circle around to where we had arranged to meet the next few mornings, with Ty reminding me to take note of the area, such as prominent trees, rocks, anything that was a landmark so that I would recognise it on my way back from the halfway spot. Also, he had suggested that I bring something to mark my way through the bush. I brought some pink rope and had cut up a shopping bag into strips, so I could tie it around a tree and then I would look from that marked tree in a straight line to the next landmark that I would mark and continue doing this process until I reached the halfway spot. This was a clever idea and I was confident that I would be able to find my way back to the campsite and commence my meditation. So after saying good-bye to Ty until tomorrow morning, I began my return to the campsite, when I realised that I had missed one of the markings on the trees and had gone off in a different direction without finding anymore markings on trees. Ty’s words were haunting me again, “Be careful to mark the trees clearly or you mightn’t see them when you return. It’s easy to get lost in the bush.” he said. I had a good sense of where the campsite would be, so I started going up the slope, scrambling over rocks, finding my footing as I negotiated steep slopes, avoiding the wait-a-while vine and it’s painful grasp, all the time confident that I would find my way to the top. That belief was tested a few times as I surveyed around me looking for any recognisable landmarks and that sinking feeling when you realised that nothing was familiar and you could be lost and what would the repercussions be. I wasn’t going to give in. I kept going, using my intuition to direct me in which way to go and eventually I started seeing trees, rocks and other objects that were familiar until I entered my campsite and breathed a sigh of relief that I was here. Now I could commence my vision quest for real! It was just I, wet, cold and alone on top of a mountain, facing the unknown for the next few days and I was excited to experience whatever that would bring.
I was filled with mixed emotions as I settled into my sitting position that would be home for the next few days, took a deep breath and allowed all thoughts to disappear into nothingness to take me into a spiritual state to open me up to all that was around me. Of course, there were the doubts about whether I could do this and the fear of the unknown but there was something inside me that knew I could do this and that I would be ok. It was an inner knowledge that I had experienced in previous meditations, where I would experience a vision or discover an epiphany of thought that would be a confirmation of what I realised I already knew. This always kept me on the path, as I understood that it was an indication that I had a deep connection from this life and before in my previous lives and this was the validation that kept me pushing myself to experience more and more in this new (old) spiritual world. It is this revelation of a new experience that helps the devotee to continue on their path, overcoming fears and raising their vibration, so as to progress further in the Shamanic World, otherwise it would be all too difficult.
The morning was spent settling into the campsite, relaxing, allowing my thoughts to gradually slow and disappear from my consciousness, not being distracted by my mind chatter as I became comfortable with my surroundings and the feeling of being alone on this mountain. At first, it was a feeling that wasn’t a sense of defencelessness but more a vulnerability that stripped away the pretences by which I used to protect myself from the outside world and now I was a small part in a much bigger landscape that on a deeper level I was thrilled to be a part of. The sun didn’t come out that morning, leaving everything unable to dry. My clothes were wet, shoes, socks, sleeping bag that I sat on; all my clothes in my backpack were all saturated. All I could hope for was that my body heat would dry my clothes sufficiently for me so as to not to freeze by nightfall.
Time now to do what I had climbed this mountain. I concentrated on allowing my breath to take me deeper and deeper until my breath had slowed sufficiently to be in that meditative state where I was totally connected to my surroundings, the trees were moving in the wind, their branches creating patterns in the sky as though they were hands waving elegantly in the breeze. The trunk of the tree started taking the form of animals; I saw a group of dolphins making their way down from the above branches to the trunk, changing their form as I continued to stare at the tree. The bird calls were crystal clear, it seemed that I could hear and see things much more acutely, even over long distances, the clarity was so surprising to me. It was how I had previously seen the landscape when I had journeyed with an eagle; her eyesight would be scanning the countryside below with that tunnel-vision allowing it to see every detail in such great focus. This was what I was feeling. The ability to focus on anything; thought, animal, the weather, noises, I was completely in the moment. At one with all that was around me, I began to experience these connections with such a profound sensibility, it was very humbling.
The rest of the morning was spent in this state, getting to find a comfortable position to sit that wouldn’t distract me from my main focus of meditating, going within, allowing the surroundings to become at one with me. Of course there was moments that I came out of this deep meditation, and the discipline came to the fore, putting those thoughts aside to allow me to go deeper in my quest to let go that which didn’t serve me and replace it with the real me that I had sought to embrace over the years. This continued for a good while and every time I came out of this state, I would look up and see clouds and the weather darkening, looking very ominous indeed, especially as I still hadn’t dried out yet. By early afternoon, the sky was black and rain was imminent. Down it came in a massive storm, with the wind blowing a gale across the top of the mountain. I had nowhere to go but sit it out. The rain was coming in almost horizontally and I managed to put on an emergency poncho that I was carrying but it was so thin and light that after only half an hour it had split down the sides. I was starting to feel frustrated by my position, being cold and wet, the wind was cutting through me, feeling totally uncomfortable about the whole situation I was in. Nevertheless, I stayed there, holding my legs up against me so as to keep warm, trying to not let the poncho blow open and allow the rain to find its way to any part of me that was dry. This was the position I held for most of the afternoon sitting in this tempest. My mind was going crazy. One minute, I would be saying that this is “bullshit” and I was going down, I was angry that Ty was warm and cosy inside my car while I was uncomfortable, wet and cold. That was it, I’m going down! Next minute, I would scold myself for being so weak, after all this is the very test that I had come to experience and overcome. Admittedly, this seemed more than what I had agreed upon but it was only degrees that I was talking about and what an achievement it would be to continue my quest through this enormous distraction and come out the other end. That afternoon it seemed that the end was very close but I’m proud of myself in not giving up and coming down the mountain. The afternoon continued with my mind being totally absorbed by my discomfort, to the point that it had taken me so far away from my normal meditative state and into a world of anger, frustration, blame, pain and cold. Everything that I had worked to move past in meditation had resurfaced to test me of my convictions. It was my moment of truth, to see if I had really learnt what Ty had taught me or was it only lip-service and that I hadn’t fully understood what he had said after all.
After being buffeted by the wind and rain for hours, the weather started to ease later in the afternoon allowing me to wring my clothes out, empty my shoes and try to get as dry as possible before nightfall. I managed to find clothes that weren’t quite so wet and hoped that my body heat would help dry them quickly. My hands, fingers, feet and toes were like prunes, the skin was so wrinkled. Nothing was dry but I had to make the best of the situation as soon I would be facing the night chill and I was wet and unlikely to dry out in time. I stretched my legs walking around the campsite, jogging on the spot seemed a good idea until my energy waned. I hadn’t eaten much that day, only some dried fruit and nuts. As the last rays of the sun faded behind the mountains, I settled into the coming night, prepared for whatever it would bring but determined to not let myself down.
I love that time between the sun-setting and the moon rising. That transition from light to dark, where the grey appears and everything is still, when animals start to think about coming out to feed, to be a part of that process is so special for me. As I sat in my campsite, there is an opening in the middle, and to the north and south of the campsite were trees that formed a gateway into it. As I sat against a tree looking into my campsite, I saw lights floating through the southern gateway and into the middle of the campsite. Was I seeing things? They looked like stars, shining so brightly, in the colours of green, purple and white, as they floated through the campsite heading towards the north gateway. They slowly made their way to the north end and disappeared. I was dumbfounded by what I had just witnessed, “Is that possible, what I just saw?” I questioned myself. The answer was a resoundingly strong yes. What a privilege to have seen that! What was it that I had seen? I know it was Spirit reaching out to me, because it gave me the courage to keep going on with my quest.
Dark had arrived and it was still too early for the full moon to illuminate the mountain top. I was feeling cold and tried to keep warm wearing all the warm clothes that I had that were only damp but it was no use. I would have to tough it out until the morning sun rose and warmed my body and all my clothes and sleeping bags. It was a welcomed sight to see the moon’s full face appear and to sit in its moonlight. It amazed me how much I could see without any fire or light. The eyes adjust to the night light and see quite well. You could make out trees, mountains, valleys in the distance. But it was difficult to meditate for long periods as I was starting to shake and as the night continued my shakes became more and more severe. After a few hours I was uncontrollably shaking, totally cold and uncomfortable, unable to focus on anything else but my pain. All the anger, pain, my past, all the emotion within me began to bubble up to the surface. My chest became tight with all these feelings swamping me, it felt like I was out of control and I was wanting out. It was so intense! As it built to the point I could take no more, I let go this deep, primordial, from the bottom of my soul shout, screaming “Fuck!!!!!” over and over again. The voice was something I have never heard before. It came from a deep, hurtful place and after I had finished letting go all that pain, frustration from that day’s ordeals and from my past, a calm came over me that soon stopped all my shaking, the tension from my ordeal was gone and I was at peace with all around me. I wasn’t worried about my wet clothes, the cold of the night, whether Ty was warm and dry, throwing in the towel and coming down from the mountain, it all was insignificant to how I was feeling then. I knew I would get through the night and all would be fine tomorrow. It wasn’t till later after the vision quest, that I realised that I had had a massive release that night and the imagery of the night and all the battles I went through, then after the release, the peace I had experienced and the next day which greeted me of warmth and sunshine has stayed with me to this day. What a challenge I had experienced and had come through!
After going through some dark places the night before, I was greeted the next morning to a gloriously sunny day that lifted my spirits, the rays of the sun reached out to reassure me that all was well and the warmth of its touch on my skin was both warming and extremely sensual. It’s difficult to explain but after my trials the night before, the warmth of the sun was invigorating, removing the cold from my body and filling me with this optimism for the day and what lay ahead. It was a very special moment! All of a sudden, I heard Ty ringing the bell and I knew I had to signal back to him by hitting some rocks together so he could hear that I had heard him and I was on my way to meet him at the arranged meeting spot to replenish my water and food. It would be in silence unless I had a question to ask. Conversation would be kept at a minimum. When I banged on the rocks that I had selected at the beginning of my stay, they instantly crumbled in my hands without making enough sound for Ty to hear. I looked around for anything that was able to make a sound loud enough for Ty to hear me. As I was looking, I could hear Ty’s voice getting louder and louder with urgency in it, that compelled me to yell out that I was coming but obviously he didn’t hear me as the urgency in his calling continued to increase in volume. My search was in vain for any rocks that would sound sufficiently loud enough for him to hear me, so my stress levels began to increase as I yelled back at him repeatedly but always I could hear my name being called. Ty’s voice has a quality that can carry through the bush a long way, so I decided that seeing he couldn’t hear me it would be better to head down to our arranged spot and continue calling until he heard me. Off I went to the sounds of Ty’s distressed voice in the background, with me questioning why doesn’t he hear me. It must have sounded comical with both of us yelling at the top of our voices but not being heard by the other, as we became closer and closer to each other. I could hear the irritation in our voices at not being heard and I was wondering what my greeting would be from Ty as this had gone on for a while as I descended from the top of the mountain. Finally, he heard me and we saw each other in the distance. It was with great relief that the bush became silent again, not being drowned out by these noisy humans. I explained to Ty what had occurred and he just nodded, I think he was so relieved that I had appeared intact without injury. He joked about being dry and warm in the car yesterday and reminded me about the benefits of having a hoochie, to which I could only acknowledge the statement and told him about the night before and how I had reached a crisis during the night with the cold and being wet. He listened silently with great attention taking in every word I said, as though each word had a message or a key to how I was feeling and would reveal my inner feelings. He said that he thought I would come down during the day yesterday, but it was to my credit that I hadn’t followed my mind and admitted defeat and descended, that I had stayed and moved past all the physical and mental difficulties that were thrown at me and come out the other side triumphant in my belief. Yes, I had released a lot of my past and my perspective of myself and what I could achieve had certainly changed. There was a quiet confidence that I felt after enduring such a hardship and the sun gave cause to celebrate such a milestone by offering such a magnificent day. We had arranged for me to come down at first light the next day and Ty would be waiting at the meeting spot to accompany me to the car. We hugged and I walked off to resume my meditation, carrying water and some food to get through the next day. This time I managed to find my way with the markings that I had left the previous day, it was as though each hour that I stayed on the mountain brought with it an understanding, a connection that grew stronger the more time I spent being here. Upon reaching camp, I was feeling pretty good and with the sun shining brightly now, it was time to take advantage of it and dry the sleeping bags, my clothes and anything else that was wet. That included the clothes that I was wearing, so off went the clothes to be draped over trees and branches, wherever I could catch the sun’s warming rays to dry my things. It is a very liberating feeling to be naked as we were created, with the warmth of the sun’s rays giving me strength and my skin beginning to lose that prune-like appearance as my skin began becoming more elastic. Glorious feeling walking around naked but I expect it might be a shock for anyone walking upon me. Nevertheless, this is how nature created us.
The rest of the morning was spent in a relaxed mood with the warm sunshine giving me warmth and a strength that grew as the morning progressed. I felt different. An inner peace had taken over my being. I moved in a light, gliding fashion, almost cat-like, my thoughts were a lot clearer and focused, looking at things in a different light, a different perspective became obvious as I sat and meditated into the afternoon. All the tension of the last few days had been released and replaced with a new found state of peaceful mind that was new to me but it was a state that I wanted more of in my life. It was then that I realised that I had been sleep walking my life away, thinking that I was relaxed but in reality I was so uptight and stressed out by my life. All those fears of death, afraid of being rejected, trying to please others, not speaking my authentic Truth, being lonely and alone, not having love for myself and indirectly for others, seeking love and acceptance from my parents and much more, seemed to be insignificant as I walked and meditated in my little patch of the world, on top of this mountain, for I was in the moment, just enjoying the inner peace that manifested throughout my body, mind and soul. The feeling was so simple and joyous but resonated on such a deep level, it was blissful.
By afternoon, all my belongings were dry and I was invigorated by the warmth of the sun and my prune-like hands and toes had disappeared. I spent the afternoon either meditating or relaxing as my body was aching for a break from the usual sitting position, when late in the afternoon as I lay on the ground a crow flew onto a branch above me. It landed on the branch silently and continued to look at me but not emit a sound, which I thought was very strange at the time. This silent observation between us continued for a good while before we were joined by another crow, then another, and soon the whole tree had crows in it, but not a noise from any of them. As I looked up, I could feel myself connecting to them in some way, and I was being allowed to do this as they showed no fear from me, in fact, I thought they were very interested in me. A good while passed, probably 20-30 minutes, before that contact between us was broken and then a cacophony of sound erupted as the crows began flying away until the first crow that had joined me flew away leaving me to ponder on what had just transpired. There was such an extreme connection that I knew it had a great deal of meaning to me. Ty had mentioned that on the last day or night of the vision quest that things can happen, such as an animal may appear to which you have a strong connection or revelations or visions can happen. It makes all the trials and tribulations that you go through over the previous days worth it for these experiences. The fact that you have survived them leaves you open to all around you and welcomes the gift of Spirit bestowing you with your totem animal, or possibly your power name, a vision to help on the journey, but all are rewards for the anguish and courage in facing your fears and coming through them to be a better person, with inner peace and knowing yourself a lot more intimately.
Later that final afternoon, whilst doing my meditation connecting to the setting sun I began seeing the sun change into a mass of energy, like a ball that was liquid and moving within it's confines. These moving particles were dark in colour and began looking like tiny circles that changed colour to a rose colour. What was amazing was the clarity of each of these little particles of energy within the sun. I could see every detail no matter how minute they were. Then a cross appeared in front of the sun, in the formation of a Celtic cross, with each end of the cross flaring out with energy, like sparklers emitting their wonder, so did the ends of the cross. It was a magical sight! Colours began to appear in the background, changing from brown to pink whilst the sun blazed away, then symbols started materialising and morphing into other symbols as the background changed. They looked to me to be similar to Rune symbols and later I would discover that they were but at the time I didn't have the knowledge to know what they meant. The colours began to fade around the symbols going from red, orange to an almost clear colour which then became a trail of clear pathways which I recognised as arteries and veins that surrounded the symbol. I was looking into the bloodstream and seeing blood cells flowing in these arteries. Then I had the sensation in my neck at first, and developed into my face and I could see the bloodstream in my neck and face. It was mind blowing stuff that was so real. By this time the sun was setting behind the mountain and I was ready for my final night, whatever that might be I was ready for anything to happen. There was this inner strength in me that instinctively I knew I would be ok, no matter what was going to happen.
After sunset as I settled in for the night ahead, I was visited by Spirit in the form of coloured stars of energy, floating into the campsite from the same direction as the previous night with the colours being so bright and illuminating in green, purple and white, they hovered for a while before leaving in the same path as the previous night. I always remember the dazzling brightness of them. Like jewels shining in the light. I was pleased to see them as it gave me a sense of connection and familiarity, a confirmation of what I had achieved through the last few days. I was totally at peace with myself and my surroundings and this reflected in my deeper connection to Spirit. The moon appeared in the dark sky and lit up the campsite, to reveal a more serene mood than the other night. How light I felt as I sat there in my spot, meditating on nothing in particular, just connecting to all that surrounded me and feeling that inner peace within me. The night continued in this manner, being totally absorbed in the moment, and contrary to the other nights , the time went so quickly that I soon realised that it was nearing sunrise and I needed to start making my way back to the spot down the mountain where Ty and I had agreed to meet. I had been through the hardship of the cold and rain, dealt with my fears and physical tests, only to come through and feel like I was on top of the world. I was tired and weak but there was this undeniable energy within me that could not be supressed with mere tiredness and lack of sleep. I was in a state of peaceful bliss that could cope with anything that presented itself when I came down from the mountain and rejoined my daily lifestyle. I felt different and capable to deal with whatever my world would give me, in fact, I was inspired to make changes in my life to be more connected to my true self, after discovering attributes that I didn’t know I possessed. And there was a complete trust in my connection with Spirit and the knowledge that I would be ok no matter what presented my way in the future, as I need only remember what I had been through and what had occurred on top of the mountain to know that I am not alone, but guided and cared for in all that I do. It was empowering stuff!