By Kelley Rico
It wasn’t a dark and stormy night but a blinding and difficult dawn when my vision quest began. The first ‘official communication’ from the ethers came in the form of a question: “What do you really want?”
Understanding and knowledge, I said.
“Are you sure?” wafted back, as though I must’ve needed my head examined to produce such an answer. (Quite possibly, I did.)
The quest of a lifetime began on the spot.
I was in my mid thirties and my husband had just committed suicide. Sprawled on my living room floor watching the Sun come up, I wanted to understand that event, to understand why I hadn’t been able to help him, to understand what the deep and abiding abyss in my soul contained. I felt as though I truly had to get on the way, and fast, to who and what I might really be. There was no more time to waste.
Up to that point, I’d tried very hard to be what everyone else wanted me to be. Now, I had to cast all the old behaviors aside in order to see where I really was.
At the time, this included my ability to literally know what everyone in a room was thinking the minute I walked in. That ability had to be used in a more meaningful manner than simply giving everyone what they wanted. I knew it was a strength, but I didn’t have a clue how to use it.
It was very strange to walk through the world deliberately not intuiting, but I did learn how to observe carefully. It took years for me to learn how to see the patterns in things and overcome my black-belt level co-dependence. I wandered in the desert for what felt like 40 million days, lost but somehow guided, and over time it became clear that the very thing I had cast out, my intuition, was the thing that would power my life’s purpose.
At this point my health was not good. As seems to always happen on quests that there are clues and mysterious gifts. Mine was my love of gardening, which led me to remedies in the plant world for my own healing — and a decades-long study of plant medicine, herbs, and flower essences began. I learned hands-on healing and became a dowser. Finally, the place for my intuition became totally clear: it was to support my action in the world and give me the knowledge I sought.
My quest wasn’t for fame and fortune, but on an unknown inner level it was for the higher stakes of conscious awareness and connection with Source. I had asked for wisdom, and often thought in challenging moments that it would have been much better to ask for something like money or security, something simpler. In any event, my request/quest ultimately caused total change in my life — work, family, money, all my attitudes and relationships, home. I had to learn that all the things I felt deeply as wounds were simply there to show me the truth of things, which is that love is the basis of everything. It may not be the love you picture — romance or mother or family. But it is the love that allowed me to see at last that we are all one, we cannot judge, and there is a timeless flow of which we are part.
This vision quest is still ongoing — they never really end since there is so much to see and learn. Now I can sit with the dying and suffering and not let fear overcome my ability to simply be present. I can be truly helpful and of service at long last, which turned out to be all I ever really wanted. Also, I’m now a whiz with pain and bruises!
I can’t say this hasn’t been a painful journey, because it has. The years of gathering information and strength without really knowing where I was headed were difficult. The thing about a vision quest, though, is once you start you really can’t stop. There is a pull through even the darkest moments that says you have to carry on, there is much for you to do. I had to trust I’d get there eventually.
Trust winds up being as much a key as love. I thought I was alone in the universe, and I had to do it all by myself. (Silly bear!) At this point I’d say the essence of my vision quest has been the discovery that we are not alone. We may not know who else is in (or out) there but it doesn’t really matter — the spirit and energy of the cosmos speaks to us if we can sit down and shut up long enough to hear it. When we do hear it, we get clear instructions. If we follow those instructions, we truly live, and we can be present for our fellow beings in love and service (even if at times we do lose our tempers or composure).
Vision quests are to show us our gifts and purpose, and these are not things that come without effort. Nor are they static. At least now I know, having come through my vision quest, that whatever comes next I will be able to abide with it in peace.
It is, to be sure, a different sort of peace form what I imagined at first. This peace comes arrayed in startling beauty, and while it isn’t a cessation of pain and challenges, it is a deep well of strength and compassion that is everlastingly sustaining. This peace tells me there is so much within and without — so much to see — that, in a way, there’s no time for fretting, fuming and suffering. It has allowed me to no longer be afraid of the pain of being alive as well as of dying, but rather to embrace it all, and come through it joyfully. I am amazed.
Kelley Rico lives in a yurt in Northern California, with a big garden, The Partner, and The Dog. For information on her practice, visit www.kelleyscustomcreams.com.