Owl Woman's Vision Quest
Acrylic on Canvas
14” x 24” x 1”
Cooling from the heat of the day under the starry night.
Feeling broken seeking peace, in the Solstice moon full and bright.
Owl woman came from the stars, she was near me all along
With a gift in her hand, spoken words and a song.
Ancient seed let it grow…
Ancient tree you already know.
It was during the Summer Solstice of 1999, I was guided to do a humblecha, a vision quest by the still quiet voice inside me, suffering emotionally over my past, childhood issues, I imagined the voice was some kind of an answer to my pain. Although for months I avoided it, and tried to talk myself out of what eventually became the inevitable. A vision quest is an ancient tool used by various Indigenous cultures to seek spiritual guidance by fasting and praying for four days and nights in nature, without water or communication with the outside world, alone with yourself and God.
For me my guidance was to do seven-days of fasting, with four days and three nights in the red rocks on top of a mountain where I lived in Malibu. It was ancient ceremonial land for the Chumash Indians in a very powerful vortex.
I did a sweat lodge my first night of fasting, it was harder than usual and I came out of there already feeling like a load had been lifted. Each night before I went up on the mountain, I lit a sacred fire and my days were spent making prayer ties in the medicine wheel with my drum and songs deep in prayer. I borrowed a Sacred Pipe, a Chanupa to smoke with my prayers using white willow bark. On the land where I lived, a short hike away, are red rocks and caves and I found my spot near a Great Horned Owls perch. It was not a covered cave and the sun would be on me most of the day, but this was where I was guided to be. I collected dessert sage from the area and prepared my sacred circle that I would sit in for the next few days and nights.
I climbed up the rocks, already a bit weary from the fasting. I got to my half cave, did my prayers of protection and preparation, knowing I was embarking further into my journey of death and rebirth and feeling a bit scared, yet surrendering just the same. I brought my journal so I could write the experiences as I felt them. A big beautiful yellow and black Swallow Tail showed up right when I did and she stayed on and off the whole four days. She even surprised me by chasing away a horsefly that appeared quite threatening to me a few times.
My vision came while I was in the deep theta state of consciousness the time between sleep. I was so very weary. As I lay in the heat of the day, I welcomed periodically falling out of consciousness, the pounding pain in my body from no food and water or sleep was becoming unbearable.
In the vision, I found myself standing naked in the East end of the medicine wheel. A giant stag walked towards me from the South. We stood staring into each others eyes, soul to soul. He stomped his hoof to the ground several times. When I asked in my mind what does he want me to do, I suddenly knew he was inviting me to enter into him, as I did, I became him. As the stag, we walked to the cool water and drank and ate young green leaves. It felt very different to walk having four legs, like walking on air. The antlers on my head weren’t as heavy as I would have expected them to be, I actually felt more balance in my stance and I felt stronger with them.
As I stepped back out we stood again looking into each other’s soul. Our encounter brought us to a deeper level. He reminded me that he has been with me since my first encounter with him at four years old. He commended me for my courage. Without words we mutually thanked each other and he turned around and walked back up to the Medicine Wheel. He stood now in the North. As I watched as he disappeared in a mist that formed clouding the whole area.
I turned to see what was next and I found myself staring into the mouth of a musty cave. Lying on the ground in the entrance, I found some sage that appeared to be waiting for me to light. I did and then entered, with every step I made deeper into the cave, I seemed to enter deeper into another reality or dimension.
Soon my journey led me into a large cavern, I was in the womb of the Earth. I closed my eyes and felt the Mother holding me. When I opened my eyes, I discovered I was standing in the center of a stone circle. A dark figure stood a bit in the distance and slowly moved closer. Unafraid, I began to see she was a woman, I could feel her Sacredness. Wanting to honor her and act in a sacred manner, I began to kneel before her, but she put her hand out to stop me from kneeling. I stood before her gazing into her eyes shining like black obsidian. Communicating to me that she was Owl Woman, from the stars. She held out her hand and gave me a seed. Telepathically she told me, “This is the ancient seed of knowledge, it is already in you but this will serve to awaken your memory. You have forgotten the truth of who you are, it is what happens in this world that you live in, this Tree of understanding will grow again in your consciousness. Use this sacred seed with the form of a circle to connect yourself to the Spirit of Truth and use it well on your path my sister, this is my gift to you, for when you help yourself, you help all your relations”. Suddenly she was gone and I was back in my sacred space in my half cave.
The sun had set. My mouth, so dry from not drinking water, over road the pangs of hunger in my stomach. My kidneys were very much in pain now and the pounding in my head and heart and body was torturously unbearable. The pain was not letting up, no mater how hard I prayed. So I cried…and I cried…and I cried and I could not stop crying. I screamed and I howled and I couldn’t stop. I realized I was not crying because of the unbearable pain I was feeling in my body at the present, I realized I was crying for my little girl inside who had gone through so much unbearable pain, who had wanted to die for so many years because she had buried so many horrors and never allowed herself to scream them out. And so I did.
Eventually I rolled over exhausted, the tears dried on my skin as my cries subsided. I lay awake again all night on the last night of my vision quest. My body still pounded with pain, but it didn’t bother me anymore for some reason. I watched three shooting stars and a bat flutter inches above my face, twice. I stared at the rocks across from me, the Solstice Moon illuminating and I saw her here now, for the first time in my three nights of questing for a vision. The Owl Woman had been here the whole time I had not seen her before. Strong and wise reflected in the light of the moon, in the rocks right across from my circle. In my pain and exhaustion I felt grateful for everything and I was grateful as the light grew in the East, for I knew the sun was coming soon to bring a new day and I would be drinking water soon and going home.
*Almost all of us have experienced traumatic experiences to degrees in our past. The only difference is that some of us are still holding onto to them while the rest of us have let them go. If we haven't made peace with these past experiences, they will still influence the decisions we make and the path we travel.
Every difficult experience that life throws at us is laced with tremendous gifts. We just need to find them. Traumatic experiences create numb areas, which can be cultivated as the most fertile grounds for building the New. Instead of remaining locked in sorrow, take the gift that lies within it and built something new.
Once we find the gift that we were given from a painful experience, we are freed from carrying the imprint of that trauma into our future. The gift becomes a shining thread in the tapestry of our being.
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