A vision quest is something that has been around for hundreds of years. Although the term “vision quest” wasn’t coined until the 19th century by anthropologists. 

A vision quest requires a lot of time meditating and contemplating life, and certain life events. 

Let’s go over what exactly a vision quest is, and how you might be able to participate in one.

The History of the Vision Quest

Traditionally, a vision quest is used when an individual is going through a significant change or rite of passage. 

The most common being a Native American ritual for adolescents that are progressing into adulthood. 

Most of the vision quests were done by males as they hit puberty. 

However, some females engaged in vision quests as well usually with menarche or childbirth. 

              A vision quest can be a personal or a community experience.

Vision quests are most common among the North and South American peoples. 

The length and intensity of vision quests varied from tribe to tribe. 

Most tribes would practice fasting while they were on their vision quest. They would forgo food and drink for several days while praying.

Another common practice is the use of hallucinogens during a vision quest. 

While on the hallucinogen, participants would look for an animal that behaved differently or a rock that resembled a certain animal. 

This was considered their vision and the participant would return home and receive help at interpreting the vision. 

If a vision was not received in a certain amount of time, the participant was often advised to abandon the quest and try again at a certain time. 

What to Expect on a Vision Quest

Now, the experience is no longer just for adolescents. 

Many adults participate in vision quests when a major life experience occurs such as a new birth, death, marriage, divorce, children leaving home, or recovery from addiction. 

The overall goal is to change new situations into something sacred and exciting, that is welcomed. 

This has been said to enlighten, strengthen, and empower the people that participate in them. 

There are many individually guided vision quests that someone can participate in, or you can sign up with an organization that helps people go on quests. 

Whichever route you decide to go, you’ll be invited to follow along with certain steps. 


Firstly, you’ll need to prepare yourself for the upcoming quest. 

This isn’t something that you can go into blindly. 

Make sure you know exactly what’s going to happen in your specific vision quest. Where you’re going, what you’re going to do, and when you’ll be back. 

You’ll also need to prepare yourself physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally for the vision quest. 

Make sure you have a doctor’s clearance if you’re concerned about the physical aspect of the quest. 

The goal is to come out of the quest as a new and better person. To do this, you’ll need to be prepared to change. 

You’ll also need to be prepared to spend a couple of days outside. This is a lot like camping so you’ll need a sleeping bag, a tent, clothes, and other helpful equipment.

It’s also helpful to bring a journal and a pencil so you can write down your experiences to remember them and make the most out of your journey. 

Some people like to bring a little bit of food in case their hunger gets too great. Things like nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate make good snacks. 

However, it’s important to note that knowing you have food nearby may distract you from your experience. 

Fasting is very important to the quest. You’ll need to be prepared to be really hungry!

The hunger cleanses your body and mind. It’s also been said to rejuvenate and reactivate you. 

If you’re planning on taking hallucinogens, you should bring them with you as well. Things like mushrooms, mescaline, DMT, ayahuasca, and LSD have been commonly used. 

The more natural the substance the better. Synthetic drugs can actually distract from the goal of the journey which is to get back in touch with nature. 

The Solo Experience

If you’re engaging in a solo experience on your vision quest, you’ll participate in a few key activities. 

There are some group vision quests available but a lot of people enjoy going alone to connect with themselves better. 

The solo experience consists of time alone in a natural place, which is called solitude. This gives you time to stay quiet and reflect on upcoming changes in your life. 

You’ll also be fasting which is called emptiness. This emptiness helps you to use your mind to overcome hunger and thirst and be more in tune with your surroundings. 

You’ll also be exposed to the elements, known as vulnerability. This vulnerability helps you accept that you can’t change certain situations. You can only change how you react to them. 

The vulnerability aspect is often the scariest part for most people. It’s definitely not comfortable and it requires a lot of mental preparation. 

The last aspect of a solo vision quest experience is self-reliance or self-trust. 

Self-trust helps you to rely on yourself without relying on someone else to help you along your personal quest. 

Typically, during the solo experience of the vision quest, the guides will ensure a safe environment for you so you can focus on connecting with yourself. 

This connection with yourself will allow you to successfully transition in difficult situations. 

If you aren’t looking for a way to successfully transition in a new situation, you can still benefit from a vision quest. 

A vision quest is also a good way to get away from stress and anxiety and recharge your batteries. 

Drugs and Legality

It’s important to note that a lot of hallucinogenic drugs are illegal. 

Marijuana is legal in Washington, Colorado, and California so it can be purchased and used legally. 

However, other hallucinogenic drugs like mushrooms, LSD, DMT, ayahuasca, peyote, and MDMA are illegal and will have to be bought illegally. 

This is something you’ll need to ask yourself:

Am I comfortable obtaining illegal drugs?

Remember, you can get into legal trouble obtaining illegal drugs. 

This is extremely important to consider and should be taken lightly! 

What You Can Gain from a Vision Quest

A vision quest definitely isn’t easy, so you can benefit from completing something difficult and knowing that you can accomplish something you didn’t think you could. 

You can prepare yourself for difficult transitions, be more connected to nature, and cure emotional illnesses.

You can also find inner peace, reduce stress, and be one with our environment. 

Just remember that a vision quest isn’t for everybody. It’s a difficult process and you should seriously consider whether or not it’s the right decision for you. 

Where Can You Go on a Vision Quest?

There are many foundations and companies that offer guided vision quests for all walks of life. 

Each quest will differ so it’s important that you do your research to figure out exactly where your money will go and what’s included in the package you’re purchasing. 

You may have to travel quite a ways to go on a vision quest closest to you as some vision quests are in remote locations. 

Keep in mind that most places that offer guided vision quests will require you to sign a waiver since quests can be dangerous. 

Four Winds Foundation and School of Lost Borders are two companies that provide guided vision quests. A lot of their quests fill up quickly and require you to be on a waiting list if you’d like to join. 

Locations vary from the Death Valley to the Rocky Mountains.


The End of the Journey

A vision quest is a journey that not a lot of people can make. 

It’s a difficult road but it can lead to a lot of insights about yourself. It can also help you transition during difficult times in your life. 

The decision to go on a vision quest should not be taken lightly. There are a lot of things to consider. Can you physically, mentally, and spiritually go on this quest? Will you need to obtain illegal drugs to go? Is obtaining those illegal drugs to go on the quest worth the risk of getting into legal trouble?

All of these questions will need to be answered before you start your journey. 

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