Why do something you dread a few around me asked.
Well sometimes the heart decides on something and despite the antics of the mind a decision is held to.
And thus I find myself travelling with much trepidation to a venue where I have decided to follow an ancient path of intitiaiton. When you do one vision quest you align yourself to completing the 7, 9 and 13 day quests as well. This, the four day one is to bring about humility.
Tao, my 20 year old son is with me.
Leading up to this moment in time, I had prayed for it and prayed for it to be cancelled with equal fervour.
For me the thought of 4 days wihtout shelter was okay, 4 days without food was okay, 4 days without water would be the difficult and not without danger - so mind spend many hours singing to me.
And the cold. Only natural fibers could be taken up and I had no waterproofing and no groundsheet.
Where was my large, thick sheepskin - purely in the land of wishful thinking.
So once again I am the underprepared one.
A duvet , a coat , a grass mat and two sweaters are packed into a non plastic bag.
When I see my fellow questers and their organization the doubts once again come surging in .
We sit in the sweat lodge. They have chosen large stones. And because on the Red Path, the numbers 13, 9, 7 and 4 are the numbers of stones used. It is intense. So much is sweated out that I doubt I have any moisture left in this body. And from there straight to be planted on the mountains. No washing the muddied sweat of us - not a sip of water as we cross the gurgling stream. Seven men and seven women - 14 in total climb the mountain to be planted in our space where we will remain for 4 days and 4 nights. 14 of us - on the 14/4/2014. The night of the cardinal cross and the blood moon.
In the sweat we gave up our voices to the silenceand in that space we left the community and went to meet ourselves.
We walked up to a space which was to be my womb for the next 4 days and 4 nights. I was immediately disappointed. Life can be such a bitch. I had been told as I was the eldest I would probably get the nicest spot at the top, smooth and easy. Instead I am placed first, closest to the water and not a square inch of flatness or space to be comfortable in. And did my mind react violently to this discomfot. And how do you know life wants you to have something - because it gives it to you. Simone and Beth had decided back at support base that they probably would have to move me but when they came up to do so - it was one of the few short minutes in those 96 hours that I actually had slept and with that comforting them they left me in the lair.
We had been taught how to breathe in water from the air and the remarkable thing was that my mouth never ran dry. I had very strong images of the ceremonial bucket used in the 4 tobacco ceremonies and the cup used to serve the sacred water. I saw this vessel more than anything else. It became the Grail. Sacred water was my only desire.
Originally it was my intention to pray solidly with the mantras that I had come to cherish and savour. I had looked upon it in the lead up as an opportunity for uninteruppted devotion. An hour after being planted I stepped into eternity. This time there would have no end, forever I would be alone on the mountain. I wore my fingers numb counting the days and nights, just hoping that I might have miscounted. The mantras mouthed silently dried up at the end of the first day. They would not be spoken, sung or contracted in any way whatoever.
The mornings and evenings the conches would be blown in the 4 directions, and the most heartfelt prayers would be sung. It was the coldest time of the day. The first morning, madrinho Simone sang with such heartfelt love and passion that a sob from the deepest part of my being was born and rumbled in and around the earth. And in between those prayers my monkey mind was king. Uncontrollable. Nothing to distract it. Like a stuck record complaining over and over again about the spot I was planted on. Blah blah blah blah. You all know the relentlessness of the mind - well meet it without a single distraction and you have a version of hell. I questioned what I was doing up there - vowed I would never ever do anything on the medicine path again. So much like childbirth. The joy of being in early labour, then the exhaustion and despair and the vow to never allow this to happen to your body again. Then the relief of the birth and holding the living child. Except I was a long way from the relief. And in between, the issue of homelessness of my fellow humans would not leave me alone. Eyes of despair and hopelessnes kept appearing. Heartbreak and loss, aloneness and abandonment, war and refugees, hundreds and hundreds of eyes kept tapping on my soul. The pain of life for the majorty of humanity became my shroud up on the mountain.
In a moment of absolute desparation I remember to follow the breath. To set a peg at every master number - 11 -22-33-44-55-66-77-88-99 and on each master number to be present to what arose. Suddenly mind was no loger ruler - it was being entertained by keeping count and the heart would utter something on the number and a smile would arise and the count would continue. Teachers, saints, loved one's, elements, aspects of nature, places needing healing, qualities, attributes, essence arose one after the other in full presence. That first day that I found myself in Living Prayer, 3800 conscious breaths unfolded, each with a wish a prayer, and gratitude. A place of great stillness and peace.
The 3rd night I had a dream that I was with a long dead friend of mine - in the dream the question of him being alive or not did not arise, all that did exist was my delight at being with him again. I wanted to let Pieter know where I was but the phone gave a mesasge that a call could not be made from that dimension. The next moment a wave of heat , unlike anything I had every known engulfed me and woke me up. I threw the duvet off and stripped naked on that mountain, despit the low temperature. My heart was pounding as if I had just received the largest non fatal dose of adrenaline. And then in the distance I heard the support/love team singing the Santo Daime, Santa Maria hinario. The sacred fire in the altar in the night was the Daime cross and it was pointing straight towards me.
And yet, despite the absolutely overwhelming miracle of unfoldment that was present, mind reasserted itself on the final morning. Restless, having had enough and still bitching about the sloping piece of land I awaited the harvest. When Beth and Simone approached me and hugged me a sob arose. That human contact was the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.
We went straight into another sweat lodge still with no water, so all the water that had been in our bodies had been sweated, urinated out. The third round we smoked the sacred tobacco and our voices came back via song and sharing. And then that cup of water from the ceremonial bucket was passed around and I have never in my life been more grateful for anything more. New water for the body. We drank, and drank. Had watermelon and grapes in water. The most delicous food I have ever eaten. And drank some more and were then adviced to eat some soup to replace saline. And the body held onto the water for 16 hours before it would pass any of it through . This whole body of water that I am was anew and afresh.
And from there we moved straigth into the closing 4 tobacco ceremony where I found my place in the grand scheme of things and arrived home. Surrounded by such clarity, love, understanding, faith, wisdom, ancient knowledge I was welcomed as True Being.. The little me, the chattering monkey mind with all her stuff is still on the mountain, surrounded by the prayer flags and the sacred mountain air. I send her love and gratitude.
I am indebted to the keepers of the ancient knowledge.
To the beings who with such love and such dilligence enabled this transistion.
To the songs, to the elders, to the sacred fire, to Mother Earth, to the knowing.
To my family who encouraged me and allowed me my doubts and encouraged me to follow through.
To Iona who the night before went around the mountain in the pouring rain, praying for my safety.
To Beth and Enio for the wisdom and the message.
To Mike and Simone for holding the vision and for the land.
To the very generous being who donated and allowed this to happen.
And to Life itself and all her ascended masters.
To the bat, the dragonfly and scarab beetle who came to reasure me.
I find myself in the evening sitting by the fire, making the prayer flag for next year when God willing I will do the 7 day Quest.