Death is not the greatest loss in life.
The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.
— Norman Cousins
Vision Quest at Circles of Air and Stone
Each of us has a unique voice, a song we must sing, a vision we must enact. Each of us has the capacity to contribute joyfully, making the world a better place. For millennia, people have entered the wilderness to encounter the Spirit, to seek their direction, purpose, or medicine. But the modern world offers people little support or encouragement to realize this potential, this calling within them.
Our vision quest programs take place in the forested mountain-lake country of Vermont; among the mesas, river valleys, and canyons of New Mexico; within stunning red-rock landscapes of southern Utah; and in the vast deserts of Death Valley, CA. They include a thorough preparation lasting four days; a 4-day solo fast; and teachings to translate your vision into life.
The Vision Quest was amazing — a life-changing experience — and my new life has been unfolding differently ever since. I went to a depth I never expected to go with our group, sharing things that were really gnawing at my soul. It set the stage for me to cultivate what I needed in the wilderness and bring back the wisdom to move forward with my life. I feel forever bonded to my group and Sparrow. Their support gave me courage to make a huge decision about my direction. — Raven, Roxbury, MA
Participation in a vision quest starts long before one walks into the wilderness. The seeds may have been planted long ago, and your arrival may seem part of a process unfolding steadily and naturally. Or the decision may be sudden, a crisis or transition causing something long hidden to burst forth with a compelling force you cannot deny or refuse. It may just seem “the right thing to do,” an affirmative way to answer a question, mark a change, or renew the spirit. (See page — What is a Vision Quest? )
Enrolling in a vision quest involves choosing a date or dates for participation, filling out the registration form, and placing a deposit to secure your space. Programs are kept small to guarantee personal attention and feedback (limited to a maximum of 8 participants) and are filled on a first-come, first served basis.
The fee for a vision quest program is $1295 if a participant registers 30 days or more in advance, and $1395 thereafter. Advance registration with a non-refundable deposit of $400 is required, with the balance due 30 days prior to the start of the program.
To register, please visit our Schedule & Registration page for individual program dates.
Whatever path brings you here, whether you feel called or driven, you enter a process that is solitary, unique, and universal. Buddha, Christ, Moses, Mohammed, Black Elk — many have walked before us, their footsteps leading to the forest, the mountains and deserts. There we stand alone before our mother, the Earth; we stand before our gods and goddesses; we stand in our authentic selves. As kindred souls have done for millennia, we come to experience an allegorical dying and rebirth.
Good preparation is important, and you will begin well before leaving home. You will be asked to write a letter of intent, responding to questions designed to help the process of focusing and clarifying your purpose. You will undertake a medicine walk in the month before you arrive and read The Trail to the Sacred Mountain, a handbook giving detailed information about the concrete, mythical, and allegorical structure of the quest experience.
I thought I would suffer with the pain I was in for the rest of my life, but I have been letting go — a hard, hard process. The Quest was the real catalyst. I am thankful, filled with gratitude, and get excited every day. — Kitty, Highland, MI
Upon your arrival, we will establish our preparation camp. Having said good-bye to friends and family, having left home and packed the equipment and belongings deemed necessary, one’s purpose becomes focused and intensified. Four days of council will be devoted to completing your preparation. Others will be preparing with you and, though focused on their own solitary quest, their presence lends support and provides insight. Friendships and a deep sense of spiritual community can be unexpected blessings.
The days pass quickly, and there is much to be done. Our meetings will focus on creating physical and emotional balance; refining and clarifying your myths, goals, and life story, and how these relate to your purpose. You will receive instruction on traditional vision quest experiences — creating ceremony, allegories of the heroic journey, the mirroring aspects of nature; wilderness safety, animal encounters, the dynamics of fasting; medicine wheel teachings, sacred dreaming, ritual forms of attunement — and be assisted in integrating these teachings with your personal worldview and situation.
We then journey to an area where you will find your place of power, where you will live alone for four days and nights. In sunrise ceremony you take your leave and cross the threshold into the Sacred World. During this time you will be completely alone, but close enough to basecamp to receive aid should you need it. Once a day you will visit a designated place (your stone pile), leaving a sign that communicates your safety. Other than this minimal requirement, your time is yours to be in intimate contact with yourself, with nature in its many forms, and with the Spirit-in-all-things.
The outline of the vision quest given here cannot truly describe the feeling of community that forms around the experience: the sense of belonging, being heard, and making a difference. This is usually unexpected, as our pre-arrival time is focused on our personal intentions. These communities often stay in touch for years after a quest, writing, providing support, and sometimes getting together for reunions and further journeys.
Returning to basecamp marks the beginning of incorporation. This phase of the program lasts three days. First, you will be welcomed with simple ceremony and the sharing of food. After washing off our patina of dust and dirt, we begin the journey back into the human world, our task there to again take on the cloak of our civilized life and to wear it lightly and gracefully.
We must find a way to bridge the sacred and the practical worlds, to give thanks for all we’ve been given while saying “Yes!” to life as it is if we’re to contribute and be effective. What gifts do we have to give to our people? How are the seeds we bring back to be planted in our daily world with all its dysfunction and distraction? How can we protect what is important and sacred, nurture it, and make it grow? We must ask and answer these questions if our vision is to guide us in day-to-day life.
In council, we will share stories of our experience in the “Sacred World.” Your story will be witnessed and attentively listened to, and you will be assisted in finding your truths and meanings, owning your gifts, and claiming your power. You will be provided with a smorgasboard of “tools,” ways to carry your vision back to your community.
After we have held our councils and shared our stories and ceremonies, we must part. Observing and reflecting on the fast-paced world we previously left behind, we will break bread, having a meal together to celebrate the challenges and creativity required to live a life with vision. With gratitude for the insight, rich experience, and friendships we have shared, it is time to walk our “path with heart,” re-entering the world we relinquished with renewed commitment to make real our vision. There the living work of the vision quest awaits us.
What People Say About Our Vision Quests:
[ For more info, read Who Goes? And Why? ]
“I have never forgotten the magic container that you provided for me during my addiction and struggle to reclaim my masculinity and spiritual wealth. I will always be grateful… AHO!!! — Dakota
For me, the Vision Quest was the most important dream I have ever dreamt. And the dreams just keep coming. This was truly a rite of passage for me. I was certainly ready and so grateful that I answered the call. — A. Green, Portland, OR
You are an incredible Teacher, and I hope I can learn from you again in the future. The Heroic Journey is taking root in my life, more and more everyday. You’re such an inspiration to me. Gods bless you. — R. L, Montreal, Quebec
Our quest a few years ago in Death Valley changed my life forever. You helped me make deep, profound changes to my humanity by sharing your self and wisdom and letting me find my way in my own time. What a gift! Love and blessings to you. — G. Won, Hawaii
Sparrow is authentic and his presence and way evoked the best from each of us. It was, easily, the most meaningful experience of my life… — M. Lent, Charleston, SC
I feel like I was cracked open and the universe flooded in. It has taken years to integrate all I learned and saw. My expectations about everything have changed and I feel in large measure that I’m riding my life like a wave. Sometimes its uncomfortable, but I also feel more alive each day and my heart aches in gratitude for being alive on this beautiful planet. — M. B, Guilford, CT
When I look back on our time together I am in awe. It was such a shifting, profound experience. I came back a changed person and found that my husband had gone through a change as well. Sparrow, thank you for the inspiring, appropriate poems and for all you share. I know that you are doing what you came to earth to do. It’s inspiring to experience. — Lois K, Tomball, TX
I had undertaken a couple quests before with other groups, but this experience blew me away. The preparation was so thorough and so deep — from the stories and myths to the incredible tool kit of processes you offered — that I started to see with new eyes and sense new possibilities. I felt prepared and ready to have a really big experience. And it happened! — S.B, Seattle, WA
Your eloquence, knowledge, and ability to speak through your heart and examples from your own experience appealed to my love of words and emotional authenticity. I feel enriched and really motivated to integrate this experience as wholly as possible. My own practice will be influenced by the teachings and the rituals shared by you.
And there was your capacity to listen deeply and caringly, to mirror, to confront or comfort, to question the stories you heard. It was an unexpected fulfillment to a more or less conscious desire to witness someone — particularly a male — master the art of listening and dreaming at the same time. Thank-you for this gift given so freely. — V. O. Quebec
Below are pages found within “Vision Quest”.