Vision Quest
7 min

What Is A Vision Quest And Why Go On One?

7 min

Whether you're at a major turning point in your life, reflecting on your decisions in a time of crisis, or just wondering what truths about yourself are lying dormant, there are few better ways to find the answers than going on a vision quest. We'll show you why they're effective, how to prepare for one, and what you should expect.

While it may seem strange at first, or like too much of a commitment, many of us could benefit from going on a vision quest.

In increasingly hectic times, it may feel like we need to connect with ourselves more than ever before. In that effort, many of us have made a point of trying to reconnect with nature, either by rediscovering a relationship with it or forming one for the first time. A fair amount of those folk have also sought out ceremonies like ayahuasca rituals, finding that certain psychedelics can make them feel one with the world around them.

As it turns out, there are few better ways to benefit from all of those experiences than through a vision quest. You can reconnect with both nature and your inner self, and the journey will help you see and understand your personal truths.

In this article, we’ll cover each aspect of a vision quest, including what it is and why you should go on one. We’ll also provide information on how to prepare for and execute a quest. We will do our best to give you an impression of what to expect from such an epiphany, but it’s worth noting the journey will be different for everyone in one way or another.

What Is a Vision Quest?

What Is a Vision Quest?

Vision quests are rites of passage that have been carried out in Native American cultures for centuries. The traveller, in short, journeys off into nature, marking an important transition in their life—a turning point, if you will.

Most commonly, one will embark on a vision quest to mark their transition from childhood to adulthood, but people can go on one for various reasons.

Nowadays, modern Native Americans still go on vision quests as they have for ages, but non-native practices have been detached a bit from the cultures that bore them. These practices will bring in elements from a wide variety of other cultures, faiths, and related practices. The core of the practice, however, is still firmly rooted in Native American traditions.

A vision quest may give you some kind of answer to questions like, "Who am I?" or "Why am I here?", but vision quest revelations can come in many forms, and you should keep your mind and heart open to what your inner self has to say.

In turn, the real challenge, rather than answering these questions, is the fact that you’re handing over control of your situation to nature and your inner drive. For many individuals, this notion can be terrifying.

How Long Does a Vision Quest Last?

How Long Does a Vision Quest Last?

So, how long can you expect one of these journeys to last?

Well, a vision quest usually lasts for two to four days, during which you’ll be taking long walks in nature, fasting, and not sleeping much. That time spent alone in the wilderness will be a significant part of it, as isolation from others and connection with nature can help you find yourself and get a clearer vision of your personal truths.

If it’s meant to be, you may even experience visions and subsequent enlightenment, but you have to let it come naturally.

Why Go on a Vision Quest?

Why Go on a Vision Quest?

As said above, the reasons for going on a vision quest are highly individual and can be hugely different for each of us. Typically, vision quests are inspired by some kind of novel situation, rite of passage, challenge, or change. This can include birth or death (real and symbolic), career changes, marriage, divorce, menopause, or other major life events.

Such a quest can be deeply cathartic. It can empower, humble, enlighten, and strengthen you all at once! It can do so by connecting us with the spirit and creative force within all of us, helping us figure out what we really want out of life in the process. The end result will be different for everyone, yes, but the majority who embark on vision quests come back with a deeper knowledge of themselves and what they must do in the future.

What Are the Benefits of a Vision Quest?

What Are the Benefits of a Vision Quest?

Now, in some situations, vision quests can be difficult, and even a bit dangerous. That being said, if you’re someone who’s willing to challenge themselves to seek a profound personal experience, it can be extremely rewarding! These are some of the main benefits of a vision quest:

  • You’ll get a decent amount of exercise as you move about the wilderness.

  • The fresh air, combined with a natural backdrop, could help relieve any mental tension you might be dealing with.

  • Spending time alone will help you better assess yourself, your situation, and your personal feelings on the matter.

  • As a result, you’ll be able to make decisions that are not only well-fitted to your situation, but truthful to yourself and how you feel.

How To Prepare for a Vision Quest

Before we start, it should be noted that the following guide attempts to give you a general idea of a vision quest. However, the individual factors surrounding the event can vary greatly.

Figure Out How You’ll Approach Your Vision Quest

Figure Out How You’ll Approach Your Vision Quest

For example, you can do it in a more traditional way—on your own—or with the assistance of a guide. You can do it with entheogens or without them, or you can get in contact with one of the many companies and organisations that provide a more controlled environment for your vision quest.

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Fast and Meditate in Advance

Fasting and meditation take practice to get better at, and you shouldn’t wait until you’re in the wilderness to get acquainted with them. Practise fasting at home to start, getting comfortable with it for half a day at first, then go for slightly longer each time you try again. Do something similar for meditation, maybe sitting down for half an hour to start, then an hour, then two, etc.

If you’re not “in shape”, as it were, these practices can lead to stress and confusion that hinder the experience. However, once you’re more comfortable with them, they’ll serve as helpful pathways to the inner truths you seek.

Prepare Your Mind, Body, and Supplies

Vision Quest - Prepare Your Mind, Body, and Supplies

You should be able to fast, camp outside for a few days, and be comfortable with solitude before your vision quest. Try out shorter trips to warm up, going out for one day, then two, and so on.

You should also prepare any necessary equipment: a sleeping bag, clothes according to the weather, more than enough water for all the days of your undertaking, and a journal and pencils to record your quest. It can also be helpful to have some kind of first aid knowledge, just in case you get hurt on the journey or see someone else that needs help.

What About "Emergency" Food or Psychedelics?

Depending on your specific vision quest, you may leave something out or add something in. For example, some people like to have a supply of nuts, chocolate, and dried fruits nearby in case the hunger gets too bad. Remember, though, it can be distracting to know that you have food in reach when you attempt to fast. In the end, it all depends on the location, the length of your quest, if you are alone or guided, etc.

If you want to take entheogens and hallucinogens, you should, of course, bring them with you as well. Magic mushrooms, mescaline cacti, DMT, or ayahuasca can enhance your journey and visions greatly, but quests can be just as fulfilling without their help. LSD can also do the trick, but the more natural the substance, the better. It's all about getting back to nature and your inner-self—synthetic drugs can distract from that.

How To Execute a Vision Quest

The actual execution of the ritual involves some key points. You are alone in a natural environment (solitude), you fast (emptiness), you are exposed to the elements (vulnerability), and have to rely on yourself (self-trust). You’ll be tired, hungry, and locked in a state of near-constant meditation. Through that state of focus and deprivation, however, you’ll find yourself experiencing profound insights and visions.

Head Into the Wilderness

How To Execute a Vision Quest: Head Into the Wilderness

To start your journey, of course, you’ll need to grab your supplies, walk out your door, and head out into the wilderness. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the forest, desert, mountains, or any particular ecosystem. Really, more than anything, it just has to be a natural, isolated, and large expanse of land.

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Take Time To Meditate

Once you start to take in your gorgeous surroundings, find spots to sit down and meditate along your path. There’s no time limit or minimum you have to meet. You can meditate for five hours or five minutes and learn something important from either session.

The most important thing, really, is making sure you’re fully committed to it once you’re doing it. It goes without saying that your phone should be off, with no music playing and no other distractions around you. The main point of the practice, of course, is to look within yourself and hear what your mind and spirit are saying in those moments.

Set Up Camp

How To Execute a Vision Quest: Set Up Camp

Now, when you first get to where you’ll be journeying through, you’ll want to walk around for as long as daylight and the weather allow. At some point, however, you’ll want to find a good place to set up camp. You can set it up anywhere on flat ground, sure, but you’ll also want to consider the elements and animals that may be walking around.

Considering that, finding a slightly sheltered area, such as a cave or similarly closed-off area, could be your best move. However, wildlife may be enjoying that space as well, so you have to make sure you stay vigilant and respectful of their space. After all, you’re the one journeying through and resting in their home.

With your camp set up, you can start diving into longer meditation sessions, reflecting on your experience so far and considering the thoughts you’ve had up until then.


The fasting may be the hardest part. Prepare to be very, very hungry, especially if you have never fasted before. Some people prepare themselves by following a specific diet for up to 40 days before the quest even begins. That said, there can be several benefits to fasting, including anti-inflammatory effects, blood sugar control, and an increase in metabolism.

Open Yourself to Visions

How To Execute a Vision Quest: Open Yourself to Visions

As all these pieces come together, as you find yourself alone with the world in a tired and hungry state, you may start to experience visions.

These may make perfect sense to you in the moment, bringing context and light to questions you had on your mind. Other times, though, you may need some time to reflect on what they are and what they’re trying to tell you.

There’s no right or wrong vision to have, and you shouldn’t try to force it one way or the other. In those moments, your spirit and the universe will tell you precisely what you need to know.

Go Forward After the Quest

After a few days of solitude and insight, it’s either time to end your journey, or, depending on which kind of vision quest you take, return to your people and get together with others. In those moments, you can share your experiences, and perhaps get a better idea of what you saw and learned with input from others.

That being said, whatever you actually perceived and learned during your vision quest is probably the hardest part to explain. These revelations are only meant for you, after all, and won’t make as much sense to someone who hasn’t had your life journey and doesn’t think the way you do.

What To Expect During a Vision Quest

What To Expect During a Vision Quest

As shown above, the preparations and setting of a vision quest can be more or less the same. What makes the experience personal is what goes on inside of your mind and the visions and insights you experience.

In short, you are kind of reborn. It is life-changing, for the better. You will be destroyed, shattered, ripped apart, and assembled back together into, hopefully, a new and better version of yourself. You will be more mindful and aware of everything in existence. Maybe you realise that you are part of something greater and channel the divinity in all of us and our surroundings.

As a result, you will be more patient, thankful, cleansed, and recharged. In the best possible scenario, you’ll experience visions, an epiphany, insights, or enlightenment of some sort. In this way, the person inside of you has finally made the transition into another phase of existence. In a more abstract way, you will discover symbolism for your life and your journey. You will find meaning!

Just remember, when all is said and done, to respect the vision quest as a rite of passage originated by Native Americans. While you will, of course, adapt your vision quest to your situation, you should always treat the process with reverence.

Luke Sholl
Luke Sholl
Luke Sholl has been writing about cannabis, the wellness potential of cannabinoids, and the positive influence of nature for over a decade. Working with several cannabinoid-centric publications, he publishes a variety of digital content, supported by strong technical knowledge and thorough research.
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