School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

Back to contents

Issue: July2010
Vision Quest 2010

By Ali Young

I have packed too much. I hadnít wanted to get cold or wet or to

be uncomfortable. I am so well prepared it is way too much to

carry, for what feels like miles across the Moor on a blistering hot

day in June. I lag behind, reminded of being the smallest and

physically weakest during my school days, also recalling the

humiliation that tended to accompany this, when no-one wants

you on their sports team. I observe that I would rather have a

heart attack than ask anyone to stop. Hmm......thereís a facet of

ego....the face of pride....

Having arrived at base camp we all strike out even further to

find a place to sit for two days. As others stride off into the far

distance, I feel strongly called by a shady glade, by the stream, full

of foxgloves. I am surrounded suddenly by the most exquisite

iridescent blue-green dragonflyí insect I have been in

intimate relationship with this past year and so I take it as a sign

and deposit the few things I have with me in order to mark my

chosen territory. Funny that.


Waiting for everyone to return I grow colder and colder. By the

time the ritual begins I leap to my feet, eager to be on the move.

I forget to use the threshold or introduce myself to the spirits of the

land, asking, simply to be shown how I may serve better. My

buddies follow behind and after a failed negotiation, because I am

not clear enough about my needs, we all set off up the valley to

agree a meeting point for the next few days. With a buddy system

in place we are all required to visit once a day and leave a

message for our companions to let them know that we are OK. We

need to find a relatively equidistant place. One of my buddies is

encamped miles away. Walking up the valley away from my

rucksack, I ponder my inability to secure this basic requirement

for myself and begin to feel resentful. Itís dusk and Iím feeling

anxious about setting up my shelter before nightfall. I can see that

on so many levels my anxiety is completely irrational, but I canít

help it. The whole setting up escapade is to be one of my hardest

times over the next two days. I even help my second buddy find

her lost marking before I head all the way back down the valley to

get my things. Hmm.....another pattern not state

needs, help others when I need to sort my self out, feel

resentful....Ah well....


I am finally setting up my tarpaulin just as it gets dark. Never

having made such a rudimentary shelter on my own before, I am

ridiculously pleased with myself and set out to finds branches to

create my circle around my camp.


It has been suggested that we get ourselves up two or three times

during the night. Having been working very hard recently and

having arrived feeling completely knackered a lot of my personal

process in the days of preparation before coming out has been

about my relationship with external authority. I go to sleep.


I am awakened the next day at dawn, by the pony family who

arrive to drink from the the nearby water. It is about 4 in the

morning. I stride out up the hill in front of my camp. I walk and

walk and walk. The sun comes up and it grows hotter. I walk. As

I walk I become aware of feelings Iíve been having about a long

time close female friend who has not responded to my

communications over the last year. I know sheís busy, but away

from distraction and work I begin to really feel whatís in my heart

about this situation. I am feeling undervalued and

ignored.....abandoned even. This one has been floating around for

a while, along with my awareness that I can sometimes find it

really difficult to accept it when life(and people)changes. Given

that I aspire to acceptance this is one of lifeís dilemmaís for me.


Arriving at a stone monument I ask the stone if it will act as my

witness Youíve heard of La Stone therapy? This was a sister

treatment. Stones make great listening ears....theyíve got all day,

they donít charge by the hour.....what more can I say? After Iíd

spoken to that friend, I spoke to two others. I wept and I raged.


Iíd been in and out of therapy for a number of years, in order to

address apparently irrational deep-seated feelings of

abandonment, before I discovered that my mother had given me to

my aunt for the first six months of my life, whilst she nursed her

dying alcoholic mother. Iíd grown up feeling more attached to my

aunt than my mother and could never really understand why I

always felt so bereft when I left her home. My body remembered

though and I was still trying to deal with the legacy well into my

thirties, when my aunt finally decided somebody really ought to

tell me. It is only in the last few months that I have become truly,

fully, aware that some of the dramaís I have run in my intimate

relationships with women really belong in that original situation

and I finally felt ready to take full responsibility. The depth of

feeling I associate with being discarded, whilst it may have some

reality and validity to it in the present day really belongs back

there and it is time for me to take full responsibility for my feelings

and stop releasing emotional toxicity when other people donít

behave according to my agenda.


In truth, I am amazed at what arises, here, with a stone, in the

middle of the Moor. At one point, a man appears over the hill with

a large rucksack on his back(almost as large as mine, though he

does look better equipped than me to carry his). I can see that he

is desperately curious about what the hell Iím up to....but I Do Not

Want To Be Disturbed and I feel, once again, ridiculously pleased

when he reluctantly wanders off over the hill, turning to look back

every now and then to ponder this raving lunatic heís comes

across in the middle of his walking holiday. Given that there are

24 of us dotted around this valley I wonder, chuckling, how many

more shocks he has in store today?


Feeling remarkably cleansed and not at all hungry, on my first

morning of spring water, I simply enjoy, on the way back to my

circle.....the blazing sky, the ponies, the flowers, the warmth on my

body, walking, being alive.


I have spent about 12 hours wandering the moor, walking in all

four directions, stopping at lunchtime (well it would be if I was

eating) for a snooze. I notice what an active person I am and that

I love to strike out for far distant horizons, just to see what they

hold. I am a natural explorer. Sitting contemplation not for me,

but rather a noticer-on- the hoof.......which reminds me, that my

second walk seems to be my Medicine walk. Coming to a piece of

ground scattered with brown and white feathers I begin, feverishly,

to collect as many as I can hold. Puzzling over what bird they

belonged to and assuming it met itís end in the talons of a buzzard

or the jaws of a fox, I realize it has been a young sea-gull.

Strange somehow to have come all this way inland from the sea

where I live and be here collecting gull feathers. A dead gull. I

wonder whether this a message that we should go ahead with the

move we have pondered this year.....or the opposite.......or just

seagull feathers, which I am enjoying, regardless.......I also find a

whole lot of burnt heather wood, which is so marvelous in itís

twisted knarliness it fills me with desire for a collecting bag.


I plan to come back for more but do not, as a new horizon calls

me.....hey maybe thatís what happened to my absent friend. Life

just is.....our feelings about it truly are, our responsibility. Most

excitingly, because Iíve somehow been working through some sort

of process with Deer Medicine this last year, I find a deer leg. I

imagine how my dear sweet friend Xenia, whoís not much of an

outdoor girl and was horrified by the bits of dead sheep we found

lying around when we were first walking out, will take a deer leg

in the car on the way home? Maybe best not to tell her I think.


The wind is up tonight and I wonder whether my shelter will

hold. It does....under a significant challenge from the weather

spirits....if thatís a metaphor, I am pleased by the reflection it work holds under challenge.....and the pony family are

back again......wonderful to observe these natural rhythms.....they,

like me, need to drink regularly....we are, all utterly dependent

upon Water...the sun rises, travels round the valley and sets, the

moon rises and falls and the sun rises again....maybe too the Deep

Feminine rose and fell, overshadowed by what has felt like an

overbearing masculine(for where is the moon n the heat of the

day?), but all life moves in cycles and she rises again, to bring her

cool, dark, balm to the world, as one cycle must always, by the

law of nature give way to!!!


In the evening I sleep...again.


I spent most of the rest of the day in sheer and simple delight in

my surroundings. Away from work, conversational demands,

washing dishes, e-mail and all the other clutter of contemporary

living I fell headlong into bees, grasshoppers, dragonflyís, rushing

water and tree canopyís. The woods were where I spent most of

my time as a child and I have always found immense solace in her

arms, as she provides such a peaceful crucible in which to just BE.

I come back full of gratitude for my magnificent life, apologise to

the spirits for my lack of etiquette on arrival.......I sing by the fire

which has held us all in itís warmth these last two days and

return...home from whence I came in the first place. It would be a

good day to die!

There are still places available on the 3rd Ritual Module - Burial Ceremony and Long Dance Ceremony 28th Sept - 5th Oct.  Residential at Rill Centre, Devon, UK.  Contact Roland for an application form.

Back to contents

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.