The Power of the Vision
At dawnlight, I, Ahan, a Shamanic Pupil, departed on my solitary Vision Quest. I had only a hide satchel at my side, and only a loincloth on my unremarkable body. I was taking part in a rite of passage to become an initiated Shaman. Success would earn me the right to take the place of my aged Master, when his body lets go his spirit.
I was sent deep into the mountain’s cavern system, to find a specific painting that had been made on a cave wall years prior. It was a painting of three animals; all I had to do was find it, remember which three animals they were, and return to tell my Master. Only he knew the answer; he would know if the Pupil was lying.
I had to crouch and crawl through low passages, and shimmy through narrow crevices. The ground itself was harsh and grating; the walls were jagged enough to present their own danger. Through strenuous toil, I persisted into the bleak unseen. After these tunnels, I found a chasm, a great swallowing fissure that must be leapt in order to reach the painted wall. The ridge on the other side of the two metre gap was higher in elevation; it was not only a leap across, but a leap above.
In my twenty-five years I had never had to face my own fears as I did in that moment. My very life at risk, I made the leap in the dark, crossing the unknown. Perhaps by faith, perhaps by luck, I managed to find footing on the other side.
At last, by the soft light of my flickering torch, I beheld the painting. It depicted a Fox, chasing a Serpent, chasing a Hare. I had learned the Master’s secret! A feeling of great achievement warmed me. Backtracking across the chasm and through the tunnels seemed less daunting than on the way in; there was no fear involved on the return trip.
Upon reaching the chamber, I, Ahan, examined what had been the entrance to the cave. A glow of faint light shone through a thin horizontal crack. A rock slide must have occurred from the mountain above as I had been exploring within; a massive boulder had fallen in front of the cave’s mouth, blocking my exit.
With all my might, I tried to move the boulder. Many times I attempted, but the rock would not budge. My hands, arms, and shoulders were scraped, cut, and bloody from pushing on the solid, jagged rock. Perhaps five men could have moved it, but not I, not alone.
I then faced a new, unforseen challenge: passing through stone. I peered through the crack, and could see dirt, dried yellow grass, and sparse foliage outside the cave. I could hear the formless whispers of the invisible winds. “Close enough to see, yet not enough to touch,” thought I.
I then opened the hide satchel of provisions my Master had given me, in case anything inside might be of use. Apart from my fire kit, all that I found were a folded packet of unknown leaves, and dried mushrooms covered in dank black mold.
The sun crept it’s way above the cave, to set on the other side of the mountain. As the light through the crack dimmed, I realised that I may be there indefinitely. My torch had burned out; I decided to light a small fire to provide more light and keep warm. To feed the fire I ignited the strange leaves, which produced much more smoke than I expected.
I inhaled the billowing, aromatic smoke, through mouth and nose. My mind was overtaken; my senses were expanding. I now had vision, not from the eyes of my body, but my eyes were above, at the roof of the cave! I saw my own body sitting by the fire beneath me. My body still obeyed the commands of my mind; I stood up, and paced around, and it felt strange to watch, as if I was nothing but a reflection of myself.
After a time, the effects on my consciousness wore off. I waved my hand in front of my face, to solidify my perspective. I was back inside my own body. This spiritual, out of body experience had inspired me on some primal level; I began to question my reality, to reconsider what I once had thought impossible.
The dried mushrooms were my only edible provision. Adults told their children that these were poisonous; those who ate them fell into a deep slumber, from which most never woke. Yet the Master Shaman had supplied them for this Vision Quest. Realising I must eat, I consumed them, placing full faith in my Master’s gifts. They were shriveled, tough and bitter. There were only a few, so I ate them quickly. They provided little in the way of nutrition; I surmised that was not their purpose here.
A surge of overwhelming euphoria pulsed through my senses. Realising I was reaching a heightened spiritual state, I returned to the crack in the entrance, peering outside again. The land was now lit by moonlight. I took in every detail of what I could see outside of the cave. There were dry bushes, and two isolated trees a few hundred feet off; I saw this over a parched, dusty plain, sparsely grassed.
I then sat cross legged, eyes closed, visualising the setting in my mind. I imagined myself, in the same meditative position, outside the cave. “Perhaps if I wish it to be true… If I visualise it to be true… It will become true…” thought I.
At last, the splendid intoxication of the mushrooms settled their grip on me. What felt like a deep sleep sunk over me, although my eyes opened wide; my body could not move from its posture. A moment of spiritual inspiration flooded over me; I indeed had two pairs of eyes, two perspectives at once! My immediate surroundings began to dim to neutrality; from a separate, simultaneous perspective, black chaos began to form into my vision of the plain outside. Gradually, the two perspectives inverted; the first faded to black while the second came into focus.
When the process had completed, I returned to a single bodily perspective and snapped back to cognition. Full sensation washed over me again; I smelled powdered dirt, and felt wind on my filthy skin. My body had indeed been teleported outside of the cave! The weighty boulder was unmoved, still obstructing the cave’s mouth. A ray of light shone over the distant rocky horizon as the Sun's ascent began anew. I, Ahan, had completed my Quest; I had learned the true Power of the Vision.