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Inspirational Essays

Vision Quest to the
Ancient Hemlock Grove

On Thursday, I undertook a vision quest to my favorite spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains - the ancient Hemlock Grove near Big Meadows. My intent must have been good this time, for I have taken the trip before with no results. This trip was successful for me. While on the trip, I spoke a story of my quest. At each place I stopped. I gave a gift to Mother Earth and the Universe. I also listened to music that is sacred to me during the entire trip. I did not eat. Once at the site of my journey, I followed the path through the woods to the grove. Here also, I gave gifts to the earth and the universe. I stopped upon the path many times to relish the quiet, closed my eyes, and meditated. I heard the "Om" of the world and the music of the spheres. While walking, I was drawn toward a space off the gravel path. There my totem animal or spirit was revealed to me. It's funny, too, for all this time I have been searching for this spirit, it has been before me all this time. I just did not pay close enough attention. Leaving my spirit's home, I continued on the path until I reached what I believe to be the oldest Hemlock tree.

I only spent a few hours there, actual time, but it felt much longer. As I was leaving my sacred spot, my spirit animal visited me one more time, crossing my path as I left the wooded area. On my travel homeward, I felt lighter, clearer than I have ever been. I slept well that night.

The next day, I was aware that people around me were smiling more. Positive comments were made to me about my T-shirt or just simple hello's. At the bookstore, as I walked past a section of new arrivals, a book suddenly dropped of the shelf. It was as if I were supposed to check it out. It was a book about a man who had fallen into a coma after an accident, and how his wife and family cared for him, never giving up, trying to create an environment that would bring him back to present time. A few years ago, I went through an illness where I was not able to communicate, almost coma like. My family gave me their time and brought many things to me (which the doctor's did not understand) to help me recover. I am reading that book now. What insights it will bring me, I do not yet know.

I have recently read a talk by Swami Krishnananda. In it he states - "The power of the universe is vibrating through every cell of our bodies. But through egoism, self-assertiveness, pride, foolishness, idiocy - whatever you call it - we repel the entry of the cosmic force into us. We have closed the windows of our house, and therefore the breeze of the cosmos does not enter.

I know that my quest opened up some of my windows and let the "breeze of the cosmos" enter. Thanks for reading my tale. It is now four days later, and the great feelings are still with me. I do not know how this may change your reading based upon my last letter. Everything happened very fast. I am beginning a whole new direction in my life - and - believe me, I AM READY.

--Taken from a letter written to Lee Channing by David Swanson

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