Friday, July 13, 2012

Heartspeaker and the Vison Quest

I reported earlier on the storytelling of “Heartspeaker” on the Native American sim “Spirit Nations.” When I wrote the article promoting Heart’s storytelling every Thursday at 1pm SL time, I earned his trust as he said “There is thunder with your words.”  Also that more people came to his storytelling session when they read about it from this very paper.

Heartspeaker recently invited me to a special occasion: a vision quest.  What’s a vision quest? It is an initiation for a young man or woman in Native American cultures to give the young person spiritual guidance. It involves 3 days of fasting and no water. At the end of the vision quest the young person sees his or her animal totem and then is now welcomed into the tribe as an adult.

For the vision quest here in SL I didn’t have to fast for 3 days to participate, but it was for the benefit of a man named Traverse Slade.  He spoke of how he had dreams of his totem animal as a crow. Meeting with Heartspeaker and Traverse wasn’t exactly a vision quest, but more like Heartspeaker shared his life experiences with Traverse and I. I shared along with Traverse, talking about how my totem animal fox helps me sometimes in various ways. For example I said that fox helps me hear danger like a car coming.

Heartspeaker told Traverse and I about his life experience when his own tribe sent him on a vision quest. As a 17 year old Heartspeaker spent his 3 day vision quest in a small hole in real life. The elders and one of his mentors Charlie Ironshield gave him beef jerky and water to tempt him. Heart spoke of how “Coyote” the trickster tempted him during his vision quest. Coyote is used in Native American stories as a trickster and a goofy personality who teaches folly and what not to do through his antics. Coyote was telling Heartspeaker “Go ahead! Eat and drink something the elders will not know.” Heartspeaker gained willpower to sustain fasting by singing his power song. He mentally fought coyote using his power song. Over time the lack of water made his voice weaker, but heart kept singing anyway. Eventfully Heartspeaker began to focus on his environment in the small hole he was in.

He said there was something he could not share with Traverse and I, and it was something his could only tell his spirit quest teacher Charlie Ironshield. He could tell us his animals spirit were both owl and Otter. Owl teaches wisdom and helps him see better in the dark. Otter may not sound like an impressive animal like owl or wolf, however otter teaches how to share and joy. An important part of any tribe.

Another lesson Heartspeaker said learned from his childhood was when in a Native American summer camp he was told to go around and keep in mind what he saw and perceived in nature. As a young man Heartspeaker blew it off, thinking he would rather play. Later in the evening with his talking stick he felt embarrassed when he had nothing to share. The next day he made sure to look around in nature and see what was all around him and he was excited.  That evening Heartspeaker didn’t eat out of excitement wanting to share what he saw that day. When it was his turn the elders skipped over him. Later Heartspeaker asked why he was skipped. Charlie Ironshiled said “When there is an opportunity don’t waste it” the lesson hit Heartspeaker hard as he learned the hard way.

At one of Heartspeaker’s storytellings, I brought that up. Especially when I found my computer mike. Instead of blowing an opportunity for me to tell a story I took advantage and told a classic coyote story in voice chat about how coyote thought he would be first in line to get the most powerful spirit medicine when the Great Spirit was giving out powers to the animal people. Coyote’s antics screwed him up instead of helping him. he was last to get his powers as the Great Spirit gave him powers of folly and wisdom to teach people what not to do.

Another thing that Heartspeaker brought up was asking people where the most comfortable place to sit in a forest was. Most people don’t pick up on the simple truth that there’s no wrong answer. It’s wherever each person feels most comfortable when he or she sits. As everyone is a different person there is always a different answer. He spoke about seeing a fox a few months ago I said I’ve seen a deer a few times. He suggested talking to an animal with my mind I had never thought about that before so I said I’ll give that a shot.

Heartspeaker said today that he never stops learning as he learns something new every day. A vision quest just seems like a part of life as part of a journey. Maybe it’s not a quest or journey to gain a magic sword like in a fantasy moive, but maybe a quest for yourself to never stop learning and live life.

Home of Many Nations, Spirit Nations (99, 172, 21)

Grease Coakes

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