Vision Quest Canyon | Illinois

by | Complex & Grand Stories

Here is a vision quest site that very few hikers recognize. It is located at the Rim Rock Trail, Shawnee National Forest, Southern Illinois. Let’s take a journey to see what the nature realm has created.

Guardian of the Site

Native American tradition honors the vision quest. This is a journey to find your own specific purpose and path through life. This journey is frequently made to some significant energy spot. The earth contributes its own power to your personal search.

For contemporary Western mainstream society, this inter-relation between human and nature and cosmic patterns has long been lost. But we are slowly recovering our yearning for connection. 

The Ascent. (above right) To reach this site nowadays, you have to travel down a long trail to a ravine by a gently flowing stream. This site has been occupied by many different peoples over the centuries because it has a large cave overhang permitting protection from the elements. Leading up out of the ravine is a somber, hooded Rock Guardian, overseeing a rocky path that in more recent times acquired a rough stone stairway. Your Vision Quest journey is about to begin.


Vision Quest I

Vision Quest 1 – In the Beginning. (left) In the beginning, you birth the vision for your own life. Here is the start of your journey, and you must enter into the earth mother if you wish to birth your vision. You pass from light to darkness and you must crouch down almost into fetal position if you want to proceed.

Vision Quest II

Vision Quest II – Walk Your Talk. (right) You emerge into a steep-narrow walled canyon, a “birth canal” only large enough for one person to squeeze through and seeming to end at a blank wall. It’s here you start to birth your vision and determine to walk your talk. And just when it seems this road goes nowhere, and ends at a blank wall…an exit route appears to the left, and you can go on, climbing upwards along a single path varying between steep and gentle, and gradually widening along a rocky ascent that in more recent times acquired a wooden staircase.

Vision Quest III

Vision Quest III – The Summit. (right) At the end, you reach your goal, emerging at the top of the canyon, at the fulfillment of your personal journey. If this journey is done with reverence, you have walked the passages of life, and energetically dealt with the issues that attend your personal quest. You also discover you were never alone during this process. A close look at the cliff you face reveals the profile of the canyon Guardian – the cosmic energy that has overseen your journey upward through consciousness. The two of you share a view of the peaceful valley below. Parts of the route you just walked stand revealed while others are hidden from sight.




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