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Women’s Vision Quest, August 9 – 15, 2016

Women’s Vision Quest


Vision Quest is a multi-cultural ceremony that has been leading people into the wilderness to ‘cry for a vision’ for thousands of years. For some, it is a response to a tap on the shoulder, a tug at the heart, an opportunity to get quiet, go deep, search for answers, and face the fears that we are ready to remove from our path.

By fasting and sitting alone in the stillness of Nature, we are given an opportunity to listen with all of our ears and open ourselves to the Wisdom within and without that speaks with a golden voice through the seen and unseen worlds.

It is not a Ceremony to be taken lightly and all women are expected to come, participate in service and support at a Women’s Quest Fire and base camp before making the commitment to climb the mountain and seek a vision.

Questing begins with a series of circle gatherings to explore the foundations of self discovery. Part of taking care of oneself is remembering how to connect deeply with nature, and with the sacred rhythms of the earth. All one needs to understand spiritually can be found in nature. In this modern-day, fast-paced living that we do, we often forget to slow down and see the sacredness all around us; to really honor the sacred space of the plant people, the stone people, the four-leggeds, the winged ones, those that crawl, and those that swim.

We are nature, and in our spiritual walk, we want to respect, honor, and learn from the beauty that surrounds us, the life that surrounds us. We have merely forgotten, and it’s time to come together in Ceremony, and remember. Vision Quest is an opportunity to peel away the layers of everyday life, and connect deeply with nature and one’s place in it.

60007_1616470898155_7177431_n2Together, we prepare. Together, we learn and grow. Together, we make the changes necessary for a new world.

Whether you are going up on the mountain, or supporting the Questers and community at base camp, it’s a time of inner growth by learning to live fully in gratitude, honoring the sacredness of all life, honoring ourselves and one another, and becoming comfortable with our own personal power. Everyone Quests. It’s a beautiful time to go deeper into learning the value of ceremony.

This is a wonderful sisterhood of women growing together in community while holding a higher vision for humanity.  There are many variations to the quest, which we have been holding annually since 2008.  If you are interested in learning more about this sacred tradition, supporting the Questers at base camp, or are being called to Quest yourself, please contact me.

Winter Prayer

WinterMay we utilize the serenity of this blessed winter season to journey deep within our own hearts.

May we search our souls for the perfected reflection of our true being.

May we release our differences into the chill of the evening air, watching the bias, prejudice and fear dissolve as effortlessly as breath.

May we each lay down our insecurities, our selfishness and our hostility.

May we discover a way to look into the eyes of those we admire least and recognize a cowering glimpse of ourselves hiding there.

May we lay down our weapons, whether they be guns or the violent words of anger and abuse.

May we feed the starving and frightened children of the world, changing their reality and future from despair into hope.

May women everywhere know safety, respect, equality and walk confidently without fear.

May the Elders be kept warm, well-fed and nurtured as we honor the vital wisdom they carry.

May the peace we long for within our own hearts be the beacon we follow into the darkness of chaos and confusion.

May that light guide us back to ourselves where the peace we seek waits patiently to be revealed.

Follow the source of the light and you’ll find that it comes from within you.

May peace, love, joy, perfect health and prosperity be your gifts.

May 2015 be the year that humanity emerges from our complacent slumber and stand united with all of Creation in the Sacred Wheel of Life.

Happy, blessed Winter Solstice!

Just Let Go

391087_10200553021141801_1148239917_nIt feels so empowering to witness magic as it manifests within and around you. That has been my experience recently because, I just let go.

I let go of all preconceived notions of who I had allowed myself to believe I needed to be, and gave myself permission to become the person I truly am.

I let go of self-doubt, feelings of lack, and old patterns of unworthiness that continued to plague me. Though they were not the formidable force they once were, I still gave them power to hold me back from stepping fully into my capabilities.

I let go of trying to balance my hopeful ideals with the negative activities of those who promote and participate in violence.

I let go of who I thought I needed to be because I was comparing myself to others who are doing what I think I want or need to be doing or being!! Acckk! What suffocating, limiting and self-imposed beliefs of the person I once was.

I let go because the ways I was trying to help in the world were twisting me up inside and creating a feeling of despair and failure. I was not being fed. I was being depleted and it felt like the life-force was being sucked out of me.


When I took a step back and focused on the direction of my life as an activist these past few years, I realized I needed to let go of  following an agenda that other like-minded folks follow.

So, I let go of internalizing the global violence I have come to know about. It’s a painful process to witness the inhumanity of man and experience the frustration and helplessness that accompanies it. The inevitable question always surfaced – “But what can I do that makes a difference?”. There was never a viable answer that brought change to the daily lives of those oppressed.

I needed to open my heart and spirit to the creative process of redefining myself, how I relate to the world, and how I can be of most service to those voices that need to be heard and acknowledged.

I needed to begin to listen for my own rhythm.

I needed to dance to the beat of my own drum.

I needed to allow the true me to surface and shine, and then see what doors appear before me and actually begin to open.

So I did, I just let go.

I always talk about the magic in synchronicity, and now it’s time to give rise to the synchronicity that appears on my path and walk my talk.

I make a new choice to stand strong in love and gratitude.

I make a new choice to highlight and support the nurturing and loving aspects of the human spirit.

I make a new choice to remind others of what we are capable of, instead of what we are conditioned to accept as inevitable truth.

I make a choice to promote healing, and beauty, and kindness, and hope, and support, and compassion, and building community, and respect.

I make a choice to fly high, like the graceful hawk, and view life from the perspective that sees the endless possibilities of productive change, not only the twisted, fearful mess that our culture perpetuates and continues to impose on us.

I make a choice to let go of negativity, drama, and fear to make more room for life’s treasures of love, friendship, assistance, guidance, support, inner personal growth, and the healing and growth of my extended human family.

Like the leaves falling from their lofty perches and making their way to the waiting breast of the Earth Mother, I just let go and allow myself the life-changing opportunity to be embraced by the new path and new life of beauty that await the new me.


The first day of the rest of my life….

IMG_1170Have you ever had something happen in your life that turned everything upside down? Of course you have. I have too, but somehow this time is different. Maybe because I’m older and feel like time is running out? Or maybe, because it’s just time to stop and decide what’s really important, to me, right now.

That’s where I keep getting stuck. There is an enormous list of all of the things that hold importance to me. Peace, human rights, social justice, protection of the earth, to name a few. But where do I fit in now? What can I contribute to the whole? How can I best serve myself and humanity?

Peace activism, nonviolence training, mentoring women, support of veterans rights and voices, women’s ritual and ceremony all hold a special place in my heart and have for several years now. Enormous energy has been expended for the cause and we still face increasing global violence and war. Have I made any difference at all? Am I focused on what is really important to me? Do I even know what is really important to me? Something is missing. I am missing.

So, I ask myself, “What is it that I want to do for the rest of my life?” That sounds pretty huge! Maybe I should begin with, what is it that I want to do for the next chapter in my life? So, I made a list of all of the projects/activities that I have thought about getting more involved in. I grabbed my trusty yellow highlighter and decided to highlight the things that made my heart sing just from seeing the words. Guess what?

Travel. I want to travel and journal and take photographs to document my journeys. Not exactly a novel idea, but one that grabs my heart and says, “Let’s go!”. And I believe I shall.

Now, I get to decide where to go first and what to do when I get there.

Another Soldier’s Heart too broken to continue…….

Untitled 0 00 03-09I received some sad and startling news today. One of my adopted ‘nephews’, a three-tour veteran of Afghanistan, Jacob David George, took his own life yesterday.

He took his own life because he couldn’t face the pain and torment of life seen through the eyes of one who has faced the hell of war and brought the accompanying demons home with him. Like so many of our youth who have returned from the killing fields, the effects of PTSD reached farther and deeper into his soul than he was able to heal.

Jacob spent the years after he served in Afghanistan riding the country on his bicycle, sharing the ugly truth that he was told to live and experience, in the supposed name of democracy and freedom. He protested, sang, shared his story, assisted others having a hard time and fought hard for peace and justice.

One more soldier who bought the whole ticket about serving God and country and making the world a better place to live in.

One more soldier who was lied to and ordered to kill first and question later.

One more soldier who returned home wounded, broken, torn apart on the inside and left to deal with this new stranger within by prescribed drugs that didn’t help, and ineffective ‘counseling’ practices of a VA too strapped by its own inadequacies to actually provide effective treatment, assistance, guidance, healing, or authentic help.

We have allowed our country to become consumed with a permanent state of war. A state that serves the bellies of the few and plows through the lives of the many who are destined to fight these senseless atrocities. We have been lied to, we have been taught to believe that we are exceptional and that our way of life far surpasses any other known to the modern world.

We are not told about the thousands of lives that have been abruptly halted because of our obscene warring. We are not told about the destruction and devastation that is left behind our wake of death as we sweep through areas as if we were mowing grass, instead of mowing down innocents and poisoning the earth.

We are lead to believe that war is inevitable and necessary in order to find peace. We are fools because we either believe the lies, or worse, turn our eyes to view the nonsense we are fed through the silliness of mainstream media.

How many soldier’s hearts have to bleed out before we end the madness, stop the wars, stop the violence at home, stop the devastation to the earth and her inhabitants, and begin the process of healing what must be healed?

I lost a friend today and the world lost another voice crying out in the wilderness, begging for peace, love, compassion, and forgiveness. My world seems a little bit darker today because a bright and shining light was too injured and broken to go on.

In the Name of the Mother

I am grateful to have been one of the fortunate women to be in Ceremony with the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers at their first women’s gathering in Arizona recently.

I was asked to write about my experience for the blog at the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Here is my reflection:


Beaver Creek  Beaver Creek ambles through the arid Arizona land revealing a spreading community of stone-beings that make the waters dance and sing as they roll and tumble on their endless journey. Thursday, March 20, 2014 was Spring Equinox, and I was blessed to be stepping into Ceremony, the first Women’s Gathering, with the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers and sisters from all parts of this beautiful world. The Grandmothers are an international alliance of indigenous female Elders that focuses on issues such as the environment, internationalism, and human rights.

As women continued to arrive that day, our tent community began to grow and spread until we were a sea of dwellings nestled beneath the ancient Sycamores that lined the clear creek and welcomed us to our temporary home in the desert. An air of excitement and shared anticipation began to waft through camp as we edged closer and closer to the Opening Ceremony that would provide a doorway for us to step through, together.

Women around the planet heard the call and 400 were able to take the action required to make the pilgrimage to Soda Springs Ranch, near Sedona, Arizona. This life-changing opportunity, organized by Indigena and Mystic Momma, enabled us to receive the wisdom and Teachings of these remarkable Elders who ask us to connect through prayer and Ceremony for our Mother Earth.

Many Elders from many Nations have been speaking of this time, a time when women would rise together to ignite the Feminine Spirit on the planet. Our Mother is calling us to restore balance, and to awaken our remembrance, and we are listening.

The gathering was hosted by Grandmother Mona Polacca, a spiritual elder of Hopi/Havasupai/Tewa descent. The intention was to come together for World Water Day at Montezuma Well, a sacred site serving as refuge and inspiration to many over the centuries. Ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs mark it as a unique historic site and its constant flow of 1.4 million gallons of water each day uphold a sense of mystery as the source of the water is still an unknown. Local tribes, such as the Yavapai-Apache, Hopi, and Navajo still gather for sacred ceremony at this most blessed site.

“It is said that a great plumed snake has one of his numerous homes here, and that in those deep mysterious waters that flow from deep inside the heart of the mother, the feathered snake dwells.”

1835 So, on Thursday evening the observance began with a Welcoming Ceremony led by the women from the local Yavapai-Apache Nation. Prayer, song, drums, and a sense of sisterhood that knows no boundaries or restrictions were the foundation laid to hold us close in our Medicine blanket for the next few days.  We gathered as many and began to feel the surge of energy that swirled around us as we felt our hearts unite and we became One.

Women from all walks of life, all ages, backgrounds, levels of life experience and beliefs had heard a call from beyond that touched our hearts and would not let go. Some answered knowing what was being asked of us, others simply responded through a strong sense of faith. A faith seeded in deep understanding and awareness that things are terribly wrong in our world today, and a firm conviction that it is the bringers of life, the women, who hold the key to the change that must begin to happen to make a safe and healthy home for the next seven generations.

We had already been told that some of the Grandmothers might not be able to join us because of travel distances, health issues, etc., but we were blessed to be in Ceremony with:

  • Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim, Confederated Tribes of Siletz
  • Grandmother Rita Blumenstein, Yup’ik
  • Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance, Oglala Lakota
  • Grandmother Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance, Oglala Lakota
  • Grandmother Bernadette Rebienot, Omyene linguistic community
  • Grandmother Maria Alice Campos Freire, Amazonia
  • Grandmother Clara Shinobu Iura, Amazonia
  • Grandmother Flordemayo, Mayan
  • Grandmother Mona Polacca, Hopi/Havasupai/Tewa

The days were warm and sunny, and were shared with the Great Blue Herons who flew the path of the creek and the pair of Red-Tailed Hawks who nested in one of the stately Sycamores above us. We watched the hawks circle overhead as they seemed to play in the wind currents, at times appearing to be sharing private messages with each of us. Nighttime brought a sharp drop in temperature as we settled in to the high desert chill with several communal fires to warm us and an endless canopy of stars that served as a reminder of the paradox of our existence. We are such a small piece of the whole, and yet have our significant roles to play.

Grandmother Teachings by the Fire on Friday continued to touch our hearts with a sense of remembering who we are as women, as sisters, as care-givers and nurturers. A strong sense of promise and recognition that we are not alone in this struggle to protect and defend our beautiful Mother Earth seemed to envelop our camp as if we had been covered in a loving shawl.

We were not strangers; there was a strong sense of familiarity as we moved through the days and nights, paying close attention and caring for one another as individual needs arose. Our space was shared with Turtle Women Rising, a ceremonial drum collective founded and led by Indigenous women who continued to hold us within the heartbeat of the Mother throughout the weekend. We also were blessed with the enchanting music of the duo, MaMuse, and the powerful poetry of Climbing Poetree.

We gathered in the meadow on Saturday morning, World Water Day and walked the one-half mile on a gravel road in pairs, in silence, to Montezuma Well. The Park Service worked in cooperation with us to assure a private ceremony at the well. As I walked, I felt a strong feeling of gratitude for the opportunity to be part of such a sacred event and felt tears of joy moisten my cheeks as I entered a space that knew no time, a moment that knew no restrictions, an opportunity that knew no boundaries.

Four hundred women lined the walkway that borders two-thirds of the Well, and the Grandmothers settled in to their respective places in the four directions along the rim above us. Their voices could be heard floating down as blessings and prayers were offered to the water and then we all began to join them in one moment of timeless, sacred unity. We opened our hearts wider and deeper to the prayers, intentions and healing for the waters of our planet everywhere and for the animals, birds and fishes that are affected. Such a powerful moment to be alive, awake and fully engaged in affecting change for people around the world also gathered at water sources in their communities to speak to the water, to bless it and offer prayers of gratitude.

Life is always complete with its teachings and there is never an indication as to when and how these Teachings will surface. Grandmother Bernadette was informed on Saturday morning that her son had been killed in Gabon and plans were being made for her emergency trip home. She faced a long, sad journey home to help make the preparations for his funeral and to be with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren who were left behind. Once again, our collective heart space opened as tears of sadness were shed as we mourned with her, prayers offered for his soul and for those left behind and a combined outpouring of love as we offered donations to assist her with what lay ahead.

The final ceremonies were held on Sunday with gifting to us from the Grandmothers  and an opportunity to gift them a token of our appreciation in return. So much joy and laughter could be heard as we came together one more time In the Name of the Mother.

As we broke camp, said our tearful goodbyes and began to move back towards that break in time where we first stepped into this Ceremony, we realized that something significant, life-changing and monumental had happened within each of us. We had answered the call. We had shown up with open hearts and minds for ourselves, our families, our communities, our ancestors, the next seven generations and for our beloved Mother Earth and all of her children. We signed up for this work and choose to move forward together as we join hands and hearts and circle this planet with the love and nurturing spirit of the Sacred Feminine.

“We are who we’ve been waiting for.” ~ Grandmother Mona Polacca

Ymani Simmons (Chickasaw/Celt) is a peacemaker, writer, mentor, and facilitator of women’s circles and retreats. She participated in a March 2007 Fellowship of Reconciliation delegation to the Islamic Republic of Iran and is an advisor/co-founder of the Kashmir Center for Peace and Reconciliation, a youth initiative. Regarding her usage of capital letters throughout her reflection, Ymani writes, “The Red Road of spirituality is my path and certain words are capitalized as a way to honor and respect the entity. The Fire and Well are sacred beings to us.”

[Photos: (1) Beaver Creek. Photo: Ymani Simmons. (2) A ceremonial place. Photo: Heidi Partlowe.]