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Wilderness Quest in Death Valley

A Rite Of Passage

Practice what you preach. At least once a year I try to enrol myself in a program or process that helps me deepen my knowledge about my profession as well as myself. This year I decided to be part of a Wilderness Quest in Death Valley. This is a program inspired by the knowledge and wisdoms of the Shoshone Native Americans. The Shoshone believed in the transformative power of Vision Quests and dreams. To be clear, the program I followed was inspired by this practice, but not a copy. It is important to recognise that, and not be part of cultural appropriation. 

>> Check out the website of Wilderness Quest

The Shoshone are a Native American tribe that originated in the western Great Basin and spread north and east into present-day Idaho and Wyoming. By 1500, some Eastern Shoshone had crossed the Rocky Mountains into the Great Plains. After 1750, warfare and pressure from the Blackfoot, Crow, Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho pushed Eastern Shoshone south and westward. Some of them moved as far south as Texas, emerging as the Comanche by 1700.  The name "Shoshone" comes from Sosoni, a Shoshone word for high-growing grasses. Some neighboring tribes call the Shoshone "Grass House People," based on their traditional homes made from sosoni. Shoshones call themselves Newe, meaning “People”. (Source: Wikipedia)

The vision quest is a rite of passage practiced by Native American tribes of the Plains and Great Basin groups such as the Eastern Shoshone. Native American practitioners, usually males, often began the vision quest ritual in adolescence or young adulthood. Individuals interested in seeking a vision wanted to acquire power, find a guardian spirit, or obtain some other form of life guidance. The practice was highly variable, but in general, seekers would travel to a secluded place such as a hilltop or mountain and remain there for as many as four days. Seekers frequently endured hunger, thirst, and a variety of harsh environmental conditions until rewarded with a vision. (Source: Colorado Encyclopedia)

As some of you know, I was in hospitals for about 9 months because of a Cholesteatoma (a tumor-like lump) in my head, as well as severe bacterial infections. I had 3 major surgeries, tons of medicine, and one of the results is that I lost my hearing on my right side. Obviously, this whole period had a tremendous impact on me. I needed to feel alive again. It was time for a Rite of Passage. 

The Journey

We got together with 8 people (5 men, 3 women) and 2 facilitators for this 9 day journey in Death Valley. 3 days to get to know each other and to prepare, 3 days solo (without a tent and without food), and 3 days to reconnect and start the incorporation phase.  Obviously, as a Dutch guy, I am not used to sleeping outside in the desert with rattlesnakes, coyotes, scorpions, mountain lions, and tarantulas. To make myself comfortable with them, I spoke to them (and the plants and my ancestors) with my poetry.

Poetry In E-Motion

I enjoyed this journey a lot! The facilitation was awesome and I learned a lot from Mike and Larissa. Also, I was blessed with an amazing group of co-questers. Thank you so much for your presence and energy Thom, Thomas, Katie, Bobbi, Corey, John and Marla!  Sleeping under the stars was a blessing. All the different cacti were so cool, I loved sitting under the Joshua trees. The colours of the sky during sunset were amazing. I was fine without food. And I did get some beautiful insights. The second day after the solo, I felt the flow to give my experience some words. This is what it resulted in: 

Alone & Together



In the desert


With ancestors

And fellow questers

I feel


Im present

The past

The now

The future

The essence

I feel



The treasure


Slow down

All together

I feel


The lessons

South, West,

North, East

The wheel

All directions

I feel



With death

Life with questions

The soul and spirit


I feel


The message

No pressure

Be real

Be love

Be gentle

I feel




Feast of fear

I feel

I am

Alone and Together