Coos Bay Oregon, 1992
“Well, you have really done it this time, Van Horn. How do you get out of this mess?”
This is my inner critic speaking. Whenever it calls me Van Horn, I know I am in trouble. My father used to call me this when he was annoyed with me. But my inner critic was right: I really had gotten myself into it this time.
I am standing in a 7-foot deep pit that was dug in the side of mountain in Western Oregon. When I stare ahead, I only see dirt. Dirt in every direction. If I look straight up, I see the sky. I am buck naked. It is May and a cold winter storm is coming in off the ocean. I will have to deal with it.
I am on Hanbleceya, which means “crying out for a vision” in the Lakota language. Hanbleceya is an important event in the life of a Lakota warrior. The vision quest is an opportunity to open oneself to the spirit world and to ask for guidance and insight. The guidance received can be important both to the individual and also the entire tribe. Traditionally much time would be taken at the conclusion by the tribal elders to evaluate the experience.
I need to step back and provide some background here. During my vision quest, I felt like I had an emersion to what the Native Americans call the spirit world. This world is very different than the outer world. It is not tangible. It cannot be experienced through our usual 5 senses and it cannot be interpreted by the mind. At least not at the time of the experience.
The way we understand the outer world, the way we use logic and reason and analytical techniques, do not apply to the spirit world. The spirit world cannot be experienced by the mind. For a lot of people this becomes a stopping point. If they cannot use their mind, they think, then what they experience cannot be real. Reality, for these people, is limited to that which we can grasp with our mind.
But the material world is just the tip of the iceberg. The Spirit World of Native Americans does not conform to the scientific view of reality. The esoteric experience of “channeled teaching”, which my friend was advocating, is another example.
I am about to be tested. Have I really overcome all my fears? At this point, I have used all the techniques I can remember just to feel being in my body and to stay present to what I am doing. Somehow, I have managed to survive to this point. Maybe I really have released all my fear.
But I am struggling with the question of why I am doing this. During an earlier sweat lodge ceremony, I had received guidance that this tradition was not my path but that it had important things to teach me.
This is now my second year coming up to Oregon from California to participate in Lakota ceremonies. At the end of the previous Summer, just before leaving for home, the medicine man had come over to me and told me that, if I returned the following year, I would have to go into this Pit on the side of a mountain. I had suspected as much. Everyone in the group knew about the pit. Most vision quests take place in a remote location in the wild. This is a little different.
My preparation for the vision quest was to make 500 prayer flags to bring with me into the pit. A prayer flag is made by taking a pinch of tobacco, holding it up towards the sky, offering a prayer and asking for guidance, and then wrapping the tobacco into a small patch of cloth. This is then tied onto a string which holds all the other prayer flags together.
The pit is normally covered during the vision quest. But the shaman, knowing of my claustrophobia, has allowed me to leave the pit open to the sky. I am grateful for this. This gratitude will be short-lived.
A storm is coming in. The temperature has dropped dramatically. The winds have picked up and the trees overhead are starting to rustle. Now an overwhelming fear is coming over me. I start to fantasize about getting hypothermia. I feel like I am going to lose it. I begin to berate myself.
Well, you have really done it this time, Van Horn. How do you get out of this mess?”
Then I hear a voice ask: why are you here?
I am here, I say, to offer prayers to Wakan Tanka (Great Spirit),
Well, the voice says, why don’t you do that?
So, I begin to pray in earnest.
The fear goes away. A peace and calm settles over me. As the storm rages overhead, I suddenly realized I am not cold. It is night out, I am standing in a 7-foot pit completely naked, yet I feel no discomfort. The air actually seems a bit balmy. Something is going on.
Over the course of the night I start to feel a growing connection to the spirit world. The relationship with the spirit world is central to the Lakota Faith. The spirits guide our actions and look out for us. We in turn must remain open to their guidance. I have had trouble believing a lot of what I have heard and read about the spirit world. But I am getting a deeper and richer insight into how all this works.
The spirit world cannot impact those of us who do not embrace it. One’s faith in this realm is like a portal through which one can travel to experience the many dimensions of the spirit realm. If one does not go through this portal, one does not engage this world. If one does not engage this world, one cannot be impacted by it. There is nothing to fear from the spirit world. Then again, oner does not gain the benefits of what the spirit world has to offer.
I begin to see this as a broader truth for all of life. What we hold as true becomes true by virtue of our believing in it. We make reality real by our belief that it is real. What is real for you may not be real for me. This is not some litmus test of whose understanding of reality is correct. We all make our own reality by the power of our beliefs. This is the great insight I received while standing in a pit on the side of a mountain in Western buck naked.
I recently received an email from a man I knew from Life Energy Fundamentals. His email told me that he had recently conducted a search for Jeff Krock (our teacher) and that search had eventually led him to this website. He was writing to tell me how much he had enjoyed the site.
The timing of his reaching out seemed fortuitous. I had been in some kind of a fog for several weeks. I had been trying to write about the two centers and coherence and I was floundering around. Nothing was coming together in my writing. I was starting to think that perhaps my dotage was setting in.
His note was long and very well written. One phrase stood out for me in particular:
“the inner planes”, he wrote, “became for me the experience that was not to be talked about”.
That fits right in with a lot of what I have been writing. Could the timing of his email be an omen? I decided to share with him my recent quandary and suggested maybe he could help me with some of my work.
He wrote back to tell me that he was interested but then added an unexpected caveat: he has been teaching the works of an ascended master. That is what he would want to write about on the website.
I had my doubts that this was going to work. But I felt I owed it to him to check this out. I ordered one of the books written by his teacher. This book was a channeled teaching. Channeled teachings are another example of experiences that the mind cannot fathom. Those who receive these experiences have to interpret them for the rest of us.
We believe what we experience and we experience what we believe
When the book I ordered arrived, I began to read it. I liked very much a distinction that the writer made. The writer—a recipient of channeled teachings from one or more of the “ascended masters”, emphasized that what he received was a series of vibrations. These vibrations are felt in the body but they are not understood by the mind.
Did you catch that? These vibrations occur in the body. We have to be attuned to our bodies for us to experience these vibrations.
The question becomes: how does the mind interpret the vibrations felt in the body?
There is no set answer to this question. Most clairvoyants will say that they receive a translation of the vibration as part of their process.
Here is the sticking point: vibrations are felt in the body; the translation is formed in the mind.
What is the process by which a physical vibration becomes a formal thought?
I have read many such revelations over the years. I have learned that some writings just do not “resonate” for me at all. Some writings have offered moments of insight when something literally “feels” true. There is a momentary vibration within me—as the reader—that seems to acknowledge a truth in what I have read. Never have I read something that was always and continuously spot on—for me. And that includes the book I was reading here.
What I am trying to describe goes beyond just so-called “channeled” writings. The nature of the invisible world is such that we feel this world before we understand it. We can analyze our feelings after the fact and try to extrapolate what was meant from what we felt. But in the moment, we can only feel.
Our challenge is to learn how to accurately translate vibrational feelings in the body into mental concepts that satisfies our mind.