• Sherri Phibbs

An Accidental Vision Quest

Updated: Feb 25, 2019

It all started with a wolf in my living room, and a deep-seated fear of insanity.



The thing that sticks in the mind is the glow of the eyes. The intelligence. In the yellow glow of those ancient, quiet eyes. It caught and held me. Not as predator to prey, but as a discovery of 'other' unexpectedly.





When the first moment of shock dissolved, emotion followed. Fear... certainly, but also respect.





Respect, despite the fact that those eyes were mere inches from my own, and I lay in a position that had been quite relaxed only seconds earlier. The couch springs creaked under me as the adrenalin spiked through my body, muscles tensed for fight or flight.


Those eyes! Filled with old wisdom. That wolf, that wolf knew things, and it shone in his eyes. My attention caught, his mission was seemingly fulfilled, and his head turned aside.


That's when things got really weird.


The room fell away as a snow covered valley emerged from a mist. Edged by tall, dark pine silhouettes, the pristine valley floor glistened, disturbed only by the trail of a single snowshoer.


Tiny, made small by the vastness of the surrounding land, she showed focus and determination to keep upright. The woman struggled putting one foot in front of the other. The snow was so deep. When she paused for a moment and threw back her head to catch her breath, I saw that she was me.


Breath left my lungs in a rush, only to be sucked right back in when I spied the wolf tearing down the broken snow trail toward her ... me ... her. The wolf charged. I screamed. She screamed and hit the ground. Snow flew in the struggle to keep open mouth from throat. As arms weakened, hot breath fanned cheek. Tongue reached out and wiped a kiss across her face.


All this in the blink of an eye. Then just gone. I was left gasping for breath, standing. In my living room. Alone.


Drugs? Alcohol? A dream? No, to all three, though there had been a decided lack of good sleep the days, weeks, months prior. There had been prayer, too. And fasting. The traditional ingredients of vision questing, but I didn't know. I thought I was losing my mind.


After the initial shock, and a few days of sheer panic that resulted in sleeping pills and Prozac, I realized I was still functioning - work, family responsibilities - putting one foot in front of the other. Apparently, everything about me remained the same on the outside looking in. But inside? Inside, something had changed. A deep tectonic plate kind of shifting had shaken my foundations. I stopped the medication barely half a week later and regarded my surroundings with new eyes.


You see, my prayers had been for clarity. And, that's just what I received. Messages, signs, portents, dreams, all crystal clear. As though the Divine was turning on the lights to illuminate the 'right' path for me. I was seriously freaked out!


To top it off, there was volume. The Voice. Only twice, and out loud. I thought I was a candidate for a padded room, so naturally, I didn't really discuss it with anyone. Just head down, doing what needed doing. The Voice didn't say anything bizarre or creepy. It told me everything was going to be all right.


But I was seriously freaked out! I just took the heightened senses, the messages and dreams, if not necessarily in stride, with a cautious nod. Did I mention, I WAS SERIOUSLY FREAKED OUT? About six months later, I had finally reached my limit, and one night I shouted to the rafters - STOP! JUST STOP! - and it did. Like the simple flick of a switch, it stopped.


Insanity doesn't flip off when you ask, so that was a relief. This was something else altogether. Something I didn't want anything more to do with. So I filed it under "G", for garbage, and went on with life.


I started to write 'life was good' here, but actually snorted instead. I was living through some of the worst times of my life. Life was crap.


I gave everything I had, every bit of caring, heart and love, taking care of everyone but me. I was zeroed out, almost flatlined within a few years. I became sick, my body reacting with allergies to everything and who knew what. It was like I was allergic to life. My health compromised, my ethics were then challenged in my career and relationships by pressure to conform to other's standards. Standards that challenged my sense of honesty, loyalty and common decency.


Hardly surprising, what happened next was a definitive course correction.


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Cochrane, Alberta, Canada