A Vision Quest For Development: The Case of Phillip Annie Thoe
1 Trainings with Tom Browne, Jr. 1994-5, Kamana Naturalist Program 2001-10, Anake Graduate 2009-10, Tracking Intensive 2005-6, Wilderness Awareness School.
2 For more background on vision quest see Tom Browne, Jr., The Vision, (New York, NY: Berkley, 1988); and M. Norman Powell, Ingwe, (Shelton, WA: Owl Link Media; 2nd edition, 2001).
When I first met Phillip he was almost two years old. I was just beginning my naturalist and survival studies—observing bird behavior, animal tracks, and signs—and applied these new skills in my Feldenkrais Method® practice.1 One of the quintessential teachings in nature survival is the vision quest, a four-day ceremony involving fasting alone in nature to pray for a vision to clarify one’s life journey. Observing everything that happens during the quest provides insight into how one perceives and responds to the world, and is used for further reflection on key questions about life. I learned from Tom Browne, Jr. that the first vision quest carries all the messages one needs for the rest of one’s life. 2 I have contemplated this case with Phillip as if it were the first vision quest of my career, though instead of four days, the case spans six lessons over a six-week period. Both my first vision quest and my work with Phillip occurred at a similar time in my life and laid the foundation for an ongoing practice in sensing cues from my body and the environment while refining methods of inquiry for development and self-expression. Phillip’s situation reflected what I was trying to achieve in my new practice. He required help with his development—at two years old, he was unable to walk, talk, or perform typical functions for a boy his age. At the time of this case, I was in my third year of training, although I had started studying the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education ten years prior to meeting Phillip. I had a full-time massage practice, and taught clinical massage and kinesiology. I was eager to apply what I was learning about development with children and to find my own style of