Many of the native legends have been passed down for centuries. There are also lots of stories that are based upon historical events that have taken place. Some stories blur the line between fact and fiction and are often meant to serve as teaching metaphors. Native people were much more connected to the forces of nature and many of them possessed gifts and powers that people in our modern western culture could not even fathom. I feel very fortunate to have lived among the native people, because it has opened me up to whole realms of experience that I would have never known otherwise.

The story of Spirit Lake has played out in my mind during the vision quests. I’m so impressed by the determination of the young man to stay present no matter what adversity he encountered. It’s this level of commitment, determination and sincerity that has allowed many individuals among the native tribes to attain the special powers and gifts of healing.

Spending four days and nights on top of the mountain without food or water can be very difficult. I’m hungry, thirsty and my entire body aches at times. There are times when the discomfort is nearly unbearable. Reflecting upon the story of the Spirit Lake reminds me to open to my experience moment by moment. Breathing into the feelings and sensations helps me to stay present in the midst of whatever is taking place.

Native elders have often talked about how the spirits test us to see if we are truly worthy of the gifts of healing. The spirits place challenges and obstructions in the way and it’s important for us to face whatever comes up. The elders also say that we have to really suffer if we want something good.

The young man who went to fast at the Spirit Lake placed his life on the line because he was so determined to receive the healing gifts and powers of the gods that reside within the lake. I’ve been on the mountain in the midst of a snow storm and when temperature has dropped down to sixteen degrees. There have been times when lightening was striking the ground all around me. I just stayed as close to the ground as possible because I felt it was the safest thing to do. At times I didn’t know if I would survive and became afraid, but felt so strongly that I just needed to go through the process.

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