Vision Quest (Crow Medicine)

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Sol Luckman

No sooner had I left graduate school at the end of May, 1998, than I was on my way to a brand-new variety of education that tremendously broadened my horizons—while also imparting much life energy, or chi (sometimes spelled qi), to my depleted and struggling systems.

Qigong is an ancient technique of energy healing related to tai chi … I had been put in contact with a gifted qigong teacher, an American also in his early thirties who, several years previously, had traveled to China to study this venerable art to cure his extreme chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or CFIDS).

I did not travel to China. But after the yard sale of yard sales, I crammed my scant belongings into my car and spent two days driving nearly twenty-four hours from the East Coast to New Mexico, where my qigong teacher taught a popular class attended by as many as a hundred students three times a week at dawn.

I think of this transitional, challenging and magical period of my life as my own personal “vision quest” that, for the first time, opened my eyes to the often misunderstood and underestimated worlds of spirit and energy.

In many indigenous cultures, the vision quest is the form initiation takes and constitutes the transition from adolescence to adulthood. When the initiate is old enough for vision questing, he (or she) typically spends several days or weeks alone in nature, often while fasting.

Eventually, a particular animal, sometimes called the “totem animal” or “animal medicine,” visits the initiate in a dream, vision, or (more rarely) waking state.

The appearance of the totem animal embodying a specific spiritual power indicates the individual’s innate calling—which after returning to the tribe, the newly initiated young person pursues following a time of apprenticeship.

Curiously, I did not realize (at least consciously) that I was on any kind of vision quest. To be honest, I did not even know what a vision quest was.

I simply was living like a hermit in the windy, sage-covered high desert; eating the few foods my ravaged immune and digestive systems could tolerate; and practicing qigong often half the day because I intuitively felt I had to in order to survive.

Certainly, I had no awareness of being a shaman in training!

Now, anyone who has ever regularly spent half an hour “hugging the tree,” the primary practice in medical qigong, knows two things.

For starters, an enormous amount of bioenergy (chi) is pooled by maintaining this oddly difficult position between standing and squatting, arms loosely draped around an invisible trunk, eyes remaining calmly unfocused on nothing in particular.

The first time I experienced this powerful energy, it literally knocked me on my rear. I lay on the ground outside my rental panting for thirty minutes as waves of electric heat like cosmic hot flashes shook my body again and again.

This was the energy I ultimately used to strengthen myself enough to go on with my life. But I needed an entire summer of practice just to be able to accommodate it gracefully.

The second observation made by serious “tree huggers” is that in that meditative state where you are supposed to think about nothing, sometimes you successfully empty your head. But more often, you think about anything and everything.

Such was my case at first, but then an odd thing started to happen: every time I hugged the tree and aligned myself with the flow of spiritual energy, I thought of crows.

Ever since I was a kid, strangely, I had felt a strong affinity for crows, learning to imitate their caws and always appreciating their presence. But now, whenever I did qigong, crows were all I could think about. Not just that—crows started to appear everywhere in my life.

They circled raucously around me as I hugged the tree under the autumnal sky and perched beside me on my porch as I sipped herbal tea and wrote in my journal. Crow statues seemed to appear like weeds, suddenly and uncontrollably, all over my quaint little New Mexican town.

Almost every night, I dreamed of crows. I realized I was into the music of the Counting Crows. And when I started dabbling with watercolors, for the longest time crows were all I wanted to paint.

A fellow student in my qigong class, overhearing me describe my  weird fascination with crows, was kind enough to loan me a copy of MEDICINE CARDS: THE DISCOVERY OF POWER THROUGH THE WAYS OF ANIMALS.

Turning to the section on Crow Medicine, I learned that in many native wisdom traditions, Crow is the totem animal, or “medicine,” that “knows the unknowable mysteries of creation,” guards holy texts, and upholds the sacred laws of being.

As keeper of the Creator’s linguistically-based knowledge of creation, as recorded in sacred texts, Crow is gifted with the special ability to modify universal rules and “shape-shift,” both personally and collectively.

In other words, Crow’s innate talent involves knowing how to manifest new ways of living and being.

When shortly thereafter I was prompted intuitively to read a magazine article (featuring a crow graphic) on vision questing, I realized in an epiphany that for months I had been receiving visits from my totem animal!

Apparently, Crow was trying to tell me through its repeated cawing that my calling involved recalling that I knew something important about creation, holy texts, and sacred law.

Humorously, I visualized myself as a phoenix-crow hybrid, a jet-black bird engulfed in indigo flames, hugging the tree with my wings alight as I stood pooling chi in the middle of my ashes. I actually painted a little watercolor close to this description.

The only problem was, while the phoenix imagery was crystal clear, it was years before I was able to grasp the meaning of the crow part of the picture.

But eventually, as I came to fathom the true nature of DNA—which you will not find in biology textbooks, but will learn more about shortly—while developing Potentiation, I understood why Crow had come to me so insistently.

DNA is the language-based holy text, the sacred law of creation that Crow guards and shape-shifts by calling out its inherent potential through linguistic means.

In fact, as I explain in detail in CONSCIOUS HEALING, the Regenetics Method very well may be an example of a type of ancient healing speech applied to genetics referred to in the Koran as the “Language of the Birds.”


Copyright © Sol Luckman. All Rights Reserved.

Sol Luckman is a pioneering painter whose work has been featured on mainstream book covers, the fast-paced trading game BAZAAR, and at least one tattoo on a female leg last sighted in Australia. He’s also an acclaimed author whose books include the international bestselling CONSCIOUS HEALING, which you can read free online, and its popular sequel, POTENTIATE YOUR DNA, available in English and Spanish. Sol’s visionary novel SNOOZE: A STORY OF AWAKENING, the coming-of-age tale of one extraordinary boy’s awakening to the world-changing reality of his dreams, won the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award for New Age Fiction. Building on this deep dive into lucid dreaming, parallel universes and Hindu mysticism, Sol’s new novel, CALI THE DESTROYER, is a page-turner of a sci-fi tale set in an Orwellian future seeded in the dystopian present that radically rewrites Gnosticism as well as the origins of the earth and humanity. On the lighter side, Sol’s popular book of satire, THE ANGEL’S DICTIONARY: A SPIRITED GLOSSARY FOR THE LITTLE DEVIL IN YOU, received the 2017 National Indie Excellence Award for Humor. Learn more about Sol’s art and writing at


  1. I love your description of crow medicine! Crow is one of the first animals to come to me when I first learned shamanic journeying, and the one who shows up for me often when I am giving messages from Spirit, so I am familiar with its energy. Thanks for this wonderful post!

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