Spirit guidance is not a philosophical branch of shamanism so much as it is a technique used by those who practice ancestor worship and animism. The tauren in particular utilize spirit guidance, both in their everyday lives and in times of upheaval. Members of a shamanistic tribe can learn to call on the power of their ancestors and nature to grant them strength and knowledge. Several abilities known as Speaker of the Fang, Speaker of the Hoof, Speaker of the Seed, Speaker of the Sky and Speaker of the Earth Mother reflect this ability. Some powerful shaman learn to communicate directly with ancestral spirits, but most are born with the touch. These individuals channel tribal spirits frequently and sometimes unwillingly. They struggle to interpret the words of the ancients and serve as a bridge between the dead and the living. Shaman who communicate with ancestral spirits often become spirit walkers.[1]

Vision quests

The vision quest represents a tribe member’s passage from one stage to another, such as from youth to maturity or from maiden to mother. Shaman typically undergo several vision quests throughout their careers, each one unlocking hidden knowledge within their souls. To venture on a vision quest, the seeker leaves her tribe behind and finds a natural area that feels quiet and sacred to her. The seeker leaves all trappings of civilization behind, including weapons and clothes, taking only a waterskin with her. The tribe’s shaman provides the vision speaker with a bundle of herbs to eat in the sacred area. These herbs facilitate the vision quest. Only a trained shaman may set a seeker on her vision quest. A vision quest lasts two to four days. Traditionally, the quest begins with a powerful urge to leave the sacred area. The seeker must resist this temptation and remain in the place she chose. Most seekers remind themselves of the sacred task they perform and soothe themselves with knowledge that they can survive a few days alone. Once the urge to leave passes, the seeker feels a sense of buoyancy. She seems to float out of her body and see the land spread out beneath her. She examines her body and, in doing so, comes to understand her soul. Each physical feature reminds the vision seeker of past experiences, her ancestors or her race. She meditates on these things until she feels at peace with herself.

At the apex of the vision quest, a spirit animal comes to the seeker. The animal represents the seeker’s spirit; fierce warriors may see a bear, while timid herbalists may see a rabbit. The seeker feels an instant bond with the animal. In rare cases, the spirit animal may lead the seeker away from the sacred area to a place of great power. This sometimes happens to seekers who later become shaman. In the place of power, the seeker undergoes an additional test, such as a test of combat against a wild animal or a test of skill where she must heal a wounded creature or retrieve an object from a dangerous natural location. Upon completing her vision quest, a seeker usually takes some small item from the sacred area, such as a rock or a bit of animal fur, and keeps it as a reminder of her quest. A seeker who fails to complete her test may try again when she and her shaman feel ready.[2]