The Shamanic Journey: A Brief Introduction
Shamanism has been called the first spiritual practice of humanity. For tens of thousands of years, its ways have helped with personal and community evolution, intuitive development and divination. It has been effective in work to heal the self, the community and the planet. Shamanism is a generous and caring path. Its power is to be used respectfully and only for good. It can support and sustain positive personal growth and enhanced spiritual connectedness.
What It Is
An element of the sacred traditions of peoples from every inhabited land, journeying is a powerful meditative state. It takes us into a very special level of consciousness that helps us work more deeply with intuitive and spiritual guidance. Prolonged hypnotic drumming is used to promote relaxation and the experience of a trance-like visionary awareness.
Why Its Done
Through journeying, we may find that our normal world is not the most real world we can experience. The alternative realms of Spirit, of our visions and dreams, also can be real, accessible, tangible. Spirit travel can open the door to an awareness that there are other realities, other worlds. These other worlds are sources of the energy, creativity, passion and love that power the everyday world we know. Finding our way there can be a blessing that brings us wisdom and self-empowerment in a positive, healing way.
How Its Done
Journeying is often done lying down, with the eyes closed. It also can be done while sitting, standing, walking, running, dancing, singing, chanting, or any combination of the above. It has been said, If you can visualize, you can learn to journey.
While in a trance-like state, a Journeyer travels to other realms. There are generally three types of journeys that can be undertaken. One is to a destination called the Lower World, a place of deep, beautiful earthy energy. Lower World can be a dimension of healing and self- empowerment. The second type is to a destination called the Upper World, a place of light bright energy. Upper World can be a place of wisdom and teaching. The third destination is the Middle World, a place that seems very much like our own reality, here, now. But in Middle World, Spirit is tangibly present and ready to work with us.
As You Begin...
1. Be comfortable. You may lie down, sit or stand. Breathe easily and deeply. Close your eyes. An eye cover may be helpful. Allow yourself to be enfolded and carried by the rhythm of the drum. If you like, you may softly pray, chant or sing as you begin.
2. Focus on a specific intent or mission such as I want to meet and ask advice of my Spirit Helpers or I want to talk with my Guardian Angel or I want to work on healing for myself (or for the planet). Calmly but firmly broadcast your intent ahead of you telepathically.
3. In journeying, let yourself begin by focusing on and going to a favorite safe, sacred place. It doesnt have to exist in ordinary reality. Many people choose a beautiful or powerful outdoor setting. From there, look around for an access way, an entry port into the realm of other realities - or the realm of Spirit, or your alternate universe - whatever you choose to call it.
To Travel to the Lower World...
Simply look for an entryway into the earth. There are countless options. Some Journeyers enter through a cave or animal burrow. Others fly in through a hollow in a tree. Some dive into water and swim or walk along the bottom until they find their personal opening portal. Some even go in via manhole covers, elevators or the cones of volcanoes. All these ways and more are right if they are right for you.
The entryway often leads to a tunnel that leads somewhere else. That somewhere else - whatever it may be like - is the Lower World for this journey.
As you are carried by the sound of the drum, let yourself explore this wonderful place, all the while seeking your Spirit Helper(s). Lower World often has a loving, earthy feel. Some find it helps connect them to an ancestral tribal heritage. It is frequently inhabited by Spirit Guides who are deeply connected to Mother Earth: natural and mythical animals, indigenous peoples or elfin creatures.
When you encounter a being in your traveling - whether human, animal, angel or other spirit - ask it if it is in fact your Spirit Guide, Helper, Teacher or Power Animal. If it replies negatively, ask if it can direct you to your Guide. If it is your Helper, ask its name, what wisdom it has for you, why is it in your life, what you can/should work on together. Then, let your Journey proceed, doing as your Helper directs.
To End a Journey
When you hear the callback rhythm of the drum - a sound like four insistent rappings on a door - or when you feel you have completed your Journeys intent, tell your Helper(s) that you must return to ordinary reality. Thank them for their assistance and care. A series of light, rapid drumbeats will follow. During this rhythm, allow yourself to drift easily, gently, fully back into your body. Reverse the path you took during your spirit travel. There will then be a second series of the four Arappings on the door. Thats the time to let yourself really reconnect with your body. Have a good stretch. Slowly, gently open your eyes. Come back into ordinary realty.
To Work in the Upper World...
Begin by following steps 1-3 above. Then, simply look for a way up. Some people turn into mist or smoke and rise. Some climb a great tree and step off at the right branch. Some travel on magic carpets or are lifted by great birds (or tiny birds). Some simply float upward.
Most Journeyers encounter a thick cloud gate or other boundary that must be pushed through. This is the wall that separates Upper World from ordinary reality. For some, it takes a bit of work to get through.
The inhabitants of Upper World often appear as beings of light, angelic beings, or saint-like teachers. They may take the form of departed people or beloved animals who have wisdom to share.
As in Lower World, when you encounter a being, ask if it is your Spirit Helper. If its not, ask for direction to your Guide. If it is, ask what its wisdom is for you, what its purpose is in your life, what you need to work on together. And, in your Journey, begin the work.
When you hear the callback rhythm of the drum, repeat the process to end the journey outlined above.
To Journey Well
Learn to work with your Spirit Helper(s). They have infinite wisdom and infinite power to guide and protect you in the realm of Spirit. Never undertake spirit travel without an intent, or mission. (Your intent need be nothing more than to visit with your Helper.) Always try to connect with your Helper as soon as you reach the spirit Realm. Always ask your Helpers permission to work on the particular intent you have set. There may be times when you find the mission you propose is not possible or not permitted at this time. Always honor such guidance.
If you ever feel threatened or challenged by Spirit Beings, simply try to walk around whatever blocks you. If the challenge persists, retrace your steps and begin again. If the challenge is repeated, assume this is a signal your mission has been denied, for this journey. If, however, you have already connected with your Spirit Helper in the journey, ask how to handle the challenge, and carefully follow the advice you are given.
Your intent should be clear and fairly simple. It can be to seek the answer to a question or to request help with an area of self-empowerment, personal growth or healing. If your intent is to find information, dont ask simple yes/no questions. Instead of AShould I take this job?, ask APlease show me what my life will be like if I take the job.
Spirit travel is one of the most beautiful, powerful, sacred gifts offered to humanity. It can bring new depth, joy, clarity and hope to life.
May your travels be sweet! Bright blessings on your path.
Soul Retrieval - Sandra Ingerman
Welcome Home Sandra Ingerman
Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner's Guide Sandra Ingerman
Conscious Dreaming - Robert Moss
The Way of the Shaman - Michael Harner
Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life - Tom Cowan
If you feel youd like to explore spirit travel through guided imagery, look for my CD, Shaman's Path, Guided Meditations. (If nowhere else, it's available through New Leaf Distributing Company at www.newleaf-dist.com)
Stephen Neal Szpatura is a Shamanic practitioner and transformational psychic. He teaches spirit travel (Shamanic Journeying) and works with clients on spiritual direction, intuitive development and life-path issues.
Copyright 2003, 2008
Mountain Lake Moonrise picture courtesy of Free Nature Pictures.