Shamanic journeying is the process that opens the doors between our waking, ordinary reality, and non-ordinary reality so the soul can dialogue with the spirit energies that dwell there to receive help and guidance.
Across cultures the landscape of the journey is similar, generally composed of the upper, middle, and lower worlds. The middle world is considered our ordinary world, where we reside in our day-to-day life. The lower world contains our subconscious, our old wounds, lost soul parts, and helping spirits that can guide us to those parts of ourselves including gifts and abilities that may have been lost to trauma. The upper world is similar to what we in the west think of as heaven and is occupied by spirits we think of as angels, guides and enlightened beings.
When a practitioner works with a client he or she will journey to the upper and lower worlds to work with those helping spirits to help restore the client to spiritual wholeness. They may remove and old contract that no longer serves the client or bring back a lost soul piece, a power animal or gift from the lower world. From the upper world they may also bring back gifts a new destiny or perform other actions as suggested by spirit.
Each “world” is generally accessed through a point in ordinary reality. Usually, a beautiful place in nature with which the journeyer is already familiar: a mountain meadow, a beach, a garden. From there the journeyer will approach a great tree. Leaving their physical body behind they will merge their energy body with the tree and travel either down through the roots or up through the branches and leaves, above clouds and into the heavenly realms. Which direction they go depends on the intent of the journey.
While shamanic practitioners are adept at using this skill on behalf of their clients, anyone can learn to journey and receive its benefits.
In other posts I outline sample journeys to the archetypal energies of the Inca Medicine Wheel: Serpent, Jaguar, Hummingbird and Eagle. This will enable you to develop personal relationships with these supportive energies and add meaning to the opening of sacred space.
Preparing to Journey
Decide on the purpose of your journey. I outline several journeys in other posts. If you are new to journeying, start with those until you are comfortable with the landscape of each world. Once you are comfortable you can create your own journeys.
Keep a journal and pen handy to write down any information you receive.
Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. It may be helpful to dim the lights or use an eye curtain.
Do a centering breath. This might be square breathing: inhale to a count of four, hold for four, exhale to a count of four and hold four, or 4-7-8 breathing: inhale to a count of four, hold for a count of seven and exhale to a count of eight.
Drum or rattle until you reach an altered state of consciousness. No rattle- put pebbles or pennies in jar and shake that.
Head out to your meadow or garden in nature and begin the journey.