Introduction to Shamanic Journeying
The process of shamanic journeying is very simple, yet extremely powerful and highly effective. Shamanism is not a religion with a companion set of beliefs or assumptions. In engaging in the shamanic journey, one moves between an ordinary state of consciousness (ordinary reality) to a shamanic state of consciousness (nonordinary reality) usually through the use of monotonous drumming. Very briefly, let us provide a description of the most basic shamanic journeying process. The one easiest to learn and to describe is the journey to the lower world(s). To prepare for the shamanic journey a person must relax and place him or herself in a comfortable position. This can be either sitting up or lying down. The shamanic journeyer covers their eyes with a cloth or other implement to keep out the light. We have found that in darkness the distractions of ordinary reality are minimized, making it easier to focus on the details of nonordinary reality. With the aid of a live drummer or a recording of shamanic drumming (with the drumbeat at about four beats per second) the practitioner visualizes an opening into the earth that represents a personal place of power in nature and begins the journey. Many people use the entrance of a cave, a hole in the ground or in a tree trunk, or a much larger opening such as the Grand Canyon. Some enter through a body of water, such as a lake, a pond, a stream or the ocean. Once they enter the opening in the earth they visualize a tunnel that leads them from ordinary to nonordinary reality. This tunnel is usually very dark at first and descends downward towards the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of the tunnel the shamanic journeyer emerges out of doors and into nonordinary reality.
While in nonordinary reality people hear, feel, smell and sense communications or sensations beyond the usual senses. To assist in gathering information while in nonordinary reality the shamanic practitioner depends on the help of a guardian spirit, referred to as a power animal. This spiritual being protects and serves the journeyer and in some literal or metaphorical way represents the connection with a deeper (higher) aspect of themselves. One that is full of wisdom and knowledge. The first and primary mission of the shamanic journeyer is to establish or foster the relationship with their power animal and discover what this alter ego has to teach them. Specifically, they are looking for knowledge that they can use to enhance their everyday ordinary reality lives. After gathering information for one’s self or on behalf of another, the journeyer returns up through the tunnel with the aid of a change in the drumbeat and returns to ordinary reality to utilize or share his or her insights. Subsequent journeys can be made to the upper world(s) where people connect with nonordinary reality teachers that tend to manifest in human form.
There has been a remarkable rise in the popularity of shamanism in the past several years, as experienced by a jump in the number of people that have attended a series of shamanic workshops that we have offered during that period. People from just about every conceivable background and age range (basically from eight to eighty-eight) have experienced those workshops. Some attend them on a regular basis in order to explore shamanic journeying at more profound levels. Many people have reported that through the use of shamanic journeying they have learned that they can access their personal spiritual power to obtain answers to highly personal questions. Shamanic journeyers do so by expanding their vision of reality to combine both ordinary as well as nonordinary resources to gather and utilize deeply perceptive insights. Shamanic journeying is also a very easy to learn technique that provides quick, effective and long lasting results. In that regard, it seems ideally suited for those who lead very busy and hectic lives. In fact, many people supplement their daily meditation practices with shamanic journeying. Others use the technique as their primary source of peace and relaxation. The information gathered during a shamanic journey provides a means for people to develop a much greater sense of self. These shamanic explorations are also a highly useful means to deepen one’s emotional and spiritual connection with other people.