The Shamanic Journey

The Accidental Shaman: Journeys with Plant Teachers and Other Spirit Allies - Howard G. Charing 2017

The Shamanic Journey


Awakening the Dream Body

Whither will my path yet lead me? This path is stupid, it goes in spirals, perhaps in circles, but whichever way it goes, I will follow it.


Shamanism has always been a pragmatic system. It utilizes time-tested methods and tools that enable us to directly access the world of sprit, the place of causality. Shamanism employs no priests, hierarchy, or dogma; it is a spiritual democracy in which all can participate. The shamanic journey is certainly one of the most reliable, consistent, and accessible techniques for shifting into an altered state of consciousness to explore nonordinary reality.

The shamanic journey has deservedly become prevalent as an all-purpose facilitating method for personal practice and forms the basis for healing methods such as soul retrieval (which I write about in the next chapter). While journeying, the normal rules of Newtonian three-dimensional existence are demolished and travel to other worlds, precognition, and remote viewing are all possible. Put another way, the journeyer travels outside of linear, sequential time.

The human body and sensory systems have remained unchanged for millennia; our ancestors lived in, studied, and observed the same world that we occupy. So as we embark on our journey of exploration of the hidden realms, everything is eminently rediscoverable. The physical universe is perceived through the physical senses, so it stands to reason that we need to develop our nonphysical senses of awareness if we wish to perceive the nonphysical, energetic reality.

Metaphor connects supposedly unrelated elements and concepts. Metaphor traverses restricted linguistic and conceptual “no-go” areas and builds bridges across vast chasms of the unknown. In the world of multidimensional reality, the laws of metaphor and correspondence govern in place of the laws of rational thought, logic, and mental analysis.

With this in mind, we have the ability to perceive this vast unseen universe, and it is iniquitous that historically Western society has persecuted people who have navigated these realms or followed the path of extrasensory awareness. This is still within living memory, for in the United Kingdom the last prosecution under the Witchcraft Act took place in 1944. This anachronistic law was finally repealed in 1951. This opens the door to an intriguing anomaly, namely, if people in earlier times were tortured and put to death for communing with supernatural beings, how should we address religions that openly claim to represent supernatural entities? Can those be considered acceptable and become institutionalized in our society? How about testing their claims in a court of law? This is obviously a rhetorical question, but, nevertheless, it would promise to be an interesting case.

We can learn how to explore and discover these ineffable realms, and this vast unseen universe can indeed be perceived. In many years of holding workshops, I have established a working theory that there are exactly three and one-half ways of perception that people experience on their shamanic journeys.

· People in their “mind’s eye” see imagery, pictures, or perhaps a visual drama or story. Sometimes the imagery can be vivid and very lucid, other times a bit misty and indistinct. Nevertheless, the main perception is through visual awareness.

· People perceive through one of the other five senses, such as hearing, smell, or taste.

· People perceive through a kinesthetic sense. This involves an intuitive knowing or a feeling in the body. They just know without any need for interpretation.

· In the third-and-a-half way, people who have the kinesthetic ability also have an extra deluxe feature in which their mind produces imagery that precisely conforms to what they are experiencing kinesthetically. The irony here is that people who perceive in this way more often than not say, “I am making this up,” and they may then either dismiss or diminish their experience.

An important point is that one way is not better than another. They all can deliver an understanding of the “other” reality. Western society, however, tends to focus on visual awareness, and this emphasis appears in phrases such as “nice to see you,” “I see what you mean,” and “see you soon.” Very few people (unless they are in an intimate relationship . . . and even then) would tend to say “nice to smell you.” As a consequence, people often place a higher value on visual impressions or make imagery the sole criterion for a successful journey. Nonvisual sensory experiences are often ignored or deprecated.

The various forms of extrasensory perception are different strands of a single system, and our consciousness interprets these sensations and translates them into meaningful information. The psyche and our senses operate in conjunction as an ultrareceptive wireless receiver that gathers and decodes the bioelectric field into imagery, sound, smell, taste, and feeling, creating a metacognitive map—the sixth sense.

We all possess this sixth sense, or gut intuition, albeit developed to varying degrees. We experience this in our everyday lives. For example, we pick up on a highly charged electric atmosphere where there has just been an intense quarrel. Perhaps while waiting in a hospital emergency room we pick up the atmosphere of people frightened, anxious, or simply bored with waiting for hours on end, and this leads to feeling debilitated. On the other hand, when we visit a shrine, a memorial, or a place where people have been sanctified and blessed, a place that contains beautiful art, we feel uplifted and enhanced by the harmonious ambience. Spending time in nature, away from the city, also provides a boost to our feelings of well-being. A traditional remedy for poor health and recuperating after a serious illness was to convalesce by the seaside or lakeside to take advantage of the invigorating atmosphere.

I can say that some of my most profound work in the alternate reality has resulted from my auditory and olfactory senses, rather than my visual abilities. I am fortunate that I have the ability to perceive in all the above ways, and I find that each way supports the other sensing methods. The kinesthetic manner may not be glamorous, like a moving picture story, but it is quick, direct, and effective. Some of the best journeyers I know employ this characteristic in their perception.

Now we come to the big question of trust. This is the challenging matter, to trust your experience. At the beginning you don’t know, there is no frame of reference for you to establish the veracity of your experience. In time, however, practice and feedback from others will help you become proficient, and gradually you learn to trust. In fact, “not knowing,” or being in a place of innocence, is a good, solid position to start from. Based on years of observation and interaction with workshop participants, I have developed three fundamental keys that can make this process easier.