The shamanic journey
Awakening The Shamanic Force Within
Shamans have many ways of connecting with the spirit worlds and working with them. A good way to begin is via the contemporary shamanic journey, initially described by Michael Harner,1 publicized extensively by Sandra Ingerman’s books and utilized by most practitioners and people who use shamanic tools in their lives.2 Most people use a rhythmic ’journey drumbeat’, adjusted to the theta wavelength of the brain, to produce and maintain an altered state throughout the 20 to 30-minute journey. I have provided you with a download, which you can access via my website, www.christamackinnon.com. I advise you to use this whenever you journey.
Shamanic journeys lead to the upper, lower or middle worlds and can be used for many purposes. You can journey to connect with spirit allies and spirits in general. You can journey to find something you need to bring into your life, to retrieve split-off soul parts, ask for healing, reveal the root cause of an issue, discover solutions, receive advice, heal emotional wounding and/or find out about relationships. You can also journey to receive teaching, guidance and learning about a range of issues, such as your task in this world, your shadow, your spiritual self, your higher self, your connection with your ancestors and much more.
Traditional and contemporary journeying
The traditionally initiated shaman travels out of the body whilst journeying and also has the ability to journey as somebody/something else, for instance an animal. I have journeyed countless times when practising soul retrieval for individual clients as well as in groups. During some journeys I was clearly in my body. On other occasions, I was out of body. However the journey unfolds is adequate, because it will lead you, in your own specific way, to the right place and the right outcome.
A contemporary shamanic journey is like a process that unfolds after you kick-start it with a clearly formulated intent and the use of your imagination. (I outline the structure below and will give you examples in the next chapter.) It will feel, especially in the beginning, like a deep altered state and a visualization.
Although you are asked to use your imagination, this doesn’t mean that you need to be able to see clear images. Each of us functions primarily from a particular sense or senses: some of us are visually oriented; more kinaesthetic types sense and feel what’s going on; others will hear things; some people are more intuitive and ’just know’ what is happening. No matter if you are a feeling, seeing, hearing or intuitively knowing person, you can journey if you trust what comes to you.
State your intent repeatedly at the beginning of the journey, hold it as much as necessary throughout and state it again if you feel that you are getting somewhat lost, and you will find that the journey leads you to the requested outcome.
You will also be helped by letting the journey unfold in its own way rather than analyzing, questioning or manipulating it. In its entirety it will be consistent with your intent and meaningful to you.
The structure of a shamanic journey
A journey is always conducted in the same way. Here is the general structure. In the following chapters I will show you how to adjust it depending on your intent and whether you are journeying to the lower, upper or middle world.
· Prepare the room: light a candle, smudge or spray the space and switch off your phone.
· Clearly define your intent.
· Call in spirit.
· Lie down or sit somewhere quietly. Switch on the drumming download (see www.christamackinnon.com).
· State your intent aloud a few times. Ask for spirit to help you with your journey.
· Now, whilst listening to the drumbeat, imagine that you are travelling down through tree roots, a passage, etc. (for lower-world journeys), or up via a rope, tree branches, clouds, mountaintops, etc. (for upper-world journeys), from your power place (see below). Use your imagination to kick-start the journey.
· After visualizing that you have travelled downwards or upwards, you might go through a transition phase leading you further down or up. In the upper world you need to go through layers; successive worlds will get hazier and more ethereal.
· From now on, let the journey unfold in its own way. Be aware, be curious, let it happen.
· If you get stuck or feel that you are losing your focus, state your intent again, breathe into your heart space and ask for help from spirit. Do not interrupt the journey.
· The journey will finish with a ’call-up’. The drumbeat will change and you will know that it is time to come back. Thank anyone you have met and come up from the lower world or down from the upper world.
· If you have journeyed to retrieve something, or if you have been given something by a guide or other helper, imagine bringing it with you.
· Thank spirit. Write your journey down.