WHAT IS A SHAMANIC JOURNEY? WHERE DO YOU GO, AND WHY? HOW DO YOU GET THERE?
Shamans divide the Spirit World into 3 parts: the Lower World, Middle World, and Upper World. The shaman journeys to different Worlds, while in altered consciousness, to accomplish different ends. A Shamanic Practitioner is skilled in guiding others on these journeys to help them accomplish a variety of things (see FAQ's).
Lower World: The Lower world is generally where the shaman will go to meet power animals and other spirit guides. Guides are different from teachers in that they are the ones who will lead the shaman to the destination he/she is seeking. To enter the Lower World the shaman will go through a hole in nature. This can be a hole in a tree trunk, in the earth or under a water fall. It is important that the shaman choose a place that is familiar to him, so that he knows where and how to return. Once in the hole the shaman will journey through a tunnel until emerging into the Lower, Middle or Upper Worlds. Once in the Lower World the shaman looks for a guide to help facilitate the journey. Generally a guide will appear to the shaman at least three times to show the shaman that this is the one he is looking for. Once the guide has shown the shaman the information he is looking for, the shaman will take this information and follow the same path back to the original starting point of the journey.
Middle World: The Middle World is generally accessed by the shaman when he is searching for information that applies to our life in this world, such as looking for a lost item or to determine who is responsible for a crime or other action. This journey is similar to the Lower World journey, in that the technique of the journey is performed in the same manner. It might be helpful as you begin this process to use a different entry spot for your Middle World journey. By maintaining different entry holes to the spirit worlds, you train yourself to notice the difference in these locations without adding confusion to the process. Again the shaman will journey through a tunnel until emerging into the Middle World. Here again guides are encountered who facilitate the journey. Once again the guide will show the shaman the information he is looking for, the shaman will take this information and follow the same path back to the original starting point of the journey.
Upper World: This world is generally entered through a space in the clouds. If you have ever seen a hole in the clouds with a ray of sunshine shinning through, this is a perfect location for an entry point. The shaman will imagine himself standing on a hill or other high area and project himself up through the entry point hole. At some point a membrane will be encountered, this must be broken through to emerge into the Upper World. Here the shaman will meet with teachers and ancestors who will aide the shaman through training and who will help guide the shaman in his work. Again, when the process is finished the shaman will return via the original path taken to arrive at the destination.
At this point I would like to address a common question many people ask: “Is this real, or am I making it up?” The answer is simple. If you can control the images you are seeing in your journeys, you are making it up. However, if you try to imagine a different scene than what you are “seeing” in your journey and the scene remains the same and will not change, then you will know this is “real”. As you become more comfortable in your practice and continue to journey, you will begin to trust the images that are presented to you as real.
Another question I am often asked is are the Upper World and Lower World heaven and hell? The answer is NO. There is no correlation to heaven and hell with the Upper and Lower Worlds. Heaven and hell are aspects of modern day religion and have no real meaning in the shamanic practice.
your Power Animals and Work with Animal Spirits
Animal spirits and power animals play an important role in a shaman’s world. Animal spirits act as guides who show the shaman where to find lost soul parts and answers to questions on behalf of the seeker. Power animals are creatures who work with us to protect and give added strength in times of need. We all have power animals that work with us; many times it will be an animal that you are fond of. Without knowing they are at our side we tap into their strength when we are in difficult situations. Yet, as with soul loss, we sometimes loose our power animal. At these times we might begin to feel kind of lost and not able to stand up for ourselves. It is at these times we need to go in search of our power animals. You can journey for yourself or ask a shaman to take the journey for you and return the power animal. If the shaman goes in search of your power animal she will travel to the Lower World where the journey will show the animal, at least three times, in three different situations. Once the shaman has encountered the power animal at least three times, she will bring the animal back from the journey and “blow” it into her client.
Just about any creature on the face of the earth can be a power animal, spirit guide or an assistant in the healing process. Many people want a strong or loveable animal and are disappointed when they receive something like a frog or snake. I know I was the first time I went searching for my power animal and found it to be a frog. Everyone else in the workshop I was attending received animals like wolf, bear, elephant, condor, hawk, eagle—something that seemed so much more than frog. Little did I realize at the time the power of Frog. Since then the spirit of Frog has shown me the transformative power she holds. Take a close look at frog and you will see one who lives in different worlds at different times during its life cycle. Frog’s transformation from a water breathing creature to an air breathing creature is nothing less than spectacular! It is also one of the first creatures to demonstrate harmful changes that take place in its natural environment. We have all seen pictures of frogs that have deformities due to environmental toxins from pollution. By working with the energy of Frog I was able to see the transformations in my life that Spirit had in mind for me. I learned to live and walk in different worlds in order to make the transformations I needed to. I also began to spot the “environmental pollution” in my life that was causing me to become “deformed” in emotional, physical, and spiritual ways. I found Frog to be a most powerful ally! Since that time many other creatures have come to work with me in different ways, each bringing with it a special gift. I have since learned to appreciate all of my spirit animals for the unique and loving gifts they bring to me.
The creatures who work with us are not all animals; some can be insects as well. As I said before, almost any creature in nature can become an ally in your shamanic practice. Initially, when on a shamanic journey searching for your power animal the only thing to avoid is a creature that bears its teeth at you or acts in an aggressive way. Later on when you are learning about dismemberment you will encounter more aggressive creatures, but this is not something you are looking for during a journey for a power animal. If you do encounter an aggressive animal during a journey for your power animal, simply thank it for appearing and move on your way. If the animal returns in a peaceful manner (three times) feel free to acknowledge it as your power animal and embrace it.
If you are not familiar with shamanic journey techniques or you are uncomfortable in doing this work alone, visit my Services Page or contact me and I will provide you with the details for how we might work together, either in person or at a distance.
There are many books that you can read to help you understand your animal allies better, but in the beginning I would encourage you to try to learn about your animal spirits through your journey work and by watching animals in nature. By doing this your level of trust and communication with your animal spirits will continue to grow. When you are ready to investigate more deeply some books you might want to read to help you understand power animals are:
Animal Speak and Animal Wisdom, both by Ted Andrews
Soul loss occurs when body, mind or spirit are threatened. At this time the soul, in an effort to survive, will split and a part of the soul will find a safe place to reside in the Spirit World. This is merely a survival technique, when the threat passes the part of the soul that split will return if the person is ready to receive it back. Many times however, the person is not whole enough to receive their soul parts back. Due to circumstances, some people are often in such a fragile state, that their soul parts are not able to return. This is frequently the case with survivors of incest or abuse. At times the soul becomes so fragmented from continued abuse that the person may become totally unable to cope with their “real world” life. It is at times like these that intercession becomes necessary, soul retrieval by a shamanic practitioner may become necessary.
If you are interested in doing a Soul Retrieval or learning more on the subject, visit my Services Page
Sometimes a person knows they are doing something not of their own nature, as though they were inhabited by another being, requiring a soul extraction.
If you are interested learning more on this topic, or doing an Extraction, visit my Services Page or contact me and I will provide you with the details for how we might work together, either in person or at a distance.
If you are interested in meeting and working with your ancestors, visit my Services Page or contact me and I will provide you with the details for how we might work together, either in person or at a distance.
All illness has a spiritual component, too, which the shaman can look for when journeying for a client. It could be stress from soul loss, abandonment, fear, grief. Each case, each client is different. For this reason the shaman will journey to find the answers for the client. However, once this information is returned, it becomes the client’s responsibility to follow through to complete the healing process.
If you are interested in learning more about shamanic practice in healing, visit my Services Page or contact me and I will provide you with the details for how we might work together, either in person or at a distance.
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