Take a Shamanic Journey
This is a very basic journey to help you get started. Journeying is the foundation of shamanic practice. It provides a safe and rich container for exploration of the spirit world and the inner realms.
- You will need the following things: a quiet room, an uninterrupted space of 20-30 minutes, a comfortable place to lie down, a light blanket, a bandana or eye covering, a shamanic drumming CD, MP3, or audio tape, and a journal in which you can record your journey. You will undertake this journey with the purpose of locating a power animal.
- Lie on the floor in a comfortable position. You may want to put a pillow under your knees or head. Cover yourself with the blanket and your eyes with the bandana. Turn on the drum recording.
- Remember a place where a special tree grows. Think, for instance, of places around your house, places from your childhood or a vacation spot you loved. Imagine yourself standing in front of this tree. Familiarize yourself with its size, form, trunk, and branches. You may wish to climb it or wrap your arms around it. Explore the tree for several minutes.
- Now kneel down and look for a hole at the base of the tree. This hole will begin to expand and your body collapse as you send your spirit down below the tree. Make your way through this tunnel under the tree. You may wish to follow a root down to the bottom. As you lower yourself, the ground will begin to open and expand into an underground space. This is the lower world. Follow the form of the earth as it opens and changes into rock forms, a waterfall, perhaps, a pool or cave. Keep moving until you come out into the open. (Do not be surprised to see sunlight or sky.)
- See, hear or sense everything that is happening around you. You may wish to feel your way with your hands. Try and learn as much about your environment as you can. You may for instance sense you are standing in water because your feet feel cold and wet. You may hear or feel the wing of a bird nearby. You may see a hill covered with bluebells in front of you. You may smell or sense a large animal nearby.
- Follow your senses. If you encounter an animal, watch (or sense) it for a while, and then ask if it is your power animal. (A rule of thumb is that the animal will keep reappearing while others may come and go. If you see it three times, it is likely to be the one.) When you find the right animal, it will let you know.
- Sit down and get comfortable. Ask the animal why it has offered to be your power animal. Hear or sense the answer. You might want to ask how this animal will protect and help you. You might want to ask the animal for advice on a problem or situation in your life. You may ask it for a gift that will symbolize something you need to remember about yourself. Put the gift into your pocket for safekeeping.
- You may stay with your power animal until you hear the callback of the drum. Your power animal may wish to show you around the lower world or take you on a quest. When the drumbeat shifts into a series of slow thumps, it is time to return to the room. Thank your power animal and tell it you will meet again soon.
- Make your way back by reversing the way you came. You will move much more quickly as the drumbeat becomes more hurried. When you reach the base of your special tree, begin to bring movement back to your toes and fingers and then open your eyes.
- Record your journey.
Tip: if your initial journey is a “bust” and you feel that you are one of those special people who “can’t” journey, think again. This practice is encoded in your DNA, and it is simply a matter of training yourself back to a skill on which our planetary life was forged. We all daydream and are used to directing our fantasies as we wish for them to happen. In the beginning you can rely on this same skill. If you are meeting with nothing but blank empty space in your journey experiences, create the kind of journey you would like to have. Make it unfold just like a daydream. Continue to create what is happening in the journey space with your imagination, until one day you will realize that something unplanned has taken place and you are not making this up!
Suggestion: Now that you have a power animal, don’t forget to use it! Power animals don’t like to be forgotten, once they are invoked. Call upon their special skills to help you out in tricky situations. All animals have special ways of disguising themselves when they don’t want to be seen, defending themselves when they are threatened, or calling attention to themselves when they need to get noticed. Ask your power animal to lend you these skills when you require them, and, just as your mom always told you, don’t forget to say thank you!
Creative Exercise: Find a nice flat or smooth stone that is no larger than the size of your palm. Using paint pens, draw an image or symbol of your power animal on the surface. (Chinese characters make a beautiful and unique way of doing this.) Carry the stone in your pocket or put it in a special place where you will see it often.