Shamanism is arguably the world’s most ancient form of spirituality, and has found expression on all continents. It is quite likely the root from which all religions have grown. But, unlike most religions, Shamanism has no set creed or dogma. That said, there are a few practices that are common amongst Shamanic cultures and practices. Central to these practices is what has been called the Shamanic Journey.
Simply stated, the Shamanic Journey is a practice in which the Shaman or Shamanic Practitioner enters an altered state of consciousness. Some have called this state Non-Ordinary Reality (NOR) or Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC).
There are a variety of ways in which to enter this state of consciousness. Among the most common are the use of the monotonous beating of drums or rattling of rattles; specific patterns of breathing; movement and dance; deep meditation; and even the use of entheogenic plants, herbs, fungi, or Animalia.
The purposes for engaging in Shamanic Journeying are endless. Many who engage in this practice do so as a way of encountering and engaging with the Divine … a mystical experience, if you will. Journeys can be as short as 15-30 minutes while others may last for hours.
My reason for Journeying this day was to get clarification, or at least insight, into the sense of energetic shifts I had been feeling around myself and others with whom I share a close connection. The energy felt chaotic. This, in itself, did not disturb me – for I see Chaos as the place of Creation. Yes, Chaos Energy can be destructive (and there are many times when destruction is necessary – especially before a new Creation) but Chaos is a space where the Creator loves to play!
So, after the Eclipse Ceremony, I made my way up to my nice, cool and comfortable bedroom and set the stage for my Journey.
Once settled in a comfortable position, it wasn’t long before I dropped into my Journey.
My Journeys are typically visual, tactile, and auditory in nature. They also have a tendency to unfold in a variety of ‘scenes’ – quite a few of them – not a long progressive experience. This one was a bit different. There were only two scenes.
The first included me and a dear friend. We were in some sort of ancient, golden, cavernous temple. He was in a white gi and was kneeling in a martial art resting pose and I was standing behind him, sometimes with my hands on his shoulders, other times I was moving energy with my hands around his head. I had the feel that I was somehow soothing the energy flow that was chaotic around him. That lasted for a little while.
After this completed, the Journey took on a different feel. The remainder of the was just me and Energy.
In the Journey, I was physically still with my arms in front of me, my hands holding each other and forming a large circle. Flowing through this circle was the Energy I was sensing. I saw and felt the Energy as it flowed through the circle I created with my arms and hands. It had a life of its own.
This Energy pulsated with every color I've seen, and perhaps some I had yet to see. They were like self-enclosed packets of Energy of different sizes and volume and shape. Each had a life of their own, an intelligence of their own.
I wasn’t containing the Energy, nor was it coming from me. The best description I can make is that I had created a channel for it to flow through. There was no controlling it, but I was able to subtly influence it and the direction it was flowing. In a very real way, I was holding space for the Energy.
This lasted for a couple hours. A few times I was more aware of my ordinary reality and found that I was laying on my right side with my arms encircling a pillow. I got a good laugh about that! It was so perfect!
This Journey was powerful for me. It brought home – through experience – that one does not control or command the Elemental Energies … or God … or Spirit … or the Creator … or whatever metaphor we choose to use for this wonderful, majestic life force we are privileged to experience.
Along my spiritual journey, I have run across numerous modes of spiritual expression which try to command and control and have power over spiritual and material forces. I’ve seen it in the Christian realm and in Pagan circles. I instinctually recoil from any form of taking power or control. It doesn’t sit well with me.
In my practice as a Christian and as a Shaman, my desire is to work with the powers and energies that surround us, be they the Elements, the Sacred Directions, our Plant Teachers or any other form of spiritual engagement – not control them or use them. My desire is to know who and what I work with and to do so in a mutually cooperative posture – through honor and relationship to have influence with, not power over … for the benefit of all Creation.