When we start out in Shamanism, one of the first things we do is learn about Journeywork. Our initial journeys are done to retrieve power animals, ancestors and/or guides who want to work with us. They are done to tap to into an unused support network that is available. Shamanic Journeying can be guided by a professional, performed on your behalf by a professional, or done on your own. Which one you choose would depend on your individual skill set and where you are in the process of walking the Shamanic path.
I recommend having all of these options as a part of your practice.
My favorite self-guided/pre-recorded journey can be found here for anyone interested in giving it a try on their own. I do also highly recommend this book by Sandra Ingerman if you are interested in fully immersing in a Shamanic practice. We also host group Shamanic Journeying on our Meetup where you can practice journeying for yourself and others.
Here I will go over a very general (and surface level) overview of Shamanic Journeying, but know that there is a lot more information available if this resonates with you. Journeywork is a very beautiful and deep practice that will take you as deep as you allow it to go!
Since a Shamanic practice is very much integrated into your day-to-day, both your Shamanic practice and your daily life will benefit greatly from cultivating partnerships with the beings you meet in your journeys. These guides help us by bringing knowledge, gifts, support, understanding or perspective. Each one you work with will have its own unique essence and abilities, directing you to call on them when you have specific needs that match those abilities. They also each have a unique perspective and energy, which we are attuned to in the process of working with them. Guides may also come and go throughout your practice and this is totally normal!
One of our Facilitators, Henry Fields, specializes in guiding these types of journeys both in and out of Sacred Ceremony, as well as remotely! I highly recommend his work and he can be found on our website, but also here if you want to work outside of Sacred Ceremony: https://inwarddive.com/
When we journey, we are leaving ordinary reality and entering into what is known as non-ordinary reality. There are several places we can go in non-ordinary reality, including the Upper World, Middle World and Lower World. These are the three we will discuss today. The specifics of these worlds are a whole separate conversation we will talk about at some other point! Here I want to share a few examples of what journeywork can look like in each world. All of these are personal stories, as I do not feel comfortable sharing the experiences of others.
When I travel to the Lower World, I work with many types of guides, animals, "mythical creatures" such as dragons, and inner child parts. The Lower World is also known to represent the personal subconscious and collective unconscious. At this point in my practice, I have only discovered two versions (or two levels?) of the Lower World. Both are vast and I suspect there is more to uncover!
When I first started journeying on a regular basis, I was introduced to a guide that became someone I worked with daily for almost two years. This guide is an ancestor and therefor he can be found in the Lower World. He called himself "The Father” and he appeared as a beautiful and wise Native American man in his 50s, but he never gave me any additional information about himself in the early days of our work together. He worked with me in my journeys, my meditations, and also made appearances in a few of my Plant Medicine Ceremonies, where he conducted healing on my womb space and solar plexus. He loved to fill those places with light for me! I connected with The Father frequently to touch in with his subtle wisdom about whatever challenges I was facing. His presence was calming and insightful, something I did not have in ordinary reality and felt I needed in my life. It wasn’t until one of my Ayahuasca Ceremonies, one year after we started working together, that I learned that he was actually the spirit of my dad. He shared with me that he was no longer inhabiting my dad’s body and instead had to work with me in the astral space. He helped me grieve the loss of my daddy (as in the version of my dad who was present when I was a child) and taught me about receiving love and support from the man in my life today.
Interesting note: my father in ordinary reality is still alive, though he is largely uninhabited in his human form due to his physical body being compromised. I stopped working with The Father daily about a year and a half ago when other guides came in, but he recently made an appearance to teach me how to do a specific Power Dance! This guide has truly been a blessing in my life and he was the inspiration for writing this blog entry.
The Middle World is the non-ordinary reality of our Earth plane. This is where I go to communicate with spirits that have not passed on, trees, plants, mushrooms people, elves, hobbits (I think) and some of my animal guides. I have only seen one level of the Middle World, though I do experience this non-ordinary reality frequently in my waking life on a near daily basis. It is especially heightened when I visit certain places, like The Yucatan, and in certain forested areas.
During one of my journeys here, I had the opportunity to connect deeply with a wild mushroom spirit. This being showed me the Medicine of the wild mushrooms. They took me on a ride through mycelium. They showed me the magic of what happens in the dark and underground and I felt it in the core of my being. In the dark, and in the unseen, so much happens! They pop up only when the conditions are right, but they continue to grow in that space where we cannot see them. They never actually die, they just keep spreading. Mushrooms are very powerful medicine and I am so grateful to have been taken on a journey with them.
The Upper World is one that I have the least amount of experience with because my calling thus far has been very earth-based and very grounded. When I travel to the Upper World, I work with what we would consider to be extra terrestrials, angels, ascended masters, and the Akashic records.
Some of my favorite guides from the Upper World are of the extra terrestrial variety. There are a handful of beings, all presenting in different forms and from different places, who have healing gifts that they have allowed me to experience on numerous occasions. I have gone up there a few times, requesting healing or guidance on a specific area of my life, and ended up on what looks like a surgeon's table. I become physically paralyzed and can feel restructuring, clearing and repairing being done on my physical and energetic body. It sometimes feels like surgery, but without the pain. Each time I come off the table, I feel refreshed and revitalized in ways that never fade. From time to time, I will be working with a client in a Shamanic session and one of these beings will ask to be channeled through me so they can bestow the same type of healing on my client. What a gift to be able to receive this myself and then be able to pass it on to another! The Upper World is full of mystery for me and I know there are hundreds of levels to explore.
So why do we work with Shamanic Journeying? This list is an endless one, but I will share with you why I work with Journeying. I see great benefit in having confirmation for my life choices, new perspectives when I am stuck, healing opportunities, fun and play in a space that holds no limits, the blessing of friendship and the reminder that we are not alone. We are never alone and there is a whole group of beings out there ready to support us and be called upon. Journeying is the best thing to have ever come into my life and that is why I experience so much joy and passion through teaching others about it.
A few additional notes about Shamanic Journeywork:
While you can do a great deal of journeying on your own, and I highly recommend doing it often, it is very helpful to have someone journey on your behalf at times. This way, your ego will not get in the way of the information wanting to come through. I recommend attending a journeying group or finding a journeying buddy to help with this. You can also hire someone like me to journey on your behalf and bring back information for you if you are feeling stuck or not finding clarity that you seek.
Journeying with the assistance of Psilocybin or another Plant Spirit can be helpful for some people, when it is done carefully and with respect for the plants you are working with. However, it is important to do this with someone who is experienced in navigating non-ordinary reality (at least the first few times). Psilocybin can temporarily calm the ego so you can journey clearly, but you may also open doorways you are not equipped to handle, pick up other energies in non-ordinary reality that will attach to you, or get lost. Shamans do not require the ingestion of plants to cross realities and portals, so they are ideal guides in this space. There is some crossover between people who serve Psilocybin and Shamans, but make sure you know the difference and choose your guide carefully. Sitting with something like Psilocybin can be like having access to the abilities of a Shaman temporarily and you want to have a solid escort once you're out there.
Read more about what we do with Shamanic Journeywork at www.sacredheartmedicine.us