The Eight Steps of a Shamanic Journey

IMG_3575This morning I was in the backyard where I always begin the day with my spiritual practice. I was feeling stuck about what to write for this week’s blog. I know that when I meditate, it allows me to drop into my heart and find inspiration.

One of my favorite meditation tools is to go on a shamanic journey.

Every shamanic journey begins by finding an opening into the Earth. This can be done physically in nature, or through visualization. Today I felt called to a large Pine. I noticed that it has an exposed root that splits into a fork and in that fork is an opening into the ground.

I crouched down, closed my eyes, and spent a few moments focusing on my breath to clear my mind and bring my attention into my heart. I imagined myself stepping into the small opening in the Earth and was immediately greeted by the image of a Wolf. Wolf has often been my guide during shamanic journeys. Whenever he shows up, I feel safe and happy that he is there to join me on the journey.

I greeted Wolf. “Hello! Thank you for showing up! You are a wonderful ally, so strong and loyal. I am struggling, trying to figure out what to write about and I would like to take a journey to find some inspiration.”

I felt my hand connect with the soft fur of his nape and off we went. We traveled into the root, and then I was surprised that we ascended up Pine to the very top, where I felt a cool breeze and heard the rustling branches. I sensed a connection with Spirit and received the message, “Don’t worry. It will come.” I spent a few more minutes thanking Spirit and reveling in joy and gratitude for this experience.

Then Wolf and I descended Pine and traveled back through the root to the place where the journey had started. I thanked Wolf again. He reminded me that he is there whenever I need him.

As I opened my eyes, I reflected on the message, “Don’t worry. It will come.” And it has. I realize my desire is to simply share with you the basic steps of a  journey and why it’s a powerful shamanic tool.

Why would you want to go on a journey?

Perhaps you’re seeking guidance around a particular question, or wanting to gain insight into a situation with a relationship or health concern. Or maybe you want to open yourself to creative inspiration. Shamanic journeying is also helpful in a type of healing called soul retrieval. Plus, it’s just a pleasant way to unplug, space out, and connect with other dimensions! It gets us out of left-brain thinking and into a state of openness and receptivity to intuition.

You can journey on your own or ask a shamanic healing practitioner to facilitate the journey using drumming and guided visualization. Either way, a shamanic journey traditionally follows these steps. You will:

  1. Clarify your question: what do you want to gain, learn, or heal?
  2. Spend some time clearing your mind. Sometimes I use drumming or rattling as a way to keep me relaxed and focused; other times, like today, I use breathwork for that purpose.
  3. Find or imagine an opening in the Earth.
  4. Be greeted by a guide. Compliment your guide, tell the guide why you are there,  and thank him for his protection.
  5. See where the journey takes you. Be open to receiving visuals, sensations, and insights with no preconceived expectations.
  6. Thank Spirit and all the allies that appear during the journey.
  7. Return the same way you came.
  8. Thank your guide.

Each journey is unique. Some can last 30 minutes or longer. My journey today occurred spontaneously and quickly and surprised me by taking me to the top of Pine rather than deep into the Earth. As soon as I heard the message “it will come,” and felt that my inspiration was already moving through me, I became calm, joyful, and grateful.

If you try shamanic journeying, you will also find the sense of insight, peace, and gratitude that I felt this morning.

For a great description and tips on successful journeying, read Secrets of Shamanism, by Jose Stevens and Lena Stevens.

Grey Wolf (Canis lupus) Portrait - captive animal