For as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing something that’s often called shamanic journeying. Shamanism is a spiritual practice that’s been found in many cultures, widely spaced around the entire world. It’s been practiced for millennia by cultures as diverse as the reindeer herders of Siberia, the many Native American tribes from both North & South America, in Africa, by the Aborigines in Australia, and yes, even in Europe in the pre-Christian days.
Essentially, a shamanic journey is a self-initiated visit to a spirit realm. A person meditates into a state of deep relaxation and openness, and then the soul or spirit is projected out from their physical body, and they travel to one of the multitude of spirit realms. How we see the spirit realm is entirely up to us, but certain things seem to hold true for all who practice, no matter their culture. The most prominent commonality is the presence in the spirit realm of a guide, a spirit who teaches the traveler important lessons about their life.
I have had such a guide, and taken such journeys, since I was a child. My guide taught me how to do this, and it wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I actually learned that what I’d been doing naturally all my life had a name: shamanism. I was shocked to learn that others were paying big bucks for weekend retreats where someone would instruct them in how to take a journey.
When I was a child, things tended to be simpler. Plainer. More often precognitive. I remember once, in perhaps the 2nd grade, when some bully had taken my beloved stuffed animal from me, a tiny owl. They said I’d never find it. But that night I had a dream that showed me where it was – stuck in a desk in a 4th grade classroom. I sneaked in the next day and retrieved it.
Now, my journeys are ones of self-discovery. Of learning the wisdom of old. Of learning of the nature of our spirits, our soul. In some, I even glimpse the Creator, the One, the Source, which I envision as a glowing shape of brightest light, radiating love & joy.
To me there is little effort, no need for drumming or chanting or anything else that others use as “cues” to help themselves “step out” of this, what we call reality, and into the spirit realm. I take a few deep breaths, “center” myself, close out thoughts of everyday things. I visualize a ring of blue-white protective fire around my physical body, and step out of it. Simple.
Once I step out, I have options. I can choose my form, as our spirits have no shape, and most of the time I journey as a wolf, a palest silver wolf with yellow eyes. I feel and experience everything as a wolf does. I feel my toes spread as I walk or run, shake off & feel the fur rise on my ruff and settle down as my shake makes its way to the end of my tail.
My guide often takes the form of a black wolf, charcoal, with more golden amber eyes. And he is not just my guide, he is my guardian (from a Christian standpoint you would say he is my guardian angel). Others who are spiritually inclined, and even a few who are not, have seen him, my big black wolf. He is very protective, and several people have reported being frightened of the sudden appearance, in this reality, of a black wolf, and have asked if he “was with me.”
There are few things that compare to the thrill of the hunt, and I have many times enjoyed chasing down deer with my Guide at my side, feeling the perfection that is the size & shape of a wolf’s teeth & jaw as I go for the throat of my prey and feel my canine teeth sink in behind the windpipe so I can crush it. It is very, very real, what I experience in the spirit world. I am always thankful, as I taste the blood of the deer in my mouth, to see the spirit of the deer rise, a ghostly blue form that quickly takes shape and runs away unharmed from our encounter.
Some journeys are not just hunts and mingling with the wolf pack I lead. Some journeys I never wear my wolf-shape.
All are about learning, being taught about the spirit world, about the nature of “reality,” about the nature of what we call “God” or “Goddess” or “Great Spirit.” Some, I visit with the spirits of those who have passed. Some, I fly as a hawk to another realm, a different spirit realm, and learn at the knee of an ancient wise-woman.
Journeying, and Shamanism, have been my path to spiritual knowledge for as long as I can remember. I know that it is not the path for all – I think we all find our very own path, like spokes leading to the center of a wheel, and the center is, of course, whatever you choose to call that Divine Being that created us all.
Blessings to you on whatever path you choose.