When one thinks of the primary occupation of a Shaman, one typically imagines an individual in effortless contact with the Spiritworld, while yet remaining grounded in this world. This individual is capable of communicating with totemic, daevic, and celestial beings for the benefit of the Tribe. They can travel to distant galaxies, or peer within a Human Body. They can shape-shift. They are able to effect near-miraculous healings, sometimes at a great distance. Where does their power come from? How are they able to so effortlessly cross and re-cross the Veil?
The answer is The Journey. Many people are familiar with the entheogenic, or Teacher Plant path of Journey-work, but traveling to Peru to drink Ayahuasca with the Shipibo is not necessary. All one needs is a Drum or Rattle.
Beating a Drum within the frequency range of 130 to 140 beats per minute entrains our brainwaves, shifting them out of our daily, waking-life rhythm and into a meditative, liminal space between sleep and full Consciousness.
From this in-between state, we can initiate a Journey through the Veil and interact directly with the Spiritworld. Once we have learned how to consistently access this state of Consciousness, it will be possible to engage various Spirit Beings and begin forging relationships with them. Some will be Great Teachers, others will be Helpers or Allies. Once you have established a rapport, they will be available for inquiry. Prepare well your question!
For starters, compose a question to which you wish to receive an answer. This can be a request for insight on a life issue, a request for personal healing, or an introduction to one of your Spirit companions.
Next, commit to making your system free of any chemical intoxication, including tobacco, caffeine, or pharmaceuticals for at least 24 hours prior to your Journey. Also make sure your stomach is relatively empty – no food within an hour of the Journey. It’s hard to Journey while gurgling!
When you arrive, find a spot to nest in. Assume a comfortable position, reclining, laying prone, or whatever works, and either close your eyes or cover them with a cloth.
When the drumming begins, initiate a small, relaxing gesture, like taking three deep breaths, to prepare to enter the Journey.
There are an infinite number of ways to enter the Journey. One I find particularly apt is to imagine a Power Place. This is somewhere in this world that has some kind of spiritual significance for you. Once you locate yourself within this Power Place, find a Portal. To Journey to the Lower World, enter a Portal that leads downward. These can be rabbit holes, wells, openings at the base of a tree trunk, whatever. To Journey to the Upper World, find a Portal that leads upward. These can be gusts of wind, pillars of smoke, ladders, you name it. At a certain point, you will come to a Gate, beyond which lies the Spiritworld. This Gate can also take many forms – a waterfall, a shimmering curtain, an actual gate.
Once you reach the Gate, pause and ask permission to enter. After you cross the Threshold, you are in the Spiritworld. Explore! Allow whatever images or sounds or feelings arise to lead you further into the Journey. Be aware of any Spirit Being that shows up. If however, there is something off-putting about the entity, trust your gut and do not engage. If this Spirit Being seems friendly, find out if they are your guide for this Journey by mentally asking them. If they appear to respond in the affirmative, pose them your well-thought-out question (you have one right?).
If nothing seems to be happening, use your imagination. What would you like to see in the Spiritworld? How would you like to enter it? Reality is a Dream anyway, so create it!
After a predetermined number of minutes, the facilitator will alter the rhythm on the Drum. This is the Call-Back. Retrace your steps as best you are able back to your Gate. Give thanks for the help and guidance you received, and cross the Threshold. Make your way out of your Portal, back to your Power Place, back to the room. Welcome Back!
It is best to sit in silence for a few minutes upon returning to integrate the Teaching or Healing that you have received. If possible, journal your Journey. There will also be time afterword to share any insights or details of the Journey you wish, as well as to ask questions of the facilitator regarding your Journey. You are not obligated to share a single word if you do not wish!
Depending on the group, we may do a series of Journeys of varying duration at one event.
If this is your first time and all this etiquette seems intimidating, sit and observe the first round to get a feel for things. You do not need to participate in any of the journeys that night of you do not wish! However, I ask that you be prepared to remain for the whole event, to keep the integrity of the Circle. I have tried to answer all the questions I could think of, but I know I’ve overlooked something! Please! Ask me anything!
After the series of Journeys has been completed, stick around for some grounding foodie bits.