Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Advice for beginning to do shamanic journeys

I have been recently asked if I would give advice about beginning to do shamanic journeys. I have been creating shamanic drums and doing journey work for 26 years and so agreed I do have some experiences to share. But where to start? Conducting shamanic journeys into the more-than-human realms is a complex and many layered process that doesn't follow human assumptions of time, morality and how to be treated politely.

I was pondering this request for shamanic advice while returning from a week of skiing at Whistler and suddenly received inspiration from seeing a new road sign on the Inland Island Highway. The sign read: SLOW DOWN / MOVE OVER. I felt like BC Highways was speaking in my head about doing shamanic journey work: slow down everything--your enthusiasm, your apprehension, your assumptions, your expectations. Human time is not spirit time. There is a vast intimacy to nature, and to our journeys into nature's spirit, that does not respond to human time. If we want to be fully awake in these other than human realms, we have to move with the speed of raindrops, frog song and morning mist, and not at the speed of 4G.

I realized that in doing shamanic journey work we move over--to our animal wisdom from our human intellect. We are asked to be in our body sensations and heart knowing more than our mental images, explanations and calculations. This is a hard move, because our modern culture does not teach how to listen to our heart perceptions as valid knowledge for awareness and action. So sometimes we are shown, when we first begin to journey, that before we can even enter into these alternate realities, we must learn to become quiet and still, like the fiddle is quiet and still--waiting for the song to give voice to its spirit, as both are waiting for the musician to give her body to the song. If I have learned anything in these 26 years, it is that in the shamanic realms, I am--and am not--the fiddle, the song, and the musician.