Also known as a 'soul flight', the shamanic journey is when a shaman leaves their body intentionally and enters the spirit realms in order to gain insight, retrieve lost souls, and interact with shamanic spirits.
Every one of us goes on a 'shamanic journey' every night when we go to sleep. When we dream, our soul leaves our body to explore other worlds. This can be considered an 'unconscious' journey into the spirit world. We also leave our bodies when we experience trauma, as our soul tries to protect itself. Our souls leave the body for a number of reasons but few of us have the ability to leave the body at will. This is where shamanic training comes in.
Before being able to intentionally leave the body and embark on a 'shamanic journey', many shamans will first have to go through a near-death experience. This, in a way, shows the shaman what it’s like to leave the body and will make it less likely that they will be alarmed when the time comes to leave the body at will for purpose of shamanic healing.
In order to induce a shamanic journey, the shaman must first enter a 'trance-like' state. Special music or drumming may be used to mimic the frequency or 'heartbeat' of the earth and put the mind in a more relaxed state. The shaman must also make an 'intention' for the journey, call on spirit guides, and make sure they are well-protected before entering another realm.
A shaman might go on a journey for the purpose of shamanic healing, to communicate with spirits, retrieve a soul or to meet with their spirit animal.
Spirit animals (also known as power or totem animals) are deeply rooted in shamanic healing folklore. It is believed that every human has a spirit animal at their side - protecting them from danger and negative entities, acting as a spirit guide of sorts. It is also believed that the animal will lend its unique skills and wisdom to whomever they are protecting. For example, someone with a hawk as a spirit animal might have really good eyesight.
If your spirit animal gets lost or leaves your side, a shaman can go into the spirit realm and 'retrieve' the animal the same way she can retrieve a lost soul. In shamanic tradition, it is believed that when a human has no spirit animals by their side, they risk illness and general bad luck.
Journeying to the unseen 'spirit world', you will discover that there are 3 levels or 'worlds':
The Lower World
The lower world is where our ancestors and spirit animals reside. This realm is deeply connected to nature and has an earthy feel to it. A shaman might enter this world by going through a hole in a tree or diving into a pond. This is also where our ideas and thoughts are recorded and developed. You could say that the lower world is representative of the 'collective unconscious'.
The Middle World
The middle world is very similar to our earthly plane. It’s a multi-dimensional world filled with various thought forms, extra-sensory perceptions and hidden energies. If a shaman is looking to find a cure for a shamanic healing ceremony, they would enter the middle world for the answer to what ails the sufferer. This world is considered to be difficult to navigate due to its many 'layers'.
The Upper World
The upper world is the spitting image of heaven. This is where spirit guides, angels and cosmic beings reside. Their guidance will normally come off as more 'philosophical' and less practical than guides from the lower world. This realm is often entered when the shaman needs to channel 'divine guidance' on healing a terminal illness during a shamanic healing session.
How Shamanic Healing Works
When it comes to shamanic healing, the shaman essentially works in tandem with spirits, often called 'helper spirits', in the spiritual realms. They will 'summon' these spirits to repair a soul, who may then experience real, physical healing in the earth realm. In order to contact these spirits, the shaman will have to go on a journey by entering a trance state. The more practice and training a shaman has, the easier it will be for them to enter this powerful state.
The shaman might ask their helper spirits to invoke shamanic healing by pulling 'power' from the sufferer’s oversoul as well as retrieving lost spirit guides and animals.
People who have been through a life-altering trauma, whether mental or physical, may have lost a part of their soul or damaged their 'spiritual force field'. This makes them vulnerable to illness, bad luck, and depression. These are the kinds of people who would most benefit from a shamanic healing session. A shaman will go into the spirit world and heal their soul, either through their own efforts or by talking to spirit guides/animals.
Is Shamanic Healing Right For Me?
If you feel a little 'lost' in life, have gone through a big trauma or are looking for some clarity on what to do about a difficult situation, a shamanic healing session could be hugely beneficial. A shaman will simply act as the connection between you and your guides in the other realms, and make sure your soul is protected throughout the process. Some physical sensations may be felt but it’s all in the interest of healing your soul.
Some people opt to learn shamanic healing for themselves, as opposed to consulting a shaman. The truth is…anyone can take a shamanic healing journey, it’s all a matter of training yourself to get into the right state and knowing what to do once you are in the other worlds. Thousands of people are able to 'astral project' into the spirit world, but it takes a shaman to go into these worlds with intention and knowledge on how to heal.