Trish Cormack explains the benefits of shamanic journeying.
This article first appeared in Kindred Spirit, Summer Special, Issue 145.
Shamanism is the world’s oldest spiritual, practical and healing practice, with roots in every culture, including “western” ones. Whilst modern humans have different reasons than the ancients for using shamanic techniques, they are just as relevant and useful today as they ever were.
Shamanism recognises the spiritual or non-physical world around, within and beyond the physical world, and sees spirit or consciousness in all beings, including animals, birds, insects, reptiles and plants. What may surprise you is the idea that buildings, rocks, the wind, fire, sofas and computers also have consciousness. Although if you’ve ever sworn at your computer as it crashes yet again, the notion that it has a conscious will might feel very real.
Shamanism is a collection of techniques and practices designed to alter our state of consciousness so that we move beyond the confines of the physical world, and into places that exist in spiritual, or non-physical realities. We do this in order to communicate with these other beings. The most versatile and accessible of these techniques is the shamanic journey.
The Shamanic Journey
Sound facilitates the shift in consciousness that allows us to go on a shamanic journey; often drumming at a steady, monotonous 4 to 7 beats per second. This causes our brainwaves to start to follow the beat of the drum, in a process known as entrainment, inducing theta brainwaves (seen in deep meditation and some stages of sleep). Our body stays firmly here in physical reality, but our consciousness can leave and travel to other, non-physical realities, where we work with spirit allies – power animals and allies with human and other forms, who advise, guide and protect us.
Shamanism in the Modern World
Many of us are searching for a spiritual connection, and shamanic journeying offers a direct, experiential relationship with the divine, putting us in touch with a vast consciousness with an infinite capacity for knowledge, wisdom, healing, creative and artistic inspiration. We therefore have, on tap, help for anything we could conceive of, with an infinite number of potential uses of the shamanic journey.
Health and Well-being
My personal interest is to use journeying for psycho-spiritual development and healing for physical, mental, spiritual or emotional ailments. All of these aspects of well-being are linked in the shamanic world view, and journeying with our allies can bring us direct healing, or answer questions that facilitate healing on many levels; physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, relational and intellectual.
Electric light and the pressures of modern life mean that we no longer slow down and turn inwards in the cold dark of the winter months – instead we speed up in the frenzy of the Christmas period. Neither do we feel the chill winds in our insulated homes. We are part of, not separate from nature, and journeying can help us to reconnect and remember. If we realign with the cycles of the Earth and Moon, working with rather than against them, our health benefits. We see Mother Earth as a conscious being who deserves our respect and gratitude, motivating us to make changes personally, and perhaps also in the wider community, to reduce our impact on Earth’s resources.
Learning and Creativity
Shamanic journeying allows us to learn about absolutely any subject of interest – from astrophysics to astral travel, and everything in between. We can connect with the spirit of a creative project for inspiration and direction, for paintings, books, poetry, songs, music, carving, garden design, business ventures – with access to the infinite web of life and knowledge, there are no limits.
Journeying allows us to solve problems for ourselves and others, even finding lost items! We can work with the land and with community for healing, or cooperative re-visioning. We can help the souls of the dead, those facing death, and those left behind. Journeying helps us to be in service to our community in so many ways – no bad thing since we are often as insulated from our community, namely other humans, as we are from nature. Reconnecting with our community allows us to be part of a supportive “tribe”.
Shamanic journeying is a down-to-earth (and very grounding) spiritual practice that can help us on many different levels. Whilst inherently a dynamic practice – one is “doing something” such as getting information, inspiration, healing and so on – there are also passive uses that could be described as shamanic meditation. This is so important in our busy lives, providing time out of the rat-race to breathe, to be, to be connected to, and held by the divine. Journeying is a very versatile tool that can fit all of our spiritual needs. I believe this is the enduring strength of shamanism, and why it is firing people up right now.
Find out more: Trish Cormack is a shamanic practitioner and teacher based in Surrey, who teaches basic shamanic practices and lovingly guides groups through advanced, life transforming shamanic trainings.