shamanic journey

Through the Rabbit Hole: Explore and Experience the Shamanic Journey and Energy Medicine

Jump into your True Self with Through the Rabbit Hole: Explore and Experience the Shamanic Journey and Energy Medicine by Jan Engels-Smith, Sh.D.

“This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in discovering how shamanism and energy medicine can provide the skills for a more meaningful life.“ –Tom Cowan, Author of Fire in the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit and Yearning for the Wind: Celtic Reflections on Soul and Nature.

Author and Shamanic Practitioner, Jan Engels-Smith, skillfully guides you through the rabbit hole by exploring the meaning and definition of the term shaman, and the evolution of 21st century shamanism. You will find yourself immersed in a world of energy and potential, leading to an understanding of the basic tenets of core shamanism, and how to apply these principles to your daily life.

Engels-Smith encourages us to open our hearts, to think outside the box, and to balance our minds by developing our right brain function. These concepts will awaken your senses and prepare you for your first shamanic journey. Here you will discover non-ordinary reality and learn about your Spirit Allies and the Universal Laws of being human.

The shamanic journey is an ancient practice and an inherent skill available to all human beings. The journey is facilitated by basic tools such as the drum, rattle, and song. Exercises and supplemental audio are provided to assist you in an experiential journey of discovery.

The mechanics of understanding and developing your senses enables communication with the Spirit Realms, prepares you, and sets the stage for your first journey experience. This begins with the process of creating sacred space, calling in the Spirits, stating an invocation, and setting an intention. Now fully prepared, you will take your first journey to the Lower World to meet your Power Animal. This Ally will accompany you on all subsequent journeys as you discover the many facets of Who You Are!

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The Shamanic Journey

The Shamanic Journey By Jan Engels-Smith

Shamanic journeying is available to anyone willing to learn. The altered state of consciousness achieved in a journey allows you to transcend the limitations of the rational world, with which we are so familiar, and enter the realm of the non-ordinary. Following are the basic aspects of the shamanic journey that I will describe in this article:

  1. The journey and the state of altered consciousness that is induced are created by a sonic instrument such as a drum or rattle.
  2. Prior to the journey, you are asked to form an intention for the journey defining what you hope to gain from the experience.
  3. During the journey, the practicing shaman meets up with his or her Power Animals or Spiritual Allies to gain information pertaining to the declared intention.
  4. Journeys take place in three different realms: the Lower, Upper, and Middle Worlds. The three worlds hold different kinds of information and the shaman learns how to travel in these different realities. This article will highlight the Lower World.
  5. Journeying is a right brain function.

Why Do We Journey?

The Shamanic Journey

 

Journeys are real. The worlds where these journeys take you do exist, which the right brain can perceive. The other dimensions, seeing or experiencing spirits, the feelings of oneness and non-separation, are all experiences of the right brain.  The right brain is free of ego and full of possibilities; it is unrestricted.

There is a profound magic to journeys that is literally unexplainable using traditional human thought systems and language common to the left brain. We are a left brain dominate culture and it is our left brain that tries to concretize things, leading us to believe that there are highly restrictive boundaries on truth and that there are severe limitations on our ability to change circumstances. Left brain thinking is controlled by the ego which perceives the world and your life from the past and future.

The more you journey and break out of the barriers of the left brain and realize the reality of these places and the energy contained in them, the more powerful you become and the more instantly things manifest in your own life. Limitations fall away.

The journey is used to provide access to information from the spiritual realm which is as unlimited as the universe and the imagination. Anything is possible and information is readily available. Although there are other ways to gather information from the spirits, the journey is the method I prefer and that I teach my students at LightSong School of 21stCentury Shamanism and Energy Medicine. My goal is to empower my students to connect with their own spirit helpers. There is a vast amount of resources and comfort available to those willing to break out of the confinements of western thought and explore the truths held by the unseen. Who knows better than one’s own spiritual teachers and one’s own soul what is needed to heal and to grow? When we are learning the basics of the shamanic journey, we will make sure that all of our journeys to the spirits will be in places where there are only helping spirits. The Lower World is a place of enlightenment and the place where your Power Animal usually presides.

How Do We Learn?

The journey style takes our usual active mind and puts it to good use by teaching the mind how to rise out of the density of the Earth and all of its hardships and restrictions (left brain constructs) into other dimensions and realities (right brain). A person can quickly learn how to journey, and this is appealing to most people. The shamanic journey opens the door to non-ordinary reality, allows you to enter, and offers a technique to explore this vast, creative, and healing space.

In learning how to journey you will become increasingly aware of the spiritual realm of other realities and dimensions. You will discover just how disconnected most human beings are to the energy and spirituality around them.

Reality is an illusive thing. People are most dependent on their eyes to gain information, but our human vision is remarkably limited. Even 20/20 vision in humans is paltry compared to that of many in the animal kingdom. Because of our obsession with sight, we have negated the existence of the unseen, limited the use of our other senses, and diminished their potential usefulness and effectiveness.

We, as a culture, have overdeveloped the left side of our brains at the expense of the right side. Our schools, bureaucratic institutions, sciences, and our very culture have emphasized analytical understanding while minimizing the value of creativity. We have become what the spirits fondly refer to as lopsided. I often say to students that some spiritual things simply can’t be explained in words; to define these experiences in rational terms is to dilute the experience. Trying to explain a right-brain, non-linear experience using left-brain linear, analytical, sequential, and rational terms does not work. Spirit is the world of the nonlinear; it uses the senses of the soul, which are governed by the heart. It is often said that the shaman “sees,” “hears,” “feels,” and “knows” with her/his heart. Journeying develops these “senses of the soul” while it stimulates and utilizes the right side of the brain.

As in anything, the more you practice journeying the better you will get at discovering new realities. New worlds open up that are blindly missed by the human eye and the rational left brain. I am amazed at what is available to all individuals when they let go of existing paradigms and limited perspectives.

Opening the mind and allowing spirit to work unencumbered is what we often call a miracle or magic. It is what spirit calls Eagle Vision, the ability to rise above the limited view of immediate circumstance to gain a broader, more inclusive perspective. There is so much more to “see” in the universal picture when one uses the senses of the soul and lives by the heart.

I have taught hundreds of people how to journey, most with remarkable success. The journey method empowers and enriches their lives. They develop a modality through journeying that is useful to everyday life. They can reach and communicate with their spirit helpers in a constructive and accurate way.

Place of Entry: For your journey to the Lower World, you will enter somewhere that feels as if it is “going down into the earth.” Choose a place that solicits the feeling of descending, like an animal hole or a crack in the earth. Some people use an image of a waterfall or imagine diving into a deep pool. Others climb down the roots of a tree.

Shamanically, a portal is an entryway into a different dimension; the place you choose represents your portal into the Lower World, which leads to your Ally. Once you establish this place, it becomes your place of entry. If it turns out you do not like your initial portal, you can choose something else.

In my tenure as a teacher, as well as participating in numerous journey workshops, I have witnessed hundreds of people learning to journey. A common complaint was that individuals felt lost in the portal, uncertain of their arrival in the Lower World. Commonly, they would question, “Am I in the Lower World? Am I not in the Lower World?” Not every one knew for sure. Participants might spend an entire 20 minutes attempting and reattempting to transcend from one world to the other. To have a different outcome I suggest that you count from 10 down to 1. When you reach number 1 you declare yourself in the Lower World. Intention makes it true; you are there.

The following is a brief summary of the journey process:

  • The first journey is to the Lower World to meet your Power Animal. The objective is to dialogue and to communicate in a multisensory mode with this ally.
  • If you have multiple animals appear, notice which one shows itself three to four times.
  • I recommend that you ask, “Are you my Power Animal?” and begin communicating with this question.
  • It is good protocol to offer the ally some food. Food tends to be a universal sign of friendship, which includes our non-ordinary friends.
  • Be multisensory, consciously engaging your senses – seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, feeling, knowing; activate them all.
  • Journeying is an internal process; the Power Animal will speak with you telepathically. Tell your ally that you desire to be in relationship; you are excited and thrilled for this opportunity. Start building this relationship.
  • Do not be concerned if you are still cognizant of your body or hear sounds happening in the room while you are in the journey. You are omnipresent. You can be many places at once. You can see and feel yourself in the journey, while still being conscious of your bodily presence in the room. You have the ability to invoke many perceptions at one time.
  • Before you journey, fill with power. Call in the spirits. The process can be simple to start: acknowledge the directions, drum, and say an invocation.
  • Your opening ritual will continue to develop, but get in the habit of setting the stage before every journey. Develop a way that is most comfortable for you and allows you to focus your attention most effectively
  • In your journey be very clear about your intention, what you are asking of the spirits. The clarity of your intention will influence your entire journey and how clear the response from the spirits will be.
  • Take some nice deep breaths and relax, knowing that this is a glorious moment for you and for your Power Animal, and you are greatly loved in the universe.
  • Repeat your intention: “I am going to the Lower World to meet my Power Animal.”
  • Place a mind fold or eye cover over your eyes.
  • Start drumming or turn on your drumming CD.
  • Move through your portal, counting down from 10 to 1, when you will find yourself in the Lower World.
  • Ask any animals you encounter whether they are your Power Animal. If not, ask again for your power animal to come forth.
  • Once you have determined your power animal, try to engage all your senses: feel, listen, smell, taste and visualize. Use knowingness, especially if you experience a black screen.
  • If time permits, ask them what attributes they bring for you.
  • When you hear the drum cadence change (callback), thank your Power Animal, retrace your journey (this locks the journey into your memory), and return through your portal.
  • Journal your experience.

Tips for Improving Your Journey:

–Keep track of information in your journal, no matter how insignificant it might seem.

–Never is nothing happening.

–Let information percolate.

–Journey again and ask for more information.

Jan’s book, Through the Rabbit Hole: Explore and Experience the Shamanic Journey and Energy Medicine is a wonderful starter text to begin your journey into shamanism and energy medicine.

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What is a Shamanic Journey?

What is a Shamanic Journey? by Jan Engels-Smith

What is a Shamanic Journey?

 

A Shamanic journey is a method of making contact with non-ordinary reality. Although there are actually many methods that people can use to make this contact with the non-physical, the reason that I like journeying so much is because it fosters, accepts, and encourages an active mind. The journey style takes this active mind and puts it to good use by teaching the mind how to rise out of the density of the Earth and all of its hardship into the places of the god self. A person can quickly learn how to journey and this is appealing to most people. The shamanic journey opens the door to non-ordinary reality, allowing you to enter, and offers a technique to explore this vast, creative, and healing space.

The shamanic journey is filled with mystery, and despite its ancient history, is little understood in Western culture. The journey is one of the most effective ways to make contact with the spirits. The altered state of consciousness achieved in a journey allows you to transcend the limitations of the rational world and connect with a non-ordinary reality. The shamanic journey is common to all cultures and the nature of the journey is remarkably similar, even in cultures widely separated by era and geography. In the spirit world, both time and place are illusions. The lessons from the other world are universally true, drawing from a collective unconsciousness that is accessible to all.

Journeying is the method we are going to learn to make contact with the spirit realm. When you journey, you are moving into an altered state of consciousness. Learning how to journey successfully takes time and practice. The first step in journeying is shifting, stilling, and altering the mind, which often involves rhythmic drumming. Journeying requires you to tune in to all of your senses. It is vital to activate as many of the senses as possible to stimulate your powers of observation beyond the visual. Many people depend too much on the visual in journeying, and fail to access all of the information offered in the journey. Often, the information will come through a sense of “knowingness,” a kind of sixth sense that is beyond seeing or any of the other single senses.

I have taught hundreds and hundreds of people how to journey, most with remarkable success. The journey method empowers and enriches their lives. They develop a modality through journeying that is useful to everyday life. They can reach and communicate with their spirit helpers in a constructive and accurate way.

Remember that your spirit helpers and power animals are magical and they can do anything, they do not follow physical law. Birds can swim under water, whales can fly, and tigers can talk. They are your protectors and guardians. They do not lie, that is only a human trait—you can trust them.

Each journey will be different; some will be more powerfully realized than others. There is much to learn about the spiritual realm. In each journey I gather information concerning my intention, but I also listen openly for what the spirits may want to tell me. I have found the shamanic journey to be one of my most profound ways of connecting with the spirits and one of the richest sources of understanding and awareness. It has literally healed me and keeps my mind curious and reaching.

I suggest that, in the beginning when you are learning to journey, you don’t ask big, life-altering questions until you take the time to develop your relationship with the spirits. Spend time learning who they are and how you are going to communicate with them. Learn about the spirits in an organized way. When we begin journeying, it’s like the story in the chapters of a book unfolding. You don’t see the big picture until you get further on, and can look back at what happened. The things you experience in your first journeys are often very profound, although you may not be quite ready to understand the information as it comes in. There may be layers to it, and as you get further along in your work, you can look back on those journeys and glean amazing information. It is important that you keep a journal that is just for your journeys, and keep them in order, let them lay out a story for you.

LightSong’s Level I: Basic Journey Skills class provides an excellent introduction to working with Spirit in a shamanic way.

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Communicating with Spirit

Communicating with Spirit by Jan Engels-Smith

Communicating with Spirit

 

There is always something going on, some kind of communication from Spirit. But, unless you are awake to that and unless you are aware of that, you think there is nothing happening, and you will miss it.

There are many different ways to get information from other realms, and journeying is one of them. It is like turning the knobs on a radio to tune in to a particular station. One channel is accessed via meditation, and you get information that way. You tune in to another station and its channeling, and you get information that way; another station is journeying. You can also dialogue with things in a daydream.

When you journey with drums and rattles, it is a different level of information coming in, a deeper level of information. And, yes you can get it telepathically, but I would ask you to experiment. Get information different ways and write it down, then journey and get information that way and write it down, and compare them. See how they are different and see how they are the same. They all have a different quality to them. They are all good sources of information, like different radio stations are good sources of different kinds of music.

By tuning in, your body will experience different sensations, your whole energy field changes. It is the way we know we are moving out of one dimension of reality, that is very structured, very limited, very controlled by the left side of our brain, and into another reality where the spirits are very active in the right side of our brain. We have the capacity to feel them in our body—shivers, a sense of wind blowing—it is different from where we started. All of the space between the space changes too. It moves into a different frequency of vibration. It resonates with what we are doing and would be qualified as sacred space. You can really feel it.

Commit yourself to a daily communication with Spirit through prayer. Your relationship will be enhanced immeasurably. Through meditation, you consciously tune into your spirit form (remember you are a spirit having a human experience, not a human having a spiritual experience) and communication is different in that realm. It doesn’t matter if you understand all the information or the symbols that you receive, but it is important that you be receptive to the information. Spirit will provide the opportunities for you to learn. Trust that.

 

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Spirit helpers and the Shamanic Journey

Spirit Helpers

Cross culturally there is a common belief in spiritual help that can be witnessed as an intervention from a non-physical realm into the physical realm that transcends, changes or heals. This non-physical realm is where the spirits dwell. I was taught that Native people believe there are 405 helping spirits that you are born with that are literally assigned to you: A small army of helpers whose main function is to be of service to you and your human experience. You may choose to use this help throughout your life, or not. There is no judgment if you don’t. But why wouldn’t you? 405 or 1 can be sensational. Their help in life can be magical, miraculous, profound, guiding, transformative, informative and fun. You can use your spirit helpers for minor things or gain insight and direction for the major decisions of your life. You can heal yourself and your loved ones. You can learn to direct energy in such a way that you can change the past and look into the future. The non-physical doesn’t follow the same physical laws that you have been taught. There are no limits to this realm except those from your own perspective.

The shamanic journey is filled with mystery, and despite its ancient history, is little understood in Western culture. The journey is one of the most effective ways to make contact with the spirits. The altered state of consciousness achieved in a journey allows you to transcend the limitations of the rational world and connect with a non-ordinary reality. The shamanic journey is common to all cultures (even European) and the nature of the journey is remarkably similar, even in cultures widely separated by era and geography. In the spirit world, both time and place are illusions. The lessons from the other worlds are universally true, drawing from a collective consciousness that is accessible to all.

Learning how to journey successfully takes time and practice. Journeying requires you to tune in to all of your senses. It is vital to activate as many of the senses as possible to stimulate your powers of observation beyond the visual. Many people depend too much on the visual in journeying, and fail to access the total information contained in the journey. Often, the information will come through a sense of “knowingness,” a kind of sixth sense that is beyond seeing or any of the other single senses.

To practice stimulating your senses, try this simple exercise:

Close your eyes and imagine a red rubber ball.
Bounce the ball and hear its bounce.
Throw the ball up against the wall.
Squeeze the ball; feel its texture.
Bring the ball up to your nose and smell it.
Stick your tongue out and taste it.

Now open your eyes. Could you see the ball? Could you hear the ball and notice the difference in sound qualities from bouncing the ball close to your feet and throwing it against a distant wall? Could you feel the elasticity of the ball and its texture? Could you smell it and taste it? Notice which of your senses was the strongest. If you close your eyes and it is totally black, then tune into your knowingness and “see” with that sense. Many people have absolutely no visual sense in a journey, yet the detail of the journey is exceptional.

This exercise will help you become more attuned to your senses and discover which ones are more vivid for you. The goal of the ball exercise is to literally activate your senses to a reality (the ball) that is not currently in your ordinary reality. In a journey, you will do the same thing. Through your senses you will activate a non-ordinary reality and journey through a place unfamiliar to your ordinary reality.

I have taught over a thousand people how to journey, most with remarkable success. The journey method empowers and enriches their lives. They develop a modality through journeying that is useful to everyday life. They can reach and communicate with their spirit helpers in a constructive and accurate way.

Remember that your spirit helpers and power animals are magical and they can do anything, they do not follow physical law. Birds can swim under water, whales can fly, and tigers can talk. They are your protectors and guardians. They do not lie, that is only a human trait—you can trust them.

Each journey will be different; some will be more powerfully realized than others. There is much to learn about the spiritual realm. In each journey I gather information concerning my intention, but I also listen openly for what the spirits may want to tell me. I have found the shamanic journey to be one of my most profound ways of connecting with the spirits and one of the richest sources of understanding and awareness. It has literally healed me and keeps my mind curious and reaching.

To me, imagination is the gateway into the spiritual realm. It is not the spiritual realm, it is the way in. Imagination is a tool that we are given as children, but often forget how to use. Children usually have a profound awareness of the spiritual realm; they have wonderful vivid imaginations, and many have imaginary friends. Children become completely entranced with other realities; they easily talk to trees, sing to flowers, see magical kingdoms in sparkling sand, and physically “see” spirits. Kids see and communicate with spirit beings quite naturally.

Unfortunately, these fabulous imaginations are often stifled as children grow up and conform to society. Family, school, church, and other external forces of the culture shape their beliefs and responses. Mothers lovingly but with authority, say, “Now honey, you should not lie. There really is not anyone sitting next to you. Rocks do not have mouths and they cannot really talk.” The fabulous, magical, fun, mystical connections are lost or blocked. What the spirits have taught me about imagination is that it is actually a gift from Spirit, it is how we as humans create and that Spirit is providing us with an avenue to creation and connection.

Imagination connects you back into the magical, mystical worlds of Spirit you once knew as a child. When I work with people in journeying they will often say, “I feel like I am making the whole thing up, like it is just my imagination.” And I say, “Good.”

Imagination is the portal in. It gives permission to the psyche (your limited mind) to experience something that is out of the realm of what you would call an ordinary experience, or real. Because of conditioning, you are extremely limited by your own perception of what you define as real. If the imagination can travel further into the realm of the unknown than your belief system allows, then by all means travel on the imagination. What you will find out is that you are not making it up at all. The spirits are alive and well, existing in other realities that you probably cannot see with your physical eyes, but are real just the same. The imagination provides the avenue to get there.

So use your imagination, develop it, and allow it to expand, create, grow, and become. Spirit continually provides you with ideas, information, possibilities, and potentials for your own growth and development

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Shamanic Journey

Shamanic Journey by Jan Engels-Smith

The shamanic journey is filled with mystery, and despite its ancient history, is little understood in Western culture. The journey is one of the most effective ways to make contact with the spirits. The altered state of consciousness achieved in a journey allows you to transcend the limitations of the rational world and connect with a non-ordinary reality. The shamanic journey is common to all cultures (even European) and the nature of the journey is remarkably similar, even in cultures widely separated by era and geography. In the spirit world, both time and place are illusions. The lessons from the other world are universally true, drawing from a collective unconsciousness that is accessible to all.

Learning how to journey successfully takes time and practice. The first step in journeying is stilling the mind, which often involves rhythmic drumming. Journeying requires you to tune in to all of your senses. It is vital to activate as many of the senses as possible to stimulate your powers of observation beyond the visual. Many people depend too much on the visual in journeying, and fail to access the total information contained in the journey. Often, the information will come through a sense of “knowingness,” a kind of sixth sense that is beyond seeing or any of the other single senses.

Excerpt from the book, Becoming Yourself: The Journey from Head to Heart by Jan Engels-Smith

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