A common method for shamanic journeying is to use the drum. The rhythm of the drum can shift the rhythm of your brain, helping you to achieve a state that allows you to journey. Some people also have heard about having journey experiences using hallucinogenic plants such as ayahuasca. (It is important to find an experienced ceremony leader of this latter method as it can produce more powerful experience than an individual may be ready for.)
However, there are other ways of journeying that you may not be aware of. The methods are meant to change the state of your mind to allow you to journey, called a change in the state of consciousness. You may find it easier to achieve this shift using one method over another.
Just as when you begin to learn how to journey, trying a new method can feel a big sluggish at first. So if you are experimenting, you may wish to try a new method more than once.
The drum is not the only sound method that can be used to achieve the journey. Other sounds such as rattling, Tibetan bowls or singing bowls, listening to chanting can all produce the shift required to journey.
When you are journeying with unique music, you can also set the intention that any usual sound takes you deeper into the journey.
Sometimes people will find it easier to journey if they narrate the journey in a sing song way as the journey proceeds. This is often combined with rattling while journeying, but could be done with a drum as well.
Toning or singing can also be a way of moving energy through your body while journeying, to help provide the energy to journey.
Moving During the Journey
It is not necessary to remain in one position while journeying. Sitting or standing while journeying can work better for some people. In some cases, you may find that movement makes it much easier for you to journey. Energy is always required when you are journeying, and movement can help supply energy to your journeys.
- Dancing Your Journey’s
When dancing the journey, you will stand and sway/move your feet during the journey. You will still use sound to help you go on the journey but you allow yourself to move in ways that “feel right” while you are journeying.
- Walking Journeys
The Aborigines of Australia would go on the Walkabout as rites of passage in their culture. It is possible to go for a walk and journey at the same time. The environment you pass through then becomes part of the journey experience.
NOTE: You need to maintain an awareness of your environment during a walking journey. Even with this awareness, walking journeys should only be done where you can safely walk without worrying about crossing a street or being run over by a bike or recreational vehicle.
- Exercising While Journeying
Some journey practitioners will exercise and journey at the same time. This would be done on machines where the movement is repetitive and does not require you to pay attention to safely use the machine.
Staff Journeys within Seidr
Seidr or Norse shamanic practice has many aspects and one of those is using a staff to journey. In this type of journeying the practitioner will move the staff back and forth as part of the journeying. The energy moves through the body differently in this work than simply journeying to the drum.
In some cases the journeys will be conducted in groups. Some in the group will journey while the others use their staffs to generate the energy that the journeyers will use. In this case, the journeyer can feel powerfully propelled into their journey.
Ecstatic postures are specific ways of positioning the body to produce trance states. Certain positions have been found to produce certain types of experiences on journeys or support specific journey purposes. The journeyer still uses sound to alter their state of consciousness, but they stand or sit in different positions to produce different kinds of journeys.
Ecstatic postures will be covered in more detail in the next post.
You can journey to the same destination with other people. In group journeying you can sit in contact with one another and journey at the same time. In some cases to one drum, in other cases each person can rattle for themselves.
One way to be in contact is to sit with backs to one another. Two people will sit making contact with their full backs to one another. In this way you serve as each other’s “chair.” Then each additional set of two can sit down with their shoulders touching the previous set.
Journeying in a group can supply extra energy to the journey process. It can also allow a group to work together on purposes such as healing, or asking a shared question of the spirits. It is usually best to go to the same destination, but it is not necessary to journey with the same question. (Although a shared question can focus the group.)
How You Leave Your Body
As you may know, a journey is the flight of the soul. So the free part of your soul is leaving your body to visit spiritual realms. You can leave from different places in your body, such as your abdomen, your feet, or your head.
Most people do not need to know how or which place of their bodies they are leaving in order to journey. In fact, it may be easier for beginners if they don’t think of this at all. Your soul already knows how to journey, so it can be best to “let it do its thing.” However, as you advance in journey work you may wish to experiment with how you leave your body.
Different cultures have different traditions as to how they leave the body to journey. For instance, in Tibetan Shamanism, there is an initiation ceremony where they spiritually cut open the crown of the head so the journeyer can leave that way.
Journeying with Objects
You can hold an object while journeying and allow it to lead you through a journey. For instance, journeying with the fragment of a meteor can make you feel like you are going many places very fast. Some stones or objects from nature are able to take you on a journey and show you things.
Depending on the object you are using, you may wish to confirm that it is the right object to use. In this case, you would first journey to your helping spirits for advice about the object before using it. Journeying with an object can create a deep connection between you and it. Certain objects, such as ancient ceremonial ones, may connect you with energies that are not compatible with you or call in spirits that aren’t ones you wish to work with. Incompatible energies can cause illness.
With some stones and crystals you may not leave, but the stone will communicate with you through sensations in your body. Journey gateways can be created to take you directly to a destination in the spirit world.
The Discipline of Journeying
Whatever method you use, it is important to have a clear signal about when you will come back from your journey. Many drumming CDs change the beat to indicate the return. If you are experiment with different types of sounds, your signal to return will probably need to be the end of the track.
Journeying is about discipline, and intentionally journeying and returning. If you are journeying unintentionally (for instance because you hear drumming sounds while driving), or failing to return with the return beat, or only partially returning then you are not developing good discipline.
If you would like to learn the method of journeying with the drum, Sandra Ingerman’s Introductory Book is a good way to learn. It can also be helpful to start by learning in a group, which can make the process easier.
Shaman Links has a list of CD’s with various sounds for Journeying
Seidr and Norse practitioners are a de-centralized group of people so there isn’t one source to go to for the topic or to find training. However, Anne Host’s article on Seidr may be a good place to start.