Shamanic journey work can help us through difficult times. When we have a strong journey practice, we might even journey every day, or several times a week or month. There are no hard and fast rules about how often or when to journey. What’s important is that the journeys we make are inspired by authentic needs in our everyday lives. A serious and clearly stated intention helps focus us when we attempt to understand what the journey is teaching us.
We, the editorial team, want to share with you some journey ideas. There are many fine books that teach about the shamanic journey and provide ideas for journeys, but we chose to draw ideas from Shamanism for Every Day: 365 Journeys by Mara Bishop. Mara is an SSP member and a community leader in our Shamanism without Borders program and her new book is a compendium of journey ideas for every day of the year. The journeys are numbered but not paired with specific dates so that they can be used anytime during the year.
For this article we decided on three themes that are especially relevant for the crises of today’s world further aggravated by the COVID pandemic, then picked journey ideas from Mara’s book: nature, chaotic energies, and time. Following are our interpretations for journeys that were inspired by Mara.
We like to think of ourselves as living closely with the cycles of nature. But do we? It can be especially difficult for urban practitioners who have few chances to be in a place with fewer humans and machines. Because of the restrictions created by the COVID pandemic, many people have spent more time in the natural world which is a safer retreat than the social world. Walks, hikes, picnics, and various ways we escape from spending too much time indoors. For shamanic practitioners such activities offer increased opportunities to reflect on and deepening relationships with the spirits of the natural world.
Here are some suggestions for journeys involved with nature.
—You can journey to discover how to become more aware of the natural cycles and how to honor the seasons. Don’t overlook the smaller, less obvious cycles of the day such as morning dew, moonlight through the clouds, the humming of insects, puddles after a rainfall, the way sunlight enters and moves through the rooms of your house, the flight of birds, etc.
—You might also ask the spirits to show you how to sync your own natural cycles (sleep, rest, exercise, work, play, socializing) with the current cycle of the year or the current conditions outdoors.
—When you need guidance on some important personal issue, ask that the natural world to give you a sign or omen. Then be observant as you go through your day, watching for significant signs and synchronicities. (This works as well in the urban environment as it does in wild nature.) Then journey to better understand the information that has been given to you.
—Journey to experience the earth’s elements in earlier times, specifically for pure air, clean water, healthy soil, cooking and ceremonial fires, natural shelters from the elements, landscape vistas devoid of all human structures and activities, etc.
—Journey to see the land that you live on in all its health and vigor, honor it, and ask for a ritual that will please your land and the spirits that dwell on and in it. Also ask how to live harmoniously with the land spirits around you. Journey for protection from both natural and human -caused threats.
—Journey to discover how to align your need for rest with natural cycles?
—You can ask what to do to receive healing energies from the natural world today?
—Journey to experience the ancient land and its inhabitants upon which you now live.
We are all inundated with chaotic energies nowadays. Shamanic journey work can be helpful in navigating these current times of upheaval. A simple approach to this is to journey to ask what you can do to remain balanced, or to be free of the turmoil surging around you. You can also journey to ask for renewed power, or to be refreshed by the helping spirits, or to be cleansed and healed of negative energy.
We’ve all heard the phrase that we are in the “new normal,” and that there’s no going back to the old normal. This is a perfect idea to take to your helping spirits through journeying. You can journey to ask for vision on how to navigate the new normal, or how to thrive in it, or how to be of service in this newly emerging world. It’s also important in tough times to remember that joy is as important to our life as food. It’s easy to forget joy, or to feel like we are not allowed to feel joyful when there is so much trouble that needs our attention. So, it can be powerful to ask the helping spirits or the spirits of nature to teach you about summoning joy.
A big part of the chaos we feel is the current phase of initiation our species is in. We are being called into the next level of awareness and maturity. For that to happen, we need to release our attachment to addictions and compulsions that are part of our old ways of living and that can no longer serve a healthy future. We also need to develop and maintain an optimistic vision for a new and better world.
Here are the issues discussed above in concise journey intentions:
—How do I stay balanced and healthy amidst chaos?
—Are there ways I need to adapt and change in order to navigate this new normal?
—Teach me how to be joyful in these current times.
—Come and help me release my attachment to ways of being that need to shift.
—Help me envision the better world of the future and what I can do to help bring it into being.
Shamans are known for being able to transcend their cultures’ constructs of time. They do live within these limits, but they can also move outside and beyond them. Shamans can journey back into the past and far out into the future. During the COVID restrictions many people felt their sense of time being distorted. For some who could work alone at home, time often slowed down and experiencing the same routines each day at home without any socializing made the days blur together. For people who had to keep children home and educate them, and also work virtually, there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get things done and find time to rest.
Here are some journey ideas to help understand your life as it passed through time, and ways to be better at time management.
—You can journey back to revisit your younger self as a baby or young child to hold it, express your love for it, and promise to protect the valuable memories you have of those early years.
—Another journey back in time could be to your teenage self, and tell it you now understand the troubling emotions and experiences that it was going through at the time, and that you forgive yourself for youthful indiscretions.
—Journey to your future self with a loving message that you look forward to living your later years and promise to do so in the best possible way.
—Another journey to your future self could ask for a message of importance for you to know about the future so you might better prepare for your later life.
—Journey to better manage your time by asking how to have a better relationship with time or what you need to alter so you relate better to time.
—You can journey to ask for help to get your tasks done on a day when there doesn’t seem to be enough time for all of them.
—Ask for the ability to create a good balance between giving and taking in your daily activities.
—Journey for guidance and support to stay in the present moment and not to dwell needlessly on the past or the future.
—Journey to ask the spirits to help you know when it is necessary to be patient with others and to know when it is time to take action.
We hope this handful of journey intentions will inspire you to become more creative in your journey practice. Mara Bishop’s book is a testament to how important it is to share our journeys and spiritual practice with others.
Mara’s book Shamanism for Every Day: 365 Journeys is published by Citadel Press, Kensington Publishing Corporation, New York, N.Y. and is available in paperback and audio.