Exploring the Shamanic Landscape

by May 14, 2019Article, Personal Practice

What should I journey about?  It can be one of the most common questions a shamanic practitioner faces as they sit down with their drum.  The fact that the landscape of the spirit world is truly limitless only serves to complicate the issue.  There are many reasons to search for new topics for journeying.  You may have just started your shamanic path and want to start exploring on your own.  Perhaps you lead a shamanic circle that is in need of a change of pace.  Maybe you have decided to teach shamanic journeying to others and want to offer something different.  Even a seasoned practitioner can benefit by expanding their understanding of the spirit world into new undiscovered areas.

Over the past three years, I have been facilitating two shamanic journeying circles.  In that time, I have tried to never repeat a journey.  Before each gathering I open myself to the spirits and let them choose the topics for the night.  I have accumulated over 80 different journeys in that time and I would like to share a few of them with you.  As you read through, you will notice that many of the descriptions are vague.  I do this by design.  The more information I include, the more I influence your experience.  I want each person to have a truly personal connection.  Occasionally I will add a few descriptive points, but only when absolutely necessary.  I hope these journeys are as illuminating to you as they were to us.

Journeys to our Ancestors

These journeys take us back to learn from those who came before us.  There are many skills and techniques that have been lost and need to be rediscovered.  The ancestors are powerful allies that act as mentors to us as we walk our shamanic path.  There wisdom and experience can be useful when we reach difficult transitions in our lives.  They can also offer us insight into ceremonies and rituals we can add to our practice.  At the end of each journey, always offer thanks to the ancestor you have been working with and ask how they can be honored in the spirit and physical world.

Journey to Learn About Sacred Space
Ask your guides to take you to an ancestor that was a shaman.  Ask the ancestor to show you how they create sacred space.  Ask the following questions:
How can I create sacred space?
When is it appropriate to use this technique?

Journey to Learn an Ancient Divination Technique
Ask your guides to take you to an ancestor that used divination.  Ask the ancestor to show you how they use divination.  Ask the following questions:
What does divination mean to you?
Can you teach me the technique you use?

Journey to Ancestor that was a Storyteller
Ask your guides to take you to an ancestor that was a storyteller.  Ask the ancestor to tell you a story that the people have forgotten.

Journey to the First Shaman
Ask your guides to take you to the first shaman.  When you first arrive, simply observe.  Ask the following questions:
What does it mean to walk the path as you do?
What do I need to know about my path?

Journey to Ancestor that Aided Spirits Crossing Over
Ask your guides to take you to an ancestor that helped spirits cross over.  Ask the ancestor to show you how they cross spirits over.  Ask the following questions:
What does the transition between the worlds mean to you?
How can I help spirits cross over?

Journeys to Sacred Places

These journeys allow us to explore the powerful locations to be found in the spirit world.  This can help us to create a map of our otherworldly landscape that can be shared with others.  When we feel lost in our lives and without direction, these places and the spirits that dwell there can show us the way.   Sometimes, we just need to feel the magic of discovery we had as a child, before we began to think we had seen it all.  These places are not meant to be visited a single time.  They should become integral parts of our shamanic practice.

Journey to the Cave of Forgotten Memories
Ask your guides to take you to the cave of forgotten memories.  Ask to meet the spirit of the place.  Ask the following questions:
What memory have I forgotten?
Why did I forget it?
What do I need to remember about myself?

Journey to a Mythical Place
Ask your guides to take you to a mythical place.  This journey is all about simply experiencing the place.  Explore, talk to who you meet, just be there.

Journey to the Pool of Vision
Ask your guides to take you to the pool of vision.  Ask to meet the spirit of the place.  Ask the following questions:
What is this place?
Show me what I need to know most right now?

Journey to the Hall of Ancients
Ask your guides to take you to the hall of ancients.  This place is filled with the statues of ancient beings.  Find a statue that calls to you and ask to speak to its spirit.  Ask the following questions:
Why was I drawn to you?
What did you represent to the people of your time?
What can you teach me?

Journey to Recover Excalibur
Ask your guides to take you to the resting place of Excalibur.  Ask to meet the spirit of the place.  Ask the following questions:
What does the sword represent for me?
How should I use its power?
Am I ready to hold the sword?

Journeys to Spirits

These journeys are meant to enrich our understanding of the spirits and to make new allies among them.  Spirits are the friends and acquaintances that travel with us on our shamanic path.  They give us new insights into ourselves and the world around us, challenge us to move beyond who we think we are and support us when times get tough.  They are the foundation upon which everything else is built.  Always end the journey by thanking the spirit and by asking how to honor them in the spiritual and physical world.

Journey to the Spirit of Mountain
Ask your guides to take you to the spirit of mountain.  Ask to join with the mountain and spend a year there seeing the world from that perspective.  Ask the following question:
How can mountain’s perspective help me in my life?

Journey to Spirit of Forgiveness
Ask your guides to take you to the spirit of forgiveness.  Ask the following questions:
What do I need to understand about forgiveness?
Is there someone in my life I have not forgiven?
How can I forgive them?
Ask the spirit for help to forgive that person.
Envision that person in the journey and forgive them.

Journey to Bear to Dream the Future
Ask your guides to take you to Bear.  Spend time with Bear and then ask the following questions:
How do I use this power respectfully?
How do I dream the future?
Sleep next to Bear.

Journey to the Spirits of Sun and Moon
Ask your guides to take you to spirit of the sun and then the moon.  Ask the following questions to each:
What do you represent to me?
How can I use your power in my life?
Then ask your guide to take you to a spot where you can witness the moment of sunset at the time of the full moon when they are directly opposite each other on the horizons.  Experience the moment.

Journey to the Nemesis of Direction
Ask your guides to take you to the nemesis of a direction.  You can either choose a specific direction or ask to be taken to the one you need most right now.  Once you meet the spirit, ask the following questions:
What do you mean to me?
Why you?
Now challenge the spirit and battle the nemesis.
What is the lesson?

Journeys to Self

These journeys help us to look deeper into who we are and to explore our strengths and weaknesses.   There may be an event from our past that can be reevaluated with openness.  We may need to look at the darker parts of our nature and reconcile them.  Sometimes, we need to seek power within ourselves to understand what we can contribute to the world.  If we do not know ourselves truly, then what do we know?

Journey to Moment in Life When I Missed a Lesson
Ask your guides to take you to a moment in your life when you missed a lesson.  Experience the event as if it’s happening again.  Ask the following questions:
What did I miss or misunderstand?
What can I learn from this event?
How can I use this knowledge in my life right now?

Journey to Person I Need to Understand
Ask your guides to take you to a person you need to understand.  Ask the following questions:
What do I need to know about you?
What can you teach me about myself?
Ask to experience what it is like to be that person to understand them better.

Journey for a Symbol for Life Right Now
Ask your guides to take you to a spirit that can help you find a symbol.  Ask to be shown the symbol you need most right now.  Ask the following questions:
What is the power of this symbol for me?
How do I use this power?

Journey to Shadow Self
Ask your guides to take you to your shadow self.  When you meet your shadow self, dance with it.  Ask the following questions:
What part of my self is in shadow?
How do I bring that part into the light?

Hero Journey
This is a two part journey.  The first journey is used to prepare for the second.
First Journey-
Ask your guides to take you to a spirit that can help you prepare for your hero journey.  Ask the following questions:
What is the purpose of my quest?
What is the path of my quest?
What is the challenge of my quest?
Is there anything else I need to know?
Second Journey-
Ask your guides to take you to the guardian of the quest.  The guardian will ask you the first three questions you asked the spirit in the last journey about your quest.  If you get any of them wrong, you will not be allowed to pass.  Once you have answered the questions, pass through the entrance and begin your quest.  Complete your quest.  From this point forward, it is all experiential.

These journeys are just the first steps.  Topics can come from anywhere: an inspiring passage in a book, an event that happens in the world, an emotion that needs to be understood, a time in history that you’re curious about.  Nature is full of places and spirits to journey to.  My favorite option is to ask, “What should I journey about tonight?”  and sit quietly for five minutes.  I just open up to any impressions or ideas that appear.   Many times, the journeys that come through will have a special meaning for someone attending the circle that night.  People will come up to me after the gathering and tell me how they had been thinking about that topic for the last week.

Having the opportunity to teach shamanic journeying has been an incredible gift.  Each time I see a group of people with different belief systems, backgrounds, and world views come together around the drum, it gives me hope.  When I watch them discuss their experiences so passionately and begin to make connections, I see why this path is so important and why it needs to be shared.  If you have any inclination, please teach others.  Find ways to reach out to those who might never consider walking this path.  Give them the tools to open their eyes to a much larger world.

About the Author

David Beck has been practicing and teaching shamanism for over 15 years. He is a naturalist in New York’s Hudson Valley. In this capacity he teaches local Native American culture, wilderness survival & archery. He has spent the last 20 years bringing these skills to children and adults. His passion is helping people of all ages reconnect with nature and find their way back to wilderness.  He can be reached at walksinthesun@gmail.com.

1 Comment

  1. Carol Martell

    These are great starting points for powerful journeys, there is a lifetime of exploration right here! Thank you David

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