Shamanism has existed for as long as human beings have. There is evidence that shamanism has been practiced globally over the millennia. It's been an inherent part of all cultures, is all embracing and inclusive. In the shamanic world, everything is alive and has a spirit of its own: all of nature, all animals, all objects animate and inanimate.
The shaman will rattle, drum, dance and sing, to shift his consciousness and journey to other worlds energetically. There he or she will do the necessary work. The shaman has one foot in this world, and one foot in the others, acting as a bridge between the multiverse of energy and this third dimensional reality. The shaman travels between the middle world, (where we exist), the upper world (the spiritual realm), or the lower world, (the realm of soul parts, power animals, nature spirits). There are many worlds within these worlds.
If you are interested in Shamanism, there are plenty of modern day shamans around, you needn’t travel to darkest Peru to find one. It’s good to start by having a session with a shaman, so that you can experience a soul retrieval and find your power animal. If you want to discover more, I suggest you learn under a practicing shaman. There are shamanic drums circles around too and joining one is a good way to learn to journey. The rhythm of the drumming helps the mind to focus, the brain begins to produce theta brain waves, inducing a trance like state. From here the consciousness can travel, (if you struggle with silent meditation, try listening to some shamanic drumming and see if this is your way in).
Journeying is central to shamanism. It’s a the shaman's way of finding power animals, collecting lost soul parts and performing healings.
The first thing you need in order to enter the other worlds, is your entrance. I always think of Harry Potter when I think about shamanic entrances, how easily he stepped from the muggle world into the world of magic, via Platform 9¾. You can choose your own entrance, it just has to be a real place that you know, which has a hole or opening; rabbit warren, a well, a hollow tree trunk. My entrance is a badger’s sett, in the woods near where I live. So, when I journey I rattle first, then drum, and when I’m ready I go in my mind's-eye to the entrance and go in.
I expect that what we experience in the worlds we visit, varies greatly from person to person. I begin by stating the intention of my journey and where I want to go for the answers. The lower world for me is often jungle or woods, sometimes I’m in a desert or by the sea. The lower world is like this world, but far more magical, filled with animals, soul parts, guides and elemental beings. The upper world feels very different to me, it’s much more ethereal and dreamlike, my spirit teachers live there and it’s not somewhere I often go. The middle world IS this world, but in the energetic form. I don’t use an entrance if I'm working in the middle world, I just get up from where I'm lying and start journeying. A few times I’ve intended to go to the lower world, but have arrived in the upper, I’ve concluded that we go to the world we're meant to.
I often journey over my problems and get clear advice and help. Obviously, I write it all down, the intention of my journey and what I saw felt and experienced. Remember that our helpers often speak to us in symbols, so try to learn the language of your helpers and how they speak to you.
We all have power animals, or totem animals, they're guides just like our people helpers. Your first journey should be to find your power animal, (whether you’re looking for yourself or someone else is journeying for you, start here). This is so your power animal can accompany you on all your journeys, they will protect you and help you if you get stuck or lost. My first journey was done by a shaman I was working with, she travelled for me and returned with my PA, (as I call him), a dolphin, and blew him into me. I had to laugh because I’d repeatedly dreamt of dolphin jumping out of the sea to talk to me, (all written in my dream diary of course), so I guess I wasn’t surprised.
I have forged a relationship with my power animal, just as I have done with all my helpers and tools. I think of him and ask him to help me when I’m in trouble. I used to call him a lot when I had stage fright and felt an instant calm come over me. I have pictures of dolphins around the house, all to remind me that he’s there, and that he’s there for me. If I’m journeying and I’m not sure what to do, I will always turn to him and ask him. Sometimes a power animal will show up at a specific time in your life, to help you with a certain experience or lesson, so they do come and go. However, you will have what I call your ‘main PA’, who stays with you throughout your life.
When we experience trauma, we can experience soul loss. It’s not unusual to hear someone say, ‘I was never the same after so and so died.’ Many people feel empty after trauma, it takes them time to recover.
In the shamanic belief system, a painful event can cause the soul to fragment and bits split off, (the bit that has taken up the trauma), and leave the rest of you. Usually, as you recover the soul parts return, but sometimes parts get lost or stuck in the lower world.
By journeying you can find those lost parts, heal them and bring them back to the person they belong to. I have found that one soul retrieval session can do the work of half a dozen healing sessions. The person becomes whole and many of their problems resolve. To be healed is to be whole: soul retrieval has taught me that. Soul Retrieval can be deep and challenging work, but it pays back in dividends.