1/25/2021 4 Comments
20 years ago I had never experienced a shamanic journey. I hadn't met my power animal or spirit helper, and had certainly not found a reliable way to get spirit guidance, insight and connection. Maybe this is you now? Maybe you're curious but don't really know what it is, or why bother.
Read on, for my top 5 reasons to do a shamanic journey and meet or connect to your spirit helper (and how to go about it)
#1. Adventure and travel - despite lockdown!
I wouldn't normally put this one first. In fact, I may not have included it at all in a pre-Covid list. But during lockdown a sense of wanderlust is something many of us have as an unmet yearning in increasing doses.
In a shamanic 'journey' we have the chance to go on a 'soul-flight' to another landscape. Planes may be grounded, flights not Covid-safe, but we can set off to the 'Lower' or 'Upper World' of the shamanic cosmos to meet our spirit helper. Have you travelled this way yet?
Your spirit helper will often be in the form of an animal. This helping spirit is called a 'power animal', although any form is possible: human, mythological, tree spirit, angel. You can find this loving, wise and all-knowing being by listening to a shamanic drumming track, having a clear intention and starting from a place you know in nature using your mind's eye or imagination and all of your senses.
Never underestimate your imagination. It is the portal between the ordinary and non-ordinary realm, and as you gain more experience you will come to know this as the language of the spirits without a strand of doubt. And the drum shifts your brain from its normal 'alpha' state into a 'theta' state. This means that you can communicate better with spirit, facilitating better connection between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It also allows us to connect with our subconscious as well as the collective consciousness, sometimes called the great or one universal mind, or collective consciousness. This is the realm of spirit, which we can perceive from this altered state of consciousness.
If you are guided well in your early journeys by a more experienced human helper, this is a totally safe way of working as you can snap out of theta state straight away into alpha by turning off the drumming track.
#2. Love, Connection & Belonging
At first glance this may also seem an unusual reason. On reflection it is often the main reason we are seeking to connect with spirit, and an incredible experience if you've not yet had it!
Your spirit helper is the wisest, most loving being that you have ever met. This being knows you 'inside out' and chances are they've been waiting years for you to get in touch with them. Whether it's a tiny bird or a huge mammal, an ancestor or spirit of a rock, this 'person' knows every part of you and loves you anyway. Unconditionally.
This being also knows what's best for you and how to go about telling you what it is you need to hear. I find I usually get told what I need to hear which is not always the same as what I want to hear but is much more helpful. We only get told what we can handle. I have never been given anything to do or be that was beyond my ability.... and we can always say no as we always have free will.
When I miscarried my first child, my spirit helper was the one who gave me the love, understanding and insight to move beyond my grief. My friends and family had done their best. Sometimes they did this well, sometimes clumsily. Still, I couldn't find a way to understand and integrate the experience of losing this hoped for child. My spirit teachers took me on a journey to meet the spirit of this unborn baby, and start to understand her path as one that did not require her to be born in this life. I had a full and felt experience of meeting this child spirit using all of my senses, with my heart fully present. I came back from that shamanic journey helped, healed and forever changed, having experienced the deepest love imaginable.
Most of us experience times in our lives when we want more love, need forgiveness or a sense of purpose, but just can't find it. Often my clients report the first thing they experience on meeting their spirit helper is a sense of deep love, of feeling like coming home. It's a beautiful sensation. We only get one life in this body, why not choose to experience this right away?
#3. Help for ANY situation. And just a drum beat away.
When we go on a shamanic journey it is important, or even critical, to have a clear intention or focus on what we are doing. I encourage all my clients to frame a journey with a mission that states where they are going, who they want to meet and what help they need in their life.
The help they seek can be varied. For example, we may go to the lower world to meet our power animal to ask for: 'Help to find a great job'; 'Help to find my ideal partner'; 'Help to find a nurturing home for me and my family'; or 'Help to improve my relationship with Aunt Bess'.
You'll notice that all the help is about the person asking for help. We're not asking to change other people, just help for us to get closer to what we yearn for. A good shamanic practitioner can help clients experience journeys more deeply by exploring the deep, whispering yearnings of the heart to come up with a clear and powerful intention. This turns interesting journeys into powerful, life-changing experiences.
By asking our spirit helpers for their help we are really asking that the tectonic plates of the spiritual universe be shifted in our favour. Miracles and magic are entirely possible.
Sometimes the help we are shown makes no sense in the moment. In one session a client went on a journey to ask for 'help to make healthy food choices' after years of battling with food. She had a pleasant experience, listening to the drum and going to the Lower World via her familiar tunnel and coming out into her usual meadow landscape with her power animal. They danced awhile, and sunbathed. She felt his warm fur and loving presence. The sunset and her spirit animal told her it was done.
When she returned from the journey she was glowing and relaxed. She'd had a lovely time, but it didn't give her any answers or insights into her food situation. I explained that 'help' journeys often need no analysis or understanding, but to just keep her connection with her spirit helpers through her daily practice, reconnecting with her whole body felt experience of the journey.
A couple of days later I received a delighted answerphone message. "It's amazing! This might not sound much, but on the way home I stopped off to get some food. Usually I'd have gone straight over to the dessert aisle, and picked up a treat with some excuse or other about how I deserved it. I felt myself being pulled towards the fish counter, ordered some salmon and went round to the veg coming out with some broccoli and kale. It was like I was being moved without me thinking about it. I cooked it at home and it was delicious, and I had no cravings for chocolate or crisps or biscuits afterwards. It's been like this since the journey. It doesn't sound much but it's truly incredible!"
I have countless other examples. Being shown things that make no sense until a few weeks later which turn out to be premonitions that guide us to our next steps. Healings that take place within a journey so that the pain is instantly relieved. Relationships that start to improve almost miraculously after the journey. True, 'asking-for-help' journeys aren't always mammoth in their results, but they always take us a step closer to freedom, joy and connection.
#4. Insight. Spirit guidance and perspective at your fingertips
How would it be to take each step in life, knowing you're going in the right direction?
So often I have asked for advice or guidance from my spirit helpers. Along with clients, common themes emerge such as "How can I find my ideal partner?"; "What is my next step in finding my perfect career"; "How can I be a better parent to my daughter?"; or "What should I focus on this full moon?"
By asking our spirit helpers we get much deeper answers than we can imagine. In fact, in my experience, in a journey we get much deeper answers even than in meditation or visualisation.
One recent example was when I led a visualisation on my Facebook Heart and Spirit circle, for free, last lockdown. I asked people, once in a deep state of relaxation, to focus on the 'treasures of lockdown' to see what gems we could find within all the darkness of this time which was difficult for many. I also did this visualisation for myself, and came up with lots of wonderful insights such as peace, calmness, a connection to nature and more. It was beautiful and insightful and as many people shared their findings in my group I could see the power of taking this time to be still and reflect. However, there was much more to come.
I lay down to do a journey with a friend. We had chosen to ask our spirit helpers to "Please show me the gifts of my lockdown and how to weave them into this next phase" (a slightly more complex journey than I'd recommend for beginners as it has 2 questions in one, but a good one if you have a very clear connection to your spirit helpers and lots of experience to know what is 'normal' for you on your journey or not).
I had the experience of feeling my heart fill, my heart being fed and nurtured. This was powerful and beautiful, and entirely relatable to my experience of lockdown if I viewed it from the perspective they showed me. But I was worried about school restarting and some stresses with the situation we'd been experiencing at the school. My spirits showed me how being in the car for 20 minutes each day with the new situation of just one child was a complete joy, not the anxious experience I was expecting. I was shown how to be present and experience stillness in the drive home on my own, an experience only possible in lockdown as in normal times I would have two children in the car.
My spirits and I did a ceremony of burning the energy of unwanted school gate conversations. This showed me how to have the discussions and meetings even with people I found stressful while knowing how to burn the lingering energy.
Until this journey I hadn't even been aware that I was concerned about the return to school, or that the meetings with anxious Covid-wary parents was something that worried me. They showed me how to stay in my 'power' and not leak it to others, or allow them to take it from me. I had a true and felt experience of letting go of contagious anxiety, and finding a practice in the car to both improve my relationship with one child and to find my inner peace. There were several more teachings in this journey too.
So much more information, insight and power is available to us than we realise. We just need to make a little time for a shamanic journey. And this only takes 20 minutes or so.
#5. Your individual path: life purpose or moment to moment.
Knowing we have all the answers and all the love we need, forever and unconditionally, has to be the main reason to invite spirit connection through the shamanic journey.
The shamanic journey is an ancient, time tried and tested method. It doesn't come from a single culture, does not 'steal' a way of working inappropriately. What I love is how individual and unique our experiences are.
One person meets a mouse, another a hawk, another a narwhal. One person meets an ancestor or a religious being or an angel. Another meets the spirit of the land, or a rock, or a tree. We get exactly what we need.
One person is taken into the jungle, another the sea, another the mountains. One flies into the sky another ascends into realms of light and crystal. One person is told to eat less meat, another to eat more meat.
One person is told to meditate daily, another to dance to a drum, another to apply her makeup as if she were applying it to the most beautiful and loved being in the world. One is told to visit a church service, one is told to walk in nature each day.
We get the answers we need, at the very time we need them. Whether we originate from the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Europe, Africa, anywhere.... we meet our own ancestor spirits. Sometimes we are guided to follow practices that turn out to be traditional shamanic ways of working that we knew nothing about. Sometimes we are guided to follow routines that seem very much of our own time and culture.
We get what we need. Every time.
We are loved. Every time.
We know we belong. And we are home.
What more could we want from our lives?
Final thoughts and your next steps
If you are intrigued by the shamanic journey I have some ideas for you to get started.
It's time to really get to experience the joy of connecting to spirit in this ancient, grounded way.
Joanna Shipley - I help you find joy and freedom by connection to your heart's desires and spirit guidance so you can live your life on purpose.