SHAMANISM IS INHERENTLY ANIMISTIC. THIS means it is based on the belief that everything in nature—all creatures, plants, and landscapes—have a life force or vital essence.
Closely tied to this is also the belief in two realities, commonly referred to as ordinary reality and non-ordinary reality.
Ordinary reality is the reality most of us experience in our daily lives.
It is the incarnate world, that which we see with our physical eyes and experience with our physical bodies.
Non-ordinary reality is the spirit realm. This is where we are able to connect with the non-incarnate and the ethereal.
We can communicate directly with the spirits of everything around us, and develop relationships with non-corporeal entities that are willing to help and guide us along our incarnate paths.
These entities are our helping spirits, who we can collaborate with to cocreate our realities.
The concept of co-creation is seen across many metaphysical and spiritual philosophies.
Hermeticism is a metaphysical philosophy that focuses heavily on the nature of reality and universal principles of creation.
The Hermetic tradition is based on the work of Hermes Trismegistus, which has greatly influenced many esoteric traditions.
There are seven Hermetic Principles that explain how the universe works and how we can use this information to affect the world around us.
The first Hermetic Principle is the Principle of Mentalism, which states that “All is Mind.”
This speaks both to the power of our minds and also to the nature of reality.
Most Westerners tend to have a very limited view of reality, emphasizing the importance of physical touch and physical sight.
Through journeying, we learn how to connect with reality that exists beyond the basic senses.
In Shamanism, we use sonic driving to trigger an alpha state so we can enter non-ordinary reality.
This is what we refer to as journeying.
In the most basic terms, journeying is a process through which we use visualization to travel to Lower or Upper Worlds and connect with our helping spirits to obtain guidance and healing.
When we are in non-ordinary reality, we often perceive information in the form of symbols, archetypes, and metaphors.
This is consistent with Carl Jung’s theories regarding the human psyche and the collective unconscious.
The psyche consists essentially of images. It is a series of images in the truest sense, not an accidental juxtaposition or sequence, but a structure that is throughout full of meaning and purpose; it is a “picturing” of vital activities.
And just as the material of the body that is ready for life has need of the psyche in order to be capable of life, so the psyche presupposes the
living body in order that its images may live.
Archetypes play a central role not only in Jungian psychology, but in many esoteric and spiritual traditions.
For example, archetypes are a key element in tarot systems, especially within the symbolism depicted in the Major Arcana cards.
We also come into contact with archetypes in Shamanic Journeying, as it is a way for our helping spirits to communicate with us using universal or nearuniversal symbolism.
A question that often comes up when students are learning to journey is: “Is what I’m seeing real, or am I imagining it?”
I ask of my students that they try not to focus on this question.
For those of us who work in both ordinary and nonordinary reality, everything is real.
When we see something with our mind’s eye, rather than our physical eyes, this does not make it less real.
Jung also wrote about thoughts and ideas, pointing out that even if we try to minimize them as imagination or delusion, this does not make them any less real or effective.
Human imagination is a gift, and one that holds immeasurable power.
When we journey, we engage in a process called active imagination.
This term comes from Jungian psychology and refers to a process used to bridge the conscious and unconscious mind, so we can open up to the messages the universe has for us.
There is no difference in principle between organic and psychic formations.
As a plant produces its flowers, so the psyche creates its symbols.
C. G. Jung, Psychological Reflections: An Anthology of Jung’s Writings Andrew Steed, a Celtic shaman and teacher, advises us to have experiences without putting parameters on ourselves.
There is no incorrect shamanic journey experience, and only by entering the journey space with complete openness, without preconceptions or expectations, can we experience the most profound shifts.
The shamanic journey experience is unique to every person.
The most common form of experiencing journeys is through visual imagery, where we “see” the journey play out in our mind’s eye.
However, this is not the only method for receiving information.
We have five senses, and any of them can be activated during a journey, sometimes with more than one sense being activated during a single journey.
If you are someone who struggles to see things in your mind, you may experience your journey through sound or touch.
Some people never see or feel anything, but they receive information intuitively.
Any and all of these forms of journeying are valid and powerful.