||[Apr. 29th, 2009|01:00 pm]
Well, on the surface, journeying sounds really difficult. You're casting your spirit self into another realm of existence, and moving from place to place. But the fact of the matter is, we are spiritual beings, and all of us move within the spirit. All we have to do is become more aware of this, and a bit more in conscious control of the process.|
(Skeptics will insist that this is not a spirit based process, but is instead "just" a form of guided meditation and the picking up of mental imagery. Maybe they're correct. Does it matter? It works the same way even if it's just mental imagery.)
Drumming - or listening to drumming - is a technique used the world over to assist with journeying. The journeyer can ride the beating of the drum into the spirit world. However, I've had good success with rattles, which are easier to use reliably, and quieter if one lives in an apartment.
The idea is to drop out of your conscious, thinking, directed mind, and go into a different state.
My most recent teachers suggest that you start from a place in nature, one that you know well. Think about the sights, the sounds, the smells, the touch, the tastes (if any)... and then, find a way to go down.
You may find a door in the ground, or steps going down, or a tree where you can climb down (or meld with, and travel to its roots). You may simply go down... how you do this is completely individual.
Okay, but how? Will you see a picture? Will you hear a sound? Or... well, what? What's the right way to do this? How do you know you've done this right?
And the answer is, there isn't any way to do this 'right'. Everyone is different. Everyone experiences the spirit world in a different way. Some see; some feel; some 'just know'.
The tricky thing is this: you're not quite imagining this. Imagine someone going down through a door into the earth. Okay, this isn't pretense, in the sense of "pretend there's a door in the earth, pretend you've opened the door, pretend you're walking down some steps that you found behind/beneath that door." On the other hand, if you're not looking for a door, you won't find it. If you don't open it, you can't go through it. If you don't walk down the steps, you don't go anywhere.
A lot of people get too caught up in this. They think if they feel themselves opening the door, it's all imagination. But how else will the door get opened?
And it's also possible to go too far the other way. It's possible to force your imagination to the front, and simply go through the mental motions of seeing a door, opening it up, and walking through it. But maybe your way down isn't a door at all; maybe it's sinking down, or taking an elevator, or just "being there".
There are no great secrets here; there is no way to describe the right way to do this. It's all experiential. In the end, you have to trust your own experiences and realize that, yes, you were in the spirit world, and it was in that world that you did this. If you're doing it wrong, you'll do it right, sooner or later, and understand the difference.
Okay: so, listening to (or playing) a drum, or rattle, you've found your natural place, and gone down. You're now in the spirit world. What do you do?
Well, if you have a journey to meet with a particular spirit, call out to that spirit, in whatever way seems most appropriate for you. Or, just wait, and see what unfolds, though this is not recommended; if you're not looking for something, you don't know what you'll see. Or...
...or, one of the most common first journeys is to find a power animal. An animal spirit that is connected to you, helps protect you, and has guidance for you. Find a place where you can see in all directions - a clearing in a natural place - and wait for animals to appear. Or, wander, and wait for animals to show up in your wandering. Or... or, whatever seems best. But keep your eyes open for animals.
The rule of thumb is, if you see an animal four times, that animal is interested in you. But this isn't always the case. Sometimes an animal spirit has been so eager for you to show up, they won't bother with the whole "go away and come back three more times".
There's another, similar problem. If you're in a clearing, and a bear shows up, the bear may not go away. Or, if it does, you might realize you've still go the bear on your mind. For me, what works is to go to another place, and anchor myself there. If the bear follows, that's another sighting; if not, I'm ready to wait for the next sighting of whatever animal (which may be a bear, or something else).
When you've seen an animal four times, that's it; you've found (one of) your power animal(s). Try to communicate with it; ask if it has a gift, or a message, or anything for you. There are no hard and fast rules for what to do, but keep in mind that this is a spirit animal who's come to help you, and is deserving of your respect, courtesy, and at-least-potential-affection.
You can ask a question. Whatever happens then is part of your answer, so don't panic if your animal turns away. You're probably expected to follow. Your animal may talk, or may not. It depends on you, and the spirit animal.
It's considered good form to thank your spirit animal when you're done interacting for now.
Now, how about going back from the spirit world?
Well, there are multiple ways to do this. Some folks go out by reversing their steps. If they came down steps, the go back to those steps, and take them back up. Others just step back into their bodies. The important thing is to consciously choose to come back.
On initial journeys, if you're not able to drum or rattle for yourself, it's good to have a recall... a sequence of four sets of seven beats intended to interrupt the normal drumming rhythm, followed by a louder/harder/alarm-clock like set of beats intended to bring you back to your body. Why? Because sometimes, when people are starting out, they're trying too hard, and don't come back easily. I've never had a problem coming back, but every teacher I've listened to has mentioned it. My guess is that, if you're drumming or rattling for yourself, you shouldn't have a problem, but if you have someone else doing it, you should ask them to include a recall, at least the first few times. In any case, do make sure you've committed yourself to coming back. No one has ever gotten "lost in the spirit world", but if you don't come fully back to your body, you can spend a good bit of time feeling disconnected, out of sorts, and dissociated.
So, promise yourself you'll come back before you start. And, when the time comes to return, return with a will.
It's advised that you write down, or otherwise record, your journey as soon as you can. This can be difficult; it's like remembering a dream. Don't try too hard - the images will come, and if you lose anything, well, you can journey again to find it next time. But get it down, so you can re-read it and think more on it later.