Tell a friend
Rate this Article
View Comments
(6 votes)

Shamanic Journeying

Shamanic JourneyingbyMichael Drake

The spirit journey is a time-honored shamanic method of inner consultation. It is a way of communicating with your inner or spirit self and retrieving information. Your inner self is in constant communication with all aspects of your environment, seen and unseen. You need only journey within to find answers to your questions. Be prepared, however, for whatever insights you may receive, whether you like them or not.

The spirit journey is not always what people expect, and sometimes there is uncertainty as to what one should experience in altered states. The ecstatic trance is an individual journey into nonordinary reality; therefore, experiences vary from person to person and from journey to journey. Once you enter a trance state, the rhythm or sound of the drum tends to change. The drumbeat may appear to speed up or slow down, while the sound may grow louder, softer, or disappear. You may experience a change in body temperature, feel energy flowing through your body, or find yourself twitching, swaying, or rocking. It is not uncommon to hear sounds or voices. You may even smell specific aromas. You may see colorful patterns, symbolic images, or dreamlike visions. Some people may find that they have a highly developed inner vision while others may rely more on instinct, intuition, or intent.

Prevalent among the descriptions given of shamanic journeys is that of a tunnel or tube to which the shaman is transported. The tunnel sometimes appears ribbed and may bend or spiral around. This tunnel-like imagery is associated with the central axis that unites the three inner planes of consciousness. The shaman is conveyed up or down the tunnel to an exit that opens out upon mystical worlds. In these worlds, the shaman experiences sensations and communications that go beyond the usual senses. Conversing with plants, animals, and the guiding forces of nature becomes possible. The shaman accesses knowledge, power, and healing. Upon finishing the explorations, he or she returns via the tunnel to ordinary reality. It is interesting to note that such tunnel imagery is prevalent among descriptions given of the near-death experience.

During the spirit journey, oneís awareness transcends ordinary reality. In journeys to the Lower World, one may experience the sensation of falling, sliding, or spiraling downward into or under the Earth. In Upper World journeys, one may experience the sensation of rising, floating, flying, or spiraling upward through the air or sky. Journeys to the Lower World involve the movement of awareness to a level beneath ordinary reality and Celestial journeys involve movement to a level above ordinary reality. Lower levels are denser, lower in frequency, and more involved with the physical body, the earthly plane, and material reality. Higher levels are higher in frequency, less dense, and subtler.

The colors you perceive on journeys are important, for they often indicate what level of awareness you are experiencing or which center of consciousness you are activating. The chromatic hues correspond to the seven chakra centers and are from bottom to top: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. For example, if you enter a world of violet mountains, sky, or sun, you have most likely achieved one of the highest levels of awareness. If you perceive more red, orange, or yellow, you are probably activating lower centers of consciousness.

Understanding Your Journey

It would be advisable to record your journey in a journal as soon as you have returned to ordinary reality. Journeys, like dreams, tend to fade quickly from conscious awareness. Keeping a journal provides a record of your spiritual growth and allows you to reflect upon and better interpret journeys. In some cases, your journey experiences will be clear and easy to understand. At other times, your journey may be dreamlike and full of symbolism. Interpret such journeys as you would any dream. Look for possible associations related to each symbol or image. Donít overanalyze the journey, for its meaning will become clear at the appropriate time.

Not every journey you undertake will necessarily be coherent, vivid, or powerful. Still, no matter how esoteric or random the experience may seem, it augments your shamanic skill and knowledge. Seemingly insignificant events in a journey or vision may manifest in a powerful way in your ordinary state of awareness. Be on the lookout for synchronicities, for they confirm that your shamanic work is producing effects beyond the bounds of probability or coincidence.

Like developing any skill, journeying takes practice. Nothing may happen on your first journeys. You may only experience darkness. When this happens, simply try again at a different time. Step-by-step instructions for making shamanic journeys are explained in my book, The Shamanic Drum.

I recently recorded a CD to support the listener in making shamanic journeys. Shamanic Journey Drumming is available at The harmonic overtones and undertones on this digital recording were produced by a 22-inch single-headed, elk hide; cedar frame drum pulsed at a tempo of four-beats-per-second. When pulsed at four-beats-per-second, rhythmic drumming induces a theta wave cycle in the brain. Theta activity reflects the dreamlike state between wakefulness and sleep. Theta rhythms are associated with meditation, prayer, spiritual awareness, and the deepest states of shamanic consciousness. Theta increases creativity, enhances learning, reduces stress, and awakens intuition. Researchers have found that if a drum beat frequency of around four-beats-per-second is sustained for at least fifteen minutes, most people can journey successfully even on their first attempt.

About the author:
Michael Drake is a nationally recognized writer, rhythmist, and shamanist. He is the author of The Shamanic Drum: A Guide to Sacred Drumming and I Ching: The Tao of Drumming. Michael's journey into rhythm began under the tutelage of Mongolian shaman Jade Wah'oo Grigori. For the past 15 years he has been facilitating drum circles and workshops nationwide. To learn more, visit Michael's web site at:


Rate this Article

1 2 3 4 5



Michael Drake - October 14th 2009 03:59:48 AM
I have a new web site at:

Add a Comment