I first learned I had the gift of shamanism through a dead relative that came through in a mediumship reading.
I didn’t have any living relatives to teach me what to do and how, and I certainly didn’t know any shamans or healers in real life.
I was in graduate school for experimental psychology at the time, working towards a Ph.D. program - not exactly surrounded by an abundance of defined spiritual teachers ready to show me the ways of shamanism.
I was primarily winging it.
Without many leads, I turned to one thing that everyone knew about shamans - that they listened to drumming music while they did what shamans do: journey.
If I was going to be a shaman, I had to learn how to journey with drums, right?
That’s what I thought.
One afternoon, I purchased and downloaded some drumming mp3s recorded by a famous shaman and decided that later that evening I was going to do it.
I was going to journey.
Flash forward to journey time.
I still didn’t know what I was doing. So, I grabbed my headphones, my iPhone, and a handful of random crystals (you need those too, right?), and headed to my bed to lay down and start journeying.
I turned on the track . . . . and nothing happened.
Drumming played, but there were no instructions and I still had no clue what a journey was or how I was supposed to do it.
Does listening to drumming alone equate a journey?
Should I know how to do this automatically as some innate shaman skill?
Am I journeying right now? I feel kind of spacey. . .
Are these colors I see journeying?
After the drumming ended, I still wasn’t sure if a journey had taken place or what exactly happened. Did I meditate? Did I journey? I had no clue.
Since then, I’ve figured it out. I know how to journey and do it on a regular basis as part of being a shaman.
It IS a required skill, but it doesn’t have to be confusing or mysterious.
If you’re ready to test out the waters of journeying, here are my tips before you get started.
5 Tips for a DIY Shamanic Journey
1. Figure out what a journey is before you start
It helps if you have some framework of understanding what it is you’re doing before you begin. If you don’t know what a journey is, how can you know if you’re doing it? Check out this article for a primer on journeying.
2. Know that you don’t need objects, tools, or drumming music to take a journey
This is the popularized and mainstream way of journeying (and dare I say stereotyped). It’s the way that’s taught in most shaman schools and shaman circles, but you can journey without drums and rattles, and in fact, it doesn’t work for a lot of people. There’s nothing wrong with using these things and there are reasons for doing so, but it doesn’t resonate with many up and coming healers. I tried drumming and it didn’t work, so I developed my own way - without it.
3. If you do use a drumming track, be aware that most drumming tracks contain no instructions - have a plan!
Taking a shamanic journey is so much more than just sitting or laying there and closing your eyes, but this is a start. Most shamanic drumming tracks that you can buy operate under the presumption that you have some pre-learned idea of what you’re supposed to do during the drumming, and thus, they contain no guided instructions or tips on what to do while the drumming is playing. It’s assumed you already know. If you don’t already know what to do, have a plan. All of my meditations are technically journeys, where you go somewhere and come back to where you started. Have an idea of where you want to go and how you'll come back, before you start.
4. Do not end the journey early without “coming back” first
This is really important. In a journey, your Spirit leaves your physical body to travel in the spiritual worlds and then comes back into your body at the end of the journey. But, this isn’t automatic. You have to take steps to get your spirit back into your body, just like you have to take steps to get into the journey in the first place. If you start a journeying track, but you aren’t feeling it or need to stop, fast forward to the ending steps and make absolutely sure you “finish” the journey. Or, simply imagine a spirit version of yourself standing outside of your body, and then this spirit version steps back in. Do not end the journey or meditation until you do this - if you do, you’ll notice the after effects of feeling spacey, loopy, or out of it. My meditations all do this, but unguided tracks, like most available, do not do this for you - you have to do it for yourself.
5. It’s okay to be confused and unsure of yourself in the beginning
Shamanic journeying is a brand new skill, and not even a physical world skill where you would normally be able to see proof of your success in the tangible world. You may not see anything, feel anything, or sense anything in the beginning - and that’s okay! The more you practice, the more confident and sure of yourself you’ll become. You’ll be able to keep your focus for longer periods of time, and you’ll be able to get into “journeying state” in no time. I promise, the more you practice, the less you will feel unsure of yourself.
We all have to start somewhere. You can teach yourself to journey and still go on to be a reputable shaman without ever having been to a school or an in-person workshop, having never picked up a drum or rattle.
If I did it, you can too!
LAST UPDATED: October 23, 2015
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