What is a Shamanic Journey?

What on Earth is a Shamanic Journey? Demystifying the mysterious - what's is it, what does it involve, and how is one taken? 

by Sarah Petruno, Shamana

A shamanic journey is any time the Spirit of an individual leaves the physical body with the intention of healing another Spirit.

Typically, those who go on shamanic journeys are known as shaman (or in the feminine, shamana) acting on behalf of themselves or another person. A shaman is a person who acts as the intermediary between the physical and spiritual worlds, generally to heal illness and resolve spiritual or energetic problems. 

In the most basic of terms, a shamanic journey is a spiritual travel that a person goes on in order to heal, resolve or transform some issue. The shamanic journey is the spiritual trip the shaman (healer) takes with their Spirit, to perform the healing. Their physical body stays in the same place all the while.

When you think of someone going on a shamanic journey, your mind may bring up images of drums, thoughts  of hallucinogenic drums or even ideas about having smoke, feathers, and music. You may even think that shamans live in a jungle somewhere, where they are only accessible by boat.

But that’s simply not always true. For some, yes, but not for all. 

We, as regular people, leave our physical bodies all the time. Our Spirits leave us, all the time. Our Spirit, right now, is tied to a specific physical body, from which we can come and go.

We on earth, have several bodies.

A physical body consisting of arms, legs, chest skin, bones and organs.

An energetic body consisting of chakras, aura, emotions and thoughtforms.

And a spiritual body, your soul, the essence of you.

The last two pieces, energetic and spiritual body, comprise our Spirit, and all Spirits. In fact, the only thing that differentiates us from any other Spirit, is the fact that we have an extra body, a physical one. Your physical body can go on existing with a heart beating, bodily functions operating, so long as it remains, on some level, connected to your Spirit.

Have you ever felt like you were having an out of body experience? Like you were witnessing your life from not inside your physical body, but separated, in a way? That was a time when your Spirit left your physical body. This was an accidental shamanic journey.

Have you ever felt disoriented or out of it? Another possible time when your Spirit has left your body.

A healer, a shaman has taught themselves how to be consciously aware, and control, in the context of a healing, when their Spirit leaves and where it goes. Your Spirit already leaves your physical body, it’s just a matter of being aware of it.  And this is possible, in a shamanic journey.

So, what is actually involved in a shamanic journey?

What on Earth is a Shamanic Journey? Demystifying the mysterious - what's is it, what does it involve, and how is one taken? 

In general, there are three parts of a shamanic journey.

Pre-Journey Preparations

Journey Initiation and the Journey Itself

Ending the Journey

Let’s break down each of the parts involved in taking a shamanic journey, for a better, more holistic understanding of the whole process.

Pre-Journey Preparations

How do you even get to the point of taking a shamanic journey? The name itself, shamanic journey, I find carries with it a mystical and not well understood meaning. To me, it’s also slightly misleading. It implies I’m going somewhere, when I’m actually just sitting in a chair.

The first step, before any journey can be taken, is to reach a meditative state from which the healer can connect with Spirit to perform the healing work. It’s in a meditative state that anyone at all connects with Spirit. The method through which you, me, or the next person reaches this state, well, depends on the person.

The question of how the healer reaches this meditative state, from which their Spirit leaves their body, is different for each healer. Just like how you choose to meditate is different from how your friend chooses to meditate. Perhaps you prefer listening to binaural beats and burning incense. Maybe your friend likes to enter their meditative state with the accompaniment with drumming or panflutes. Still others, might carry with them a meditation talisman such as stones, figurines, feathers, or other objects, that they use when connecting with Spirit. 

All shamans reach meditative states in different ways, just like all non-shamans reach meditative states in different ways. It may or may not involve music, incense, candles or crystals. It’s a personal choice. As far as the hallucinogenic drugs aspect, again, a personal choice and a personal style of healing. One that I do not take.

Personally, I use no tools or accompaniments to reach a meditative state for journeying. It’s just me in a chair, with my eyes closed and feet flat on the floor. I perform a grounding and opening ritual that I’ve adapted over time, and then I’m ready to begin. That’s how I reach meditative state. You, as your own shaman, can develop, enhance or expand on your own meditative routine.

The pre-journey process starts with reaching a meditative state, and once there, the healer or shaman connects with Spirit.

This is the preparation period.

The Journey

Once in a meditative state, the journey can begin. The one where the Spirit of the shaman or healer leaves the Physical body to perform a healing.

From there, the Spirit of the shaman leaves their physical body and teams up with their Spirit helpers that attend the healing session. Typically, these are the guides of the person or animal being healed combined with the shaman’s guides, in Spirit. Together, they perform a healing. This is the journey part - the Spirit of the healer travels to some place outside of their physical body to perform a healing.

The shamanic journey, is when the spirit of the healer, meets up with those entirely in Spirit (Guides, Angels, Deceased Loved Ones), and together, they enact a healing. This part is necessary, because the shamanic healing happens at the level of Spirit - the client's spiritual body and energetic body are getting a healing.

As a person with a physical body, your Spirit (spiritual and energetic body combined) is linked to your physical body. Because of this, the healee often sees transformation occur at all levels - physical, spiritual, energetic. It’s all linked. A change in one place, often enacts changes in other places. Learn more about that here. 

How the shaman is aware what their Spirit is doing and where it is going, depends on how each individual works to receive information, which intuitive strengths are their strongest, and the needs of the client.

For me, I am strongest intuitively in seeing clairvoyantly, feeling clairsentiently, and hearing clairaudiently. In a journey, I close my eyes and I visualize the healee's Spiritual self before me. I visualize the Spirit of my client, standing right before me in the room, and when I start working, I visualize my own Spirit, stepping into the sphere where my client's Spirit is located. With us, in the sphere, are my Guides, my client’s Guides, and other Spiritual assistants, all working together.

It’s almost as if the client on an episode of What Not To Wear standing in a mirrored, circular room. We are the stylists, stripping things off, redoing the wardrobe and making the client look and feel amazing. Sometimes, depending on the needs of the client, I visualize myself traveling to other places, to, for example, retrieve soul fragments, or to assist Earthbound Spirits in crossing over. But again, for me, I visualize this as myself stepping into a new sphere with a new situation and background scene. I leave the dressing room, as it were, to get a new outfit and then I return to the sphere of healing.

It’s very similar to lucid dreaming, but entirely intentional. The Spirit of Me, the Spiritual Support Team on task, and of the client, all work together, at the level of our Spirit, without physical bodies, to complete a healing.

Ending the Journey

When the journey, or healing session, is complete, the Spirit of healer returns to Physical body.  To the same place that the shaman has been sitting or standing the whole time. 

Once the journey is complete, it’s simply a matter of closing out the meditative state and returning to a state of non-meditation and non-healing work. It could be as simple as blowing out a candle, wiping the slate clean, and rolling up a yoga mat.

Once the healing is completed, the Spirit of the healer returns to their Physical body, right where they left it - sitting in a chair, standing in a room, wherever. And that completes the journey.

And that’s it. The process of the journey is complete.

Meditative state. Spirit leaves body for the journey. Spirit returns to body.

The journey, is the time in which the healer is performing the healing, at the level of Spirit for all parties. It’s called a journey, because technically, the Spirit of the healer is taking a journey outside of their physical body and coming back when it’s over.

What is the client or healee doing during the journey?

That depends entirely on the healer and the client. In my sessions, I prefer that all parties have awareness of the journey while in progress. I request that the client is available during the session, the Spiritual Support Team meets in one place to perform the healing, and I, of course, am also available. In this way, the client is an active participant in the Spirit based healing.

Does the client take a journey? Most times, yes. The Spirit of the Client typically also attends the healing session - we work as a group. All parties are involved in interacting. Afterall, you can’t have a successful makeover if your client isn’t present in the dressing room, trying on clothes as you hand them over!

Depending on the level of desired awareness, some clients prefer awareness of this journey and also desire to reach a meditative state, from which, they maintain awareness of each intentional healing act as it occurs. Other clients, prefer to to take a less active role. The choice is in the hands of the client.

What on Earth is a Shamanic Journey? Demystifying the mysterious - what's is it, what does it involve, and how is one taken? 

The shamanic journey is less mystical, and more so, an intentional healing act that occurs in a meditative state. Once we reach a meditative state, we all have different past-times. Shamans, perform healings, called journeys. Mediums, communicate with Spirit, called readings. The difference in intuitive specialty is what happens once you reach meditation - it’s only your launching point, the transformation begins once you get there.

With love on your journey,


LAST UPDATED: March 19, 2014

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