What is a Shamanic Journey? by Jan Engels-Smith

What is a Shamanic Journey?

A Shamanic journey is a method of making contact with non-ordinary reality. Although there are actually many methods that people can use to make this contact with the non-physical, the reason that I like journeying so much is because it fosters, accepts, and encourages an active mind. The journey style takes this active mind and puts it to good use by teaching the mind how to rise out of the density of the Earth and all of its hardship into the places of the god self. A person can quickly learn how to journey and this is appealing to most people. The shamanic journey opens the door to non-ordinary reality, allowing you to enter, and offers a technique to explore this vast, creative, and healing space.

The shamanic journey is filled with mystery, and despite its ancient history, is little understood in Western culture. The journey is one of the most effective ways to make contact with the spirits. The altered state of consciousness achieved in a journey allows you to transcend the limitations of the rational world and connect with a non-ordinary reality. The shamanic journey is common to all cultures and the nature of the journey is remarkably similar, even in cultures widely separated by era and geography. In the spirit world, both time and place are illusions. The lessons from the other world are universally true, drawing from a collective unconsciousness that is accessible to all.

Journeying is the method we are going to learn to make contact with the spirit realm. When you journey, you are moving into an altered state of consciousness. Learning how to journey successfully takes time and practice. The first step in journeying is shifting, stilling, and altering the mind, which often involves rhythmic drumming. Journeying requires you to tune in to all of your senses. It is vital to activate as many of the senses as possible to stimulate your powers of observation beyond the visual. Many people depend too much on the visual in journeying, and fail to access all of the information offered in the journey. Often, the information will come through a sense of “knowingness,” a kind of sixth sense that is beyond seeing or any of the other single senses.

I have taught hundreds and hundreds of people how to journey, most with remarkable success. The journey method empowers and enriches their lives. They develop a modality through journeying that is useful to everyday life. They can reach and communicate with their spirit helpers in a constructive and accurate way.

Remember that your spirit helpers and power animals are magical and they can do anything, they do not follow physical law. Birds can swim under water, whales can fly, and tigers can talk. They are your protectors and guardians. They do not lie, that is only a human trait—you can trust them.

Each journey will be different; some will be more powerfully realized than others. There is much to learn about the spiritual realm. In each journey I gather information concerning my intention, but I also listen openly for what the spirits may want to tell me. I have found the shamanic journey to be one of my most profound ways of connecting with the spirits and one of the richest sources of understanding and awareness. It has literally healed me and keeps my mind curious and reaching.

I suggest that, in the beginning when you are learning to journey, you don’t ask big, life-altering questions until you take the time to develop your relationship with the spirits. Spend time learning who they are and how you are going to communicate with them. Learn about the spirits in an organized way. When we begin journeying, it’s like the story in the chapters of a book unfolding. You don’t see the big picture until you get further on, and can look back at what happened. The things you experience in your first journeys are often very profound, although you may not be quite ready to understand the information as it comes in. There may be layers to it, and as you get further along in your work, you can look back on those journeys and glean amazing information. It is important that you keep a journal that is just for your journeys, and keep them in order, let them lay out a story for you.

LightSong’s Level I: Basic Journey Skills class provides an excellent introduction to working with Spirit in a shamanic way.