For most shamans, the shamanic journey is the primary method used to access the other worlds where the spirit helpers are found. While the specific process for journeying may vary from one shaman to another, the steps outlined below represent those that are practiced by a great many and are very effective.
You do not have to
have any special skills or attributes to conduct a journey. This
process is not reserved for a select few "tapped in" individuals.
While some may find journeying challenging, most will be able to
master this relatively simple process if not on the first try, then
in one or two attempts thereafter. I remember well my first effort.
While a friend drummed the monotonous beat that supports the journey
by facilitating a change of one's state of consciousness, I reviewed
once again the steps outlined in Michael Harner's classic book,
The Way of the Shaman. I donned my blindfold and successfully entered the lower world for what would be the first of thousands of times.
By journeying to the lower world, as Jason Hand did for Mark, you will be able to find your own power animal and in so doing enrich and empower your life. When found and used, this wonderful animal totem will be your guide and advisor for as long as you wish it to be.
I have found that there are many benefits to journeying. For most
people three stand out. First is that a 10 minute shamanic journey
reinvigorates you. You come back refreshed and rested. It is really
an easy and most enjoyable form of deep relaxation. I like to call
it "meditating for type A's" because rather than trying to clear
your mind of all thoughts as instructed by the meditation teachers,
the shamanic journey is so filled with amazing activities you become
a participant in the process and, in so doing, let go the pressures
and concerns of your normal day-to-day reality. It is as absorbing
as a good movie or engaging book.
The second benefit is that your totem animal will fill you with power. Think of this as being filled with a positive energy that gives you strength to withstand the rigors and stresses of daily life and prevents what shamans call intrusions from finding a way into your being. Intrusions are things like disease, depression, chronic bad luck and the like. Before a challenging meeting with one's boss, for example, or during a white-knuckle flight on an airplane, you can ask for your power animal to give you strength and protection.
The third benefit is that your power animal will offer guidance
regarding problems or dilemmas which you may be facing. This is
called divination and means "divining" the answers to important
questions. Before I make a speech, for example, I always journey
to one of my power animals to learn how I can best serve the audience.
And when my son returned from several years working in Chile and
was looking for a job, in spite of an excellent job market and a
terrific resume, he had trouble finding a position. After journeying
to his power animal he was advised to "just be in your nature."
Matthew immediately realized what the advice meant. In his interviews
he was trying to be the perfect job candidate…to be what they were
looking for. As soon as he let that go and showed up as Matthew
he got the offer he was looking for.
Although I have never heard of any negative consequence to any individual
who has journeyed, if you are uncomfortable with the process, you
have several options. 1. Overcome your discomfort. If you don't
like the idea of searching for a power animal, ask to find a spirit
helper. Or ask yourself, "What's the worst thing that could happen
to me if I'm successful?" The answer is usually, "Nothing." Ask,
"Are there any deep seeded beliefs which make this uncomfortable
for me?" Of this, Noelle Poncelet, a clinical psychologist who teaches
the shamanic ways in Belgium, France and the Russian Republics says,
some of us carry "beliefs that we are not allowed to journey or
practice shamanism for reasons [offered] by specific groups, be
it family, religious or society. Too much freedom? Too much power?
Sacrilegious? Power animals are too instinctual, too dangerous,
and too base to be spirit helpers. Not my style? Something else?
Reexamine that belief. If it still fits your values, then you will
know that shamanic journeying is not for you. If not, you will finally
be ready to proceed." 2. Ask a shaman practitioner to teach and
guide you. (You can find such a trained individual by contacting
The Foundation for Shamanic Studies at
.) 3, Attend one of the Foundation's "Introduction
to Shamanism" workshops which are regularly scheduled around the
world and will get you journeying in no time at all.