Thoughts on the experience of shamanistic ‘journeying’

Many years ago I found, by accident, that I did many things that people called shamans or medicine men were doing.  Generally, they usually describe the situation where they get into trances and, in so doing, separate from themselves.  They then travel into whats often described as an ‘other world’.  There they do a number of things, like heal people, discover facts, determine what the gods want, etc.  I was stunned to find out that I was doing similar things. 

Even before I knew anything about shamans I described it similarly.  I described this idea that we had two self’s and, for these two self’s, there was a corresponding world.  Each world reflected this selfs reality and conception of the world.  As a result, each world were ‘worlds apart’ from the other, almost like two foreign countries.  Often, they may not even be able to relate with one another.

Accordingly, this means that there is an external world, corresponding with the external self, and an interior world, corresponding to the interior self.  I said that I ‘woke up’ the interior self and would travel into the interior world (which would be comparable to the ‘other world’).  When I did this I called it ‘journeying‘.

The ‘journeying’ seemed to open an aspect of myself that is not the normal self.  It seemed to be a completely other person.  He seemed to know things that my normal self does not know.  He also seemed to be very sure of himself.  I consider it another self, which I call the ‘interior self’.  My normal self, that is writing this for example, is my ‘exterior self’.  As a result of this, I describe the ‘journeying’ as waking up the ‘interior self’. 

There are many forms of how this process happens.  Here is an example of a common pattern (really, most are usually variations of what I describe below).

To start off on ‘journeying’ is not always easy.  There are a number of ways to start:

–          I just ‘slip’ into it.  Sometimes, I can just sit down and the feeling happens and I’m drawn into it.

–          Often, it can take a lot of effort and concentration.  I have to really focus and concentrate but it comes after a period of time.

–          It’s not unusual that I will have to rock myself back and forth.  This seems to ‘rock my exterior self’ to sleep, as I always say.  A big part of starting off is putting the exterior self to sleep.  It needs to be diminished.  This means that its presence can’t be dominant.  I’ve found that if I’m concerned about something or too involved with the ‘external world’ then it will be difficult.   Rocking back and forth also seems to make me a bit dizzy, which seems to as if ‘disorient’ my external self, allowing for my interior self to ‘take control’. 

–          Sometimes I cannot do it at all, no matter how hard I try.

There have been times where I cannot stay in the interior land.  My external self will keep pulling me back.  I’ve often compared going to the interior land as being on a rubber band that’s always pulling you back to the exterior self.  Sometimes I cannot fight this.  When my external self is like this, keeps pulling my interior self back, I speak of it as being ‘heavy with ego’.

To begin with, I close my eyes.  I see darkness or blackness.  Actually, though, I do not see black.  I see a bunch of pinpricks of different colors.  If I look closely, I can see every color is there but black is the most dominant.  Often, the blackness has a reddish tint. 

I generally feel a sense of ‘something’ in the blackness.  This is something I feel as a presence.  In fact, this sense of presence is very important in the ‘journeying’.  Without this sense of a presence there hidden in the darkness the ‘journeying’ would be impossible to perform.  In that case, it would just be a color. 

This presence of the blackness is very unique, as it seems to be ‘thick’ as I always say.  It has what I often call ‘mass‘.  This is a feeling that I can only describe as a sense of feeling its presence in three dimensions, as if I can ‘feel’ its volume.  This is a unique sense, I’ve found, as it seems as if my self expands into this volume.  All I can say is that I ‘feel’ it, this volume of the presence of the blackness.  This sense of ‘mass’ is often felt as if I was in a fluid which is why I call it the ‘primal fluid’.  It often feels like I’m in a fluid, which completely surrounds me.  For me, this sense is a sign I am ‘journeying’. 

Often, I will feel this sense of moving in this blackness.   Moving through the ‘mass’, the ‘primal fluid’, I can feel the mass of it and how it moves about me.  I’ve described it as moving through a fluid or some other thing like a bunch of tiny balls or even, oddly enough, a mesh of wool just shorn from a sheep. 

This ‘mass’, which is just an all encompassing sense, will turn into a definable presence of something.  What I mean is that unstead of being a presence of something all around me it becomes a something in front of me.  This is often a sign of the beginning of the actual ‘journeying’.  If I just sit there nothing usually happens.  I have to ‘move’ toward it.  If I move toward it the presence of something turns into an image or a sense of a ‘something’ more specific, a person or place I can’t see.  I speak of this as the ‘pre-image’ sometimes.  It is the sense of the image before the image.  

It seems that it’s in the ‘moving toward the pre-image’ that there is a break with the external self.  Here is when the interior self takes over.  In many ways, this is when the ‘journeying’ really begins.  This makes this point very critical.  Sometimes, the ‘moving into the pre-image’ is like a feeling of a destruction of self, as if I am dying.  There’s a sense as if the self is dissolving, disappearing.  I often seem to merge or blend into the presence of the blackness.  Because of this, there is a fear that often comes about (but not always). 

If I follow the ‘pre-image’ then it will often turn into an image.  I will see a shape often.  It’s like, out of the darkness and the millions of pinpricks of different colors, the colors congregate together and a shape takes form.    

I should point out that things are not just visual nor is that everything.  There are other aspects that are, really, more important.  That is to say, there are other things that make up the actual experience of ‘journeying’.  It’s more accurate to say it’s not what I see but what I experience that makes up ‘journeying’.  These include:

–          The ‘passion’.  In actuality, the visual image follows the presence of the ‘passion’ or energy or force that is creating the image.  Along with the ‘mass’ and its presence is the ‘passion’ which is like a force, something that’s moving me.  It is this that is the energy that is moving this phenomena.  It’s correct to say that without the ‘presence’ and ‘passion’ there is no ‘journeying’.  Within the envelope of the ‘presence’ and its ‘mass’ the ‘passion’ moves me allowing me to move deeper into the darkness. 

–          The sense of space, of being somewhere.  There is this sense that I am somewhere.

–          A sense of a direction or movement in what happens.  There’s a sense of order.

–          There’s often a sense of a presence of someone, like a God. 

–          There’s a sense of a discovery or revealing of a truth.

–          There’s a sense of going deep within myself.  Often, this can take great energy on my part.

The variations of what I can experience are quite extensive and varied.  Typically, I see myself in a place to begin with.  Interestingly, these are almost always in the woods somewhere.  In all my years of ‘journeying’ I have never seen any modern machine or building.  It’s not uncommon that I seem to be flying through the air at first or I’m walking along.  Sometimes I just seem to appear somewhere.  There are times where I will find myself in front of someone.

If I am looking for something specific (like an answer to a question) then I have this weird sense of where to go oftentimes.  I seem to be taken to places that I need to be.  There are many times that I seem to feel ‘watched over’. 

Once an image or place appears something like a dream takes place and, like a dream events take place.   Many times these take on a life of their own and I follow along.  At other times, I have to take the lead for anything to happen.  There are many forms of these events and types. 

Here are a few examples of dreams in ‘journeying’:

–          I decide to ‘journey’ once last year because I felt lost in life.  I saw myself as if flying and landed in a clearing where there was a man.  He asked me what was wrong.  I said that I felt lost in life.  He told me to go see someone up in a cave and he pointed to the mountainside.  I went up there (I don’t recall the climbing up there) and into a cave.  I was scared to walk in . . . something was in there.  As I walked in I saw something but couldn’t make it out.  Then I heard this big deep ‘uuuhhh’ and the sound blew me out of the cave and I fell to the base of the mountain.  There I ‘died’ (I was later revived but that’s a whole other story).   Many times, I know what the meaning of what things are.  I seem to know what this or that means, often without thinking about it.  I knew that the ‘uuuhhh’ was the ‘sound of creation’, as I always say.  This is a sound I’ve heard many times before.  I always said that with that sound all creation began.  I knew this, plus the dying, was the theme of being reborn.  This, after all, was what I was seeking.

–          Also last year I was lamenting how females never seem to associate with me.  I’d sit and watch them associate with other guys but me, they just walk away from.  Reflecting this way, I sat next to a stream.  I began to feel the sense, the ‘primal fluid’, and dreamt.  I saw a door with three knobs.  On two knobs were faces.  On the other was a skull.  I opened the one with the skull as I ‘was seeking my death’ (meaning seeking to be reborn, similar to the theme in story above).  I walked in and saw a young female.  She looked at me and went around a corner.  I followed her.  She was looking back at me from another corner.  I followed her.  Every time I went around the corner I saw her looking back at me from another corner.  I began to chase her, running and running, but I could not catch up to her.  Then, all of a sudden, I was in a room and a man was in there painting.  I looked at his painting and saw it was a picture of me chasing after the female.  He said, “this is the essence of the feminine:  no matter how hard you try you can not catch it”.  He then went on to tell me that I was actually closer to the feminine (meaning the ‘feminine’ as a spiritual principle) than any one I know.  “In reality,” he said, “you have the best relationship.”  He said that I related with the ‘feminine’ in a different way than other people.  For me, the ‘feminine’ was not a person, or how someone looked or acted, but a spiritual reality.  “This,” he said, “is why a lot of the American females are so revolting to you as they do not reflect this reality, they are not reflecting the feminine”.   He went on to say some other stuff as well.  This shows how, in these dreams, I’m often told things.  Through things like this I would be told about many things in life.  I’ve often spoken of them as my ‘training’.

When the ‘journey’ feels over I will all of a sudden open my eyes oftentimes.   It’s not unusual that when I come out of these dreams it is as if I have returned from a journey somewhere.  Sometimes I have to look around to see where I am.  It’s also not uncommon that the colors seem very brilliant too.  Quite a few times I seemed to marvel at creation.  There are times, also, where I can be exhausted.

There are a number of motives that are displayed in the dreams of ‘journeying’.  These include:

–          Self transformation.  This is very dominant theme.  Even from the beginning most things somehow involve it.

–          Discovery.  There are many dreams that are nothing but discovering things about myself and life.  A common reason for ‘journeying’ has always been to, as I always say, ‘discover the tales’.  Many dreams can appear like a story and are revealing in themselves. 

–          Seeking advice and answers. 

–          Experiencing life.  To me, ‘journeying’ was a way to experience life. 

–          Practical use.  I have tried to get practical use out of it.  Mostly, it’s for personal benefit.  Interestingly, the subject of healing came to me before I knew anything about shamanism (as did a number of other shamanistic things).  Those that I tried never seemed to do anything.

I have had a number of things happen in the ‘journeying’ that scared the crap out of me.  In fact, I ceased doing it for almost 10 years as a result of something that happened.  Interestingly, this same thing is found with shamans.  I’ve heard of many who had a ‘vision’, saw God, and were petrified stiff that they never did it again.  I often had a fear I was going ‘mad’.  In several cultures, there’s sayings which basically say that a man will either be a shaman or a madman. 

It’s not uncommon that the dreams from ‘journeying’ seem very real.  In fact, they can be as real as the events in life.  In some ways, they are more real.  It seems that ‘journeying’ encompasses so much of the person, their whole self, within the interior land that is as if concentrates a person in an experience.  This gives a certain unique sense of reality.

The ‘journeying’ seems to impact my life and external self.  In other word, it seemed to spill over into my ‘external life’.  It’s there that I saw the great benefit in this phenomena.  I took its viewpoints and attitudes and applied them to the external world.  This, I feel, was one of the best things I ever did.

I began to see that ‘journeying’ encompassed a way at looking at the world.  That is to say, it is a world view.  It requires a certain way to look at the world.  This view, interestingly, was very similar to primitive tribes.  These are some of the traits of this world view:

–          I saw life everywhere.  Everything was alive. 

–          There were ‘presences’ (these are probably equivalent to what people call ‘spirits’).  There was a spirit of a valley, a small meadow, or even a clump of bushes. 

–          There was a hierarchy of these ‘presences’.  Some were major (like the Great Father and Mother).  Others are minor, like the ‘presence’ in mushroom.

–          There were stories or tales about how everything worked in the world.  This created a mythology.  It’s through ‘journeying’ that I created my own mythology about the world.  There is extensive use of symbols and representations in this world view.

–          There is an absence of intellectualizations.  Things tend to be ‘felt’.

–          Life was a continuous cycle of living and dying.  In many ways, this encompassed most of the difficulty we have.

–          We have a direct and active association with the ‘presences’.  Every day we are actively associating with the ‘presences’, that is, God, in the same way we associate with other people.  Life is nothing but associating with these ‘presences’.  This is a concept that I have never seen in the modern world, not even in the organized religions.  Most peoples association with the ‘presences’ is at a distance. 

–          Life is something you live with.  You don’t try to conquer, control, or dictate it.

–          One aspect of this is an aspect of a lack of individualism.  Things don’t matter what I think, what I do.  What matters is being a certain way, of living a certain way, with the correct attitude.  The emphasis was on living in the world, not in me and my accomplishments.

It’s interesting that I found that when I had the ‘shamanistic’ mentality life seemed so real and alive.  When I didn’t have it I felt dead and depressed, such is its importance.  Life seemed dull and drabby. I often credit a horrible depression I went through to my not ‘journeying’.  I quit doing it at that time because an event scared me.

This entry was posted in Contemplation, monastacism, shamanism, spirituality, prayer, and such, Religion and religious stuff, Shamanistic 'journey' dreams and dreaming, Stuff involving me and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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