I will be answering questions via my blog that I have received from Social Media (Facebook and Instagram) and that I receive via my Contact Form. You are welcome to submit a question via the Contact Form for consideration (please put Seventh Eye) in your message.
I have received two questions, both on a similar topic. This first is from Amy, who sent me an email about how to know if she is journeying correctly and to clear up confusion on what journeying is exactly.
The second is from Paula:
Hi Mary, I love your Shamanic Workbooks (still working on the third!!!) It is so rare to have a progressive curriculum for this work! I think it would be a good blog to talk about how to get over imposter syndrome with shamanic work. How do you know if you are doing good work and all that. Thank you!
There are many skills to learn when it comes to shamanism. Some of the advanced work may include psychopomp (working with spirits to get them to their correct place), soul retrieval (bringing back parts of self that may be stagnated in time/place), and power retrieval (bringing back power or bringing forward power that may not yet be realized… for example, ancestral power or gifts that have not yet had the chance to blossom within the descendent).
Another advanced skill is learning to work in merged states (voluntary possession), as it takes time to develop spiritual relationships and the amount of trust required to have an energy, being, or spirit merge with you (bringing more power, a specific quality or aptitude like healing work, or simply different knowledge to the session).
Some of the more fundamental skills include learning how to develop discernment skills (my Shamanic Workbook I goes over this). It is very important to know what is around you, both for safety reasons and also because different situations require different tools to work with.
One of the fundamental skills to learn when developing your shamanic toolkit is journeying. This forms the basis of what a shaman does, and it does take time to develop.
Picture our materialist, physical reality as one of but many realities, or planes of existence. Our dream life can be another one (or many other planes, depending on your dream life).
Some of these planes intersect quite closely. For example, many spirits who have not crossed over (who are stuck because of emotional issues or because they may not know they are dead) are quite close to the material plane to the point that there is considerable overlap. This is why people may hear, sense, or even feel spirits but may not outright see them.
Some of these planes are much further away, or do not overlap at all with our physical realm. They may require a doorway to get through, or require traveling through other planes to get through… sort of like layovers on a plane flight.
So to your question, Amy. I find that “journeying” is on a continuum. On one end of the continuum is visualization and intuitive work.
This is (or can be) quite healing; it typically involves creative visualization that can tap into what you, or your client, need (or want) to hear.
On the other end of the continuum is actually going somewhere; having a part of your energy body disengage from the physical body and go to another plane of existence.
The purpose of this type of journeying is typically to gather information, to explore, or to bring back healing (power/soul retrieval).
The difficulty in describing the differences between one part of the continuum and the other is that the sort of light trance/creative visualization work has achieved popularity, eclipsing the possibility and depth of this work (or the other end of the continuum).
The other difficulty is that there does need to be some type of natural aptitude towards journeying to be able to do it, or at the very least a willingness and desire to “break through” in a way that truly engages someone on a deeper level with spiritual reality.
The hard part about this is that it not only takes a bit of time but it also requires a mentality shift. That mentality shift is often about accepting and understanding that spiritual reality is a reality, and moving beyond cultural, societal, and personal beliefs to be able and willing to engage with it.
We live in such a spiritually bereft society that it is typical for people to scratch the surface of what is possible regarding spirituality and to believe that they have achieved some type of depth. Reorienting to the vast possibility of engaging spiritually to the point of moving further on that continuum often requires some type of ego death– a reorientation of beliefs and understandings about the self and reality to be able to spiritually move forward.
I do think that it is wonderful if people want to engage with intuition and creative visualization. Quite frankly, it is healing and is what a great deal of the world needs. We could all stand to have more access to our intuition and dipping your toes in the vast waters of spiritual possibilities is often enough for people.
But there are some key takeaways to know if you are fully journeying:
- Fatigue. Exiting the body and exploring other planes is tiring (just like getting on a regular airplane creates jet lag. The longer/further away the trip, the more time it will take to recover).
- Less awareness of the physical form. People can be trained to “split” (to have awareness both with the physical body and the traveling body but it takes experience and time). Until that point, journeying will render the physical body immobile, trance-like, in an ecstatic posture, or at the very least not terribly capable of conversation.
- Mind-expansion. The experience of truly interacting with other realms is a similar mind-expansion to physical traveling. You meet new people/beings, you discover new terrain, and the act of visiting shifts your awareness… particularly of the human condition.
- The single most common underlying experience of those who truly have navigated spiritual terrain is a movement away from human-centric consciousness. This is a recognition that humans and human life are not the center of the Universe, and that there are a variety of experiences so far outside of human consciousness that humans look fairly insignificant, and in some cases, a bit ridiculous, by comparison.
#4 is actually a relief, by the way. We spend all of this time trying to boost ourselves up and out of our own insecurity and pain trying to feel special that we often utilize spirituality (including shamanism) in a narcissistic way. It is a relief and a privilege to let that go.
So Amy, if you are not on that part of the continuum yet, do not fret. You even considering that there is always something deeper, something more to explore, will take you far. What propels people is not natural aptitude, talent, how far they have gotten in previous lives, or even what books/teachers/courses they can list off. Those things help, of course, but what really lets people go deeper is that rare combination of humility and curiosity. The sort of explorer attitude that wants to know more, to experience more, to be more.
And to answer Paula…
I get so many people suffering from Imposter Syndrome that come to me. This is actually a good sign– if we are aware we can improve, if we are willing to look at how we can improve, we will.
But so often this comes from a latent (or not so latent) perfectionism that needs to be deconstructed.
Those of us with imposter syndrome can encourage an inner mentality of I am doing the best that I can at the moment. Don’t look towards who you could be in the future, or who you “should” be if you only healed this, or do that.
Be content with who you are now.
The best way to heal imposter syndrome is to gain experience. If you are doing this work for yourself, keep on doing the work. You will gain confidence along the way simply by doing.
If you are taking clients, know that the clients you have now and the clients you will have ten years from now will be different. The people visiting you now are seeking you– who you are right now, what you know right now– for a reason.
Do the best you can at the moment and be satisfied with doing your best, be that your best in this moment, this day, or this year. Know you can always grow, but offer yourself some grace in the fact that nobody needs to be perfect to help ourselves, or to help another. It is in our imperfections, our humanness, that we can most support another.
It is by grounding in the humanness within ourselves that we can truly accept… and even come to love ourselves. That type of acceptance and love is transformative, both to ourselves and to those who surround us.
Mary Mueller Shutan is a spiritual teacher, practitioner, and author of several books, including Shadow Work for the Soul, the Complete Cord Course, Shamanic Workbook series, and Managing Psychic Abilities.