I am exploring shamanism. I will explain why in another post, but I want to share my first shamanic journey experience. I am working through Michael Harner’s book, The Way of the Shaman, and last night I performed the first exercise.
The idea of shamanism, as I understand it so far, is to travel to an altered state of consciousness to bring back messages and methods of healing. You travel through a ‘tunnel’ to this altered state and the first exercise was to go down the tunnel then come back again.
As I was reading the exercise, I realized there would be a couple of challenges. The first one is I am claustrophobic, so traveling through a tunnel really doesn’t appeal to me. The second is you are supposed to make this journey while someone is drumming. I do not have a drummer!
I decided to negate the claustrophobia by giving my head a shake. Hello! This is a virtual tunnel. One I have control over. Nothing is going to come crashing down on me and I am not going to get stuck. Geez Louise, get a grip!
The drumming I will solve by finding a recording to put on my mobile and I will simply plug myself in. However, I am extremely impatient and it was ten o’clock at night, so I decided to dive right in without the drumming. Hey, if it works without drumming, then it will work super well with drumming, I figured.
So, there I was lying in bed ready to go. Oh oh! I had to select a real hole in the Earth that is familiar to me. Problem! Being claustrophobic, I have avoided holes. That is what claustrophobic people do.
Dag nab it! Stuck before I can even start!
Then it occurred to me that I could enter a small space above ground and let it lead me to a hole. The property I grew up on had a sand dune in the back forty. At some point, someone had built Eeyore’s house of sticks in this dune. It was an unspoken rule that whomever visited the dune would keep Eeyore’s house fixed up. Since this was a fun memory, I decided to enter Eeyore’s house and see where it led me.
In I went and sure enough I was able to go through Eeyore’s house into a tunnel in the bank. I had to crawl on my hands and knees. It was dark, but I could just make out roots from the pine trees above. I also sensed, more than really felt, that the sand was cool and moist. Interestingly, I saw concentric circles in the tunnel walls, just like the book told me I would.
Crawling, crawling, crawling. Did I mention I am impatient? Enough with the crawling, let’s get somewhere! I had to stop crawling for a second and remind myself that this exercise was about experiencing the tunnel. Crawling, crawling.
Finally the tunnel started to work its way up the surface. I saw some light, and then I was able to pull myself out of the hole, which made me chuckle, because I felt like a ground hog.
I sat on the edge of the hole. There was long grass around the edges … and the green grass grew all around, all around, and the green grass grew all around. I was supposed to look around at the landscape, but it wasn’t really clear except for the grass. I did sense pine trees, and I knew I was on the slope of a hill. In the distance, I could vaguely make out mountains, and the sky was a really deep indigo.
I tried to bring things more into focus, but it wasn’t happening. Probably because I attempted this without the darn drums. So, I figured I had taken this first exercise as far as I could, and slid off the edge back into the hole. WHOOSH! I slid through the tunnel like poop through a goose … okay, maybe that analogy isn’t the best … and landed back in Eeyore’s house.
Then I opened my eyes. End of journey.
Now to attempt this properly with drumming. It will be interesting to see how that changes the experience. I will report back. Stay tuned!
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