The Shamanic Journey is one of humankind’s first tools for exploring consciousness. Many people use it as part of their practice. So, why the name change in modern culture?
What is Guided Meditation?
To be guided means to be led. A guide is something to facilitate a process. It is how one learns to use creative visualization to venture into the landscape of the mind. This method is the foundation of the ancient Shamanic tradition.
You learn how to do it by being guided through the process. However, once you know the process, you no longer need an external guide or script. After you learn the technique, you guide yourself on the journey.
All you need to take this quest is a drumbeat or drum track to help you focus. This mental process is repeatable, and you can do it on your own. It allows us to reach an altered state of awareness.
The origins of this method go back before recorded history. Thus, making it the first method of consciousness exploration. Today, this process known as guided meditation or creative visualization is the rebranding of The Shamanic Journey.
You learn this simple but powerful process by listening to a script. However, it would be best not to use the script as a crutch. Once you know how to use the process, use what you learn about making your own.
Creating a journey of your very own design is very important. Using an external source keeps the mind on a specific path and prevents you from using the power of the process to delve further into your subconscious mind. We cannot overstate the importance of creating your own path.
The primary method combines creative visualization and sound. A drumbeat or rattle is a focal point for the active mind to follow. It has the effect of lowering heart rate to facilitate a shift in awareness.
People reach an altered state of consciousness as they travel on an inward journey. When you learn, it’s helpful to listen to a script guiding you through landscapes of imagery like dreaming. So this is where the name “guided meditation” originates. The goal of embarking on this journey varies. For instance, it could be to find healing or receive guidance to achieve a task.
Moreover, you can find this process in indigenous cultures around the world. The Shamanic Journey process comes from a diverse body of knowledge known as Shamanism (1).
In many ancient traditions, reality has four levels or planes. There are three levels of non-ordinary reality. These are the upper, lower, and middle worlds. Then, we have the default plane of everyday existence, where we start our journey of life.
One of the most exciting forms of this process we find in Australia. Here the indigenous people have what we call Aboriginal Dreamtime, which comes wrapped in a cosmology of the universe. Some researchers claim this process is evidence of time travel or astral projection. Travelers can experience events in other parts of the world or at points in time from the past or future.
Additionally, “non-ordinary” reality teaches us about other spirit beings. These spirit guides are those who help us understand our spiritual journey. The goal of your first journey is to meet these spiritual guides. Whether these entities are separate living things or manifestations of the subconscious mind is still a debatable issue.
What is Shamanism?
Shamanism is an ancient body of wisdom about human nature and our world. These practices are often the focus of many indigenous cultures. And, the knowledge within these systems is very diverse.
The teachers or leaders of these systems are known as shamans. They are the pioneers of the unknown and developers of tools for spiritual practices and scientific inquiry.
The knowledge within these ancient systems includes healing practices for mind, body, and spirit. For instance, you can trace the roots of modern medicines and psychology back to Shamanism’s ancient ideas.
Another critical point is that you can find similar traditions around the globe. Even though they live in different climates, they engaged in the same consciousness research.
What is The Shamanic Journey?
This mental process is the core spiritual practice of many indigenous cultures. Shamanism revolves around inner work. As mentioned above, this method opens a doorway to a heightened state of awareness. Michael Harner (2) calls it “The Shamanic State of Consciousness” (SSC).
Mr. Harner’s research shows that when in this state, brainwaves are theta-wave are around 4 to 7Hz. These measurements are significantly different from the default states of consciousness, waking, sleeping, and dreaming. And it also different from the measurable brainwave patterns of transcendental consciousness.
The Shamanic State of Consciousness
The easiest way is with a rhythm track recorded specifically for the Shamanic Journey. Many use drums, rattles, or singing bowls. Vibration opens the doorway to SSC, enabling complete control over the process in the trance’s depth and duration. Using sound to journey has advantages over drug-induced altered states. This process is magical. Shamans are magical athletes of the spirit world, according to Michael Harner.
There are disadvantages to using drugs (Peyote, Ayahuasca, etc.) to induce the state. The potency of the compound controls the depth and length of your session. The use of psychotropic additives takes away your control. Some ancient traditions use a mixture of drugs and sound. This approach is only for the experienced spiritual traveler.
A safer way to journey is using an audio drum track. Some also include a talk track with guided imagery. A drum track allows you to build a routine of your own. Many books also contain these resources.
The goal of your first journey should be to meet your spirit guide or spirit guides. They will assist you with all the other goals of your inward quests.
Why Rebrand the Shamanic Journey?
You Rebrand or change the name of something to make it more acceptable. And this makes it more marketable. So, rebranding the process is a marketing tactic. You can then sell the soundtrack of the learning process. You can change your product to fit the market.
Shamanism is a threat to Western religion’s customer base (3). So, Western religious followers could not use this process because it points to Shamanism as the source. But if they rebrand or rename the process, they can sell it as guided meditation or creative visualization. Now it becomes a process they can use within the scope of their religious paradigm.
When you use generic terms for the process, you can market it to different buyers. It becomes acceptable to those who also believe in Western religion, which is a way to disguise the origin.
They don’t call this kind of rebranding “theft” or plagiarism. Instead, Western theology prefers to call it “the appropriation of common useful knowledge.” After all, that is how they built their religions in the first place. Rebranding the shamanic journey enables people to use the process while demonizing the source. That’s right. Western religion demonizes those cultures that pioneered and safeguarded the methods for thousands of years before Western organized religion. The fact is they admit their religions are simply the appropriation of other practices.
“Symbolism in a greater or lesser degree is essential to every kind of external worship, and we need not shrink from the conclusion that in the matter of baptisms and washings, of genuflection’s and other acts of reverence, of lights and sweet smelling incense, of flowers and white vestitures, of spiritual unction’s and the imposing of hands, of sacrifice and the rite of the Communion banquet, the Church has borrowed without hesitation from the common stock of significant actions known to all periods and to all nations. In such matters as these, Christianity claims no monopoly or originality.” ― The Catholic Encyclopedia and International Work, Vol. 14 (1907)
History shows us that this strategy works well. The Abrahamic of religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, result from rebranding earlier systems. They are a combination of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian mystery religions. So, assimilating the Shamanic process is one of the latest additions to their product list.
Guided meditation is just another term for the Shamanic Journey. If it makes you feel more comfortable to call it something else, that’s your choice. We should give credit to the pagan ancestors that refined the processes and safeguarded them for future generations.
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(1) Shamanism, Wikipedia.org
(2) Michael Harner, Wikipedia.org
(3) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia.org
(4) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia