There are times where I, and other shamanic practitioners, go to journey and then something weird happens. We can’t seem to get out of our own minds, the chatter of the day builds, the journey becomes a chore, or we are just simply not getting anything–or when we do it becomes jumbled and hard to interpret. We are left feeling like we accomplished and received nothing. This might last a day, a week, a month or for some even years! I like to call this type of journeys ‘fragmented journeys’ because like broken glass the pieces just seem to be impossible to put together or hard to figure out what the original piece looked like. They’re not capable of being deciphered or understood and we, and myself include, sometimes end up feeling frustrated.
This tends to happen alot for beginners but it does on occasion happen to adept practitioners. I wanted to explore the whys behind fragmented journeys and how we can resolve these.
The first thing to understand is that shamanism is something to be practiced at a heart level. It’s something we understand at the deepest parts of being and soul. When we try to rationalize shamanism it’s the very moment that we begin to lose it’s power and mystique. The power of shamanism is that it transcends language, it transcends thought, and instead goes straight to the core and heart of things. Journeys can become fragmented when we lose the ‘fire’ or passion for the work that we do. We lose it for all sorts of things. We lose it because sometimes it becomes repetitive and predictable and sometimes we lose it because we get so busy with our lives that we become disenchanted with all things around us. Wet get stuck, and this rut can really effect how we approach our spirituality.
Shamanism should always be enchanting. It should always be captivating and breath taking. It should always leave you with a sense of wonder, peace and fulfillment. It should always be meaningful. The moment we make our shamanism meaningless is the moment we lose the power of what we are doing.
For those of you who go through this perhaps more than others the best thing to do is really to wait it out. Sometimes just being patient and allowing yourself to be patient is an important step. When we try to force ourselves into a particular situation and we’re not particularly ready for it we can create blockages and these blockages can sometimes hinder us from journeying and receiving the information the helping spirits are trying to convey because we’re so busy keeping shamanism in a headspace instead of a heart centered space.
Sometimes we also need to try new things. For me I always loved journeying standing up, I loved to move and sing and drum for myself. When I became disenchanted with the way I personally journeyed I found myself in a unique position in that maybe I should try a new way to journey? And so I learned to journey laying down, this simple change in routine (which shamanism should never really be) help revitalize my passion for journeying and it helped release alot of the stress for me needing to drum or rattle, sing and dance for myself. Instead, getting a friend or playing an audio track, allowed me to let go of my ego or the need to get it just right and simply be in the moment to experience a journey.
So, simply changing routine and trying new things and experimenting can be powerful tools in breaking fragmented patterns and re-weaving something beautiful.
For those of you who are new to journeying. Fragmented journeys tend to come more often because of two main things in my experience.
The first, is because you haven’t found a ‘style’ of journeying that is right for you. For many of you who learned via books or going to a workshop you often are taught journeying laying down, usually on your back or stomach depending on where you’re journeying to. For some, this works incredibly efficiently, for others they find it boring or tedious. Their journeys fragmented. Finding a ‘style’ to journey takes time and patience. It also requires you to take the time to try new things.
For example, if you don’t like laying down maybe sitting will work better. Or maybe standing and enacting your journeys will be better for you. You find you have a busy mind? Try drumming for yourself! You might find that by giving your conscious mind something to do your soul is free to wander the spirit world. Don’t like drums? Try rattles! Don’t like rattles? Try singing bowls!
You feel like singing your journeys? Sing them! Feel like dancing your journeys? Dance them! There is nothing limiting yourself, other than yourself. The way you journey will be your own, and learning to honor and appreciate your experiences is a very liberating but often times difficult thing to do.
The second thing that I find beginners struggling with is this honoring of their experiences. They’re so busy comparing themselves to other people and how they might journey that they aren’t focusing on their needs and what will work better for them. So Janet sees things in her journeys, whoopty doo, good for Janet. But how do you experience your journeys? You might not see anything but you just might know that you’re journeying and having experiences. You might be able to feel your journeys or hear them. The important thing here is being able to honor and recognize your experiences. By doing that, this simple but difficult step, you’ll find that your journeys will not be so fragmented.
We live in an incredibly visual culture and it doesn’t help that our culture glorifies the ‘supernatural.’ When in reality shamanism is very simple. We choose to make it more complex than it actually is. We expect to see things in a journey because that’s what we are used to hearing and seeing in our ordinary reality. We get so caught up in this moment of “well I didn’t see it” that we don’t believe that it’s real. And yet? The most profound things in our world are the things we cannot see. So don’t worry if you don’t experience journeys the way that Janet experiences them, worry about how you experience them. Learn to honor and appreciate your experiences because ultimately they’re yours! Not for anyone else. But yours.
There are also three other points I briefly wanted to talk about.
First, sometimes we aren’t meant to know something. The more we push something the more and more there are resistances. Sometimes when we journey and we want to know a specific thing or want a specific thing we are met with a resistance. And if we’re not paying attention to the subtle ‘no’s or sometimes even the big ‘no’s, and we’re pushing against the will of spirits our journeys become fragmented because we’re essentially acting as a key that doesn’t quite fit. For now anyways.
Preparation work is also a very important step that is often overlooked. The idea that we prepare our mind, body and souls for the work we are about to do. There is a reason why shamans’ of old talked to their drums and rattles, and burned sacred woods and herbs, and danced and sung long before they even attempted to journey between the worlds. They were preparing themselves, their spirit helpers and their spaces, for the work they were about to do. Preparation not only moves our consciousness away from ordinary reality and helps us step into non-ordinary reality, preparation work prepares our body and soul for the work we are about to do. Our journeys can become fragmented because we haven’t sufficiently prepared ourselves for the work we are about to do. We are too grounded in the ordinary reality and easily distracted by our mundane thoughts that our journeys become fragmented.
To this I say, more preparation work. Quite honestly it’s that simple!
Learning when to journey, and having a strong intention to journey is also quite important. the Spirit World and the pathways we create to the Lower and Upper Worlds is important. Intention helps the spirit world form itself around us so that we can better experience it and by trekking the same pathways we reinforce the Spirit World to comply with how we personally experience it. Practice, practice, practice. The more you enter the Spirit World the easier it will become. The more pathways we work and move through the easier the way becomes. You may also find certain times of day work better for you than others. Try the morning, or night, see what works for you.
To wrap this up, fragmented journeys happen to all of us.
Sometimes we need space to re-explore ourselves and the patience to simply let things be. Sometimes we just need space to refind and rekindle our passion for the work that we do. Whether you’re having fragmented journeys because you’re just learning how to do this kind of work, or an expert who has been doing this for years, do not become discouraged. Honor your experience and know that the call of spirits are here. The Spirit World isn’t going anywhere, it will always be there.
Continue building good relations with your helping spirits, but sometimes the only thing that helps is time. The time to simply be and the time to simply rediscover. It’s okay to have fragmented journeys, maybe right now just isn’t the time. But tomorrow could be.