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Shamanic Journeying and Liminal Spaces

The Wizard of Oz | SpiritMAMA Blog

I’ve always been fascinated by stories that talk about going to parallel realities through tunnels or portals. C.S Lewis’s Narnia was my favourite, in particular The Magicians Nephew.

Magicians Nephew | Spirit Mama BlogRemember that between place that the children find? A heavily wooded forest with its cloying stillness that caused one to doze and forget – dotted with many pools, each one leading to a different world.

Or how about Oza place found only through the eye of a cyclone? Or that book A Wrinkle in Time – about the girl who travels to another dimension to find her father. I loved these books when I was a kid, but there was something decidedly creepy about them. Like, these places exist, but they are not of our reality and so anything could happen if you went there. There’s a feeling of immense power that makes you feel tiny…not necessarily evil, but not good either, just you know, really BIG.

I think I went to one of these places once, when I was attempting a shamanic journey. It was similar to that Narnia forest.

A shamanic journey is like meditation meets lucid dreaming meets prayer. Shamans have been using various techniques to journey for thousands of years, from drumming, to singing and chanting, but primarily using a specific beat pattern that they say opens up or activates the part of your brain that allows access to other dimensions (perhaps through the use of the pineal gland). Why? The primary purpose is to access information that may otherwise be hidden. In past times, only shaman’s journeyed to other worlds, for the purposes of bringing back information for their tribe. These days it seems there’s a million books on DIY journeying.

In my first few attempts at journeying I saw some things, but was never sure if my unconscious mind just made that stuff up. It was almost like things would show up just when I was expecting them to, so it felt like I was leading the experience, not the other way around. For example I did a few journeys looking for a totem animal, or a helper spirit animal and I got wolves every time. I mean come on, right? Doesn’t everyone want their totem to be something cool like a wolf? So, I had a hard time believing that what I was seeing wasn’t just my imagination.

Until, on a couple of occasions, something came through that I felt was not from me. I had no inkling of where these came from, was not expecting them, nor did they seem familiar in any way. These scared me at first. I got a little spooked and stopped practicing for a while.

One was this little journey to the ‘Narnia’ forest: I came into a place that looked man-made but it was a forest of a kind. I can’t remember if I went up to it or down or over (as in underworld, other-world, upper-world), but I came into it, and it was dusky light, like twilight, with brightness coming through in places from another unknown source. The trees were huge and perfect in every way. They looked almost hand-drawn or created by a set-deck, but they looked alive. They were many shades of green, lush and stunningly beautiful. The floor was black and white checked tile which went up into pillars as well. The trees grew up the pillars sometimes and sometimes on their own. This forest wasn’t outside necessarily, it was a hall-way or a room with tress and pillars and the black and white tiled floor that went on and on.

It was very still and completely quiet, like being in a densely carpeted room. You could hear a pin drop.

There were doors everywhere randomly hanging in space. It was very reminiscent of some kind of Alice in Wonderland liminal space.

Alice in Wonderland | Spirit Mama BlogMy instincts just kinda went crazy. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. It was too quiet – unnatural.

At the far end of this endless place there was a massive bright light that shone through like a spotlight. I realized it was coming towards me, getting closer and closer and yet it was obscured behind something else. I felt like I had to get out of there before it got to me. So I left.

Like I said, it wasn’t an evil place I don’t think, just completely alien. It was powerful. And it felt like a real place.

When I began practicing again, it was with the guidance of my teacher, which felt much more comfortable. I learned how to ground and centre myself first in meditation. It was suggested to me to use a grounding object as well – something that you can hold in your hand or on your chest while journeying that keeps you connected to this world.

I have never come across that forest place again. Now that I know more and have more experience I realize it’s probably because when I journey now I go to specific places. It’s important to know that if you set out to journey but with no particular direction or intention in mind you could end up anywhere. I came to a liminal space, an unplace that led to other places. Perhaps this room is the inner chamber of my own subconscious. Maybe it was purgatory.

It’s traditional in Wicca and witchcraft to use liminal space for magical workings. The circle cast for ritual sets up just such a space that is in this world but also in another. Also liminal time is used often – midnight,  twilight, dusk and dawn are all powerful times to do ritual. Shaman’s are worldbridgers, traversing the realms, or ‘crossing the hedge’ as it’s sometimes called. Perhaps they become liminal beings of some kind, forever with a foot in one world and a foot in the other.

I do wonder where I would have eneded up had I gone through any of those doors. I may go back intentionally sometime soon after more research on the subject. Liminal spaces are quite powerful, perhaps because of their unpredictability. If we are in-between are we not free to be, anything? It would be interesting to sit still there and get a real feel for the place. Next time I will leave offerings for the guardians of doorways – another liminal space.

Do you journey? Do you want to hear more journey stories? Tell your own? Leave a comment below!

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