Rattles for Journeying, Meditation, and Energy Work

As a shamanic practitioner, I employ rattles in my work. Rattles can easily take the place of a drum when drumming is inconvenient or too loud, or — if you’re like me — you find it hard to keep a rhythm or keep drumming during your meditation. Rattles can produce a variety of sounds depending on how they are made. I have some that are very quiet which are great for moments during travel, or just when your spirit wants something subtle. Some of my rattles are loud and distinct.  In any case, rattles don’t require musical talent to use — just make sounds that you enjoy!

Rattles aren’t just a shamanic thing. If you are any kind of empathic, meditative, or energy-working person, you can use rattles for meditation, intuitive healing, energy work, space cleansing/clearing, blessings, and other ceremonies. In shamanism, rattles serve as a “sonic driver” that helps guide the mind into a trance like state. But this state is simply an altered awareness that can be used for setting intention, affirmations, grounding, and mindfulness. Engaging all your senses and creating a moment for yourself by “making noise” is a powerful thing.

My rattles on Etsy.

 

 

Building a Cosmology

A cosmology is necessary to navigate the spirit realm. It is your personal map that provides contextual understanding for what you experience within it. A cosmological understanding also helps focus one’s intention in what one is truly trying to accomplish.

The composition of a cosmology should contain an explanation of the landscape of the spirit realm, and how it functions, as well as how the physical world and the spirit world relate to each other.

My cosmology assumes that the definition of spirit is equal to that of pure potentiality. This world is an “ideal”, but not in the sense that everything is good and perfect.  It is abstract in the sense that it is not physical, and taken together it contains all aspects of all instances.

The spirit world is not bound by time. In spirit, everything that is possible exists simultaneously.

One of my spirit helpers has told me that the spirit world can be thought of as a coil. What extends the spirit world from being one infinitely-packed point is the idea of time. Shamanic societies usually break the spirit world up into three realms: the upper, middle, and lower worlds. However, the explanations of these realms are fairly vague across the board. In my cosmology, the real distinction between the realms is time. Future, Present, and Past represent the upper, middle, and lower realms respectively. In my studies I have not encountered this idea specifically, but the whole point of building a cosmology is that it needs to be what resonates with you at your core.

In the end, all cosmologies are metaphors and stories, as existence escapes human definition and the limitations that our understanding always puts upon it. The stories we create are the vehicles for our imagination that take us beyond the physical world. We don’t want these stories to limit us, but to help carry us forward. It’s important not to get too wrapped up in our cosmology, but to let it transport us.

 

Inducing Trance for Shamanic Journeys

The hallmark of a shamanic trance is that it is induced. Consequently, shamanic practitioners and journeyers are very interested in different ways of inducing trance. I’ve tried some different methods myself, one of which I haven’t seen mentioned in this context, so I thought I’d share.

Probably the most common method used by modern North American practitioners is drumming. Live drumming, either performed by oneself or a partner, is excellent, but I’ve always used a drumming track and headphones. Shamanic drumming tracks are readily available and are said to be just as useful as live drumming, though I imagine that drumming for oneself adds to the rhythmic, hypnotic experience. That said, I know I could never keep up drumming and journeying at the same time!

Another method is the use of consciousness-altering chemicals, otherwise known as plant medicine, entheogens, or psychedelics. One needs caution and know-how to go down this path. In addition to research, one ought to speak with the plant spirits themselves as well, otherwise you are doing no more than just taking a drug. What I’ve tried is mild — a so-called flying ointment of my own making — but has produced some good results. Still, I don’t use it often.

Rather, my favourite method for inducing trance is through the act of sweating. I don’t know the physical mechanics of why it works, though I can guess at things like changes in hydration, electrolytes, and body temperature. It’s definitely not a unique idea, but I haven’t seen in mentioned in the wealth of literature available on how to journey. Certainly great physical exertion and exercise would be a great way to sweat and alter your consciousness, but I take an easier route (and perhaps safer one, given that I faint easily). I simply take a very hot (but not uncomfortable) bath. It brings up my heart rate and aids my poor blood circulation for starters. Then, as I begin to sweat more, I find my focus sharpening and the Otherworlds coming within close reach.

Naturally, everyone works differently. I’d be very interested to hear of other ways of inducing trance, or your experiences of what works best. Happy journeying!

Samhain Blessings

Finally I am well again, and I am deeply relieved to have my life back. Indeed, I have been blessed with spiritual energy this week as well as physical wellness. One of my guides showed me a place in the Otherworlds where I can step directly into the universe’s life-giving energy, like stepping into a river. It is a beautiful and wonderfully nourishing thing! So I have chosen to see my time of illness as a period of spiritual testing leading to healing and growth. 

To those of you who wrote to check in on me, your notes were all very appreciated. It was so sweet to have near-strangers reach out like that. You are all wonderful people. 

To those of you who are still waiting for journey from me, I am now back in the swing of things! Expect an email within a week. I am so happy to be able to journey again for myself and others — it is such a powerful thing in my life. 

Also, if anyone out there was thinking about requesting a free shamanic journey from me, now is a great time to ask! I really do love this work, so don’t feel shy.

Finally, let me send out my blessings! Happy Samhain! Today has been interesting already; I keep seeing wispy things floating about, and things seem to skitter off at the edges of my vision. Perhaps tonight’s journey(s) will be more intense than usual; I’m looking forward to it. I’m dressed as a witch today at work and might do trick-or-treating duty at my mother-in-law’s house — I hope everyone is having fun as well!

Sleep, Dreams and Shamanism

I have always found sleep an easy thing. My wife can tell you that I fall asleep remarkably quickly and usually sleep quite deeply too.  I never thought much of it, even though for the past few years I’ve been experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness too.  I suppose I thought it had to do with my iron deficiency, or not enough coffee in the morning.  It’s hard to believe that for the past six months or more I’ve been falling asleep at work and not thinking much of it at all. The only reason I’m thinking of it now is because when I fall asleep at work, I instantly slip into a dream.

What little I’ve read suggests that such instant dreaming is not entirely normal, and I’m going to talk to my doctor because getting through the workday is becoming excruciating. But I’m interested in the link between my dreamworld and the Other Worlds of shamanism. Perhaps my brain works a little differently and this could actually be beneficial to my journeying. Perhaps I slip into the Other Worlds easily because the dreamworld is always just a moment away. Or is it vice versa? Maybe I should work on lucid dreaming next.

This is fascinating to me, so if any spirit-workers out there have a dream story to tell, please share!

Free Shamanic Readings: My Process

I’ve been doing shamanic journeys for others for a month now, and it’s been an incredible experience. I get so much out of doing this and I’m grateful to everyone who wrote to me, and anyone who will write in the future. Tonight I thought I should talk a bit about my process and clarify a couple things.

I do offer my readings free of charge, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I can’t imagine myself needing a monetary exchange; people tend to be so appreciative and that alone feels like a proper energy exchange to me. I think that charging for readings would ruin the whole experience for me. I’m not frowning on people who do charge for readings; I actually think my situation is a bit unusual as I have not felt drained or used in any way. Perhaps the Universe or my spirit guides are compensating me for the work. It does feel like a gift and an adventure.

I want to emphasize that I don’t consider myself psychic – I am nothing without my guides. Because of this, I have decided not to continue offering card readings. It is not my strong point at all and I need to do a lot of work around trusting my own intuition. I adore oracle cards and often consult them, having first asked my guides to help me choose meaningful cards. But I feel my interpretations are lacking and I don’t want to disappoint anyone.

So what will you get if you ask me for a shamanic journey? It does vary from person to person. All I need from you is a question or issue that you want me to explore. You can give me as much or as little detail as you like – a simple question is okay, and so is a very complicated one. Then I’ll take your question to the spirit world. Usually I will first ask one of my spirit guides to take me to one of your spirit guides. I believe that people have multiple guides and lots of useful helping spirits, so I may contact a spirit you have not yet worked with. Spirits can come in many forms, too: animals, humans, places, or deities. I may be able to contact a specific spirit or deity if you ask me to, but please understand that it is really up to the spirits themselves as to what happens in a journey.

What kind of questions can’t I deal with? There are a few, though thankfully these kinds of questions have rarely come up. First and foremost, I can’t do any journey that would invade someone’s privacy. That means that I need permission before I journey for someone, and you cannot ask me to journey about another person specifically. Questions such as “What is Mr. Right thinking about me?” seem harmless but I can’t address them without permission from the relevant person. I also can’t delve into matters of health, because I’m not qualified to give medical advice and it’s not smart for me to try. This also means I can’t tell you what will be the result of life-or-death situations.

The best questions to ask are ones concerning your own path, purpose, and development. I haven’t had a truly trivial question yet; people generally want direction for their own growth and that’s fantastic. The spirits are happy to oblige when you are working towards fulfilling your life’s purpose.

Whatever your question is, I will try to get as much specific information as possible by asking your guide a variety of questions. Be aware that knowing more about your situation will help me ask better questions, so feel free to tell me as much as you are comfortable.

After the journey I will write you a report detailing everything I can possibly remember. I’ll tell you a bit about how I entered the Other World, either through trance with a drumming track, through a very hot bath similar to a sweat lodge, or even through the help of an entheogen. If an animal appears in the journey, I will look that animal up in Ted Andrews’ book Animal Speak and tell you a bit about the animal’s significance. Sometimes I’ll offer my own interpretation if something in the journey was unclear and I had an intuition about it. You can always ask for clarification about any aspect of the journey. Ultimately though, the messages I receive are for you to interpret; I’m merely the messenger. Sometimes you just won’t get a straight-up answer and I assure you, it drives me crazy too!

I think that about covers it! Please comment if I’ve missed something. And if you think you’d like me to journey for you, please write to me at janicejove(at)gmail.com.