This is an overview of a basic shamanic journey guided by drumming.  In this article, I run through what a journey looks like while giving you tips on how to deepen the journey experience.

If you’d like more guidance, you may want to read more about Shamanism or take our 5-week Shamanism Foundations online course.

Preparing for your Shamanic Journey

Preparation is essential for a shamanic journey.

The first important tip is to eat lightly or not at all for a few hours before you start a shamanic journey. You can journey on a full stomach, however, eating lightly generally sets you up for a better experience.  Explore different diets to see what is more conducive to a more in-depth experience.

Refrain from alcohol, tobacco, and other substances for twenty-four hours before a shamanic journey. Depending on the individual, certain substances, medications, and drugs can inhibit journeying altogether.

Physical activity or meditation can be wonderful preparation for a shamanic journey.  A practice, such as yoga or movement meditation, shifts our attention to the body, focusing the mind and opening the heart.  Your favorite light visualization is good to do right before a journey – visualize yourself filled with light, breathing in light, and breathing out the light.  The ten-minute audio called Piko Piko Meditation is what I teach all my students and clients.

Give your surroundings some attention. Possibly turn off the lights, draw the shades and turn off the phone/Wi-Fi. You may have a journeying blanket or items from nature that you like to have around you while you journey.

It’s common to have preferred times of the day for a shamanic journey so notice what works best for you. I typically journey first thing in the morning, right before lunch or dinner or later at night.

Shamanic Journey Tools
Embracing Spirituality

A Shamanic Journey into the Spirit World

Place your body in a relaxed position that can be sustained for ten to fifteen minutes. Lying down is common although this is not the traditional way of journeying. Journeying can be done in a seated position as well as standing and dancing. To start, I recommend a relaxed and slightly reclined seated position. Whatever position you choose, keep your body actively relaxed (not falling asleep) with the arms and legs uncrossed (hands and feet not touching).

Usually, it’s helpful to have a clear intention for the mind to focus on while journeying. Do you intend to journey to a specific place? Do you intend to journey to learn specific information or for a particular purpose such as relaxation?  A good first intention is to journey to meet with a power animal.

We’ve created an audio meditation to help you connect to a power animal as part of our membership.

Also, consider the questions you may ask about your intention.  Practice forming questions using how, where, when, why and what. Steer clear of yes/no questions or questions beginning with should. What will be helpful to know for my interview tomorrow? and Should I go to the interview tomorrow? will most likely elicit different answers. Forming questions is an art. The information we receive is directly related to the questions we ask. The clearer our questions, the increased potential there is to receive answers in service to our higher self.

When you feel ready to begin, start some drumming intended for shamanic journeying. Shamanic drumming is relatively fast and steady at four to seven beats per second. You can drum for yourself, have someone drum for you or use a good recording. If you are learning to drum it helps to practice with others or use a CD to get the appropriate speed in your muscle memory. Typically, people drum and rattle slower when first starting out. I recommend the CD in the back of the book Awakening to the Spirit World by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman. It has four excellent journeying tracks.


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As you begin your shamanic journey, breathe into your heart space (chest area). Offer a prayer of protection for you and your loved ones, requesting power, protection, and support. Find your personalized way of initiating a journey over time. This establishes an intentional connection to your spirit helpers, helps dissipate any fear or tension, and signals the start of the shamanic journey.

Listening to the sound of the drums and rattles can help you start your shamanic journey. The drumming is our path into the spirit world. Follow the sounds and be curious. Focus the mind on your intention. When you close your eyes, notice any images or patterns on your inner screen. Allow yourself to passively receive visuals, sounds, smells, and feelings – any sensations that are available to you.

If you don’t seem to be going anywhere, you can also utilize your active imagination to travel through a portal to the spirit world. A portal may be a favorite picture hanging on your wall, a dream scene, or an altar.  There is no wrong or right way, and there are infinite possibilities. Find the way into the spirit world that you enjoy and that works for you.

Arriving in the spirit world may take some time, or it can happen very quickly. From the shamanic perspective, we are intentionally sending our consciousness into the spirit world.  We do this for a variety of reasons – to connect, retrieve information, heal, restore, and energize ourselves. We may have a clear doorway and path that we follow in, or we may simply find ourselves in the spirit world. Typically, we arrive in the middle realm of the spirit world – a spiritual representation of our physical world. So, it may seem familiar.

Often, we arrive in the spirit world in a place in nature. We may find ourselves at a beach or in a forest. Notice what is around you and get an idea of where you have arrived.  This will most likely be a common starting place for you in the spirit world.  If this is your first journey, take some time to be curious and explore. Notice any of the elements that appear – water, fire, air, wood (trees), metal and earth (rocks).

Notice any other beings that appear – animals or people. Ask them if they are there to provide protection, power, and support. If you feel an affirmative response, ask them a question and notice how you receive the answer.  Stay open to the unexpected.  It is common for us to think one thing is going to happen and for something or someone completely different to show up.

Allow your shamanic journey to unfold, breathing into your heart space and focusing the mind on your intention. Continue to allow your attention to follow what it is drawn to and, at the same time, keep your awareness extended to the drumming.  One distinction of a shamanic journey is that we are awake and aware of the physical world and the spirit world at the same time. Often, we receive information through the physical body so pay attention, be curious and follow what feels right.

At first, you may question what you experience or doubt whether it is real. This is normal, however, don’t let it stop you. Everything that we can touch was once imagined. Not everything that is real can be seen with physical eyes. Over time, use your experience to test the results of your shamanic journey work.


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Returning from a Shamanic Journey

A shamanic journey can be five minutes or five days long in the physical world.  Usually, a modern shamanic journey to drumming is about ten to twenty minutes long.  At the end of the shamanic journey, the drumming shifts to a faster beat.  When you hear this change in the drumming, find closure in the spirit world and give thanks to any spirits assisting you on your shamanic journey. Shift your attention to returning your consciousness fully to your physical body. Typically, it is good to retrace your steps in the spirit world back to your physical body.

Similar to coming out of a dream, gently open your eyes and try to remember as many details of the shamanic journey as possible. Write down what you experienced and draw pictures from your journey. When we journey, a lot can happen in ten minutes. Writing and drawing your shamanic journey experience allows you to discover additional insights.

When you translate your shamanic journey, include all that you experienced – smells, sounds, thoughts, feelings, colors, symbols, words (even if they are in a language you do not know), visualizations and communications. Include the details of where you were and who you were with. Was it day or night? Did you come across any water, fire, or animals?  Avoid editing the experience.

After a shamanic journey, depending on what you experienced and how you feel, you may want to take particular actions.  For example, you may want to learn about an animal that came to you or a spirit teacher may have given you a specific task to carry out.  You may have a word or symbol to research.

Continue to notice how you feel throughout the day.  Pay attention to any synchronicities that occur that week.  Track your dreams.  Keep a journal of your feelings, synchronicities, dreams, and any actions you take.  Shamanic journeying may have immediate results, and over time, you will most likely notice additional ways it is assisting you in your life.

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Hey all, ive been trying to journey for a while but dont know if im doing it right because i haven’t had results. ingerman book says you go down into the ground untill you enter a tunnel and follow it until you reach the light. Is the light supposed to appear by itself? at what point do i stop consciously trying to initiate the dream state. This may sound silly but i havent had any luck with experiencing a journey, harner said it took 1 person 8 months, i just want to be sure im doing it correctly. Any help… Read more »

I attempted to journey….by accident, actually. I was scrolling to find sleep meditation music and landed on a guided journey to drums. I got scared when she said do not …i repeat…do not bring anything back with you. I was 10 minutes in. I never went down a hole or opening but just as I was about to open my eyes a lynx…i think. It was like a small cheetah or leopard. It was small, sea foam green with gold spots….and very fast….it came running up to me….i opened my eyes. I didn’t sage or have any protection bc I… Read more »

I’m just interested in shamanic journeying I don’t practice I actually didn’t know anything until I found drumming music helps with my anxiety I’m a animal lover I adore them but can’t find my power animal every time I get all the animals from jungle zebras lions horses loads of them running free and I’m chanting dancing with the Indians I love it but not sure could you maybe explain that would help thank you

Can we ask our power animal questions about the after life? I’m very intrigued by this sort of thing and i don’t want to ask the “wrong” questions. I have personally never had my own journey but I have been doing tons of research and am looking forward to my first journey. Because if the lack if personal experience, I have a lot of questions and i don’t just want to jump straight into it if my mind is not ready, if that makes any sense.

Hi, so I just went on my first journey and I felt super relaxed. I saw many things. I just have a few questions. So I’m in the jungle with a tiger followed by my side (not sure if this is spirit animal) anyways, we come up on this cave and a grizzly bears comes roaring at me and once it sees me holing a torch it must have recognized me because it stopped and bowed and I’m not sure what this means? Another thing I experienced during the journey was that I appeared in a large white cube and… Read more »

I recently had my palms and cards read in New Orleans. I was told that my physic ability is best met in my dreams. Also in my past I was told some things and have seen some things. I have an hole on the ride side top of my ear. Someone in the past had told me that means I can see spirits in which I feel I have. Anyways I been dong a lot of research and thing I traveled into the spirit world. I tried to see my grandma but once again she told me no and I… Read more »

I clearly saw my spirit animal, and looked onto its dark brown eyes. But I don’t know what type of animal it was? Maybe a fox? It had red hair with a white face with little dark brown eyes and a pointy nose with a dark brown nostrils. It was small in size…. how do I find out what it was?

Is it normal that it doensn’t work for the first time? I got the feeling that I’m doing it wrong..

I am new to the entire “spirit” everything and have been experimenting with meditation and learning about spiritual practices. Although I truly believe what everyone says and experiences, I have yet to break through to the spirit world and experience it for myself. I sometimes end up falling asleep while meditating or lose focus and give up. Any advice for beginners or anything you’d suggest to enter the spirit world?

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