S is for Shamanism.
I am relatively new to the practise of Shamanism, having only discovered this wonderous new path about a year ago.
But in that time, I have taken so much from it.
I came across it by accident, or maybe Divine guidance, searching for ritual drumming music, to add to my ritual playlist.
I found the Shamanic drumming of Ono Teave, an hour-long journey to the other side.
At first, I was a bit hesitant, this was something new to me, and also a bit scary, knowing the Shamanic experience takes you much deeper than any of the meditation and astral work I was doing at the time.
The signature of the Shamanic experience, is the monotonous beat of the drum, and it was this that pounded through every cell of my being, as I lay in the darkness.
This first journey was quite scattered, as I had not set a clear goal, something that certainly helps to focus the journey.
But for now, my goal was exploration, gaining experience of this strange new world.
My first experience was a wild race through a moonlit night, encountering many strange and wonderful creatures along the way, many friendly, some not so.
The drum beating the universal heartbeat, guiding my way.
Upon doing some more reading and theory on Shamanic practise, I learnt that I had my first experience in the Lower World.
The Shamanic World consists of three worlds: Lower, Middle and Upper.
This is in no way a hierarchy, but the direction of placement of these worlds upon the hub which connects them.
For me, this hub is a tree.
The Norse mythology tree of Yggdrasil, comes to mind.
This is where my journey begins, at the base of this huge tree, connecting the worlds.
Upper World is where the Gods and Goddesses usually dwell, though I have found different aspects will be found in different worlds.
For example, Hecate the Crone, is only found in the Lower World.
The Upper World houses spirit guides, who appear in human form.
Middle World is our world, but a kind of shadow version of material reality.
Here are found spirits of place, spirits of the land and those of material objects, such as plants, crystals and trees.
If you wish to converse with the spirit of your home, or the land it sits on, both are found in Middle World.
Lower World is my favorite, a place of wild romps under a dark moon.
It is dark, murky, sometimes scary, but always a hell of a ride.
Lower World is the land of animal guides, shape-shifting, and some dubious characters.
To access the worlds, I take the corresponding direction at my tree.
For Upper World, I climb the great staircase inside the trunk of the tree.
Middle World is a strange one, entering a door on one side of the trunk and exiting through a door on the opposite side.
Lower world is a journey down through twisting roots and soil, down and down until I reach a huge cavern, way beneath the surface.
Shamanic journey has become an invaluable part of my Wiccan practice.
It is within these strange worlds that I can easily converse with my Matron Deity, Hecate.
It is where I made my first connection to my Patron God, Herne.
These worlds are so real, I can hear, see, sense, taste and feel.
I have met my totem and spirit guide animals.
I can shape-shift, become one with my animal guides, running wild and free.
I can also now call them into my circle, to protect me and assist me in my rites.
Another thing I encounter in the Shamanic worlds, is my dog.
He has long joined me on the astral plains and in meditative states, but he seems to especially enjoy Shamanic states.
At first I thought this might just be my imagination, but now I believe he actively participates.
After all, he never leaves my side in the material world, so it’s not to much of a stretch for him to want to accompany me to other worlds.
He often appears as a Leopard.
I couldn’t work out why this was, until I realized my Daughter has a large picture of a leopard in her room.
Maybe he looks at the picture and decides that will be his form.
He seems to know when the journey is about to begin, and will curl up quietly beside me, ready to go.
What really confirmed this for me, was when I bought my own drum.
He loves it!
The moment he hears me start playing it, he can’t get close enough, then he will lie down and close his eyes.
If I stop playing, he will stir and look up at me, annoyance writ clearly upon his face.
It really is a funny thing, my Shamanic dog.