On my first Shamanic Journey, I discovered that my Power Animal was an African Giraffe. That was very surprising to me because I’ve never really been drawn to them in anyway in real life. My Giraffe actually started out as a monarch butterfly and then quickly shape-shifted into the giraffe. I thought it was interesting how similar the coloring and patterns of the monarch butterfly so closely matched the pattern of a giraffe. It’s uncanny! Anyway, I came home from the Shamanic workshop and immediately started researching the symbolism around giraffes to try and make sense of why she chose me.
The Symbolism of Giraffes
- A giraffe can see things others cannot see and can reach things that others cannot reach. They have a unique perspective.
- This far-reaching sight gives them clairvoyant abilities and they often know what will happen in the future.
- Their long, flexible necks allow them to see not only what is in front of them, but also what is behind and next to them. They view life from all angles and can intuitively sense what is coming.
- They are social creatures and have very few enemies. Only the lion and hyena poses a threat to the giraffe in the wild.
- Each giraffe is totally and completely unique. The spots on a giraffe are like fingerprints. No two are exactly alike.
- The giraffe has a third horn, and it is hidden beneath a flap of skin just above the eyes. This is said to represent inner perception and wisdom or symbolic of “third eye” intuition.
The purpose and intent of our second journey was to travel to the Upper World to meet our Spiritual Teacher. These teachers usually appear in a human-like form, rather than animal.
Here are the details of my Shamanic Journey to the Upper World:
Again I found myself at my childhood home, and again my first instinct was to give my dog, “Muffy”, a visit at the doghouse and ask her where I can find the portal to the Upper World. On my second visit, I suddenly remember that my father had originally purchased the little playhouse for me when I was a small boy, and that we gave it to the dog when I eventually outgrew it. Dad even had a little wooden sign custom engraved with the word’s, “Mike’s Castle”, and it’s still there hanging above the door but so faded and rotted from the years that it’s almost unreadable.
Next to the doghouse is an old apple tree in which I had build many tree forts as a kid. Now, though, the trunk of the tree is silver, it’s wrapped in a stainless steel wrapper, and there’s a little steel door at the base. Clearly, this is the way up, so I open the door, I get very, very small, and I step inside.
It’s hot inside. Randomly stacked all around me, from floor to ceiling, are gigantically huge fluffy pieces of perfectly popped popcorn. A greasy, brown cardboard sign is impaled on one of the nearby pieces with a little silver butter knife. On the sign, scrawled in reddish-brown crayon it says, “This Way Up”, with an arrow pointing to the ceiling (which I can’t see with all of the popcorn in the way). I start climbing.
The climb is relatively easy, more like walking up a steep mountain trail than actually mountain climbing. Occasionally I do have to traverse a piece of popcorn or two to keep on the path. In those instances where I actually do have to climb over one, I can feel the popcorn’s flesh give way to my fingers so that I can get a good grip for leverage to lift me up and over so I can continue. While I have a feeling of being very, very high up in the air, miles even, I’m not scared. Looking down all I see is popcorn, so I don’t get that sense of vertigo you usually get when you can actually see the bottom, which tends to remind you how high up you are.
I reach the top and it’s really, really hot now. Above me is a crinkled silver ceiling with a pattern that suggests a curved arch but I can’t see where the arch pattern originates, I can’t see where the center is. I place the palms of my hands together in front of my chest, fingers pointed upward, like in a praying position, and then I quickly lift my arms up and easily poke a hole in the tinfoil ceiling. I shoot up and out, and now I am standing on what appears to be a roof.
It’s cool now. And it’s quiet. I mean spooky quiet. I can’t even hear my own breathing (or the Shamanic drumming that is presumably still happening in the background.). Looking around, I am standing on a silver metal rooftop that continues on in every direction as far as I can see. There’s no sky, just black. No stars. Just black. There must be a light source somewhere because I can see for miles in every direction, yet there is no sun.
I get focused, and start thinking about my intent, which is to seek out and find my Spiritual Teacher. I’m keeping this thought, holding it tight, but I’m still alone. I wonder to myself if I’ll meet the Buddha. Then I wonder if that was an arrogant thought. Looking around, still nothing. I’m starting to get nervous. I again focus on my intention. I see a man walking towards me. It’s a slow confident walk, almost a swagger. He’s a handsome man, maybe in his early 30’s, wavy, not-quite-shoulder-length hair, and he has a smirky smile on his face. As he gets closer, I recognize him as Jim Morrison, the deceased rock star. Jim keeps walking towards me, and as he passes, he says, “Just kiddin“ and walks on by. I turn around and he’s gone.
Okay, enough with the comic relief, where the hell is my Spiritual Teacher?! A minute later, a small fawn appears and walks towards me. She gives the top of my hand a single lick and then disappears.
I now hear the drumbeat; it’s changing and getting faster. Time to go home. Better luck next time, I guess.
On my return to ordinary reality, I realized that I was just inside a larger-than-life Jiffy Pop popcorn. And I noticed that I don’t seem to have a sense of smell in the Upper World…I definitely would have remembered smelling all that popcorn!
During the first few hours of class we made our personal introductions, we discussed the history of Shamanism, how it works and why it works, and we learned about many of the tools used in the ceremonies, like incense, rattles, drums, and ritual objects. But then it was quickly down to business, our first journey. I was nervous, and skeptical, but I was very excited to try it.
The purpose and intent of our first journey was to try and discover our Power Animal. We went though the same process as described in my previous post about journeying to the lower world.
Here are the personal details of my first Shamanic Journey:
The drumming began and I slowly started to daydream as I became lost in the rhythm. I immediately saw myself standing in the driveway of my childhood home, a place I haven’t visited in over 25 years. I saw my childhood dog, “Muffy” (long since passed) tied to her doghouse. She had this quirky behavior. I remembered that she never actually slept in her doghouse, but that she dug a hole “under” the doghouse and slept there. It occurred to me that this was the way to the lower world, through the hole under the doghouse. But it wasn’t. Muffy glanced over at a snow bank where my sister and I had dug a hole into the side of it to make a snow fort, so I took Muffy’s queue and walked over and climbed inside the opening. There I found, at the back of this small ‘igloo’ snow fort, a tunnel.
The tunnel was black, I couldn’t see any light at the end, and the bottom of the tunnel was made of ice so that it created a slide. Without reservation (I’m claustrophobic), I hopped right in and slid down the hole. I have no recollection of feeling like I was traveling at a fast rate of speed or any other details of the actual decent, and it lasted only seconds.
I was deposited at the mouth of a cave and I remember that the ground was made of rough ash, not a fine dust like volcanic ash, but rough chunks like the spent coal from an old train.
As I walked out of the cave towards the light, I could see blue sky and trees and I immediately recognized the locale as the entrance to my friend, Ann’s, field on her farm, which I had just visited for the first time a few weeks before. I walked a little further, and looking back, I saw that the cave was situated where Ann’s house and horse barn would have been and that both those structures were gone.
I walked down the field, past a small hill she calls ‘Purple Haze Hill’, banked left, and headed towards the corner of the property where two hedgerow’s meet. I hadn’t been to that area of the farm when I visited before, but I could see the brush and trees vividly and I even noticed the branches that were hanging from above because they were slightly shading me from the sun.
After a few minutes alone, taking it all in, I remembered that I was journeying and I began to focus on my intent, which was to try and find my Power Animal.
A few more minutes go by, and a monarch butterfly lands on my finger. At this point, I start a running commentary in my mind as my skeptical side takes over. You see, my friend (again, Ann) had stopped over to my house a couple of weeks before and she brought with her a butterfly in a cup that she had been tending to ever since it was in a cocoon, and it had just recently ‘hatched’ (or whatever the term is for that sort of thing). Anyway, I’m laughing to myself at this point because it’s quite obvious where this “vision” of the butterfly and the field has come from because I was just there! My subconscious mind at work! And not even very creatively for that matter!
I gather my thoughts, focus on my intent again, and I see that the butterfly is gone.
But standing in front of me is a giraffe. A giraffe! A huge fucking giraffe with a shit-eating grin on her face. I immediately notice that the giraffe’s spots are exactly the same pattern as the monarch butterfly that I saw moments earlier, same color and everything. It’s like the butterfly just shape-shifted into a new animal. Again a laughed, and asked the giraffe if she was my Power Animal. She nods a semi-deep nod, using her neck as well as her head.
I’m grinning ear-to-ear because of the experience at this point. So cool! Over my shoulder, on the other side of the hedgerow, I hear the drum start beating differently. I feel a little confused. Then I hear the drum beating very fast and I realize it’s time to go.
I am very small now, riding on top of the giraffe’s head and I am tripping though the rough, blond hair on her head and I have my arms wrapped around her right horn for a bumpy-but-pleasant ride back across the field and back to the cave. I thank “Giraffe” for being my Power Animal and she curtsies and bends her knee as if to say, “You’re welcome”. Then I slide back up the ice tunnel and arrive back at class.
All in all, a VERY cool first journey!