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!