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The Shamanic Community of Austin Message Board › The Journey Center

The Journey Center

Group Organizer
Austin, TX
Post #: 32
The Journey Center

Our Austin Journey Circle began with the intention to learn about the shamanic journey process, with the intention of exploring the landscapes of the Spirit worlds. We wanted to know first-hand how the journey process could be used for guidance and healing as shamans have done for thousands of years.

One of the first discoveries we were led to was how we could begin our journeys as a group. We originally thought of the concept of a sort of ?base camp? where we could consistently intend ourselves to go, and from there explore outward. Later, I came across a very similar concept offered by Caitlin Matthews in Singing the Soul Back Home. She called it the Journey Center, and the name stuck.

The Journey Center is a good way to begin the journey process, especially for beginners. Yet it can be used very powerfully as one?s experience grows, as well. It is very similar to the idea of ?Sanctuary? used by many other teachings and traditions. It is a place to which one can go to recharge, reflect, and receive guidance. Power animals, guides, and teachers often can be found visiting one?s Center; and they can also be powerful places of ritual and ceremony within the Spirit realm.

It also appears that there can be different Journey Centers for each of three realms: lower, middle, and upper world. A structure for the lower world Center is suggested below. Because middle world journeys are related more to the physical plane, Matthews offers that the middle world Journey Center would be a place where the individual has previously been that felt supportive and nurturing.

The Lower World Journey Center

There are four simple, key elements in the lower world Journey Center as we have developed it over time, which are outlined below. Each element has a reason for being in the Center, but the specific descriptions and nature of them are particular to the individual. There is a vast creativity involved in the way that journey centers are co-created by the individual and Spirit. There is no one way for them to appear or to operate.

A traditional lower world journey begins by entering a hole in the earth. This entrance may be of any kind: a hole, a crack, the space between the roots of a tree, a spring, or any other way to go into the earth. On one journey, the individual searched and searched for a proper hole, then wound up falling backward, Alice-like, directly into the Earth!

Most often, then, the journey begins with a sense of movement through something like a tunnel. Again, there is no specific sort of passage one might experience. I do suggest that, rather than hurrying through this passage, one take time to get a sense of it: smell, touch, temperature, texture, and so on. We often find that the nature of the passage itself has a function, and may also be part of the answer to the question one is seeking.

A journey animal may appear in the passage or later. When it does, be sure to state the intention of the journey and then follow the lead of the animal, rather than taking the lead and expecting it to follow you.

Eventually, you will come to the end of the tunnel or passage. You may see the opening before you arrive or not. Where you emerge into the spirit world also is up to you and Spirit. If you do have the opportunity to create it yourself, you might envision an open field surrounded by trees under a beautiful sky. However it appears, see if you can find or envision these four elements. You may also find it helpful and fun to engage your journey animal in the process.

A Tall Tree: The key characteristic of this tree is that if you stand at the bottom of it, you cannot see the top. The variety of tree does not matter, though a tall bamboo stalk might prove problematic in the long run!

A Hill: The key characteristic of the hill is that it rises higher than the surrounding land, but it is not so tall that it cannot be climbed easily. This is not a mountain. It may be domed or flat, round or square. That is up to you.

A Body of Water: The key characteristic of the water is that it is clear and clean. You have never experienced water such as this. It is so clear that, if the body of water is shallow, you can see details of the rocks and features of the bottom; if it is deep, you can see far below. I suggest that it also be large enough to get fully into and perhaps to swim.

A Human-made Structure: This is a structure that is not natural to the setting, so it must have been constructed in some way. It could be anything: a teepee, yurt, cabin, tree house, mansion, or any other structure. A door is suggested so that you can enter it, but you could also be beamed inside, if you so choose!

How each of these elements is used was something that the group explored over time. You may want to experiment with them in your own journeys. How we came to use them (in general) will be the subject of another article.

One final note: This is YOUR Journey Center, no one else's. All of the elements can be changed and even moved as you create it and make it yours. Use your imagination and innate creativity to adjust and refine it until you feel completely comfortable and supported by it. Your Journey Center is the place from which you will launch into the indescribable landscape of the Spirit World.

Read more about the Shamanic Journey
Group Organizer
Austin, TX
Post #: 56
The Middle World Journey Center

While the Lower World can be experienced as within Mother Earth and the Upper World more as ethereal and symbolic (almost "heavenly" sometimes), the Middle World is where we are every day! The Middle World consists of anything and everything that we consider part of our everyday understanding of where we are in the Universe: any location on the planet, the moon, Sun, stars ... and even time.

Anything that you can imagine as being part of our current reality can be considered within the Middle World. And you can journey to any place or time that you can imagine.

The current reality that we experience is a fairly narrow range of vibration. In waking states, we use our sensory input to define what we call "reality" by filtering according to what we have been taught or believe we need to know. But in the journey, we have access to a much broader range of vibrations. In addition, we can interact with everyday people, objects, and places in a wholly different and deeper way.

For example, if you are feeling uncomfortable in your home, you can journey to and have a conversation with the Spirit of your home. In that conversation, you can ask any questions you have about how you are feeling, and get a response from its Spirit that can guide you to addressing any issues there might be. You can also journey to communicate with people that you know, and have a conversation with their Spirit or higher self. Because everything is alive, you can journey to anything, anywhere and any time (time is a Middle World concept) you want!

Some say that the ancients visited other planets and stars in journeys. From what we know of physics, it's likely that journeying may be the only way we will be able to do so. I do know that in journeys I have visited my father a great distance away, danced on volcanoes, talked with energy beings on the moon, and found myself in deep space between the galaxies. All of these are Middle World experiences.

There are at least two ways to experience Middle World journeys: journeying as with Lower and Upper World journeys - though with a different beginning and intention - and focusing on the "in between."

The Middle World Journey Center
As with the Lower World, you can intend to visit your journey center as a starting place for the journey. However, in the Middle World your journey center will be a place that you know and probably have visited before. It is a place where you felt supported and powerful. For a woman I know, it is a version of her home town. I say a "version" because it is very much like where she lived when she was younger (complete with her pet dog), but also includes elements that were not actually there, such as a fountain with a ball floating in the upwell. For another, it is clearly a particular cave where she worked on an archaeological dig for a while when she was younger.

It is important that this be a place where you feel supported and empowered. You may already have such a place in mind, or it might be revealed to you in the journey itself.

The journey also begins differently. Rather than going down a tunnel or climbing a vine, imagine yourself facing a door or portal of some kind. Sometimes people report a sensation of rising or sitting up and walking to the door. But this doesn't really matter. Notice the door itself: its shape, color, texture. Does it have a lock or just a handle?

When you open the door, imagine your journey center and enter it. In your first journey(s), you might want to just explore ... sense any sameness or differences from the actual place. Is there anything special, such as the fountain? You will also want to look for a "guardian" in this space. When you journey in the Middle World there is a likelihood that you will encounter energies that might not be friendly .. or at least might not seem that way. A guardian spirit is very handy and can help you discern. This guardian might be more human, or animal, or a more ethereal being.

From there, you can journey anywhere you want. Remember to invite your guardian to go with you. Also remember that what you are encountering is the spirit of the place or person, so they may not look or react as they might in ordinary reality. If you are journeying to a neighbor to seek insights about a property dispute, for example, you will actually encounter their energy or spirit instead. This can be very useful in understanding the nature of the conflict!

The In-Between Spaces
Another way to access the Middle World is by focusing on the "in-between." That is, the connection between two objects or aspects of an object. If you sit and concentrate on the space between two hills, for example, and imagine yourself moving to the space between them, you may find yourself encountering their spirits, or even the spirit of the relationship between them. Because everything is energetic, even relationships can have Spirits!

You can also focus on the spaces inherent with individual objects. A rock has a shadow ... focus on that place where they meet. A candle flame touches the wick ... or is there actually a space between them? A tree has two parts - left/right, or top/bottom or trunk/roots, above/below. Find the place where these meet and focus your attention on them. Let this juncture dominate your awareness. Eventually, you will find yourself in trance and in the presence of the rock, tree, or whatever.

This is a very powerful way especially to connect with nature spirits. If you look into Celtic shamanism in particular, you will find a lot of this kind of work, though it may not be as overt as my description. :-)
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