The Shamanic Journey, Ayahuasca and the Drum
The practice of shamanism is about as ancient as time itself. Archeological and ethnological evidence suggest that shamanic methods of divining answers for opening doors of insight and healing are at least twenty or thirty thousand years old. A “shaman” is basically a wisdom keeper, as they are in direct contact with the source of this ancient knowledge and wisdom, and are adept at traveling the landscapes of both this “ordinary” reality that we live in as well as “non-ordinary” reality that is readily available for all to travel and explore.
The word "shaman" literally means "one who sees in the dark", as they are able to close their eyes to look beyond the physical form into the energetic body where all of life’s information is stored. Shamanic practice is a path of knowledge, not of faith as it is not a religion - though it may very well be for the indigenous peoples of our world. We are co-creators in this human life form, though many do not realize that we have so many helpers available to us in the spiritual realm. Learning to commune with nature in this way, divining answers from the animal, mineral, terrestrial and even angelic kingdoms are all hallmarks of shamanic practice.
A shamanic journey is a voyage that we take in our minds eye, as we traverse and explore these alternate realities and landscapes that may even be more vast and wide than what we are familiar with on this earthly plane. It is a powerful tool that anyone can learn and practice and is incredibly helpful for healing, spiritual growth and/or basic guidance in our daily lives.
Over the past few years, I’ve had a few seekers call on me asking if I offered shamanic journeys with ayahuasca. For those of you who may not know, ayahuasca is a powerful plant helper local to South America. It has long been used by the indigenous medicine people there, who have earned the respect of this powerful plant spirit and have been granted in exchange, the knowledge of how to work with it. A brew is made and used in spiritual ceremony; those who drink it may not only experience spiritual revelations and access to higher realms but significant (albeit temporary) physical, emotional and psychological distress. Vomiting typically follows the ingestion, a purging that many believe to be an essential part of the experience. Its power is not to be taken lightly and its use is strongly advised to be administered only under the direction of a well experienced shaman.
Though I have no personal experience with ayahuasca, I do suggest for those determined on this path to seek out only those traditional medicine people who are qualified to lead you on this type of shamanic passage and journey.
I recently sat in a ceremonial circle with a Zuni Elder who told us "once you open the door to ayahuasca, it can never be closed - and lots of multi-dimensional beings may now get in".
Profound and Potent words to remind us, in the "fake new age" world that we live in, we need to take things of this nature seriously and with a respectful approach; and not just sign up because it sounds like a 'fun' thing to do.
I also remind them that a shamanic journey does not require drugs! The shamanic state is as natural as day dreaming or night dreaming. We do it all the time without perhaps even knowing.
The method of journeying that I practice and teach is called “riding the drum”; an altered state of awareness that has been likened to “tripping without the drugs”.
Scientifically speaking, the rhythmic drumming circumvents the rational brain and induces a trance like state. The drumming in essence, is giving the left brain (logic) something to do while the right brain (creativity) is free to roam about and explore.
One of the biggest gifts of the drum is the power of vibration.
Ancient traditions have used sound and vibrational healing for thousands of years. The human body is a living resonator of sound which affects each atom in our body. Science has proven that the human body responds positively to sound in many ways such as equalizing brain waves, slowing down respiration, heartbeat and blood pressure. It boosts our immune function, increases endorphin levels and reduces muscle tension. Sound creates a healing environment and can have a profound healing effect on all of us.
The drum continues to serve as the heartbeat of many native cultures and ceremonies around the world. A powerful shamanic helper, healer and messenger, the drum helps us open the door to other realms, dimensions and realities. Many have said to me that they have a drum, but they don’t know what to do with it. A shamanic drum is not one that gets ‘played’ like those in a band where certain beats and notes are expected; rather it can be thought of as an extension of our own heartbeat and pulse as well as that of Mother Earth. By sitting quietly and letting the drum speak to us, she can teach us how to heal ourselves as well as the earth with a simple practice of energetically connecting, which (in turn) internally harmonizes that connection.
On a basic level, the medicine of the drum will help you come unplugged, de-stress and get back in touch with your own internal rhythm and harmony. You may wish to drum for healing or pray through the drum, sending your intentions and prayers as far as the vibrations will carry them, which is never ending! Drumming naturally balances our chakras and is a simple method for the healing, health and wholeness of all. The ability to relate to it comes only with practice.
This practice has great ability to help people transcend the “dis-eases” of modern life; conditions such as depression, chronic pain, past trauma and feelings of being fragmented or lost. On a more global level, a shamanic journey is a powerful vehicle to send distant healing to all people of our earth, to our homes and businesses as well as situations from the past, present and even the future.
In my experiential workshop, I drum for you as you learn to journey yourself to connect (re-connect) with your power animal(s) as well as meet spirit guides and perhaps a healing from the higher realms. The spiritual landscapes that unfold will teach you and take you beyond your wildest dreams of imagination. Anyone can do it, one needs only to ‘get out of their head’ in order to see through the maze and haze of the energy blocks where real guidance and insight can be found.
In this day and age, life is full of illusion and deception - we need all the help we can get to stay grounded and focused. Whether you have a big question/decision to make or are simply not sure what your purpose is at this moment in life, taking yourself on a soul quest for this type of insight is a an incredible tool to add to your spiritual toolbox. Spiritual revelations and deep insights unfold naturally, leaving you feeling renewed, encouraged and hopeful as you embrace these new worlds and new ways of seeing.
If the word “shamanism” has always caught your attention, or if you’ve ever pondered getting a drum, or if you have a drum and don't know what to do with it - perhaps it’s time to learn this practice for yourself.
In the echoed words of Rainer Maria Wilke,
“The only journey is the journey within”.
Grace Germaine Walsh
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The Shamanic Journey, Ayahuasca and the Drum