I promised to tell more about my Shamanic journey. As I said earlier, I had serious doubts beforehand, being a sceptic, about whether anything would happen, or even whether I was capable of entering what I believed would be some kind of induced trance state. The only thing I was sure of was that I trusted my friend utterly.
I was shown into a small quiet room where incense sticks were burning and various rock crystals and stones were scattered around. A meditation tape was playing. We sipped herbal tea while B explained that she would take me on a short journey at first and then bring me back again. I mustn't say anything, but must write down the experience straight away in the notebook she'd asked me to bring.
B told me that the three dimensions could be thought of like a tree - the roots underground, the trunk in the world, and the branches reaching up into the sky. She asked me to think of a tree - a special tree that I knew well and could visualise strongly. I knew straight away that I would use the big sycamore that grew beside a mountain stream when I was a child. I used to believe it to be a magical tree because it had split into two when only a sapling and a circular basin had formed between the trunks that was always full of water reflecting the sky.
B made me lie down on a soft rug and covered me with a blanket. I was blindfolded with a scarf. After a few moments of deep breathing and relaxation B put on a CD of shamanic drumming. You must always go on a journey with a question, looking for something, B told me. On this first trip I must will myself downwards through the roots of the tree and I must look for a special animal who would be my protector. My Power Animal. How would I recognise it? The animal would approach me and then follow behind me.
Imagining the descent into the centre of the earth was the most difficult, but the drumbeats were hypnotic and the more I listened and blanked out all irrelevant thought the more I began to drift into a long tunnel like Alice down the rabbit hole. At the end of the tunnel was a light, and I came up through a pool in a clearing in beautiful woodland. A deer was standing beside the pool - very graceful and timid and I wondered whether this was going to be my power animal. But suddenly a wolf with red eyes emerged from the darkness of the wood behind the deer and approached me. As I began to move away, it followed.
I wandered about in this strange imaginary world followed by the wolf for some time - at one point I was on a ridge looking down on a valley, and then I was standing on a beach on warm sand, with the sea calmly hissing around my ankles. It was unbelievably peaceful and I was quite sad when the drumbeats changed and I was called back by B, retracing my journey as instructed, over the ridge, through the woods, down through the forest pool, into the tunnel and back up to the tree still followed by the wolf - my very own Patronus. I couldn't help thinking about Harry Potter - J.K. Rowling took so much from old mythologies and traditions of magic for her books I suppose it was inevitable that the 'power animal' would evolve into the magical Patronus.
Afterwards I felt incredibly relaxed. B told me I had been to the 'Clear and Shining Sea' where everyone goes eventually. Later I did another journey through the top of the tree, eventually surfing through the stratosphere, looking down on myself peacefully stretched out under the blanket. This experience was amazing, and when I was given the 'call back' I really didn't want to return which was rather scary.
Looking back on it now, it felt like that deep imaginative trance state you experience when you're deeply into a story - inhabiting that imaginative landscape, listening to your characters speak, waiting to see where they are going to take you. It is a creative journey inside your own imagination, your sub-conscious mind, exploring the deepest recesses of your psyche. I think for anyone with writer's block it would be liberating.
Perhaps Shamanic Journeys have always been creative - generating the huge amount of story and poetry passed down by the Shamen. And then there's the art, the music and the dance .....
This could be a tool, I thought, a way of entering a heightened creative state. It was certainly a wonderful way to relax.
If anyone is interested further there's an introductory book called 'Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner's Guide' by Sandra Ingerman (I've only read a sample on Kindle), and there are several shamanic drumming CDs on the internet. Then there's the novels - Carlos Casteneda and Paolo Coelho have made vast amounts of money writing about their own shamanic journeys.