Ritual and Sacred Space


If the spirit realm is linked to our imagination and exists as the scope of quantum possibilities, what role ought the physical world to play in establishing access into it?

Ritual and creating space in the physical world has always played an important role in shamanic practice. When a shaman creates sacred space and employs ritual, he or she is honing the link between the physical world, which the shaman wishes to influence or otherwise delve into, and the spirit world of possibility (expressed through the imagination as the visionary practice of journeying).  The shaman is a walker between worlds, tightrope tip-toeing through liminal spaces. Thus it important to have focus, intent, and a plan all in place – and certainly it is always advised not to journey without a question at hand, however alluring the idea of blindly wandering the Dreamtime might be. Ritual and sacred space serve to assure the focus, intent, and plan of the journey.

Further, by creating sacred space one is quite literally opening a portal from one world to the next by opening the imagination to sacredness itself, which is a spiritual concept. The act of creating sacred space defines the physical world as having spiritual ties. It is about staking a claim that the space and time in which a shaman works is spiritually opened and fully bridged to the spirit realm.

The rituals employed by a shaman are boundless, unlimited by the physics of the ordinary world. This means that while rituals may be specific, they do not function within the confines of rational logic. Rituals are physical actions that serve spiritual functions. They may be tasks assigned to a shaman from spirit, or otherwise directed by spiritual intuition. Either way, their purpose is much the same as that of creating sacred space. The shaman performs spiritual action in the physical world, tying both realms together and forming the portal through which the shaman journeys.

This explanation of ritual and sacred space makes it clear why these practices are critical, even if they are merely brief and simple activities. It may be that persons who most yearn for spiritual experiences fail to perform them precisely because such people long to break ties with the physical world rather than reinforce them. Yet, rituals serve to make the road for the seeker to travel into the spirit world, rather than to close and lock the door to it.

Shamanic Journeying: the Basics


There are many books available now that detail the technique of shamanic journeying, so I will be brief here. A shamanic journey is an ancient technique common amongst many indigenous cultures worldwide. In it, one travels to the spirit world through various means. A simple way to do so is by meditating, getting into a peaceful mind-frame, and then visualizing the World Tree. This is the Tree that connects the spiritual realms. It is commonly believed that there are three realms: the lower world (animals and wilderness), the middle world (human beings – our world), and the upper world (spirit guides and teachers). Thus, at the roots, trunk and the highest branches of the World Tree, you can visualize portals to these realms and choose where you wish to travel.

This technique involves faith in your own feelings. If you wish to pass into the upper world, you should feel something as you visualize it that marks your achievement. Be patient and take your time: it will come.

If you wish to find a spirit guide, in shamanic journeying you would travel to the upper world and respectfully ask for a guide to aid you. You can ask for a particular kind of guide if you wish. If you desire a guide that will work with you for a long period of time, you may certainly ask, but remember that this is a relationship you are requesting, and much like human relationships, spirit relationships can be unpredictable. Thus spirits may come in and out of your life, and you may come in and out of theirs. The key is to put emphasis on and be open to learning, growing, and maintaining deep and respectful relationships. If you feel something is not right for you, you may respectfully end any spirit relationship just as you can end a human one. But I would suggest keeping doors open and maximizing your potential to learn from spirit.

In a shamanic journey, it is important that you always approach spirit with a clear question in mind, or else you may drift around lost – or even fall asleep! Thus each shamanic journey should have a clearly defined mission. In this case, once you are presented with a spirit guide, you can ask other questions – and at this point, be prepared for a wild ride. You may find yourself chasing after a winged spirit that’s soaring off to a whole new spiritual world. Your guide will keep you safe, so listen carefully and mind any advice given to you.

Your spirit guide may represent the very first spirit relationship you forge. It is a good idea to devise ways to honour and spend time with this spirit, as I discussed above. You can also ask your spirit guide what you can do to honour it – but be prepared to follow through, even if it is a strange request! (If it is something that makes you feel truly uncomfortable, respectfully say so and ask for an alternative.)

Your spirit guide will also introduce you to other spirits. Whenever you enter a shamanic journey with a question, let your guide know that you wish to speak to a spirit who will give a good or appropriate answer to your question, and your guide will lead you to such a spirit. Just remember your manners – these spirits don’t exist solely to answer your questions. Greet them, honour them, bless them, and always speak with respect.

At this point you may be thinking that a shamanic journey sounds beyond your capabilities. The truth is, if you can dream, you can learn to experience a shamanic journey. The key is to not be afraid of your own imagination. Imagination is a thought-form, and thus a vehicle for spirit communication! Like other thought-communication, just let your mind flow and don’t push, and when the journey is guided by spirit you’ll find that what you experience doesn’t feel self-invented. This is your best determination of whether or not a shamanic journey is “real” – if it feels spontaneous, original, and not something you are directly or purposely imagining for yourself. For instance if you get an answer to a question that you don’t understand or that you didn’t really want to hear, you can take that as a sign that the answer is spirit-sent.

I do shamanic journeys and healing for others for free. If you are interested in receiving healing, find more info here: Spiritual Readings and Healing