Upper World Journeys

You’ve been down and around; the only place left to go is up!  (Now you’ll know what to do when someone has you up a tree.)

  1. You will need: 20-30 minutes journey time, a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, a light blanket and eye covering, a drumming tape or CD, a part of your life that needs a healing, a journal to record your experience.
  2. Healing doesn’t always mean finding relief from some physical impairment, although that can certainly be an aspect of illness or imbalance.  Shamans, like many practitioners of energy medicine, believe that illness begins on a spiritual (energetic) level, and is secondarily experienced on an emotional or physical level.  Think of an area of your life that is not flowing naturally.  What is it that you see yourself doing over and over that gets in the way of that flow?  We all have ways of sabotaging ourselves.  What is one of the ways you do that?
  3. Lie down and cover yourself with your blanket.  Put some covering like a bandana over your eyes.  Start your drumming tape.
  4. Return to the special tree you used when you journeyed to the lower world.  See yourself dancing in a circle around the tree.  As you dance around and around, you begin to feel lighter and lighter.  Soon you feel so light, your feet leave the ground and you float up through the branches of the tree.  Feel the leaves drift by your face and body as you go higher and higher.  Keep rising into the sky until you discover an opening of some sort: a door, a hole in the sky, a gate or a set of stairs.  Take that opening and go through it or up it until you encounter another being.
  5. Ask this being if it is your spirit guide.  If the answer is no, ask if this being will take you to your spirit guide.  Remember how to intuit responses.  You may hear, see or sense the answer.   (You may have to create or assume it just to keep things rolling!)  Follow this being until you have located the spirit who is to be your guide in the upper world.  Ask what name he or she wishes to be addressed by.
  6. Sit down and speak to your guide about the way in which you sabotage yourself.  Tell your guide you would like healing and understanding of this behavior.  See, hear, or sense the response.  Your guide may wish for purposes of illustration, to show you an event from your past.  Perhaps this is the source of the learned behavior. (We can pretty much assume any self-sabotage behavior is learned—we don’t come in with this stuff.)
  7. Ask what new activity you can adopt to unlearn your self-defeating behavior. Ask for a gift that will remind you of the behavior and how it gets in your way.  Ask for any other clarity you need in order to heal this aspect of your life.
  8. When you hear the callback, thank your guide.  Make your way back from how you came to the upper world.  Float comfortably and easily back to earth.  Begin to move your toes and fingers.  Open your eyes.
  9. Record your journey.

Tip: You have been given a virtual gift by your guide.  Find or make a replica of that gift to wear or carry in your pocket.  Also: a nice reciprocal gesture is to think of a virtual gift you can take back to your guide the next time you meet.  (Good manners work everywhere in the world.)

Suggestion: It isn’t healthy or kind to carry bad feelings about your loved ones—no matter how entitled to them you feel you are.  Here’s an exercise to release those feelings.  Sit down and write a letter that expresses every emotion you have about your painful experiences with this person.  You are free to say anything you like here, but keep it more about how you feel rather than what you think about this person.  When you feel you have said everything you need to say, tear up the letter and burn the pieces in a small fireproof container.  (You should go outside for this part of the activity because the smoke from burning paper is often quite acrid, and you also don’t want to catch your house on fire!  Stay away from dry, brushy areas—an asphalt driveway is best. )  Take the ashes and put them into a small square of cloth (about 5” X 5”).  You may wish to add some things that are tokens of the relationship or an unpleasant experience with this person.  Sprinkle with tobacco or cornmeal—typically given as thanks to the elements of nature that have volunteered to take this bundle from you.  Tie up the bundle securely.  At the time of the full moon (when the moon is in a state of release), bury the bundle (on public or open land).  A good burying spot is an “in-between space”—where water meets land, where tree or stone meets earth, or some type of crossroad.  Thank the earth or water for taking your bundle (burden) from you.  Sprinkle more tobacco, cornmeal, or lavender over the spot.  Acknowledge and speak the words: It is done.

Creative Exercise: Devote some area of your home to your ancestors.  This may take the form of a wall of pictures, an altar laid with family faces and memorabilia, or a large collage.  Most native medicine wheels place the ancestors in the north direction, so you may wish to choose a north-facing wall or room in your house.  Collect stories and details about your ancestors.  Go back as many generations as you can.  Consider this place in your home to be sacred space, where you can observe family traditions and conduct ceremony.  Without your ancestors, their triumphs and struggles, you would not be here.  Thank them for giving you your life.