What is Shamanic Journeying?

Shamanic Journeying instruction is one method I offer in my practice. This blog post will teach you what it is and how I practice it with my clients.


Intro to Shamanic Journeying


Shamanic journeying is one service I offer under the applied shamanic counseling umbrella. I will define Applied Shamanic Counseling as a practice that uses earth-based wisdom to address modern issues such as relationship issues, trauma, or anxiety. A fundamental part of Applied Shamanic Counseling is Shamanic Journeying. Journeying is a process that I can teach clients how to do. A shaman can be defined as “one who knows.” Therefore, we can define a shamanic journey as a “journey of knowing.”

Shamanic journeying can help you gain clarity on personal issues or deeper questions that you hold. In my practice, we use it for the purpose of gaining relevant insight on your life issues and goals, and empowering you to access your own inner guidance.


Benefits of Shamanic Journeying

These benefits are not guaranteed, but describe anecdotal reports from myself, my teachers, colleagues, and clients, and may reflect your experiences.

  1. Journeying helps you to get out of your "thinking brain" and into a different state of consciousness. Have you ever had the experience of getting "stuck" on an issue? For example, ruminating about whether or not to quit your job for months on end, or how to heal your depression or anxiety? However, no matter how hard you try to "solve" the problem with your thinking mind, you still remain stuck? Shamanic journeying may be able to help. Since it helps you access an altered state of consciousness where the rational brain is taking a backseat, it has the potential to yield different answers than what you could come up with with your conscious mind.

  2. Journeying helps you gain direct answers to deeply held questions. Some people who have always wondered about big existential questions about themselves, relationships, spirit, or the universe may be able to gain deep and profound experiential answers to these questions.

  3. Journeying helps you learn to rely on your own inner guidance more. Over time, you may find yourself depending less on the advice of others, and more on your own “inner knowing." Many people report that this is extremely empowering.

  4. Journeying can help you develop or deepen a mystical connection. Some people report feeling more mystically connected to god or the universe in a way that makes sense to them, or are able to create a spiritual connection if they did not already have one, but want one.

  5. Journeying is something you can learn to do independently. You can eventually learn to journey on your own, which will be a tool or resource you can use as often as you want. This is also very empowering.

  6. Journeying could help you develop a deeper appreciation for the wisdom of the natural world. Some people tap into the wisdom of plants, animals, and nature in their journeys. This helps them develop a deeper appreciation and reverence for nature.

How Sessions are Conducted and Structured

In the initial session, I will more deeply explain the layout of sessions and how to journey. We will also choose a topic of inquiry, for example, life purpose or healthy boundaries. We will maintain focus on this one topic for at least 5 sessions in order to explore it deeply. I will also discuss the importance and function of dreams during our work. In most cases, you will get the chance to experience a journey in every session. We will use the sound of a drum to help you enter an altered state of consciousness where you will seek the answer to your question. People may experience the answer to their questions in a variety of ways, through any or all of their senses. Many people report that the journeying state is somewhat similar to lucid dreaming, but with a focused intention. After the journey, the remainder of the session will be used to help you make meaning out of your experience in a way that makes sense to you. I believe this is the most empowering way to help you, and therefore I will not tell you “what your journey is supposed to mean.” We will typically do at least 5 consecutive sessions to go deeply into your topic of inquiry. Shamanic journeying can be done independently of other methods. It can also be woven in at any time to our other work. Even if you have been doing IFS or Depth Hypnosis with me before, we can work within the shamanic counseling framework temporarily as needed.

Myths and Misconceptions about Shamanic Journeying

  1. I need to ingest a mind-altering substance in order to enter an altered state. This is false. You can actually enter an altered state quite easily and quickly once you know how to do it. People who have caught wind of the research boom and reported benefits of psychedelic medicines, and are interested in the altered states that psychedelics provide, may want to consider shamanic journeying as a legal way to access altered states.

  2. I need to subscribe to a certain religious belief system, or abandon my current views, in order to practice shamanic journeying. This is false. The only thing you need is to be open to entering an altered state, open to make meaning out of your experience, and open to applying your learning to your life. You will always have the choice of how you will interpret and apply your experiences.

  3. I need to be a seasoned, experienced meditator with advanced mental focus in order to journey. This is not true. However, you will likely need some basic focusing abilities. If this is something you struggle with, we can work together to help you learn how to focus your mind (this may include mindfulness meditation practice or Parts Work to address parts that are keeping you from focusing) before attempting journeying.

  4. Journeying is only for shamans. This is not a belief that I hold. I believe that everyone has the right to access wisdom and guidance about their own life path. This is something that journeying offers. Journeying is helpful and simple, and just about anyone can learn how to do it.

  5. Shamanic journeying is cultural appropriation. Applied shamanic counseling does not pull from any one cultural tradition. Instead, it surveys many cultures across time and geography to look at practices that were common globally. It applies this common core wisdom to modern problems. It takes active effort not to appropriate practices, like specific songs or rituals. Additionally, if we trace our own lineage back far enough, most humans had earth-based wisdom in our ancestral communities. Applied shamanic counseling helps you reconnect to this wisdom.

  6. Emma is the expert and is here to tell me what my journey means and what it’s supposed to be like. This is not the way I practice. Instead, I provide you with structure and guidance on how to enter an altered state and keep focused on your intention. I also ask targeted questions to help you make meaning of your experience and reflect information you have told me back to you for your consideration. However, this is not psychoanalysis and I do not tell you one-size-fits-all interpretations from my own opinions or a book. The shamanic journey experience will be personal to you, and interpreted by you, within a container that I will help hold for you.

If you decide after reading this post that you would like to try shamanic journeying together, please let me know! If you're a brand new client, please fill out the consult request form and mention that you're interested in journeying. If you're an existing client of mine, feel free to mention your interest in shamanic journeying at any time during our work together.


**Sources and inspiration for this post: I have completed advanced studies in applied shamanism through the Foundation of the Sacred Stream. Applied Shamanic Counseling is a method developed by Isa Gucchiardi. This blog post was written based on Isa’s teachings as they relate to my practice and work with my own clients.