This shamanic journey begins with me imagining myself in a birch bark Spirit canoe. On the right I invite the male ancestor, who shows up as a bear. And the female ancestor, a Native American grandmother elder, appears on my left. (Ancestors can appear in any form). The guide, a peacock, is in the bow and my protection, a crystal formation, is behind me in the stern. Then I state my intention: Show me what I need to know. I use all my senses while journeying so not to miss anything. There is a monotonous drumbeat for this shamanic journey.

I imagine that I am standing in my canoe and we travel far out into the valley where my journeys always begin. Bear is meandering on my right and on my left my Native American grandmother elder is weaving a garment for me. Peacock is perched in front of me and the crystals glisten behind me. I feel safe and stable.

Shiela Baker is a practicing and teaching shaman, a psychotherapist, and a PTSD specialist.

The river and the canoe flow on until I recognize the familiar sound of the waterfall.  As we often do, we sail out from the crest of the waterfall. Below the canoe on the left is a beautiful Northwest forest and on the right is a glistening golden pear garden. Looking forward, I notice two big white birds coming toward the canoe. Suddenly they veer in opposite directions and plunge toward one another connecting by clasping talons. Spiraling and tumbling they free fall through the air. Flying, free fall, and spiraling over and over and over. This is just amazing to watch. It’s exhilarating to see two large white birds fly together then tumble toward the ground seemingly unaware of the apparent danger.

I have heard of white cranes in Asia doing this and understood it to be fighting. These two surely are not fighting! This is still going on and on as the drumming slows and the journey ends. I thank my guides and return to the place where my journeys all begin.

Shamanic journeys are profoundly therapeutic and coming to understand the symbology lends meaning to events and questions in our lives. I use five archetypes to comprehend the metaphors and symbols. These five are the Visionary, who sets the intention for the journey; for all intents and purposes the Visionary is you. The Enlightened Spiritual Warrior takes action or maybe has to wait in the journey. The Teacher archetype allows for a lesson because once you set an intention, get information, take action or wait, you have the ability to learn a lesson. The Healer allows for the lesson to be learned and a healing to be affected. The Magician makes sure you do something with the information gathered in the journey so you remember what has transpired.

As the Visionary I use all my senses and my body to be aware of what happens in the journey. As the Enlightened Spiritual Warrior I watch the events occurring with curiosity but without preconceived judgments about what is going on. As the Teacher I learn to notice that things are not always what is seen or heard, think of the waterfall and going over the edge. Were the birds really cranes or did I “think” they were? Suspend judgment and be open to infinite possibilities. That’s a great lesson! As the Healer in innocence I stretch beyond what I believe is possible. First I free fall over the waterfalls in life then I watch as birds do the same. This is a wonderful metaphor for how to deal with difficult situations: don’t allow yourself to be limited, you can fly and go beyond what you think is possible.

As the Magician who concretizes the events in our journeys I remember to laugh and be playful even when moving beyond preconceived limitations. To make this real in ordinary reality stretch yourself, do Yoga, walk to the edge of a cliff, take yourself to the edge of your imagination and expand beyond what you think you can do.

Shamanic journeys have lessons, healing and actions to be taken. Journeying is a powerful healing tool. Each person experiencing a journey gains a unique perspective and insight. Participating in and listening to others’ journey experiences can help you gain insight into your own life and act upon those insights. Some seemingly short journeys such as this one can have great impact and meaning in our lives.

It is natural to want to use the logic of ordinary reality in journeys. In so doing we restrict what is just beyond what we can imagine. Now, let’s look at just one the metaphors in this journey.

The birds have talons clasped and are twirling graciously toward earth. When is it that you can move toward a desire with ease? Where do you misperceive an intention? Where are there two conflicting ideas awaiting resolution? Are two sides coming together bringing union?

What do you find relevant for your life in this journey? How will you put this experience into action in your everyday life? And how can you use my journey to expand your own thinking?

Journey often and with friends! Aho


About Author

Shiela Baker, a practicing and teaching shaman, is a therapist, nurse, PTSD specialist and holds a Masters’ Degree in Dance Movement Therapy. She shares her knowledge in three books. Look for her recent book, Journeys of Transformation, coming this autumn. Shiela has been teaching shamanism since 1997. She uses many tools to help the soul’s evolution and provide relief from trauma including shamanic tarot, the akashic records, soul retrieval with after-care, yoga, shamanic counseling, and home and business blessings. Please visit, or call 206-904-9404

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