History & Evolution of Sacred Journeys

If you want to know the truth about who you are, walk until no one knows your name. The journey is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, more cruel than a mirror. A good stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of silence.

~ Patrick Rothfuss


Shamanic or Sacred Journeys have been used since ancient times in a manner that incorporates trance states and imaginative metaphors to attain wisdom, foreknowledge, and interaction with the spirit world. This module provides a brief background and history into the concept of Sacred Journeys and provides you with a sample script to use as you incorporate this work into your healing techniques.

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History and Evolution of Sacred Journeys

Shamans are known as the “medicine people” of indigenous tribes around the world. They typically guide individuals or groups on sacred journeys. Other common words used for these practitioners include medicine man or woman, druid, sage, wizard, priest or priestess, witch, witch doctor, and/or healer. 

In a traditional Native American shamanic journey, a shaman guides a participant through a visionary world to collect pertinent information, advice, and wisdom. This module provides a modified version of such a journey, which I call a Sacred or Spiritual Journey. This type of experience is useful in opening communication with spirit guides as well as with a participant’s higher self or subconscious mind, and it can provide valuable wisdom regarding a specific area of the participant’s life.

The purpose of a Sacred Journey is to gather information, wisdom, and guidance from the subconscious mind as well as from actual spirit guides. It can even be used to show future outcomes on the client's soul path, supporting the client in becoming his or her own psychic!

There are numerous methods that can be used to facilitate a journey. I'll present two versions in this module for your consideration.

Modifying a Traditional Technique

The Shaman traditionally uses drumming, chanting, and/or rattles at the beginning or throughout the Sacred Journey experience to enhance the trance state. After the initial instructions, no other conversation occurs until the participant has completed his or her journey.

In my practice, I have used a drum or rattle, although in my smaller office, it is more comfortable for everyone if I simply use music. I guide the client into the trance state using typical hypnotherapy techniques and then take them step by step through the journey, allowing the client to relay images and messages while they are occurring rather than at the end of the experience. In this way, the journey is fully recorded in my notes, the details remembered, and I can discuss them with the client afterward in a counseling fashion.

The journey is frequently in a canoe or boat, with a guide coming along for the ride. If the client is uncomfortable with water or boats, or uncomfortable for any other reason, the journey can be created as a walk that begins on a path. The adventures that are experienced, along with conversations with the guide, all provide a treasure of knowledge and wisdom, guidance, and views into the life and path of your client. 

In the next unit, I'll show you how to facilitate rich and meaningful Sacred Journeys.