JOURNEYING with the Drum

Feb 20, 2013
Posted by Larry Burk | 2 comments

I learned shamanic journeying from radiologist Al Marsh and shamanic practitioner Mary Phyllis Horn who both trained in Core Shamanism with Michael Harner from the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. My most dramatic journey is described in the February 2013 Let Magic Happen Newsletter on Shamanic Journeying. It is best to learn from a trained shamanic practitioner, but you can get an initial experience on this 10 minute video with me drumming our way into the lower world. The detailed steps are listed below.

For official instruction in Core Shamanism, see
The steps for journeying are as follows:
1) Get a drumming tape from the Foundation for Shamanic Studies or a drum to beat during your journeying session.
2) Set an intention for journeying. This can be healing, getting answers to specific questions, or just simply exploring the lower world and meeting power animals.
3) Begin by blessing the four directions in the Native American tradition, shaking a homemade rattle and including the sky, earth and center as well as the four directions of the compass.
4) Ask for protection on your journey and for assistance from spiritual guides, power animals, angels, God, or whatever is appropriate for your spiritual tradition.
5) Decide upon a familiar natural portal in the earth to use as your entry into the lower world and for your return at the end of the journey.
6) Lie down or sit in a darkened room and begin drumming at a rate of a few times a second while visualizing your portal of entry.
7) As you follow the drumbeat into a deeper state of relaxation and maintain an attitude of curiosity, begin journeying down the tunnel into the lower world.
8) At the end of the tunnel emerge into the lower world filled with pristine nature. Be aware that some people have more auditory and kinesthetic experiences than visual ones.
9) Begin to explore your surroundings and notice how you can move at will through the landscape. This can include swimming underwater or flying through the air.
10) Watch for any animals that may appear, and if you happen to meet them, ask them questions and listen for their answers.
11) If you meet an animal you are particularly attracted to and can see it vividly in life-like 3D, you may ask it if it is one of your power animals.
12) If yes, then you may ask it to guide you on your journey. Sometimes it is possible to ride it or merge with it to travel through the lower world.
13) Remember the intention you set at the beginning of your journey. Ask your power animal for assistance in fulfilling your quest.
14) If you’re using a drumming tape, there will be a break in the regular pattern with a return signal of a few separate beats to let you know it is time to rapidly retrace your steps to the portal.
15) If you’re doing your own drumming, decide when it’s time to return, briefly interrupt your rhythm, and then beat at an accelerated rate for the return trip.
16) This faster beat will begin to raise the frequency of your brainwaves back to normal consciousness. Head back to the tunnel and return through the portal without delay.
17) When you return to waking consciousness, ground yourself by stretching your body, placing both feet firmly on the ground, and taking a few deep breaths.
18) Thank your spiritual guides or power animals for their assistance, and bless and give thanks to the four directions to complete the shamanic ritual.
19) Record any guidance you received on your journey and look up the significance of your power animals in the Medicine Cards, Animal-Speak, or Animal-Wise books.
20) For a more in-depth introduction to journeying or soul retrieval work, contact a practitioner trained in Core Shamanism by the Foundation for Shamanic Studies.