I’m concerned because my journeys are not very visual. Other people report a lot of vivid details from their journeys, almost as if they’re watching a movie. My journeys aren’t like that at all. I often just get vague, disconnected images. Am I doing something wrong?

Not everyone receives strong visual imagery when journeying, and “seeing” is not necessarily a more powerful or better way to journey. For some people, information comes to them more through other senses such as hearing, smell, emotions, and physical sensations such as changes in temperature. Also, the spirits can communicate to you in a variety of non-visual ways. You might, for instance, hear your spirit’s voice or get a feeling in your body when they are near. And sometimes they convey information directly to the heart, which may feel like an intuitive certainty about the issue of concern. Such journeyers often say: “I just knew in my heart.”

If you are not visual in your journeys, the main thing is to be very clear about when you are in the Upper or Lower World, versus the Middle World. If you don’t “see” the zones/barriers that you must pass through to reach these worlds in non-ordinary reality, you must still have certainty about where you are through whatever senses work well for you. If you are unclear about this, it is sometimes helpful to use the simultaneous narration method taught in the Harner Shamanic Counseling workshop.

As one becomes more practiced at interpreting the spirits’ messages, the ways the spirits communicate often shift. And so, a person who had unusually vivid journeys at the beginning may find the message is transmitted in more subtle ways, with less detail, but also with greater specificity and certainty about the answer. Alternatively, those who may have had difficulty perceiving the spirits’ communications at first, may experience visual and other senses sharpening and expanding, with clear messages coming through.

Ultimately, the spirits desire to help us and want to work with those who are assisting others and our world. Results are what matter in shamanism. Thus, if you are getting useful information and are able to work effectively with the helping spirits to help others, there is no need to be concerned about vividness or the manner in which the information is communicated.

Polestar logo design by Carolyn Fee ©2010 Foundation for Shamanic Studies
FSS Polestar highlights some of the questions we are frequently asked about contemporary shamanic practice. “Polestar” is defined as “something that serves as a guiding principle.” It reflects our commitment to helping practitioners stay oriented to authentic shamanic methods and ethics, while maintaining their own independent spirituality, which comes from learning directly from the compassionate spirits. Send us your practice-related questions for consideration for Polestar. Use our CONTACT FORM, and put “Polestar” in the subject line.