Journeywork is my primary method of getting in touch spiritually. It’s usually paired with energy work. Journeywork is where you mentally, spiritually, or astrally travel elsewhere for various reasons. It might be all in my head, and it might not. Some people say that it’s dangerous, and I agree, but not as much as riding in a car. Whether you believe you’re traveling to the spirit world, or just exploring the inside of your own mind, here there be dragons. You have to decide what to do with those dragons. Do you fight them? Slay them? Run screaming in the opposite direction? Learn to negotiate and invite them over for tea? Turn them into friends or even lovers? Do they seduce you with lies, or do they hold up a glaring mirror of truth? It can become anything that you make of it, for better or worse. It can become a disease, or a cure. Dragons, I’m telling you, beautiful, terrifying, exotic, magical, dangerous, dragons.
In the Kemetic Othrodox forums I do this thing where I link music videos to each of my gods. It’s sort of a musical offering attached to my signature. Sometimes I go through and change them as the mood strikes. For awhile, I dedicated the song above, a cover of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) from the movie Sucker Punch, to Sobek, the Kemetic crocodile god of the river. His ability to navigate the chaotic waters of the Nun makes him a good deity to associate with journeywork. He’s also not a gentle god. He can protect you and keep you safe, if you earn his favor. He can also chew you up if you’re not careful. He brings the flood, the inundation, but you better know how to swim. I remember fighting the dragon, right after I graduated from college. I was at war with myself. Was all this magic and spirit stuff really helping? Did I really have anything to show for it? Wouldn’t I be better off without it? The struggle went on for weeks. I didn’t want to kill the dragon, and I didn’t want it to kill me. Finally we came to a truce, and it settled in peacefully and protectively at my side. I believe this “dragon” was Sobek in disguise. Show some courage, and maybe the dragon will come to respect you, and even like you.
If that still sounds like a good idea to you, you’re probably crazy. But I would be the biggest hypocrite ever if I told anyone not to go. Just be careful out there. If something feels like a runaway train, then it probably is. Remember, that you’re not only allowed, but expected, to fight back when the going gets weird. Double and triple check everything, internally and externally, to try to keep it from getting away from you. If the road seems too easy, and all the answers are laid neatly on your plate without struggle, chances are good that somebody is faking it. The dragons guard treasure, but they don’t just hand it over most of the time. Change is difficult, and if you’re not there to make changes, then why bother? I’ve seen people wander down rose strewn paths, bleeding away their energy the whole way. Don’t let that be you. Keep yourself whole. Step away from it when you need to rest. Eat right, sleep right, wash behind your ears. Come back to earth and move your body. Take care of the daily grind. That’s how you keep your balance.
That said, I’ll tell you how I got there. Mine is far from the only way.
I started by learning to meditate. I took fifteen minutes every day to practice. I repeated a mantra over and over, in my head but tied to my breath. Most of the time nothing happened except for feeling kind of relaxed. Some days went more smoothly than others. I didn’t do anything fancy. I simply repeated the mantra for fifteen minutes, daily. I was training myself to relax into an altered state of consciousness. There are many different ways to do this. You don’t have to use my method. Some people listen to music. Some people listen to, or play, a drum. Some dance, some walk, some spin in endless circles. I’ve even heard of people getting into a meditative state while doing boring daily chores, like the dishes. For the purpose of journeywork, I’d think that one of the less active methods would be easier on you when you’re elsewhere, but to each their own. If you choose a mantra or a piece of music, pay attention to the words or the tone. You don’t want to program yourself with something negative or potentially stressful. That can set the tone of the entire experience.
As I said, most of the time when I was learning, nothing much happened. Be patient. It can take months to learn how to “go under.” The state of mind works on a sliding scale too, and the scale can be deceptive. You might be only lightly tranced, mostly aware of your surroundings. You may go heavily under and forget where you are. You may think you’re wide awake and then find yourself unwilling to physically move. I’m always at least a little bit aware of my physical surroundings, but there are times when time passes more quickly than I would imagine, and nothing short of a fire alarm would get me to move. Some people do have complete out-of-body experiences, but that is not necessary for journeywork. What you’re aiming for is basically a daydream with more focus and power behind it.
A daydream? Is that it? Well, yes, though it’s also a thing of degree. When you start to Journey, try not to consciously control every action. You have to let it flow. Go with the current and see where it leads. If it starts to feel forced, backtrack and try something else. Don’t automatically believe everything you see as if it was the literal truth. There’s a lot of symbolism to be had out there. Something that doesn’t make sense now might become more clear later. Writing down the session after you get done is a good practice, because it’s easy to forget or discount what you’re seen. You may find yourself going back to those notes months later and suddenly have something fall into place.
Journeying is a good platform for magic. Again, don’t take everything literally. It’s also a good tool for self-development. By facing your fears, you can lessen them. By practicing control over your environment, you can teach yourself confidence. It doesn’t have to all be hard and scary though. By spending time among friendly spirits in nice surroundings you can learn to calm yourself and relieve stress. That can be just as important, and sometimes more important, than shadow work. If you need the indulgent fantasy, then go ahead and take it. You may need something else later. When in doubt, look to the yardstick. If it is all in your head, how is it affecting your life? Are you making progress over time? Or do you find yourself on a treadmill, doing variations on the same thing constantly? If you have been changing, is that change for the better? Again, it’s good to keep a journal to help you answer those questions. Real change can take months or even years to achieve.
(Note: Some people call this shamanism. That word has so much cultural baggage attached that I think it’s best to not use it. I’m not a shaman. I’m a person who does journeywork.)