Drum, Rattle & Soul: My Journey into Shamanism by Phil

What is Shamanism? Phil, an enthusiastic shamanic seeker shares his experiences fresh from his journey into Shamanism.

I’ve always been intrigued by shamanic practices but never personally considered trying them for myself. However, I’ve also always wanted someone to be able to share their journey into Shamanism here, so that you as the reader could still learn more.

So it blew my mind away when Phil synchronistically reached out to me a few months, sharing that he was interested in writing about his experiences with Shamanism, to post the articles on My Spiritual Shenanigans.

What else could you and I have asked for, than a kindred spirit open to sharing their story and journey with us? I’m super grateful to him for putting this piece together. I hope you learn much from this and his future stories to follow.

Here’s Phil and his journey into Shamanism.

The Backstory

The calendar year was 2019 and I had hit the wall. I was sore, freezing and on the verge of becoming emotionally numb. Low vibrational energies and death surrounded me almost every day. How did I get here? The previous year, I had tried to manipulate and control every possible outcome in my life. How do you think this worked out for me?

I had been working at a pork processing plant and while I had plenty to be grateful for, in my ways I hit rock bottom. I was professionally dubbed a ‘hog-pusher’ and would push and store the carcasses in a massive multi-room cooler to chill overnight.

This was not the kind of work I imagined myself doing well into my 30’s. Previously I had been on my own spiritual journey of amazing discoveries and synchronicities.

Various practices like yoga, meditation, energy healing and books about spiritual development helped me navigate some rough waters. I overcame a lot of adversity to get to this point. I had no idea (or direction for that matter) how to get through this.

The Breakthrough

As winter had turned to spring of 2019 I took action and did a session with a spiritual counselor. Their work was thorough and something was repeated back to me that I deeply sense. My inner fire was burning low and was risking being extinguished.

silhouette of man standing near window, sadness, tired, burn out

Each day was blending together from one to the next and I was burned out on every level. In fact I had began to think the universe may have been conspiring against me.

Maybe, all the adversity I’d overcome was a fluke. Or even worse a sick joke played on me in an unjust universe. That is how distorted my vibration was and when things were beginning to look their most bleak…it called me!

It? An angel? An entity? An animal? It was a book and that book is called The Lost Art Of Heart Navigation: A Modern Shaman’s Field Manual by Jeff Nixa. Unbeknownst to me, it would change my life forever and get me back on the right path.

The way I saw him helping people touched me deeply. Everything about the story just appealed to me…I had to find someone who did similar work that was local to me. Thankfully, that didn’t take very long.

The Climb

Before I continue with my journey into shamanism, I would like to reiterate that I am still a novice at this point. I am but a conduit to get you connected to experts in the field like Michael Harner, Sandra Ingerman, Jeff Nixa or the late Kenneth Meadows.

My practitioners of past and present have made the decision to remain anonymous and I respect their privacy. But what I can do here is share some of my experience with them and intertwine it with wisdom from said experts.

I went through my first guided journey in May 2019 and it hit me right away. The setup, the visions and the aftermath were beyond description. On the drive home I had felt something that I thought eluded me. I felt complete and the fire was back burning stronger than ever.

I had gone through a process known as Soul Retrieval which is essentially reconnecting lost pieces of your soul that were lost through trauma and emotional distress over the years. In order for Soul Retrieval to work you need to understand the basics of Shamanic Journeying which I will describe for you right now.

In my eyes a Shamanic Journey is similar to a guided meditation. While many can practice meditation in silence I prefer to have what is known as a sonic driver.

I can deepen my own mediation through sound whether it be music, singing bowls or nature itself. You need a sonic driver that can either be a single drum or a rattle (in some cases both).

man playing percussion instrument on grass field near forest, journey into shamanism, shamanic healer

Other sonic drivers and even chanting can be included but usually the drum and rattle work best. The rattle and/or drum keeps a steady beat and can be performed by yourself, a practitioner or done through an audio track with headphones.

Many different modes of ceremony can take place before the journey including smudging, the lighting of a candle, creating an altar of crystals, blocking out all natural light etc.

Each expert in this field has their own variations and I recommend checking them all out to see which one works best for you in your journey into Shamanism.

When I journey indoors I prefer to be lying down under a blanket and if I am outdoors I prefer to journey sitting on a rock or with my spine erect against the trunk of a tree. Play around to find what works.

Once the sonic driver gets into a consistent rhythm you tune into your breath and relax like a meditation. You allow your mind and body to relax so you enter an altered state of consciousness.

One thing that has to take place before the journey is that you have to decide which of the three ethereal realms you will journey too and you will write down a question or declare the intent of your journey. Here is a brief description:

Lower World

Journeying to this world will connect you with your power animal who will guide you along with helping spirits who will show you the answer to your question in the form of a vision.

You will lower into this realm through a desired spot in nature from the physical realm. Where and how differs between each individual and don’t worry as the Lower World is not to be feared nor will it attract low-energetic beings and entities. It is a realm of inner wisdom.

Middle World

The middle world is the realm closest associated to our physical realm here on Earth.

I personally do not have a lot of experience journeying into this realm yet in my journey into Shamanism but it is used to communicate with spirits that live and connect to all things in our physical reality. It can be used to locate lost objects or to communicate directly with nature as a couple of examples.

Upper World

This realm has to be reached by journeying in the form of ascension. In my own experience this realm is above the Earth and space as we know it. It’s what we could call an ethereal realm like ‘the heavens’.

shamanic worlds, three worlds of shamanism, journey into shamanism

I personally climb a long tree trunk to reach this area on my journey. This is the realm that is home to celestial beings, angels and other divine spirits. It can be a great place to meet your Higher Self to gain wisdom of the highest good and to obtain spiritual healing. It is used to help out with connecting to your highest form of being.

The Return

The Real is the primary reality of the Universe. It is the way the Universe is. It is how the Universe works from the inside! No longer is it necessary for you and I continue the search for the mystery of who and what we are. It was here within us all the time. We just looked everywhere else but here. It is this recognition since ancient times that has been called enlightenment.”
Kenneth Meadows: 2002
Shamanic Spirit: A Practical Guide To Personal Fulfillment (Chapter: The Path of Love And Harmony Pg. 221)

If I hadn’t entered into the world of Shamanic Journeying in spring of 2019 I don’t know where I would be today. Not only did I regain my inner fire and eventually here in spring of 2021 sign up to a Shamanic training program but I was able to return to my heart’s path and navigate through these crazy times in the pandemic era.

My current teacher has said this profound quote more than once and I will gladly paraphrase. Basically life is a video game and your spirit is the controller. Your physical self is the avatar navigating its way through the game.

Shamanic journeying to navigating through life is like what the original Game Genie was to the eight bit NES.

I grew up in the late 1980s as a Nintendo kid. It was a borderline obsession of mine for a period of time. But I have to admit some of those games were super hard and took some of the fun out of gaming for me.

shamanism is like a video game

The Game Genie was this expansion pack with a booklet that gave ‘cheat codes’ to some of these Nintendo games. I loved it and made gaming so much more fun knowing that I had unlimited opportunities to get it right.

This device was somewhat controversial at the time as many said it turned kids into mindless cheaters and defeated the purpose of gaming. The reason I bring this up is that since I began Shamanic Journeying, here are some things I learned in the other realms that actually manifested in the physical world:

  • It navigated me to a job that kept me busy and paid during the worst of the pandemic.
  • It has repeatedly shown me people who to connect with, learn from and outright avoid.
  • Shamanism has strengthened my relationship with both my spirit and power animals.
  • I reconnected with two long deceased relatives and was able to give a final goodbye after gaining real world advice from them.

It brought me back to my purpose and has reignited my passion to eventually get fully trained and help others reconnect with their purpose and reason for being.

Shamanic work is sacred. There is so much more I would love to share about my experience and the wisdom I have obtained from other professionals and my personal instructors. However that is not for this time.

I am here to share what I feel is important for someone reading who was at my stage in the journey in 2019. Before I conclude I want to briefly identify some things that Shamanism is not.
  • Shamanism is not a traditional religion.
  • It’s not exclusive to indigenous people only – anyone can learn and journey.
  • It is not a permanent substitute for psychotherapy and western medicine.
  • Also, it’s not all a figment of your imagination when you see visions in your journeys.
  • And it’s not necessary to journey with the aid of psychedelics or hallucinogenic drugs.

I share my personal journey into Shamanism not out of ego or vanity but as an example of how one can find their way back home from the wilderness. Even if that wilderness is behind concrete walls and steel panels.

I am a novice yet I feel like I’ve learned so much and I look forward to bringing you further writings from each stage of my journey. In due course of time, I’ll return to write again in this forum when I am more deeply immersed in my training.

I can be Super Mario trying to defeat Bowser;
I can be Link trying to defeat Gannon;
and, I can be Megaman trying to defeat Dr. Wily.

And you can be on a similar path of the hero’s journey; slaying your dragons and living your best life to be in service of yourself and others. Only if you explore and take the leap.
Phantom Phil
Phantom Phil

Phantom Phil hosts the mysterious, paranormal and spiritual podcast Unexplained Inc. and his show is a member of the Void Podcast Network. Phil has experience blogging on his site The Phantom Hub. He is also currently in the middle of Shamanic training and while is nowhere near being an expert is thrilled to share his discovery and journey into this mystical healing modality with you

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The Three Stages of Being An Empath & How to Be a Superhero

What is an empath? Is it a superpower? And what are the stages of being an empath? Here’s a post for you to reflect on and empower you.

I am surprised by how many people consider themselves as an empath, because I used to consider this a rare thing. However, in a way, it’s reassuring to all of us to know that there’s more goodness out there than we realize. So I feel disheartened when an highly empathic person is experiencing burnout and retracts from their fullness. This is why, I want to address the three stages of being an empath. So that you no longer see empathy as a problem but as one of your biggest superpowers.

First of all, what is an empath?

In a world where everyone is so concerned about their own problems, you as an empath are naturally able to hold space for other people to share their pain with you. Most people don’t get that kind of acceptance for their emotions. So, in holding that space for them, you’re able to relate to them in a way where they feel like you “get” them and they can count on you for emotional support.

woman hugging another woman, empathy, sorrow, stages of being an empath, emotional support

As a result, you attract a lot of emotionally dependent people, and seem to get even the most unfamiliar strangers to share their deepest secrets because they seem to trust you.

In other words, you can walk in most people’s shoes – you’re kind of the exemplification to the phrase, one-size-fits-all.

It’s different from sympathy where you are feeling bad for someone. Empathy is about validating another’s experience without fuelling the victim archetype. You get where they’re coming from, but you don’t enable their sadness. You instead have a natural way of elevating them to a higher perspective.

Many people consider empaths as “naturally gifted” or as born healers.

This becomes a problem for many empaths because they tend to get drained after such healing effects. They begin to see how deeply and intensely this relating to someone else can effect their own energy. And they want nothing to do with it, but they don’t know how to make it go away!

Using the explanation of the three broad stages of being an empath, I’d like to help you understand how holding our empath abilities back works against our spiritual development. And if we learn how to master our empathy as a superpower, it actually works for us.

The Three Stages of Being An Empath

Stage One: The Unaware Empath

At our autopilot, unconscious best, we are constantly absorbing from the world around us. Even those that don’t speak the spiritual lingo casually say things like “bad vibes” or “negative energy”.

It’s because whether we sharpen our skills or not, we all are fundamentally connected. It’s a collective consciousness, which means we can all feel each other’s emotions to some degree. As independent and “self-made” as we consider ourselves to be, we are all an indispensable part of the grand scheme of all life.

It’s like a stone dropping in clear water – the ripple effect goes on and touches every water droplet for lengths!

But the problem arises when empaths take on too much without knowing what’s happening and they experience a lot of mood swings and inner tug of war every time they try to help someone else. I like calling it the emotional sponge effect.

being an empath can be overwhelming, highly sensitive person, absorb other people's pain,

You tend to soak it all in – the good and the bad from a conversation, without realizing what’s yours to deal with and what wasn’t even yours to begin with.

We might spend decades being this way, until something finally shakes us awake.

Stage Two: The Retracted Empath

At this stage, you begin to have a sense of the different ways in which you’re absorbing other people’s energy. It’s normal for you to retract when you see how harmful something is for you.

So at this point, as a retracted empath, its common to think of thoughts like:

  • “I care for everyone too much”;
  • “I’m the only one that has to understand everybody”;
  • “Why can’t people get me like I get them”;
  • “I love helping people but I hate being around them”;

And so on. This is the ego-mind waking up roaring as a means to protect you. Nothing wrong with that, but if you keep buying into these thoughts, you will find yourself distancing from the people you used to love being around.

stages of being an empath, spiritual awakening, separation, duality, ego mind
Spirituality 101? Anything that creates more separation in your heart or mind is the ego.

While you don’t need to absorb everything and feel bad about it, you also don’t need to “protect” yourself. There’s nothing to protect, if you’re fully aware of the energy and flow of your spirit. This is another one of those “spiritual myths” that is distracting us from stepping into our superpower.

But then how do you develop awareness of your energy and tune into the flow of your spirit?

  • Get used to the idea that you’re susceptible to absorption. Instead of denying or running away from this experience, understand that it’s something we need to accept so that it can be managed.
  • A good way to manage this is to practice clearing your energy at the end of every interaction (or at least before you go to bed). Here’s a free, powerful self-healing tool to help you release anything that’s not yours.
  • Empower other people by not becoming an emotional crutch for them. While you sit there and hold space for their pain, don’t try to sweep in and save them. This is how they’ll learn it’s okay to cry, but that you’re not the only one that can wipe their tears.
  • Also practice being more in the body, and less in the mind. When we’re running away from our own pain, we tend to escape and go into our headspace. But if you can be more “present” in the now, you become hyperaware of the slightest changes in the flow of your energy. And then, it becomes easier to not guess or carry that energy back home with you. You clear it as it comes.
  • How do you that? Initially, it helps to work with someone that can guide you through different embodiment practices and teach you a new way of living. Who can you work with? I’m one option. You can set up a complimentary call with me here, if you’d like to. Or you can work with whoever you resonate with, along those lines.
  • Use crystals, take salt baths and ground your energy back into Mother Earth. You know, the whole spiritual 101 stuff. 🙂

The Powerful Empath

If you’re the rare type of person that understand pains and has mastered how to transmute it, you are finally able to step into the true power of being an empath. You are a superhero.

being an empath is a super power

For such people, they can make a beautiful coach, healer or therapist because they are able to hold space for all healing – their’s and of those around. Because they were willing to do their inner work, they’re able to help everyone around them dispel the darkness.

They are no longer afraid of being ‘hit’ by the wave of an emotion. They know it’s there for a reason, and they have all the right tools and mindset to deal with it.

Wasn’t that the whole point of ‘waking up‘?

We need more of such people. Are you ready to be one of them?

Concluding Thoughts

If we keep ‘protecting’ ourselves, not only are we digging our own spiritual grave, we are doing a disservice to the collective consciousness.

A simple example I’ve seen of this, is in some of my clients. When I clear some of my stuff, it automatically clears something in them. So many times, it wasn’t a logic that needed to be shared, it was a transcendence of energy that was required.

We don’t need to talk sense into people, because most people already know what they should do. But we need to exemplify how to do it without rejecting the parts of us that are hurting or aren’t perfect.

And when you get to do more of that, it is the most gratifying and fulfilling experience you can imagine! Imagine having that kind of impact on every person, in every conversation? Yes. I see that for you. And I hope you will choose to put on your superhero cape now 🙂

Ready to take your healing deeper? Let’s talk about it! You’re welcome to setup a complimentary 30-minutes call using this form, and learn how you can set your spiritual plans into action. See you soon!

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Bite-Size (#1): Heaven & Hell Are A Construct Of Our Human Mind

New segment to share bite-size spiritual reflections with you all. Heaven & Hell are a construct of our human mind and here’s why.

It’s a Sunday evening, and I’ve just returned from an amazing day with my girlfriends. I’ve had my fair share of happy endorphins and vitamin D3, after playing badminton and sunbathing for hours. So I find it shocking as I lie in bed, to see my mind thinking of all kinds of outrageous thoughts about myself. This is a bite-size reflection of why heaven & hell are a construct of our human mind.

I’ve spent the majority of my adult life reading personal development books and more than half of it, exploring this spiritual path with unwavering determination and countless self-healing tools.

So it was deeply unsettling for me to discover how many mental ups and downs I’m still capable of having the moment something on the inside swerves left.

Thanks to the ego-mind, I often find myself relating more to spiritual teachers and seekers around me, than I do to the ‘unawake’ ones. Even though I know it’s one of those spiritual myths, from time to time, I buy into the idea that spiritual people are better-off.

So when I first moved to Vancouver, I had a tough time accepting the fact that drug abuse could make people so hollow. Downtown would always give me the creeps, because I felt like I was looking at a zombie apocalypse, with all the drug-abusers screaming and lying around so lifelessly.

surviving a zombie attack

As they crossed major intersections without care for traffic, I would gasp at how little life they had in them. It was like their soul was hanging far, far away, from an invisible thread that could snap at any moment.

So it’s natural to say, I couldn’t relate to any of that. No matter how hard I tried, I would flinch and look away, unable to face the misery and darkness that I walked around. I knew I was supposed to be compassionate for all of existence, but I never knew how to, here.

But Sunday night, as I watched my own mind make up all sorts of nonsense about myself, I got it.

For the first time, I felt closer to a drug-abuser cussing on Vancouver streets, than I did to my spiritual coach. And it shook me. Well, it shook my ego-mind.

You and I are both capable of digressing to the lowest of lows and rising to the highest of highs. Because the truth is, heaven and hell are just a construct of our human mind.

You are just as capable of feeling peaceful when reading something profound, as you are of feeling violently angry when you read some form of injustice. Life is constantly activating something in us, and unless we’re enlightened, there’s a long way to go before we can overcome these triggers for good.

So the pendulum within each of us continues to swing. Some relationships bring out our best, and some bring out our worst. But at the end of the day, both our good and bad are ours’.

Heaven & Hell are a construct of our human mind.

When you read books like Man’s Search For Meaning and No Good Men Among The Living, you realize that every human being is capable of going into a very dark space of mind, if circumstances get bad enough.

Neither you nor I are immunized from the darkness of our collective consciousness. Should that scare us? No. It should enlighten us.

The truth is, until we don’t see our own darkness, we have no way of discovering the intensity of our light. We can pretend we’re great until something bottles up long enough for the mud to pour out. Then why pretend?

And are darkness and hell even bad, to begin with?

If you think about it, whenever you have an epiphany, you stop doing the things that were sabotaging any aspect of your life. What changed? Something clicked for you in your mind, and your aperture widened. You could finally see that you had a choice, and you no longer had to sit in the mud.

Then even the darkest of minds must be the way they are, because they have no idea how to be better. They might conceptually hear ideas like manifestation and meditation, but they haven’t had the epiphany yet. They haven’t had the true chance to experience the path of light.

So where does this leave us at?

Perhaps, a little more compassion. Not just for others, but for ourselves.

That night, I didn’t have any for myself. Or for my dear husband as he tried to knock some sense into this shocking dialog. But when I finally came out of it, I not only had more appreciation for the ‘awakened ones’. I had discovered a whole other connection with the world I had been looking away from.

This of course isn’t an excuse or permission for you to indulge in your darkness. But a reminder to not avoid it, to not close your eyes from your own shadow.

We’re all a work in progress, and sometimes that progress can make us think we’ve regressed to square one. But in actuality, everything going on in your mind, is a reflection of the state you’re in – heaven or hell. And the best thing is, when you realize you have a choice, you get to choose which state of mind you live in. 🙂

Want to chew some more on this reflection? Here’s another story, speaking to the same theme.

Ready to take your healing deeper? Let’s talk about it! You’re welcome to setup a complimentary 30-minutes call using this form, and learn how you can set your spiritual plans into action. See you soon!

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. This means that at no added cost to you, every purchase you make through these links brings a small commission to my blog. This helps support my work. Thank you for your consideration! Here are other ways to support and help this blog grow.