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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