moonvoice: (Default)
[personal profile] moonvoice
(Making this post public, because I'm insane. Sorry to the non-interested people on my LJ!)

A lot of people are familiar with the otherworlds as places to visit in order to perform soul healing for the self or others (including soul retrieval, extractions etc.) or to psychopomp / shepherd the dead, or help a deceased spirit on its way to a more peaceable place. These functions of the shamanist have been popularised in contemporary and anthropological literature, and I personally do think they are two extremely important functions of the shamanist in the otherworlds.

However, there are other spiritual things one can do in the otherworlds. Both before you feel qualified to do active soul healing or psychopomping, and in between these events. And all are important things that can be done.

Things to do in the Otherworlds

Establishing a ‘starting place’ - The starting place, or starting base, or safe place, or whatever you want to call it ; is a place that generally sits in a liminal frontier between your own inner universe, and the external otherworlds. It is a place where you feel safe, where you can access at least one of your guides, and where you can store objects for later use and work with the landscape and land spirits. Some people have more than one, depending on how often they work in the otherworlds, what places they travel to etc.

Starting places don’t need constant maintenance, but specifically and diligently working on maintaining your starting place will give you a place to start from and return to, a place to practice energy techniques before you’re ready to try them fully in the otherworlds, and often a place to simply ‘be’ without risk of harm or malice. It can also be a good place to become accustomed to the sensations of journeying. Finally, it is a self-nourishing act; the starting place is primarily for you and your wellbeing, devoting any time to it is a way of devoting time to yourself.

Soul-healing - The most popularised contemporary function of journeying to the otherworlds. Sandra Ingerman has written about it, Michael Harner, Jeanette Gagan, Roger Walsh… it goes on. So I had to include it in the list. As soul fragments often travel off to the otherworlds, soul-healing by travelling to the otherworlds is the next logical step.

Acting as psychopomp - Shepherding the dead, or acting as psychopomp, or assisting spirits or gods who are psychopomps, is another primary function for many shamanists; though less popularised in contemporary culture. It basically involves going to the otherworlds (middle, upper or lower depending on the culture / event / situation / placement of the land of the dead) in order to locate a deceased spirit, and guiding them to what can be termed a resting place. This may involve taking them to the entrance point of a land of the dead, like Helheim; or it may simply involve taking them to a place where they feel comfortable, until they are ready to move on. It’s hard work, as it often involves knowing the locations of different lands of dead, or knowing how to call on if you are unable to assist.

Establishing relationships - It is crucial work to establish working relationships with other spirits (gods / kami / ancestors / animals / plants / angels / demons / whatever floats your boat). Relationships are always re-established no matter what you’re doing, but it is important to sometimes just put time aside specifically for your inter-relationships with helpful spirits. That may involve taking them offerings, asking them for counsel, speaking your gratitude directly in the otherworlds (as opposed to just paying fealty at an altar in this world), or learning more about them and where they’ve come from, their motivations, and your role with them. Of course with gods this might not be something feasible for you, depending on their nature. But many ancestor spirits, animals, wights etc. are often happy to simply chat, be shown that you care about them, and know that you will visit them. After all, as a shamanist who can actually visit spirits / spirit helpers, it’s kind of rude to expect that they will always visit you. Sometimes you have to go and visit them.

Trade secrets - You know, I’ve not seen this written about in books at all and it’s a real shame, because it’s been one of the most helpful things I’ve done. The fact is, there are many artisans in the otherworlds; dancers, artists, tradespeople, craftspeople, smiths, wordsmiths, gardeners. Some are gods, wights, other spirits, ancestors etc. Learning ‘tricks of the trade’ from otherworldly sources is immensely valuable.

Firstly, it means you can get otherworld help creating your shaman’s tools, but perhaps more importantly, it means you can learn how to do craft-based energy work a huge, and diverse range of sources. If you make wallets, why not visit wights specifically connected to prosperity? If you do shamanic dancing, why not find an ancestor shamanist or spirit who can teach you how to dance in ways you’ve never considered? If you want to create art from the heart, why not see if there are spirits out there to teach you some of their techniques? Nothing comes for free, and an exchange might be asked for, but it’s usually – in my own experience – very reasonable.

Events - Events basically involve special occasions. It might be one of the human-based sabbats, Solstices, Equinoxes, festivals that you celebrate. Or alternatively it might be a wight-based event. Those who work primarily with animal and plant spirits won’t be exposed to otherworld events as often as those who work with wights, ancestors and Gods. Events are often rewarding (though sometimes draining!), and can involve extending your circle or network of acquaintances in the otherworlds, as well as being exposed to practices you would not necessarily witness in our corporeal, ‘real’ world.

Rituals and Magic - Most people do their rituals and magic work in this world, sending out their intent into the otherworlds, or realms of energy without actually going there. And this works perfectly well. But for those who can journey, and want the benefits of being around guides, or getting their specific assistance with the crafting of a ritual, or work of magic; doing this work in the otherworlds can be extremely beneficial. It’s also worthwhile to see how magic and energy-work in the otherworlds can differ from ‘real world’ work, i.e. if you feel it’s more potent, if you find it’s more useful for certain types of spells or rituals, or just to test out if there is much of a difference.

Creating and crafting - Currently, I’m working on building a boat in the otherworlds. It’s taking some time, because I’ve never built a boat before. Thankfully, I have a couple of guides to help me with the more technical stuff, but the rest of it is hard work. I had to find the wood and thank the tree spirits involved, I had to find a place of land/land spirit willing to let me rest my boat on it until it was finished. I will need to talk to cotton plants and other spirits about creating sails. This boat, once finished, will never see the real world; but will be a working boat that I can use to help in my psychopomping work, and with travelling over large bodies of water. It’s a complex task, but I am enjoying it and it’s teaching me a lot.

The otherworlds are a great place to create objects or materials specifically for your work in the otherworlds. Tools for soul retrieval, extraction (I have a glue I was given by my patron goddess), psychopomping, events, magic, ritual etc. Sometimes you can take the essence of real world objects into the otherworlds, sometimes you may be able to just ‘find’ what you need, but personally I think it’s more meaningful to actually craft what you need in the otherworlds. It takes longer, but it creates a more lasting, reliable object which has been specifically designed for you and what you need it for.

Mapping - Mapping is a task that can be done both in this world and the otherworlds, but it’s an important one to do. I hear, these days, of people falling back on saying ‘no point in mapping something as spatially challenged as the otherworlds,’ but if there was no point; then why did traditional shamanists in countries like Australia, Russia, Asia etc. frequently depict mud-maps of otherworld locations and places? Why do they still do it? Probably because there was a point to it, and it was important for them to share the places they travelled with trainee shamanists, colleagues, and even just for personal use.

Mapping the otherworlds is an important task that is often overlooked, perhaps because people fear that they’ll get it ‘wrong.’ Well, here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter if you get it wrong, it may help someone else to know that you get to a particular healing place by starting at X, going through X forest, and negotiating with X spirit (and knowing they like offerings of bamboo or rum or something). This kind of knowledge is important stuff and should be documented. Not just for your own benefit, but also – if this is a part of your path – for the benefit of others.

I know I often counsel people about gratuitously going to the otherworlds. New shamanists often start to feel a distinct appeal in spending a lot of time ‘over there’ rather than being grounded in the real world, and escapism is a dangerous indulgence; especially in realms that you cannot assume to be safe. However, as you can see, there are definitely a lot of different things that one can do in the otherworlds that don’t count as ‘gratuitous escapism.’ It’s still important to not journey too much, or more than you can handle at any time. But remember, the otherworlds isn’t just about soul-retrieval and psychopomping. It’s not even just limited to this list. The more you journey, the more you’ll realise just how rich and diverse the other-realms are, and how rewarding journeying can be.

This will eventually get put on my website. For now though, it's just here.

Date: 2009-02-07 09:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is such a tease, heh. But those of us journeying-challenged will get there some day (hopefully). I love reading stuff like this - and think it more valuable that it comes from experience rather than books.
Speaking of Koori spirituality, I was meaning to do something completely out of character for me and actually look into the songlines. Weirdly enough, Koori spirituality and the songs seems to closely echo my own experience.


Date: 2009-02-07 01:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well these things you can still do in your internal work as well. It can be just as effective; it's just the focus will be more on yourself and your healing, as opposed to serving other people specifically.

The Koori stuff sounds really interesting. I don't know much about Koori practices, even though one of my Aunts is Koori. Songlines sounds like it could be a really good road for you to explore.

Date: 2009-02-07 02:49 pm (UTC)
ext_58493: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
this starting place - do you find it's equated to the Astral travel safe place? I know more about the supposed 'astral plane' than any other otherworld - though I suppose that it's valid to say that any place not Earth is otherworld.

yah, rediscovering the instinctual things buried under the fluff.

this was interesting, thank you for sharing it.

Date: 2009-02-07 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm not sure actually if it is equated to an AP safe-place. While I have tried astral projection techniques, I don't know too much about it as a practice. Sorry. :(

Date: 2009-02-07 05:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Shiny. I like following all your info on this. It's bringing things back.

Date: 2009-02-07 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's bringing things back.


Date: 2009-02-07 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for sharing this!!! Much new ideas and inspirations for my Work ... .

PS: What is the address of your HP?

Date: 2009-02-07 06:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
PS: What is the address of your HP?

My HP? You mean High Priest? Or something else entirely?

Date: 2009-02-07 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
home page? I'm wondering where your website is myself.

Date: 2009-02-08 12:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh whoops, my Alexandrian Wiccan roots are showing (I see HP and automatically think High Priest).

My website is actually at the top of my layout, but it's The site map link (which is bolded) is probably the easiest way to navigate the site.

Date: 2009-02-08 03:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*hihi* yes, home page was the thing I had in mind. ;)

Date: 2009-02-07 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
great stuff here, thank you for sharing! So interesting about the boat.

Date: 2009-02-08 12:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My pleasure! I hope it helps. :)

Date: 2009-02-07 09:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
you are the fucking awesome.. there are WORDS!!! WORDS!!!

i am fighting the urge to hug-n-kiss you now...

would it be okay to link to this via our LJ? (we'd put it in a friends-only post)

thank you so much for posting this.. its like you reached into our head and drew a gazillion shapes around all these big-big blobs of goo, that we've had there for so fucking long (and were completely copacetic with) but had no *idea* how to describe it to anyone else...

Date: 2009-02-08 12:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
would it be okay to link to this via our LJ?

Of course! It will be going up on public domain anyway via my website, so I don't mind who shares the link.

And yay, I'm so glad that it really resonates, quite a few people innately know this stuff and it doesn't surprise me in the slightest that you do. *snugs*

Date: 2009-02-08 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was so useful. There's a few things there I didn't think of!

I actually often speak to Taliesin about trade secrets, myself. It's certainly a good idea and I'm surprised that more people haven't heard of it.

Date: 2009-02-08 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's certainly a good idea and I'm surprised that more people haven't heard of it.

Me too, but I'm glad some people do it. It makes it difficult though when people ask me who my influences are in terms of art and it's like 'er, will you believe some wights in the otherworlds? Whoops.' Heh.

I am crazeh delusional. Lol.

Date: 2009-02-08 02:22 am (UTC)
ariestess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ariestess
I'm here via [ profile] lupabitch and I just wanted to say that I'm really happy to have found this article. There are a lot of things you mention here that I've forgotten to do when I'm doing my spiritual journeys. Thank you.

Date: 2009-02-08 11:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My pleasure, thank you!
(Hehe, I know you from your fanfic! *bounces*)

Date: 2009-02-09 01:08 am (UTC)
ariestess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ariestess
*chuckles* Which fandom? I'm just curious...

And do you mind if I friend?

Date: 2009-02-09 01:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Abby/Ziva (NCIS) and I think you did one NC-17 Alex/Olivia fic? That one too. Hehehe. I actually write Ziva/Gibbs myself but I read a lot of slash. *hugs slash*

Not at all! :)

Date: 2009-02-09 01:15 am (UTC)
ariestess: (ziva -- from resvil)
From: [personal profile] ariestess
Eeeee! You write Ziva/Gibbs? I have a very soft spot for that pairing. *heh*

And yay! friending back!

Date: 2009-02-09 01:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I write under username Ravenari @ -

I love Ziva, she's become - alongside Abby - pretty much one of my favourite female characters on TV. Have you heard that they're bringing back Alexandra Cabot to SVU soon? :D :D :D I think for like a 6 episode arc or something.

Date: 2009-02-09 01:21 am (UTC)
ariestess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ariestess
I heard that about Alex. I'm actually going to tape those eps and see what kind of inspiration I get for her and Olivia. I pretty much haven't watched the show since her last guest shot on the show, and oddly haven't missed it.

As for Ziva? She's the reason I started watching NCIS. I'm ALL about Ziva, especially with Abby or Gibbs. And I think I may have to tackle that long series of rewriting the show with Tony as a woman from birth [Toni -- played by Lucy Lawless]; same character, just a woman. It would be a matter of rewriting the entire series, tho', which is a daunting prospect.

Date: 2009-02-08 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Okay, this is awesome.

Aside from suddenly getting hit by the light-bulb that my sweet dog who died last year is a psychopomp (totally not kidding here, we took her to an intuitive before she died, and the woman was blown away by the brightness of this dog's spirit...and she's been visiting me a lot and oddly keeps showing up at funerals I play for)...

The idea of MAPPING the otherplaces strikes me as totally amazing. I have these dreams about a few different non-linear reality places, or possibly just one dressed differently (it might look like an ocean boardwalk, an old Victorian house, a very modern hotel), and I used to find them very frustrating until I discovered I could turn the dream around by literally just exploring and trying to get the lay of the land and find out what's there. I've always thought these were more important than just ordinary dreams...never occurred to me to actually go exploring them in a Visiting context, not while asleep...

Also interesting is that just last night I picked up my 10-year-old, never-read copy of The Way of the Shaman and started reading it. And then you post this today. I love synchronicity.

Date: 2009-02-08 11:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aside from suddenly getting hit by the light-bulb that my sweet dog who died last year is a psychopomp

Actually; wouldn't surprise me at all. While I've never actually 'met' a dog in this world who did it. I've met a couple in the otherworlds. Some being of the massive mythological black shuck variety. One was a jack russell.

Date: 2009-02-08 06:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This just sounds.. so -right-.... and strangely familiar though i've never done anything like.. any of this. that i recall at the moment.

Thank you! :D I can't wait to get to a point where i can try to teach myself to journey again. soon, i hope. yar.

Date: 2009-02-08 11:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hope you start journeying again soon as well! *does eager bouncing on your behalf*

Date: 2009-02-08 05:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is great. I've bookmarked to read more extensively later. Thank you so much for writing this.

Date: 2009-02-08 11:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aw I hope you enjoy reading it when you do! :)

Date: 2009-02-08 07:43 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Also here via [ profile] lupabitch. Would it be correct to say that by "wights" you mean the souls of the dead?

Date: 2009-02-08 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
'Wights' is also used as a more generic term for spirits of place and nature in some traditions, not just as reference to spirits of the dead. I'm familiar with the more general usage of the term from Northern European pagan (ie norse/germanic/anglo-saxon) traditions.

Date: 2009-02-08 10:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yup, spot on. :) It's a good generic term, and it's more recognisable than 'vili', which is a second term that I was taught.

Date: 2009-02-08 11:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
[ profile] zuki_san got it spot on. Wight is the most generic term I know of to indicate 'spirits in the otherworlds that are not ancestors, spirits of the dead, gods or other people.' So basically anything from elves to mythological horses to fae and so on.
Edited Date: 2009-02-08 11:23 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-02-08 08:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I saw this post a couple days earlier but I hadn't gotten to read and comment on it yet.

First of all--I'm excited to hear about your boat! That sounds like a very satisfying-to-create-and-learn-about project, not to mention something that will be useful for later journeys.

Secondly, thank you for mentioning the concept of a 'starting place'. I have a sort of proto-'starting place' that I've used before in my meditations and visualizations, and working to further refine, develop, and take ownership of that location would be good for me, I think. This post was a good reminder for me.

Date: 2009-02-08 11:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Heh, the boat is fun. And LONG. As in, it's taking a fucking long time to build. I'm sure there's a shortcut I could use, but it already feels so much like 'my boat,' and I really really love the idea of passing this otherworld object onto a student or colleague one day too. :)

Date: 2009-02-09 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was fascinating reading, thank you for writing it!

Since I'm delving more into craft and artwork, the trading secrets part especially appeals to me and wasn't something I was aware of/would've thought of.


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