The Shamanic Worlds
Journeying in the 3 Worlds
by Roel Crabbé
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust
In shamanism, all over the world, the spirit worlds that the shaman visits in a trance are classified into three categories: the Upper world, the Lower world, and the Middle world. In some traditions, each shamanic world is further subdivided into different sub-worlds, but the 3 main worlds are worldwide the territory of the shamanic trance journey.
The practitioner will journey to one of these three worlds during the shamanic journey, often accompanied by a power animal or spirit helper. Usually, this spiritual journey is accompanied by a monotonous trance rhythm or rattle. In many cases, the shaman will use theAxis Mundi: the World Tree. This mythical tree connects the 3 worlds and along whose trunk the shaman can travel to both the upper and lower world.
Each of the three worlds has its unique atmosphere and frequency. The shamanic practitioner will learn from his own experience which world is most suitable for the different intentions. For example, a specific theme, such as requesting advice on a new project, may feel very suitable for submission to a particular spirit helper or guide from the Upper world, while another question invites you to be taken to your spiritguides in the Lower world.
Of course, each situation, journey and practitioner is unique, so there is no way to categorize how to journey: when we work shamanically, we always follow the guidance of our spirits. But there are some common principles that we can look into.
To illustrate, many people find that a journey to the power animals and spirithelpers in the Lower world appears to be very valuable to support a physical healing process. But the Upper world can also play a significant role in the same intention of healing: the spirit helpers in the Upper world operate in their own frequency, often giving us higher perspective to our situation.
In this way, they help you find new ways to support you on your path. And the Upper world also possesses specific qualities and spiritual powers that can play a central role in shamanic healing.
Through personal experience, the shamanic journeyer will become more familiar with the qualities of his relationship with these worlds and the spirit helpers. Through his trance journeys, he knows the landscape and the helpers better and better.
The shamanic Lower world is the world that for most people is the easiest to reach in their first journeys. To reach it, the shamanic practitioner must descend deep into the earth via the Axis Mundi, usually through a long tunnel or corridor that he enters through an opening in the earth. This can be a narrow slit at the base of a tree, an animal hole, an opening at a waterfall, or a staircase down … The only thing needed is an opening in the existing earth to enable the journey to the lower world.
One of the central aspects of the shamanic Lower world is that it has a deep relationship with power and transformation. The spirit helpers of the Lower world often have the shape of animals: the so-called power animals that shamans worldwide work with. But there are also spirit helpers in the form of trees, the wind, ancestral healers or guides… There is no restriction on the form that the helpers can adopt to share their strength with us.
Just as in the other worlds, the relationship with these spirit helpers is one of the foundations of a solid and well-founded shamanic practice. These spirit helpers are the guides who take the practitioner to new places in the Lower world, but they are also the counselors and teachers who guide us further and further along the path of teaching and spiritual growth.
The shamanic practitioner will often visit the Lower world with its endless landscapes for working with healing and transformation. It also offers the power, just like the other worlds, for personal work, divination, guidance and healing.
The shamanic Middle world is the same as our earthly world but includes all soul aspects and spiritual dimensions. The shamanic Middle world thus contains this world, including everything that is beyond the veil, such as the worlds of nature beings, the soul aspects of nature and the future and the past of our earth.
In this world, the shaman will journey to discover specific information about a place or event on the earth or to work in the soul of a particular place or nature. For example, the experience of rituals lies in collaboration with the forces of the Middle world.
The Upper world is located high above this earthly world. You can reach this world in the shamanic trance journey by journeying higher and higher, beyond the stars. The shaman is often accompanied by a power animal or is carried by a spirit helper. He takes the “flight of the spirit” and flies, carried by the driving force of the trance rhythm, to his spirit helpers in the Upper world.
The transition from our world (the Middle world) to the Upper world is felt by most journeyers in the spirit world. Sometimes this is experienced as a thin veil or membrane that separates the worlds. It is also often perceivable as a difference in vibration, especially if the shamanic practitioner can consciously experience different energy frequencies.
The Upper world is of a very different vibration than the Lower world. Therefore, the spirit helpers of the Upper world are also often different in their vision and help. For example, the powers of the Upper world have the quality to offer a higher perspective and help you to distance yourself from difficult situations. Another quality of the Upper world is to help you widen and discover new, finer parts of your being.
In addition to journeying to the Upper world by going higher and higher, I also learned an old Celtic method to reach the Upper world from one of my teachers. In that tradition, people first journey to the Lower world, where they go deeper, to reach the top of the upper world. A method that seems to work well for the various fellow journeyers I explored this route with.
The gifts of the Otherworlds
As shamanic journeyers, we can visit our spiritguides in the 3 worlds for empowerment, guidance and healing. Not only are we meeting ancient healing forces, but we are also gifted to find new eyes with which we can see our lives and world very differently.
Especially in these times, where our world is changing so rapidly, the shamanic journey can be an amazing gift. We get to visit the worlds of the Soul and come back with new clarity, power and openness to live our lives fully, and to share the gifts from our hearts with the world.
© Roel Crabbé - 2012-2022