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Shamanism Middle World

The Shamanic Middle World:
Spirits of Nature, Ignorance, and Lost Souls



The non-ordinary middle world is what the practitioner enters immediately after leaving their physical body during a shamanic journey. Once leaving their physical body, they are in the non-ordinary middle world until they push through a sort of 'portal' that goes into the upper or lower non-ordinary realms. There is always a kind of 'membrane' with substance between the worlds.

The middle world non-ordinary reality is kind of a non-ordinary counterpart to our ‘ordinary’ reality, though truly grasping its nature takes a bit of a conceptual leap. for instance, the non-ordinary middle world can be seen as a sort of non-ordinary mirror of ordinary reality.

This is not a place to let down our guard or our boundaries, as the non-ordinary middle world is not guided by benevolence or human ethics. Nature spirits, for instance, are common in the shamanic middle-world. Nature is not guided by benevolence. This does not, obviously, make nature 'bad'. Nature is just nature. Such spirits are simply nature, and can be anything from a typhoon to a gentle breeze. In the case of a typhoon, it simply blows and that is its nature. A typhoon does not consider how it affects the world, what the ramifications of a particular storm might be such as that someone might be injured or that crops might be destroyed... it just blows.

What is common to middle world non-ordinary reality is that moral frameworks, upon which ethically driven decisions are made, simply do not exist. The non-ordinary middle world is not guided by human morality. Whereas upper and lower world spirits are either not dangerous or they are entirely benevolent (even when they are unnerving, frightening or off-putting), those who inhabit the non-ordinary middle world do not have that same kind of unswerving benevolent core. This does not make middle world spirits 'bad' but rather simply that they are not 'neutral' or guided by benevolence.

On the contrary, middle world spirits can have personal interest in you (though not for your benefit!), or in something else it finds important. Such is the case with an ancestral spirit who is there to watch out for a particular population, or a certain group such as a guild.

The non-ordinary middle world is also populated with the spirits of a deceased persons who has not 'crossed over'. These are very unhappy spirits, as they require the life force of living beings in order to sustain their shadow of an existence. However, they may be entirely ignorant of even their unhappiness, as they may have no idea of who they are, where they are, or what they are doing there.

Although it is too dangerous to be explored when new to shamanism, the middle world of non-ordinary reality is something that should be studied in depth as practitioners move through the latter part of their training. It is a place full of risks, and one can truly be harmed there. Moreover, there you will find a lot of confusion and ‘personal interest’ in the non-ordinary middle world, just as this is sadly common in our everyday ordinary reality world. And, since neither the middle world nor its non-ordinary spirits provide the empowerment, wisdom and healing you find in the upper or lower worlds, there is no immediate purpose in working there.

The middle world – both in ordinary and non-ordinary realities – is a place of potential suffering, suffering that is a consequence of ignorance. Just to be clear, there is no ‘evil’ in either our ordinary, or the shamanic non-ordinary middle worlds. The idea of evil is a misunderstanding of how the world is put together, an idea common to monotheistic religions which divide the world up into good and evil. Although this is not something to explore now, it is not 'evil' which we are up against, but rather, ignorance in thought and behavior, an ignorance that does not fathom the full nature of a situation or the ultimate consequences of actions.

Suffice it to say, that middle world work in non-ordinary reality is tricky. Whereas the upper and lower world spirits are completely safe and either extremely beneficial or at ‘worse’ an uneventful part of the landscape, middle world spirits – just like middle world ordinary reality people and events – carry the potential for lending confusion, disruption, or on other ways confounding our lives and work, from a degree that ranges from minor to potentially toxic. The only exceptions to this are when one works with their own ancestor spirits and has been properly educated in how to do so (as in many shamanic cultures where ancestor spirits are part of the regular practice), and when one listens to the teachings from the nature spirits, such as trees, streams, animals etc. For a more complete discussion of the nature of some of the middle world spirit types, I encourage you to read the article on this website on middle world spirits.