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Shamanism Upper World

Shamanism and the Upper World

The upper world in non-ordinary reality is a place primarily where shamanic spirit teachers will be found, although animal spirits (power animals) may also be found there as well. (It is a matter of likelihood; animal spirits are far more likely to be found in the lower world, and spirit teachers are far more likely to be found in the upper world.)

The upper world may look like a natural Earth-like world such as is found in the shamanic lower world and have similar characteristics to ordinary reality. However, any similarity beyond this quickly disappears. The shamanic upper world can also look from mildly to extremely different from anything we are familiar with on Earth, as any ideas of physics, astronomy or geography simply do not automatically pertain. For instance, though perhaps the upper world might here and there be seen as (just as an example) a familiar cloudlike formation, do not be surprised to find heavy, stone castles up there as well, happily resting on such a cloud! Further along the ‘bizarre’ end of the scale, others have reported its appearance (again, just as an example) as a world of prisms, where any ideas of physics are turned completely inside out! 

Spirit teachers have innumerable roles, ranging from helping the shaman in a divination to actually doing a healing with a shaman’s assistance (or not). We go to the upper world specifically to find such teachers, as one of their primary roles is to provide the shaman – or the shaman to be – with their shamanic education. After all, from the perspective of a spirit teacher, the shaman is a part of their 'team' since the spirits cannot reach and work in our ordinary reality unassisted. They need us, just as we need them, and they have a stake in assuring that any practitioner who will be working with them is well prepared to do so. So, it is to the upper world that shamanic students go in order to find their spirit teachers. Later, long after first learning shamanic practice, practitioners continually return to the upper world for more advanced or ‘continuing education’ after they are well along the way of learning a shaman’s basics.

One heads to the upper world just one does to the lower world, but in the opposite direction. In shamanic non-ordinary reality, the upper world is indeed, ‘up’ from where the shaman starts, so when the practitioner leaves their human body during a journey and starts through the non-ordinary middle world to reach their path to the upper world, they keep heading up, higher and higher, in order to get there.

There is always some kind of ‘something’ the shaman has to burst through, or part, or otherwise push through in order to actually enter the upper world. However, on entry, it is obvious – no matter how it appears – that the shamanic upper world is not the same as the non-ordinary middle world through which the practitioner came.

Just like the appearance of the shamanic upper world itself, the spirit teachers who reside there can appear in the widest possible range of shapes and sizes. There are very few 'constants' amidst this variation: big or small, young or incredibly ancient, animal-like, human-like, god-like, you-name-it-like, they show up if you are ready to find them. Moreover, they show up in a form (gentle old woman, dragon, etc.) that they believe will most help the practitioner learn from them. We go to the upper world for growth, and one thing that spirit helpers do have in common, is wisdom.

It is important to look closely at your surroundings when you are in the upper world. I feel very differently from some shamanic practitioners, in that it is my experience that everything the practitioner observes around them during a journey, from the features of the geography to the ease or problems one has in moving through it, all are part of one’s education and potentially important. The upper world streams and rivers, mountains and lakes, habitations, clouds, prisms, or any manner of shapes and forms or realities, all ‘say’ something about something we need to know. This way of working with shamanism is really no different from how the practitioner works in our ordinary reality, as they listen to trees, rocks, streams, birds, animals and everything else as they move across the planet. I do not agree that most, or even anything of the shaman’s experience during a journey is ‘just part of the scenery’. It is usually only after the journey, on reflection, perhaps with a little bit of distance from the journey and perspective on it, that the wisdom or information that can come from some observation or experience can be then recognized.
Although it may sound as though you are receiving a lot of information at this site, and indeed you are, it is only a small part of what you need to know. We do, however, invite you to look through the rest of the many articles at this site to get a sense of the bigger picture of shamanism and shamanic practice. If you decide you want to actually become a shamanic practitioner and receive the necessary guidance in learning shamanism yourself, of course we provide the personal mentorship that can help and would be delighted to hear from you.