Spirit Garden: Explorations in the Spiritual

Author, shaman, and psychic medium Catt Foy shares experiences and knowledge on a wide range of spiritual topics.

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Drum Journeys

Credit for the above image:  "Шаман Ташоол Кунга" by Alexey Gaponov - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Beneath the oculus of the yurt

My "cough" signals spirits are waiting

To come through.

The mirror opens doorways, portals

To other dimensions of non-ordinary reality.

My third eye opens

And the drumming begins.

--(c) Catt Foy, 2014


For years, I searched for inner peace through meditation.  And after long hours of practice, I actually did manage to reach a meditative state—once in a while. Then I discovered drum journeying.  Shamanism had found me.

Traveling in my mind’s eye through fanciful spaces seemed at first an exercise in imagination—something my writer’s soul reveled in. But more than simple imagination was going on here.  The more I journeyed, the more real it seemed; indeed, the more real it became.

In one of those early journeys I saw myself standing on a dirt road on the side of a mountain in the moonlight.  I could feel that on the other side and down into the valleys below lay the Amazon.  A medicine man appeared, a green-feathered crown sprouting in a circle around his head.  I knew I was standing in the Andes.

Months later, I physically traveled to Ecuador on a study abroad program. Wandering in a museum in Cuenca one day, I came upon the headdress I had seen in my vision.  It belonged to an Amazon medicine man.  Tingles ran through my body and I gaped in awe.

Several days later, we traveled higher to the little village of Principal.  At dusk, I took a walk alone, up the dusty road we had ridden in on.  When I turned to walk back to the village, it was nearly dark and a near full moon was hanging over the mountains.  There before me lay the scene I had experienced months earlier in my vision.  I knew I had been called there.  It is such a privilege to have such experiences.

Journeying to drums is one way to soothe the brain into alpha or theta waves, opening up the inner world.  You can journey alone by simply listening to drum music, or you can journey in a group by participating in a drum circle.  I have learned so much from the several drum circles I have joined.

If you have never journeyed before, here is a beginning exercise:

Play some sacred drum music in a quiet darkened room.  Sit or lay down. Some people like to cover their eyes. 

Non-ordinary reality has three realms:  the Upper World of angels, teachers, and masters, the Middle World which is our human realm in non-ordinary reality, and the Lower World, the realm of animal and plant spirits. 

For your first journey, imagine yourself in nature somewhere.  It can be a real place where you have been, a place you’ve never been but feel drawn to, or an imagined place.  Picture it as vividly as possible, listen for the sounds, smell the wind, see the details of your surroundings. 

Look around.  Somewhere close by you will see a place where you can enter the earth.  It may be a cave, a staircase, a waterfall, or an opening in an old tree.  This is your entrance to the Lower World.  Picture yourself entering the opening and traveling to the Lower World. 

As you journey, ask to meet your power animal.  Once you are in the Lower World look for an animal.  You may see several or only one.  Ask each one if they are your power animal.  You will receive an answer.  Once you have found your power animal, introduce yourself and ask them for one thing you need to know.  Listen with your spirit.  When they have given you a message, thank them and return to your starting place in nature.  Open your eyes and write down what you experienced for future reference.

It is important to not judge anything you see or experience.  Simply note the experience, thank the animal or guide for the information, and contemplate its meaning later.  There are many good books that list what each animal means as a power animal, or totem.  Or you can look it up online.  Your power animal may be an eagle or a cricket, a bear or a spider, a dolphin or a mouse--any animal.  Remember not to judge or dismiss any information you receive.

For further reading, I like Medicine Cards by David Carson, a Native American style oracle, and Animal Spirit Guides by Steven D. Farmer, Ph.D.  You can learn more about shamanism in Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation, by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman.  This volume also comes with a drumming CD for journeying on your own.

Check your local Meet-Ups online for drum circles, or drum journey groups.  You can often find drum journey groups through your local Unitarian Universalist Church.  Remember to trust the information you receive, and happy journeys!

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Catt Foy has been a professional psychic and astrologer since 1978 and a freelance writer and photographer since 1981.  She is the author of Psycards--A New Alternative to Tarot, and the novel Bartleby:  A Scrivener's Tale.  She holds an MA from Western Illinois University and an MFA in Fiction from Spalding University, and is currently CEO of Psycards USA.  Catt likes to garden, paint, and make jewelry, and is currently working on several other novels.  She lives with her husband and two feline companions in an RV in Eugene, Oregon.


  • Me
    Me Monday, 11 August 2014

    Hi, Catt. :-)

    I'm always glad to see shamanism getting more attention in the online pagan community. I've been a practitioner for several years now, and I think a lot of people out there could benefit from journeying.

    One of my favorite shamanic recordings is The Shaman's Heart by Byron Metcalf and Steve Roach. It's full of drums, of course, but you'll also hear rattles and a beautiful ambient landscape behind it all. Steve has lengthy samples of all of his dozens of albums on his website, so I would encourage readers to check it out.

    Now, when I first began reading about and practicing shamanic journeying, I kept hearing the same warning, supposedly informed by indigenous American teachings, that I should avoid contact with reptilian entities. So I have, but I can imagine that it could be fascinating to work with Tortoise or Rattlesnake or even the spirit of one of the many extinct reptiles from millions of years ago, like Brachiosaurus or Archaeopteryx.

    What are your thoughts? Have you had experiences with reptilian companions while journeying, and have they been positive?

  • Catt Foy
    Catt Foy Tuesday, 12 August 2014

    I have had nothing but positive encounters. Snake, who embodies healing medicine and the ability to transmute and neutralize toxins and poisons, has presented himself several times. I never heard anything about avoiding reptiles. Reptilians, on the other hand, bring to mind the Reptilian aliens and I probably would avoid them. Native American teachings, as far as I can tell, do not avoid reptiles or amphibians. Check out the Medicine Cards, with Lizard and Turtle and Snake. In fact, a dear friend of mine, Cedric Red Feather, is a Mandan Turtle priest and of course, North America is known as Turtle Island. I haven't encountered any dinosaurs of the past, but I have made friends with a Mammoth!

    The point is to find your own animal guide and ask them for protection. Ask them who to trust, and always rely on the guidance of them and any Upper World teachers / angels and you should be fine and safe.

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