Wondrous Worlds: Musings on Spirit Flight

Wondrous Worlds focuses on the gods, spirits, and otherworldy places experienced through spirit flight (also known as soul flight, spirit journeying, and astral travel). You'll find information about the otherworlds from legend and lore, examinations of differences between what's described in myth and what's perceived by the astral traveler, and accounts of interactions with the denizens of otherworlds.

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Process and Problems in Spirit Flight

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Since coming to Paganism in 1998, the otherworlds have piqued my curiosity and stirred my sense of the magical. I view the worlds of the gods and spirits as interwoven with yet distinct from our own in meaningful ways, much like the ocean and the Earth’s water cycles are interwoven with the land and air through rivers and streams, and even underground water, rain, and humidity. The otherworlds are more “worlds” than “other” but there is still something unique and distant enough about them to require astral travelers to enact procedures that allow them to change their location. Basically, the spirit or soul or consciousness has to leave where it is and journey or simply shift to another place.

Getting to the places where the gods and spirits are has been a large part of my spiritual and magical practice. Early on, the divinities I sought came to me. With the use of well-crafted invocations used within solidly constructed rituals I learned to draw the spirits near. When I eventually realized that I could also leave my waking awareness, shift consciousness and go to them, the game drastically changed for me. Spirit flight took wing. Spirit flight – also known as astral travel, soul flight, spirit journeying, or faring forth - as I see it is the process of sending one’s consciousness out into realms and worlds beyond this one. Those realms or worlds may be far from, adjacent to, and/or overlaid with this one.

When I plan to fare forth and it’s on my own timetable, I like to prepare by igniting rich resinous incense and lighting anointed candles. These acts serve two purposes. First and foremost they are initial offerings for the Powers who taught me to journey and who support the work that I do on those journeys. Second, pretty smells and warm lights signal to my busy mind that stillness is needed. When taking a planned but somewhat leisurely trip to the otherworlds, I take these early moments of preparation to focus on my destination and any Powers I need to meet and greet in that place.

When I journey on my own schedule, I prepare of the trip, first making offerings to the denizens of the worlds on my itinerary. My offerings are sometimes simple, taking the form of bread and wine and fresh flowers, or sometimes elaborate gifts requiring two or more hours of cooking, arranging, dressing, anointing, and pouring. These things I place in sacred space along with the candles and incense. When I fare forth on my own schedule, I also enjoy taking time to slowly ground and center. I draw my awareness to my body by wiggling my toes and fingers, rolling my neck, flexing my muscles. I settle into my own skin and the wonders of corporeal existence. I bring my awareness to my breath, to the steady rise and fall of my abdomen as I take in and release measured air. I allow myself the simple pleasure of humming a haunting melody, whatever creeps into my mind at the time. I feel the vibration of my voice as it resonates through my bones and blood. When preparing to fare forth, I take stock of exactly where I am in this world that I might more easily find my way back.

When it’s time to then fare from here to there, I allow my body to sway, my breath and voice to summon a spirit song, and my mind to reach out in search of a road, a path to carry me there. Sometimes the way is smooth and clear, sometimes it’s crooked and narrow. My spirit guide comes with the song and rides it with me into the otherworlds. It may sound like I’m in charge but in fact he leads the way. Oftentimes he is sure of the place to which we journey, sometimes not, but he leads all the same. With the flapping of his wings we end up exactly where we need to be, having a chat with exactly who we need to talk to. Sometimes he stays with the powers and me, other times he wanders off. Over the years it’s become a gauge for me of how safe I am in the astral place we’ve landed and how safe I am with the spirit or deity I’m connecting with. If my spirit guide is flying free, then I’m good to go but if he’s glued to me, I’m usually less safe. I’ve had to develop a tolerance for traveling while not feeling particularly safe because my spirit guide and the gods who charged me to travel the worlds never promised me absolute safety. That would be silly, and impossible. In my experience, very little wisdom is won in comfort and safety.

When our journey is done, my spirit guide leads the way back home. With a whoosh of my own breath I am back in my body, wiggling my finger and toes, checking my mind, body, and spirit for impurities, broken or lost bits, and hitchhikers.

All of the above is what my journeys look like when I have time and opportunity for the work; however, over the last several years I’ve not engaged in spirit flight as frequently as I once did, yet the calls to journey across the hedge keep coming. Some of these unanswered calls from the otherworlds have resulted in a very anxious spirit guide shouting into my left ear: “You’re late!” When that happens, I’m shoved into trance while on the bus, watching TV, cooking, or at other inopportune times. When I strolled through the otherworlds more regularly, this sort of thing still happened but was far less often and also far less disconcerting.

Spirit flight, like most skills, requires muscles built over time and with practice. Until several months ago, I’d let myself go a bit. So it’s not really any wonder that the gods and spirits started pushing harder. Of course my spirit guide had to grab me by the scruff and carry me to the appointed meeting place with the gods and spirits. It’s been rewarding rebuilding my spiritual muscles and returning to regular spirit flight.

Here are a handful of lessons learned in the process:

  • If you are paying attention, you get notification in advance, or at least have an inkling that a particular power may be calling on you soon.

  • If you don’t pay attention, you may be snatched up by your spirit guide.

  • By the time your guide is carrying you off into trance, it is happening. Find a safe place and don’t resist the descent into trance. You’re late for an important appointment and your guide is just looking out for you.

  • After these encounters, gift the gods, spirits, and your guide richly as a sign of continued mutual respect and appreciation.

  • Schedule time for regular travel. This will make it easier for gods and spirits to contact you and schedule time to meet with you.

The worlds await. May your spirit journey well!

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Tamilia is an African-American, queer, devotional polytheist, spirit-worker, mystic, rune reader, Witch, and traveler of the Otherworlds living in the Midwestern region of the United States. Broadly speaking her spiritual work centers on spirit communication and trance, devotional work (with a number of deities and spirits across various pantheons), and astral travel as well as magic and spellcraft. Tamilia works to build strong relationships with the denizens of the worlds, while also seeking an intimate understanding of the magical ties that join all beings. You can find more of Tamilia’s writing on her main blog: wanderingwomanwondering.wordpress.com.
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