Shamanic Journey in Today’s World

Direct Experience with the Sentient Universe

Part 3 in Earth-Spirit Series by Sandra Cosentino, M.S.

Shamanism–the mystical path of direct experience with the sentient universe–is the worlds’ oldest form of communion with Source and is based on a deep, living relation to Nature and inner pathway seer skills. The modern day seer uses archetypal pathways of the soul adapted for today’s world called shamanic journey. A new shamanism right for today’s times is being created by peoples from modern cultures.

Reflection of center spires of Cathedral Rock, Sedona by Rusty Albertson.

These direct experiences of expanded reality shift perceptions and create new neural pathways. New insights flow in that support conscious re-creation of your life in a frequency more aligned with your soul. Each of us has the ability to develop these skills, once the primary domain of the designated “Medicine Man/Woman”.


Medicine people of earth wisdom based cultures classically looked at healing as a process of restoring balance–the main aspects of this are:
~ restoration of power
~ clearing negative intrusions
~ restoring the soul aspects which have been lost due to trauma

These medicine people developed skills through disciplined practice that expand perception into the larger world of spirit for insight, guidance or healing on behalf of others. They project their clear intention via voiced prayer and/or song, shared focus and an absolute trust that they are part of co-creation in a sentient and responsive universe.

Drumming is found within the roots of all cultures and is a primal tool that everyone responds to. The fast repetitive drum beat is like being lulled by our Mother Earth’s heartbeat.

shamanic journey drum

This is a 16″ modern mylar skin drum I painted with my own symbology.
These have excellent resonance in all weather. I have also made deerskin drums which I love as well.

Flying on the wings of intention, gratitude, humility, focused attention and sound vibration, the seer classically journeys to:
~ upper or celestial realms or Higher Self domain
~ into the spiritual dimension of our physical reality often called extra-ordinary reality
~ into the lower world or realms within ourself and within the heart of Mother Nature

Always thanks is given, trusting you sent the request out with open hearted sincerity, and that a response will come. You become the detached observer, open to how clues may appear to you in the journey or in the days that follow. This is an on-going dialogue that continues into daily life through signs, dreams, aha moments.

On this soul flight, the seer evokes the presence of spirit helpers who the Universe sends (are magnetized to us) in response to the query. These non-physical beings might be the soul of an animal species, ascended teachers, energies of nature or the cosmos, ancestors, future aspects of yourself and limitless other possibilities.

Even though they may appear in visual form to help us understand, what we actually receive are vibrational frequencies and quick flashes of insight that transmit an energy needed to help transform the situation at hand. This is the world of direct experience with the greater intelligence that is usually beyond our ordinary consciousness.

Spirit Helpers

The seer also develops relationships with spirit helpers who offer protection, heightened field of energy, teaching, connection to resources needed. The helper spirits are the living soul of nature and consciousness. As you open connection with them, you expand your human capabilities for healing, guidance, new vitality and help ground spiritual awareness at a cellular level.

I know, for example, from over three decades of experience with medicine animals that there are consistently two or three that are with us always and many more come as we need them. They bring us their confidence and direct ways of seeing and in the exchange with us, they too co-evolve. I was initiated into this knowledge by direct observation in nature and in lucid dreaming long before I even knew the term “medicine animal” or had any shamanic journey training.

Raven sitting on bench next to woman at Grand Canyon by Sandra Cosentino

Curious raven at Grand Canyon by Sandra Cosentino

Medicine animals in popular literature have been reduced to symbolic definitions so that even if we are open to their presence in our lives, we limit their expression by being overly defining. We miss the humor, the surprising variety of ways they reveal profound wisdom to us when they come near us in the wild, or appear in our dreams, meditations and instant knowing. And more importantly, they bring us direct energetic vibrations that help us release heavy energies and raise our frequency. They want to help us, all we have to do is ask and pay attention and allow these vibrant energies and loyal friendships to enrich our lives.

Pay Attention & Walk our Vision

The more we pay attention to signs, synchronisities, meditation, dreams, insights from these seer journeys, the more the universe sends us. It us then up to us to bring this wisdom into action in our physical world. This walking our vision, one step at a time–reaching out without knowing exactly where it may lead–takes courage, but it is what we came here to do.


Ceremony is also a potent way to activate positive change: you symbolically walk your new path and emerge in the knowing are are indeed changed. You have realigned your cellular structure. This too requires faith and engaging your whole self with the ceremony.

prehistoric rock art dragonfly shaman

Ancestral Hopi rock art of Shaman working with Dragonfly spirit (on his shoulder) to evoke water energies.

Core Shamanism

Modern shamanic practitioners generally work with what has become known as “core shamanism” through the extensive teaching work of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies which has studied indigenous practices from around the world and synthesized this into a focus on skills with shamanic journeying. These trainings do not include specific cultural or religious context or ceremonies.

Individual practitioners then utilize these skills within their own authentic context.

For me, the context has always originated with a direct relationship to Nature, lucid dreaming skills, mindfulness practices and utilizes ceremony to help make the internal shifts real in the body system. I have also absorbed much from my Native American friends in the past three decades of their approach to praying with your whole heart, always expressing gratitude and reciprocity, working together as community, releasing, observing signs, and trusting the sentient powers of Creation. But I do not copy their specific practices, songs or ceremonies.

Some practitioners do have a calling to apprentice and learn a specific cultural system from indigenous healers. I have seen this done with great respect, permission and effectiveness by heart-centered Western culture healers. I also understand the dismay Native peoples express with what looks like unauthorized appropriation of their spiritual practices when they see superficial use of their ways without having the deeper context.

We are in a time of great change. There is an awakening within the modernized world of the need for direct experience of spirit and connection to our natural world and our community. Many are longing for a sense of being at home within that is often associated with indigenous cultures.

Respect for Indigenous Cultures

Those who practice core shamanism do not usually refer to themselves as shamans, preferring the humbler term “shamanic practitioner”.

Kokopelli, flute player, rock art

Prehistoric image of Kokopellis playing flutes to connect with spiritual energies

Tribal medicine men or women work within a whole cultural context that includes songs, teachings, mythologies, prayers, ceremonies in their Native language. Some specialize with herbs, others work with seeing techniques and the power of prayer to help restore power and balance, and some are ceremonial leaders.

Navajo people, for example, have very elaborate chantway ceremonies that include making sandpaintings that takes years to learn. People raised in traditional cultures also have a whole cultural belief system that teaches individuals to take an active role in receiving, activating and holding space for these spiritual healings.

Natural World Grounding and Community

Spending time in the natural world is vital to maintaining physical balance and opening portals of direct knowing. Spiritual energies of the universe flow in a powerful, direct way from Source through Nature. The healer-seer has always been a person solidly grounded in the physical world who shares a reciprocal, honoring relationship with Nature. He/she contributes to their community as well as being able to travel into the transcendent realms. Today, more than ever, we need such practical, action-oriented mystics!

Soul flight/shamanic journey practices are very much alive and thriving in today’s world. These are natural, innate talents that can be developed and are compatible with all spiritual traditions. These directly felt experiences beyond our daily understanding potentialize a shift in your inner vibrational field into new possibilities. And collectively, we are contributing to our own species’ conscious evolution.

Veil Nebula


Related Experiences:

Sandra Cosentino has developed these mentoring experiences based on a lifetime of exploring and connection to the energies of wild nature, and 3 decades of experience with ceremony, lucid dreaming, vision quest, mindfulness practices, meditation and insight retreat facilitation. She has been working with shamanic journey for more than 25 years with a dedication to empowering others to be their own Seer.


Related Modern Day Mystic Core Practice Articles

  • Power Animals Bring Gifts of Vibratory Infusion–Earth Spirit series article
  • Nature Mysticism–Earth-Spirit Series–article
  • Attention–A Core Mystical Perception Skill–Earth Spirit series article
  • Conscious ReCreation: Instigating the Next Becomingarticle 
  • The Will of the Heart, Earth Energies and Vision–Earth Spirit series article