What makes man different from animals is that he is aware of himself. A much higher level of awareness can be found in shamanic consciousness. To understand the sacred, other-worldly journey of the shaman, it is necessary to first understand this higher level of awareness. Shamanic consciousness blends the focused awareness of everyday waking consciousness with the unfocused flow of dreams, inner vision, and non-waking consciousness. Shamanic consciousness is a special altered state of consciousness in which the shaman is able to view his close surroundings as a non-ordinary reality. The shaman is aware of the concrete nature of reality that includes the everyday world of humankind. The shaman is also aware of the abstract world of nature, energies and the spirit.
Cultures with a strong tradition of shamanism believe that spirits, both good and evil, are with us every day. Some are working to improve our lives by imparting us with good luck, moments of inspiration, secret insight, and occasional bursts of energy and focus. In contrast to that, evil spirits are sometimes working against us, making us sick, chronically weak, and giving us a generalized sense of unease in certain places and situations. The shaman detects the presence of spirits and beseeches the help of good ones, while banishing the dark ones.
Those hoping to communicate with the "other side" should practice focus and protection first. As you attempt to see your surroundings, remain calm and imagine a bright blue or white circle surrounding you. Focus your imagination in a way that radiates the sense that nothing from the other side can enter the circle without your permission. If you find a magical incantation that reinforces your ability to focus your energy on the circle of protection, feel free to speak it to yourself. Some people find this communication is better by themselves, while others like the presence of others who will take it seriously. If those in the room are in harmony, they may be able to observe the circle with their third eye. The third eye is the name of our ability to understand the position and general appearance of objects in the spiritual realm. In this realm, everything works as a symbol that is interpreted through the subconscious into a series of images the viewer can understand. Often shamans will see images from their own mystical traditions (angels, demons, Egyptian gods and goddesses, and figures from mythology.
Traditionally, shamans used various methods to transform their state of consciousness, many of which would be considered dangerous or undesirable by most people today. Examples include starvation, use of hallucinogenic drugs, sleep deprivation and hazardous solitary journeys into the wilderness. There is no need to take up such risky activities, for these are not the only ways to achieve shaman consciousness, however; you must, absolutely must have your own experiences. And from the power of silence you will have your own experiences. Your experience may be meditation, making a pilgrimage to some sacred place, traveling to the jungles of Peru, ingesting sacred plant medicine with an experienced guide, trance dancing, drumming, sitting quietly at the beach, on the mountains, in the forest or in your own backyard garden.
Connect to the Earth and plants and animals. Connect to the sky and the stars and the planets, to the oceans, the rivers and the lakes, and trust yourself to be open to receive. In so doing you will experience the truth. Your truth. And from it you can do amazing things and engage in a creative and original journey of discovery of personal power. Traveling through the seven levels of consciousness is like traveling through your own body. Be aware that the keys to enlightenment are all present in your self right now. The only thing you have to do is to turn those keys.
"Shamanism is a state of awareness, the ability to use energy fields that are not employed in perceiving the everyday-life world that we know."
~ Carlos Castaneda