My first shamanic experience & the willing suspension of disbelief

(NB: I originally submitted this piece to a publication in December, but it got lost in the ether and therefore, wasn’t published – so when I say ‘Samhain was ages ago’, yeah, it was ages ago)

Hey everyone! It feels like a million years since I last uploaded, and with the pandemic lockdown happening, it’s near impossible to stay organised *looks sadly at scattered notebook pages and split ends of hair*. So on Samhain (yes I know, Samhain was ages ago- please refer to the above sentence), I attended a Zoom ceremony as a guest to a local pagan circle.

The only experience I’ve had with pagan ceremonies is YouTube videos and conducting my own at home, so I was very excited to experience a /real/ ceremony with /real/ people. I went into it expecting a half-hour, candle lit, intention setting ritual – with maybe a bit of ancestral stuff thrown in – and whoo, boy, was I wrong.

witch gif | Tumblr | Witch gif, Witches dance, Witch aesthetic
Was low key hoping for this but unfortunately not #justquarantinethings

Instead, what I got was a two hour shamanic experience, unlike anything I’ve ever done before. It started with drumming, where the hosts played a recording of a steady drum beat, and put us all into a trance state. After that, it was sort of like I was dreaming, but lucid dreaming in the sense that I could control what was happening. Since the vision, I have tried my best to channel the images I saw and follow the advice it gave me.

My vision

In my ‘dream’, I wandered into a dank, moist forest, the smell of soil and rotting leaves around me. I ducked under a few branches, noticing the first sprouts of fungi near my feet. There wasn’t a path, but somehow I knew exactly where to go. The sight in front of me confirmed this was where I should be. There was a toad, about seven feet high and eight feet wide, sitting comfortably under the trees. It’s mottled skin heaved under its gentle breath, and it seemed totally at peace. As I approached, it seemed to welcome me somehow, and in a raspy, deep voice it greeted me. ‘What do you need, small thing?’ The toad rasped. ‘Guidance,’ I replied, ‘and reassurance.’ ‘I am at rest. But I am growing still, despite being at rest. That is my guidance to you. Learn to rest and you will grow.’ Its eyes closed with a booming sigh, and at that point, I knew it was time to leave.

Common European Toad, Bufo bufo | Europeana
I searched for forever to find as accurate an image as possible

End of vision

So what have I taken from this? It sort of confirmed what I already knew: chill out Frank!

But, to bring us to the second part of this title, this totally would not have worked had I not willingly suspended my belief in order to see this vision. All the time I was in the forest, I was totally aware that I was sitting at home in Manchester in my armchair, but it was as if I shifted planes of existence. To be honest I’ve always been a skeptic of shamanic experiences, but now I completely understand both sides. If your heart isn’t open to the lucid dream, you won’t experience it.

Willing suspension of disbelief is by far the most important aspect (to me, anyway) of any shamanic experience. Have you had any shamanic visions? If so, what were they like? Did they foresee anything or just reassure you that you were on the right path?

Blessed be!

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Pagan, poet, artist, amateur philosopher. Open for bespoke incantations, email for details - blessed be <3

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