Journeying to the Otherland: A Meditation Practice

Journeying to the Otherland: A Meditation Practice June 8, 2010

Meditation often popularly thought of as zen meditation, with a clear blank mind. That’s really only one sort of meditation. I’d like to share a meditation I have used to connect with my Gods, ancestors and spirits.

Journeying is somewhat shamanic. It is basically the practice of intentionally sending your consciousness from this land and into the Otherland. There are a lot of metaphysical explanations for how this works and why, but as I get older I find the practice itself is far more enlightening than any attempt to impose an order or system onto it. If you are interested in the metaphysical mechanics involved there are plenty of resources in books and online.

What I will tell you is that it is advisable to have someone nearby who knows what you are working on and can keep an eye on you, at least at first. That’s sage wisdom for anytime you attempt something new in religio-magical practice. You also want to make sure you have a blanket to keep your body warm and food and drink ready for when you are done. I’m always ravenous and a little cold afterward, so I make sure I have what I need to get the blood flowing and ground myself when I return.

Make sure you have plenty of time and quiet to practice. This is one of those practices where time will play tricks on you, seeming to expand or contract at will. If you can’t guarantee quietness try some soft, instrumental music. Meditation-style music is best. Nothing that evokes strong emotion is recommended.

Make sure you are comfortable, no tight, constricting garments, and lie down. I prefer to lie under a blanket on a mattress with no pillow, but do what is most comfortable for you. Relax and regulate your breathing. This is the most basic requirement for any magical act and is doubly important for journeying. Everyone is different. It tends to take me longer than other people to get to that state of deep relaxtion and clear, even breath, but it’s not a race. Take the time you need to accomplish your goal.

Once you are fully relaxed you will want to visualize your gateway. I don’t think two people ever have the exact same gateway. Maybe it’s a tower. Maybe it’s a garden. Maybe it’s a temple. Maybe you’ve designed it in detail on this plane to visualize and build within the metaphysical plane. Maybe it’s a revelation to you. Either way it’s a space small enough to be familiar, easily visualized and with at least one doorway. Mine is a courtyard with a fountain and six doorways crowned with different colored roses.

Engage all of your senses. Feel the floor. Is it stone, dirt or wood? See the light and shadows. Smell the air. Is there a salt breeze? Incense? Listen to the sounds around you. If there is something to taste, wine or water or honey, taste it and savor the taste in your mouth. Again take your time doing this. You are grounding yourself in your gateway to the Otherland. If you’ve ever day dreamed about Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie or some other object of desire you know how strong your ability to engage your senses is. That’s what you’re doing here.

Once your senses are fully engaged and you feel comfortable moving within your gate in a way that feels physical, then you are ready to enter the Otherland. When I say Otherland, I’m not really advocating any particular otherworldly plane. If you are a Hellenist you may seek out Olympus. If you are a Heathen you may seek out Asgard. Or you may have no expectations. This is a practice that transcends religions, I suppose, and will be as shaped by you as it will shape you.

If you have more than one doorway leading from your gateway you may need to consider which doorway is drawing you. Of the six doorways in my courtyard gateway I have only been called to three so far, and what I have found behind each door has been more than enough to keep me occupied and fascinated for several years.

Opening a doorway is one of the most exciting moments of my practice. Although the general landscape remains unchanged, I never know if it will be day or night, sunshine, starshine or torrential rain. Someone may be waiting for me or the land may seem deserted. Perhaps your doorway will open upon a room or some location very unlike earth.

Take time at the doorway to take in all you see around you. Engage all yours senses. Then, when you’re ready, set forth. What or who you will encounter I cannot say. Be polite, be respectful and eat nothing from any being you do not trust. Some feel you musn’t eat anything “of the faery” but I will eat things offered to me of the Gods I am devoted to. It’s your own judgment, but exercise caution at first.

Once you feel you have done what you need to do in the Otherland, find your way back to the door. Open it, step through into your gateway and be sure to close the door behind you.  Engage your senses. Lie down. Breath deep and regular. Sink into your physical body. Wiggle your toes, your fingers. Pay attention to your physical body. Engage your senses. When you are ready, open your eyes.

What I have outlined above is a general outline, which you may need to tweak to suit you. I based my journeying practice on “A Circle Of Stones” by Erynn Rowan Laurie and have tweaked it a bit to suit me over time. What works for me may not work for you.

Here are the essentials you need to be able to journey well:

1. Time. Maybe you can snap in and out of Otherworlds at will, or maybe you’ve been harassed by your boss all week and need more time to relax your body and mind. Regardless, give yourself ample time.

2. Use a gateway. Regardless of whether or not you feel this is a literal shift of your consciousness to another plane, or simply an exercise in the mythic imagination, you need to take time to ground yourself in this other space, to be fully present in the exercise. Having a familiar place to enter into and engage your senses is very important. Once you get used to how your gateway smells, feels, sounds, smells and looks it will be easier to transition.

3. Be open yet cautious. Even if you think it’s all in your head, don’t assume everything in your head is benign. We all have unhealthy, unwanted thoughts. The Gods gave us wisdom and discernment, they meant us to use it.

4. Have your support network ready. From fried chicken to chow down on afterwards, to friends who will pop their head in to make sure you’re fine and give you reality check on your experience, make sure you are supported. Support is important. At some point you may decide that your experiences are to remain silent, but until you can get a feel for what is real and what is projection, have someone to bounce ideas off of. It’s really useful.

5. Keep a journal. At first I recorded everything as soon as I had returned and grounded. Now I simply record things that are important. Keeping a journal is an important way to keep track of signs, meanings and to tell when you are BS-ing yourself. Until you get to a point where you can tell the difference, write down everything.

All this is really just barebones. It’s like teaching you how to turn on and tune your tv to different channels, which is all well and good, but what’s interesting is what’s playing. I can’t tell you what your experiences in journeying will be like. I can’t tell you it’s for you. Everyone is different. What I can tell you, is I have found it to be a deep, meaningful way to connect with the Gods, ancestors and helpful spirits. May you journey well.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I LOVE this, especially that you call it the Other_land_, not the Otherworld. Thank you!

  • Thanks Aidan! World is an awfully big word but land is something easier to personally relate to.

  • Rinan

    Zen meditation is not for me. I’ve tried it & it bores me. This article was nice in that it talks about a form of meditation which is imaginative. I’ll try this as a stepping stone to somthing new & refreshing.

  • Me too I have a really hard time with any type of meditation where you’re supposed to clear your mind, the ones where you’re supposed to imagine something are always so much easier for me. I love to read, and I write as a hobby so imagining a place down to the sounds and smells are is so much easier for me. To me it’s the same thing a writer does when imagining a scene, or a reader does when they’re really drawn into a story.

  • Me too I have a really hard time with any type of meditation where you’re supposed to clear your mind, the ones where you’re supposed to imagine something are always so much easier for me. I love to read, and I write as a hobby so imagining a place down to the sounds and smells are is so much easier for me. To me it’s the same thing a writer does when imagining a scene, or a reader does when they’re really drawn into a story.