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Shamanic Journeying

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The practice of Shamanic Journeying is an intrinsic aspect of shamanism worldwide. Brant Secunda explains the basic concepts of shamanic journeying as a visionary experience, in which one is able to achieve an altered state of consciousness or trance.

Shamans learn to journey into a magical doorway (NIERICA) to access an alternate universe or a parallel reality. The use or rattles and drums, Brant explains, can help to propel one on such a journey.

Why would someone go on a shamanic journey and what are the benefits of this practice? The individual can learn to connect with the spirits of nature in this doorway. We can learn the language of the world of nature and in this way we can complete ourselves and become whole people.

We inquire how to integrate this practice into our daily lives and Brant offers insights into how the experiences of shamanic journeying can empower us through experiences of natural ecstasy.

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Brant Secunda

Brant Secunda

Shaman & Healer

Brant Secunda is a shaman, healer, and ceremonial leader in the Huichol Indian tradition of Mexico. He completed a 12-year apprenticeship with Don José Matsuwa, the renowned shaman who passed away in 1990 at the age of 110. Brant Secunda is the adopted grandson of Don José and was chosen by Don José to take his place to help carry on Huichol Shamanism. He is the co-founder of the American Herbalist Guild, and the founder of the Huichol Foundation. Since 1979 Brant Secunda has been the Director of the Dance of the Deer Foundation Center for Shamanic Studies and leads seminars and pilgrimages worldwide. His work has been documented on television, radio, and in articles and books throughout the USA, Europe and Japan. He is the co-author of the award-winning book Fit Soul Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You.


  • Adam White, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.

    Adam White, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.


Adam White The practice of shamanic journeying has become popularized in recent decades. Can you explain a little bit about what shamanic journeying is?
Brant Secunda Shamanic journeying for the Huichol people is to go into the doorway, into what they've called the NIERIKA which is a passageway that starts from our heart and connects us to all of creation. Connects to the sky world. Connects us to all that lives here on mother earth. We might also call it a journey to a hidden university. We learned to access these pathways to maybe a hidden universe or to the sky world or to a spiritual part of nature by journeying. By going into the doorway to find our life.
Adam White Going into this doorway, is that similar to meditation?
Brant Secunda You could say. Meditation, obviously, is an English word, but it's a visionary experience of going into a doorway and having a visionary experience of maybe an animal in nature by feeling a connection to a deer for example. Or to a rabbit, to the sun, to the fire, and this is journey to ... Go on a magical journey to find your life and to find your life connection to the world around you, to your environment.
Adam White In some ways, this shamanic journeying as a way of going into a trance state of some type.
Brant Secunda You could say that. Sometimes, I try to steer away from the word trance, but that's one way to look at it. When you go into the NIERIKA, when you go into the doorway, you can go into trance. People looking at you might not know even that you're in trance, but you're going into a trance, meaning an altered state of consciousness or you might say just a different way of perceiving or a way of perception of your world.
Adam White How does a shaman journey or go into this state of awareness?
Brant Secunda The shaman does it primarily with his or her chants. By chanting sacred songs. Bringing in sacred sounds. You go into trance. When you're in trance, you can talk to your ancestors of the spiritual world of nature.
Adam White Can anyone go on this journey and learn from this?
Brant Secunda Anyone can. For the Huichol and for the Huichol people, anyone can go into trance, but they don't have to be a shaman at all. You can go into the NIERIKA and listen with your heart what the ancient ones are telling you. The ancient ones of creation or what the spirit of the land, what mother earth might be saying to you at that moment in time.
Adam White You said anyone can go into this state of awareness and have this connectedness. What are they connecting to when they go through the doorway?
Brant Secunda They're connecting to, let's say, the sun.
Adam White So spirits of nature and kind of the sun?
Brant Secunda Yeah, definitely.
Adam White Would this also be a spirit of the ocean or ...
Brant Secunda Right, the spirit of the ocean, the spirit of a mountain. By physically going to that place, you can go into the NIERIKA, go on a journey and connect with like you said, the ocean or the sun or mother earth. You connect with nature. One way to connect with nature is to go into that NIERIKA.
Adam White That's, again, through song or through chant.
Brant Secunda Yes. The shaman will chant sacred songs and that's another way to go into trance. He or she will put himself into trance, or will be put by the ancient ones into trance by the sounds of the song.
Adam White So the sounds are, in a sense, sacred, they help guide us?
Brant Secunda Definitely. Yes.
Adam White What other ways can someone take this shamanic journey?
Brant Secunda You can use drums. You can use rattles. You can dance. These are all ways to go into trance. To go on a journey. To find your life.
Adam White What is the ultimate goal then of shamanic journeying? To take these....
Brant Secunda Just to feel a connection. The ultimate goal is to feel a connection. To develop a connection. To maintain a connection to the world around you. This is the goal with journeying. Also, by journeying, you can shift your consciousness. By journeying, feel happy, feel content. By journeying, you can connect with the animal kingdom like the deer, the mountain lion let's say or the pumas. Or you can connect with the rabbits, the squirrel. You can connect with different parts of nature like the ocean. This is the way you become a whole person. A complete person that's separate, but then you are connecting to your world by journeying.
Adam White This is the way people benefit from this shamanic journeying practice by this connectedness gives people a sense of wholeness in their life or completeness.
Brant Secunda Definitely, because you're not feeling separate. You're feeling complete. By going on a shamanic journey into the NIERIKA, you find your life and you find your connection to a hidden universe or to, what we might say, the sky world or we might say you feel the connection to mother earth and all that lives on mother earth.
Adam White Can this experience ... Is it individual or can this experience be shared by people?
Brant Secunda It can be shared by the whole community who's together at a ceremony or who's drumming together, chanting together as a way to bring the community, the family and all that lives on mother earth together as one heart, as one spirit.
Adam White Has this changed the way you perceive the world by taking these shamanic journeys?
Brant Secunda Definitely.
Adam White Is this something that people can integrate into their daily lives?
Brant Secunda Hopefully. It's definitely something that people can utilize by learning to journey and by journeying well. You can totally transform your life. With that transformation, a person can then be happy and healthy.
Adam White Is there a sense of joy that inherently comes with making this connection through shamanic journey?
Brant Secunda I would say so. For sure. The Huichols would say so.
Adam White Then in some ways, it's a serious experience. At another way is you're saying it's a joyful or ... Is it potentially an ecstatic experience that people have, a visionary experience?
Brant Secunda Yeah, by going into the NIERIKA, it's a visionary world where you can feel the Gods and see ... You can see the ancient ones and you can see your heart, feel your heart as well, being connected, and thus you become filled with joy and ecstasy and love.
Adam White We've talked a little bit about how shamanic journeying benefits people's lives. Do you find also that it helps people to focus their minds or clear their minds, get some clarity?
Brant Secunda Yes. That's one of the goals of going on a journey. You are focused. You are paying attention, we say, to life. Also, you are paying attention when you go in that NIERKA and go on a journey. You pay attention to what is happening to your body. What is happening to your heart and what is happening to your spirit. Over and over again when I was with Don José, he used to tell me, "Pay attention grandson. Pay attention to what's around you."
Adam White Does shamanic journeying only benefit the person taking this journey or if they're thinking of others, will that help them, will it ...
Brant Secunda Yeah, you can journey to ...
Adam White Connect to the world. Tell me about that a little.
Brant Secunda You can journey to find help for somebody. You journey to find love for somebody. You journey to find strength for other people, especially your family, if you have a family, and if not, your friends. By journeying, it helps to shift your consciousness and helps you connect with all of life which means all of your relations.
Adam White Thank you for sharing a little bit about shamanic journeying with us today.
Brant Secunda My pleasure.