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Rituals of Transformation: What a Shamanic Journey is Really Like

Last updated June 3, 2021

Google “Shamanic Journey” and you’ll get everything and anything from a healing ceremony, online training, or videos of human pretzels with smoke all around them, to tales of how one healed their romantic history, opening themselves up for true love once again.

Yoga is yoga, until you become aware that there are so many different forms, limbs and modalities of yoga. Same in this instance with these types of spiritual experiences. 

Each resort, Shaman, and receiver will have a unique experience, based on many different variables that are beyond a single article.

So, instead of giving you a specific definition of what a Shamanic Journey is, I’ll share with you my experience at Palmaia, The House of Aia, Wellness Resort in Playacar, Mexico earlier this year. 

And, yes, there was smoke and I healed some histories too. Nos vamos!

Is it Religious?

This one we can define. A Shaman is “a person who acts as an intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, using magic to cure illness, foretell the future, control spiritual forces, etc” (dictionary.com).

Some may argue it’s a religious ceremony. Personally, I relate to a Shaman and shamanism on more of a spiritual level, where the individual is on a path to get closer to one’s purest self, rather than a God-like figure.

But, that’s my interpretation, and to each and each their own beliefs.

Where Does it Take Place?

Palmaia, House of Aia, has an ethos, or ideology, of “reconnecting with nature, the sanctity of life and the true human spirit.”

Appropriately so, then, that the actual ceremony took place outside within nature, surrounded by the trees, under rays of sunlight, audibly whispering the chirp of wildlife around me.

The Rituals Deck in Palmaia is a circular wooden platform that lies within the vortex of energetic space. Located at the center of the property, the Rituals Deck is equally visible from the main pathway, or “Health Trail” as it’s called, and hidden from distractive view.

The third day of my visit I joined in on the scheduled ceremony. Meant to be, because earlier in the day it had rained quite heavily, and had cleared just in time for the deck to dry and open the outdoor space for the experience.

You’re in the middle of the jungle in the Riviera Maya, so rain is as natural to the territory as papayas are (and so tasty!).

I recommend arriving five to ten minutes before the actual class or ceremony begins to give yourself some time to set up a comfortable space with any provided props and such.

Further, to avoid being disruptive once it begins. At Palmaia, we grabbed a yoga mat, blanket, and bolster (those long pillows to sit or lay on) and found a space in the radius of the Ritual Deck center, where the Shaman was set up.

What Do You Do?

I’d be lying if I told you I remembered every single step and word shared by the Shaman in this one.

There were quite a few sections, scents, mantras and subjects talked upon to remember all of that, but there were some magical moments and key phrases to highlight that were memorable even months later.

“El amor es la medicine más poderosa” or, translated to English, “Love is the most powerful medicine.” Words spoken by the Shaman, who led the ceremony both in English and in Spanish.

He continued, “How can we care for the Earth if we cannot care for our bodies” as he waltzed delicately through the seated pool of attendees, myself included. In his hands, a cup with “copal” a tree resin burned as an incense during a portion of the ceremony, resembling the “central” force.

He continued, later burning palo santo, another wooden inscent, representing the south, or Sur. Lastly, sage, to represent the north, in spirit and energy.

Sitting, later standing, one by one, the Shaman grazed our auras, or energetic space around our bodies, cleaning, clearing and cleansing out the former weight, darkness and past.

“Thoughts…become your words, become your actions. Find balance, harmony, between them.” Wise words, wise man. The sunlight beamed through the trees from the sky above and brightly lit my forehead. 

At this point in the ceremony, I zoned out into my own thinking and experiences, feeling the sun, experiencing overthinking, and letting go of some previous traumas through the form of tears, releasing and letting go.

Truth is, this wasn’t the first time I had experienced a Shamanic ceremony. In many ways, this particular ceremony was the opportunity for me to let go of a previous memory in the Riviera to open space up for self-love again. 

Perhaps that was the sunlight coming through? The tears, releasing? The elongated, freeing exhales I was able to endure towards the end?

As experiences go, they are a feeling, not a doing. So, all I can definitively say is, I was feeling, healing and freeing, from this Shamanic Experience.

How Shamanic Journey Experiences May Vary

This will greatly vary, depending on where you’re choosing to stay; however, a few general notes:

  • It is fairly non-invasive.
  • You can choose to take part in as much or as little of the ceremony as you’d like.
  • If you’re sensitive to smells or any such elements, just talk with the wellness coordinator or Shaman (if possible) prior to the start of the ceremony.
  • The more open you are to the healing process, the more you can benefit from the actual experience. A closed mind allows for a closed experience. The reverse is true too. Open, receive and allow the experience to embed within you.

Is a Shamanic Journey For You?

I’m a big fan of trying anything once. And, if you don’t like it, maybe try another teacher, another flavor, another form or another location. 

Valuing experiences over things is a part of my own ethos for “Living Free” and this Shamanic Experience at Palmaia was certainly a highlight in this Riviera Maya adventure and overall wellness journey.

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