What is the Otherworld?

August 21, 2019

The Otherworld is where we go during a shamanic journey in a state of lucid trance. It is a core part of any shamanic practice, and here both Kyra and Elizabeth are going to share their viewpoints.

Kyra’s perspective:

The Otherworld is the place we go to during a shamanic journey, and it is one that reflects our own in many ways. The Otherworld itself is further divided into three separate worlds: the Underworld, the Middleworld and the Upperworld. Within each of those three worlds lies another three worlds, and so on and so on - it continues infinitely. 

I will start with the Middleworld as in my experience, it is the easiest to comprehend. While the Otherworld mirrors our own world, the Middleworld sits right behind ours. You probably have experienced the Middleworld in day to day life, like when you think you see something that’s not actually there or experience deja-vu. While a typical shamanic journey requires you to be in a complete trance state, a journey to the Middleworld just requires you to blur the lines. It’s best described as being able to look at a tree in full bloom while simultaneously seeing the same tree on fire. It’s a liminal space where you can see the beyond. By softening your gaze, you can see behind the veil. A forest path becomes a snake, clouds become a galaxy, knots in a tree become portals to other worlds, a field becomes an ocean, a brick wall becomes a forest. Next time you are outside in nature, let your eyes lose focus a little, and see what images come to you. 

The Underworld has a tendency to scare people, for many it conjures images of hellscapes, the land of the dead, and evil creatures. The Underworld of a shamanic journey is very different from that. It is a deep, ancient, elemental space that you often enter by going downwards, such as entering a tunnel or a cave. That being said, the Underworld does not entirely exist within a cave or a tunnel, it is a complete world of it’s own. The things that occupy this space are often ancient, they are older than our comprehension and they offer valuable wisdom. Ancestors inhabit the Underworld as well - it is a potent space for ancestral healing.

Lastly, we have the Upperworld. This may conjure images of the heavens or a godly paradise for you but that isn’t quite what this world is made of. While the Upperworld is the home of spiritual teachers (which include gods, goddesses, ancestors, angels, etc.), and probably where you will meet your spirit guide, it too can sometimes be misunderstood. Much like the Underworld, it is still a reflection of our own world. The Upperworld holds its own kind of knowledge, it can be very cerebral, cosmic, and vague. Things may be revealed to you that you won’t understand until much later. The knowledge you receive in the Upperworld can be very powerful and for that reason it can be a bit tricky for some. Patience is required when working here, every detail you can remember is important, everything is for a reason in the Upperworld. 

Elizabeth’s perspective:

We peel back the layers of consciousness to uncover the Otherworld. It exists behind and beyond and is yet, simultaneously present, within and with-out at all times. Each time we travel to the Otherworld we are fed the images and memories that populate our subconscious mind.  Each world within the Otherworld is a possibility, a perspective, a reflection of our lived experience. Some of these worlds are deeply personal and some are formed by collective experience. In these collectively drawn spaces we encounter the archetypal symbols and messages of universal human experience. We bear witness to the energies of mother and father, or nature and violence, of love and justice. In the Otherworld, we meet and encounter both the deepest and highest versions of ourselves.

When we participate in lucid journeys to the Otherworld, we begin to build a map - we start to understand the Otherworld as the source of all consciousness. You emerged from this place at birth and return each night, left with only fragments of experience and memory, and it is the place we return to when we die. 

Exploration of this space brings us to a more profound connection with ourselves and others and helps us to understand the magnitude of human potential.