View Full Version : Confusion about terminology...meditation vs. shamanic journeying vs. trance

04 Sep 2012, 17:56
Looking up information on shamanism for the first time, I suddenly realized that I'm very confused about the difference between meditation, shamanic journeying, and trance.

I've been trying different types of meditation for years...clearing my mind, focusing on one thing or a train of thought, guided meditations, focusing on my breathing, etc. I've never really looked into shamanism at all, but I've taken an interest in hedgewitchery recently and I was curious about it, so I started reading. When I read a few different articles online about shamanic journeys, they sounded really similar to meditations I've done where I had a specific intent, was working with guides/spirits, or was seeking answers to specific questions.

And a lot of what people are describing as "trance" sounds like the very deep state of meditation I've been in. So I'm sort of confused about what the differences are. Is it all one form of meditation or another or have I been calling everything by the wrong names all this time?

04 Sep 2012, 18:24
A trance is more or less an altered state of mind. Deep meditation could be a way to describe it but you are still moving around, interacting with things you perceive around yourself. I go into a trance whenever I participate/have a Fire Ritual (I am a type of Shaman, in case you hadn't seen some of my other posts). It's like you're shutting out the physical world so that you can communicate and observe the spirit world.

When you're journeying, you are in a trance state. You are IN an altered state of mind. The only difference is that your actually going somewhere while laying or sitting still. It's not to be confused with Astral Projecting, though. AP is a whole different animal, once which I only experienced once or twice and can't really describe well at this time. I see journeying as traveling in spirit form, with a purpose. Usually to go to the summer-lands or that special place where you feel safe and everything is sacred.

Mediation, to me, is sitting still and listening to your thoughts, or stilling your thoughts to invite a more divine communication opening between you and your guardian, or pet, or god/goddess.

I hope I didn't confuse you any more, but that is always how I sorted them out for myself. Others may have a different way...and possibly a better way. :)

04 Sep 2012, 18:27
Well, it depends a bit on who you ask, but for me when I'm journeying I feel like I'm leaving my body, you know? The entities I interact with on journeys I do not believe to be part of myself, but their own beings (most of the time anyway, always exceptions). On the other hand, that doesn't happen for me with meditation. For me meditation is focus style, or doing a walking meditation, or empty mind... but it's all taking place within me. Even when it comes to something like guided meditation, I usually feel that's more interacting with my subconscious than truly journeying and interacting with outside entities (again, always exceptions though, and sometimes while meditating messages from deity/guides may come through). I do both journeying and meditation, and for me they generally serve two different purposes. Trance is going into the state of mind for journeying or receiving messages, you journey while in a trance, so sometimes I do use the terms trance work and shamanic/spirit journeying/work interchangeably because of that...

Again though, does depend on who you ask. Sometimes you meet folks who think guided meditation is journeying, but other forms of meditation may not be... or they might just use all the terms interchangeably... so all that can make it hard sometimes to fully understand what one is talking about.

04 Sep 2012, 18:49
Eisheth, that does give me a little better idea, thanks. I've gone to several different places while in an altered state of mind before and interacted with people/spirits/animals there. For example, there was a cliffside where a goddess helped me experience a particularly deep connection with nature once. Or I've talked with animal spirits indigenous to the area where I live, but not actually in my presence. Is that what you mean by journeying? Sorry if that's a silly question; I'm just trying to understand the differences the best I can.

Gardenia, that's an interesting point...within versus without. I was actually thinking about this earlier tonight. I've also had experiences with what I call "Thoughts that are not my thoughts"...ideas and conversations that don't feel like they're coming from within me. I always thought this was a normal part of meditation. Hmm...

04 Sep 2012, 19:17
I've also had experiences with what I call "Thoughts that are not my thoughts"...ideas and conversations that don't feel like they're coming from within me. I always thought this was a normal part of meditation. Hmm...

I've also had experiences like that, sometimes while meditating, but also during prayer or ritual, or sometimes just going about daily business. I always sort of figured that there's a part of us that's always connected to the unseen world - our divine spark, higher self, whatever you like to call it. So there's always a chance for such messages or thoughts to come through to us, and being in a meditative state might make it easier for that to happen. In those cases, I still feel that for me it's coming more from within though, coming through that higher self filter, rather than actually traveling and talking with those truly outside ourselves. Hopefully that makes sense, not always an easy topic to put into words. :)