Urban Shamanism – Otherworld Incursions

Urban Shamanism – Otherworld Incursions
In Urban Shamanism the city is the world of consensual reality that most people inhabit. Urban Shamans step outside of this illusion to interface with the multiple levels of existence that are outside most people rarely- if ever- experience. Using a variety of methods including ritual libations, meditation, and “riding the drum”, the last being a form of Astral projection using music at 125 to 145 beats per minute with repeating melodic phrases, and a musical form that builds up and down throughout the performance. These all act as triggers that interrupt everyday perceptions and attitudes so that underlying realities can be perceived and experienced.

However, sometimes these realities leak or spill into the Earth plane without any special preparations needing to be made. In earlier times this would take the form of ‘fairy mounds’ opening in the presence of travellers, or people encountering areas of countryside or buildings that no longer existed, or never have. Today UFO abductions and strange events such as those at the Land’s End section of San Francisco, and the White’s Hill section of the same city - where the ground itself seems to “seethe” and mysterious creatures have been reported - fall into the same category. The book ‘Timestorms’ (2002)by Jenny Randels mentions several cases of people entering Otherworld- style spaces in cities, including one interesting case where a woman walked out of a lift (elevator) into a totally different space than the one it usually opened onto. The city outside was also markedly changed from the one she was used to, and a group of friends she saw on the other side of the road appeared not to notice her. When she eventually managed to find her way back, although not entirely sure how, one of the group said they thought they had seen someone who looked like her but were not entirely sure it was her.

With some practice and experience Urban Shamans and other city-based magick users can start to tap into this aspect of the Otherworld for their own use. On the physical plane this usually begins by becoming aware of the hidden areas in your own city, something that is a constantly ongoing process. My regular wage job takes me to all parts of the city I live in, and I am regularly encountering spaces I didn’t know were there even though they were seconds from a main road or other transport hub. This is after many years of living in my home town, already being aware of many of the hidden byways within it and how to work with them. One example of when I used this knowledge was the night some friends and I were leaving a beer company sponsored music festival on the seafront along with most of the crowd. Many of the people surrounding us had not only been drinking a lot, but ‘enhancing their experience’ with other chemicals as well, and I sensed that things could get out of hand very quickly with very little provocation.

Suddenly from up ahead came the unmistakeable sound of raised voices and a scuffle. Fortunately our group were right by a bush which I knew concealed a small alleyway leading between two houses. Moving the bush branches out of the way I said softly “Quick! In here!”. Lucklily the rest of the group heard me over the increasing noise level and followed my lead. We all set off single file down the narrow passage, as the darkness became deeper I suggested we all hold hands so that no-one got lost as we travelled through the poorly lit alleyways and narrow back roads that paralleled the main throughfare but that few people knew of, even those in the party who had lived in the city for all- or a significant portion- of their lives. Every so often I heard one or other of the group saying “Where are we?” or variations on that theme, and they were all surprised when we emerged a few steps from a house one of them lived in.

Needless to say they were all intrigued to find out how we made it to our destination without using any of the streets they were familiar with. I described the route we took and how it was made up of alleyways, narrow back streets, and access paths for civic amenities, that usually only people who lived there knew. I explained that most cities had these, or variations on them. In Mexico it was the storm drains and unofficial housing areas in the less well-off areas of the urban landscape. In Paris and Washington DC the hidden passages were originally designed as catacombs for the dead, old mining operations, or storage areas.

Some buildings have the same design, the best example that comes to mind are the castles of the Middle Ages. They have covered waggon ways that lead up to the back for delivery of goods and services, special passages for servants, and ‘secret passages’ and hiding places known only to a few people. I have heard all of these referred to by tourist guides as “secret passages” more to satisfy the fantasies of tourists than as accurate historical information.

As I once said to a Pagan at a Moot who had described the covered waggonway as a secret passage: “If you can drive a waggon up it it’s a covered delivery entrance to keep the goods being delivered dry. If you can walk along a passageway comfortably, especially if you can do it carrying something, then it’s the servant’s access passage so they can do their jobs and clean rooms without encountering their employers or owners. If you have to walk sideways and your front and back brush against the walls, then it’s a secret passage, and it’s similar for a hiding place such as a ‘Priest’s Hole’.”

Modern buildings today have similar spaces if you know where to look. The most well-known examples of these are the air vents so often seen in TV dramas and films/movies. In these the protagonists seem to have no problems moving through them, but in consensual reality the ductwork is usually too small for most people to fit. Also the metal tubes are so lightly attached to the walls and ceiling that an overweight rat using them would pull the fixings free. Pipe and IT conduits are far more accessible and have the advantage of being firmly fixed with a reasonable amount of room.

Having looked at the physical manifestation of the Urban Underworld on the Physical plane, in the next article we will look at how and where its’ energy counterpart manifests, and some of the effects that you can be aware of and work with. Until then you can begin to become attuned to the hidden aspects of your environment by investigating your neighbourhood, and looking at old maps and plans of the area. Trees and the layout of gardens can also be useful, as can easily accessible aerial photographs and satellite pictures of the area you are looking at. The more you are in tune with your surroundings the more effective and satisfying your Pagan practice can become.

You Should Also Read:
Practical Invisibility

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