The Shaman's Map for the Journey Beyond Death
Legend and lore tell us that after death the physical body goes back to the earth–our knowledge returns to the mountains, and our essence or soul returns to the stars.
The shaman has given us a map for this journey beyond death, describing 3 stages or opportunities for us to recognize our luminous nature.
The first stage is the light of dawn breaking outside us and simultaneously rising in our belly. All of Creation is stirring within us. We perceive the dawn as if from the top of the world itself; we are taller than the highest mountains. We recognize that we are one with the dawning light; we surrender to the luminosity around us, are enfolded by it and become one with it. This light is the dawn breaking on a cloudless morning, a state of primordial purity—immense and vast, defying description. The blackness of death, caused by the collapse of the senses, recedes and is dispelled by the light of Spirit.
During this stage we encounter luminous beings, medicine people who assist us in surrendering to the light. Inka legends say that we are all star travelers. At this point on our great journey home, we can travel through the Milky Way back to the stars.
If we fail to recognize the dawn as the awakening of our own consciousness, we have another opportunity to do so in the second stage.
Second StageIn the second stage the sun continues to rise in a million blinding dazzling colors. All of nature comes alive in a stunning display of sound and light. It is as if the first day of Creation was replaying itself. In this stage, the forces of nature manifest in their pure essence. The one differentiates into the many. The luminous nature of everything starts to express itself as orbs of light. Water appears as fluid as light; the Earth appears as light; all of the elements are represented in their luminosity and coalesce into balls of energy. In this stage we have a second opportunity to recognize our luminous nature, to see that we are not separate from the dazzling light and energies around us.
If we have prepared for this moment during life through spiritual practice and meditation, we can attain liberation through the complete unfettering of consciousness.There are those, however, who experience enlightenment for an instant, only to slip back into unconsciousness. For them this process will go by like a flash of blinding light. They might not even realize they have passed through it.
These two stages of the journey give us the opportunity for the Great Awakening—total and complete enlightenment. If these opportunities are missed, then everything goes back into form and the next stage begins.
The lore is if we can stay conscious in the dawning of the light, then we can remain in the light. If we do not stay conscious then we are caught in the the dark. It is at this cross roads where soul loss happens.
The windstorm of death is so mighty that many people become unconscious and have no awareness of these first two stages and awaken only at the third stage of the journey.
In the third stage, we observe that we still have a form, that we are a man or woman, that we can be young and unaffected by disease. But the dawn of consciousness has passed, and we are now in the twilight of the day. The colors are not as sharp or well defined, even though our awareness is tremendously heightened. Our ordinary senses are not separated from each other. We sense with the totality of our being, and everything around us is alive.
Here we are met by celestial beings who will assist us in reviewing our life and in understanding its purpose and meaning. It is through this process that we release negative energies from unfinished business on earth. Persons or places we have not completed our work with may be calling to us and keeping us earthbound. (See Recapitulation and Forgiveness)
Journeying Through the Upper WorldThe celestial beings will guide us in our journey through the five planes of the Upper World. We will naturally gravitate toward one level or another, depending on how we have lived our lives.
The first and second planes are very dense, and energy vibrates at a low frequency. These are the domains of the Stone People and the Plant People where we re–live our pain and suffering. Souls trapped in these lower domains undergo purification, healing wounds of their most recent existence in order to move on into the next level. With no eyes to see or hands to feel, they only sense the vague presence of others. We can see those in these levels but cannot be seen by them. These levels are Earth–bound domains for humans (although they are perfectly nice places for the Stone People). They are mirrored by the worlds of the Hopi where the first world of the Stone People is dark and devoid of light and the second world of the Plant People is green and has light.
The third plane is that of the Animal Spirits where the spirits of ancient creatures still roam. Even though it’s a more elevated level, this plane is still not “home” for human beings. Souls are in their final stages of purging and, according to legend, may not move on until they can participate consciously in the evolution of all life.
The higher planes are joyful and filled with peace. The fourth plane is our spiritual home, where we meet our ancestors and rejoin our loved ones. Interaction is possible on this level. Here we bask in the light of Spirit until our next incarnation. The celestial beings will help us choose the next family we’ll be born into, the circumstances and place of our next birth and what kind of life experiences we’ll have.
The fifth plane is the highest level of our ultimate becoming. We meet our timeless, original self, the soul we are striving to evolve into. It is the domain of luminous beings dedicated to assisting all humankind. Shamans who have mastered the journey beyond death return to this level. Long ago, when the shamanic death rites were first developed, this was a difficult level to attain. Today it is much more accessible. Trails have been blazed by the courageous men and women who have gone before us. The prophecies of the Hopi and the Inka speak about our entire planet evolving into the fifth world. They refer to our entering the domain of angels.
Goal of the Journey Beyond Death
Our goal is to die consciously, to go through the axis of the Luminous Energy Field and back to the fourth world of our ancestors or to the fifth world of our becoming. Alberto’s mentor, Antonio, would jokingly tell him that the purpose of all of our training is “to get out of this life alive.”