General guidelines for inner journeys
There can be several reasons why you experience the call to embark on an inner journey. It can be pure curiosity for knowing more about yourself and the universe. Perhaps you are looking for more ecstasy. It may be that you have a pain, a longing for meaning in life, are in a crisis, or something else.
Joseph Campbell describes this call as “the call to adventure”. Once you have received the call to travel into your own psyche, there are several important things to be aware of. Making inner journeys and being the hero/heroine on the adventure of self-discovery is probably the most exciting and rewarding thing one can do in life. At the same time, it requires great courage, confidence in the process and self-discipline.
Many eminent books have been written about this journey (at the bottom is a booklist with a selection), and I would strongly recommend reading and studying some of them. I have described my own inner journey, which stretched over 16 years, in detail in my book “Land of the Nocturnal Butterfly - An Inner Journey”. It contains detailed travel guidance and inspiration. As a traveler in The Magic Garden, I recommend it to give you insight into the adventure of self-discovery and the whole background for our "space station".
In order to get the most out of inner journeys, I will give you some general and in my opinion essential guidelines:
Firstly, it is important to realize that the individuation process - as Jung called the inner journey and self-clarification process - is a process that often extends over many many years. Occasionally, people have rapid breakthroughs after just one or two ceremonies. But then it is often because the individuation process has been going on on some other levels. They have done a lot of “homework” and therefore just need the crucial push. Therefore be patient and enjoy the process. At some point you will discover that the goal is the process itself.
Generally, ceremonies go hand in hand with a daily spiritual practice, as well as exercise and a healthy diet.
Whether it is meditation, yoga, various forms of martial arts (aikido, karate, etc.), sufi dance, tai chi or something else is up to you. Combine it with running, cycling, swimming, or whatever appeals to you, and eat healthy.
It is always a good thing to pay attention to your dreams. Freud called dreams the royal road to the unconscious. Therefore, have a dream book lying next to your bed. If you have a fixed sleeping rhythm, set the clock a little earlier than your duties require, so you have time to write down your dreams. With the right techniques, practice and experience you will learn to recognize your dream language. You will be able to decode and understand the wisdom they contain and use the guidelines they give you.
An inner journey in a ceremony is a three-phased course: Preparation, the journey itself, and integration.
In the week leading up to the ceremonies we recommend eating a vegetarian or vegan diet. Plant-based foods make the system more open to deep transforming experiences.
During this period, there is often extra activity in your dreams. Be aware of this and give yourself time to be introspective. Take long walks in nature, meditate, keep a diary, give time to yourself and be loving to yourself. Turn off the phone, the television, and the computer, and seek as much peace as possible. If you have children, give them some extra attention and play with them. In our often stressed daily life, we cannot hear our inner voice. Listen, listen carefully and let pictures, images, feelings, memories, and fantasies come to you.
All of this contributes to opening the door to your inner world more, and you gain easier access to strong and deep experiences.
Be aware of getting enough sleep in the days up to the journey.
The ceremony itself lasts about 6 - 8 hours. During the landing phase, we encourage painting and drawing of mandalas. Expressing yourself visually is a great way to integrate the experiences from your journey. When everyone has landed, we make a circle where we share the experiences and insights. This is an important part of the process, as it is very rewarding to share your own experiences, get feedback on them, and to hear about other people’s experiences.
The most optimal situation is to have the day off after the journey. You are in an afterglow mode where you are still open, extra sensitive and where your experiences are very close to you. The integration phase is as important as the journey itself - perhaps even more important.
Write your experiences down
Start writing your experiences down. In this writing process you will experience several things. You can probably remember more details, you will feel moods, feelings and see your visions again, and you can have breakthrough experiences and other insights.
Interpretation of experiences
Sometimes we can get very clear messages on our journeys about what to do. It may be a message about which career you should be interested in. It can also be a clear and well-defined creative idea to be accomplished - be it a picture to be painted, or precise architectural drawings for a house to be built. The creative field is a very exciting area of the medicine.
It is important to be aware that the unconscious and the superconscious often speak to us through metaphors and symbols. If you are a woman, you might have experienced that you are to marry a certain man. You may feel an impulse to contact him immediately after and propose to him. When you paint this vision and write down the experience, you can get the insight that the man has some qualities you are looking for - some qualities and properties that have been stored deep down and call you. Your unconscious has projected your inner man - your Animus as Jung called it - on that man. Your experience of marriage was an invitation to the “sacred marriage” - Hieros Gamos - an invitation to become an entire human being.
Therefore, do not make any rash decisions. Always wait until the day after a journey or preferably longer before making final decisions.
The medicine helps you gain insights into what to do to optimize your life, but you still have to act on it and do what you have been told from within. We live on planet Earth, on a dual level, and it’s of utmost importance to get your experiences down to earth and integrate them into your everyday life.
On the adventure of self-discovery you are the hero/heroine in your own life
As I wrote earlier, the adventure of self-discovery is a journey that takes time. You are the heroine/hero in your own movie - your own life. All great movies, myths, and adventures are variations of the hero’s journey as Joseph Campbell described it in his book “The Hero of the 1000 Faces”. This journey contains a wide range of experiences and states that help give life color, meaning and content. It’s a journey that takes you down to the Underworld, where you will meet your shadow sides and regain and discover your hidden potentials. During the journey, you will probably experience periods of more or less chaotic states, when your old ego is about to dissolve in order for your new true self to be born. These are natural states. There is nothing to be afraid of.
When you are ready and go deep enough, you will have experiences of death-rebirth. All pre-industrial cultures have had rites of passage in order to induce death-rebirth experiences. These experiences lead to mystic experiences, which have shown to be extremely healing and transformative. You will experience cosmic ecstasy when your old body armor is melted away and gain access to spontaneous daily ecstasy.
Be prepared for your life to become more exciting and trust the process and the Universe. Think of all the times when the hero/heroine at the last minute finds an exit or is saved, often with the help of supernatural beings.
The goal is to get “high” of a glass of water. Live life fully and be 100% present in the present, enjoy and be present in what you do. Bring Heaven down to Earth.
It is this individuation process that I and the other guides here at The Magic Garden are looking forward to and feel called to support you in.
6 books I would recommend to you to read:
Stanislav Grof - Psychology of the Future
C. G. Jung - Memories, Dreams, Reflections
C. G. Jung - Man and His Symbols
Christopher Bache - Lifecycles
Kyron Legrief - Rebirth of the Hero
Jacob Moth - Land of the Nocturnal Butterfly - An Inner Journey