How to Learn Shamanic Dreaming

Three Methods:Opening the Door to Shamanic MessagesPractice “Waking Up” in Your DreamsRemember Your Dreams

What is a dream? Unexplainable brain activity? A movie projected into your mind? Or could your dreams be the doorway to a another dimension—a reality where the past, present, and future exist together and pave the way for unlimited possibilities? Shamanism is an ancient tribal practice that finds value in dreams. Shamans would undertake mystical journeys (using dreams, hallucinogens, and other trance-states) in order to access healing wisdom, speak to the dead, or learn about the souls of the living. The practice of Shamanic Dreaming translates the mystical journeys of the Shamans into a modern method you may use to access knowledge through your dreams.

Method 1
Opening the Door to Shamanic Messages

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    Visit your local bookstore. Browse a book on Shamanic practices and beliefs. In ancient societies, Shamans would travel into the spirit world to bring back answers. While you visit the bookstore, keep your eyes and heart open. You have already started your Shamanistic journey. This is your first Shamanistic mission. What knowledge can you bring back?
    • Did you learn anything unexpected?
    • Did an interesting person speak to you?
    • Did you notice anything out of the ordinary?
    • If this bookstore appears in a upcoming dream, enter it.
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    Look for proof. The Shaman believes that the Universe is alive, conscious, and connected; that all objects, even inanimate ones, contain a spirit or soul. Begin to notice proof of these beliefs in your daily life. Does your coffee grinder seem to have a soul? Does the butterfly on your window remind you of someone? Do you feel connected to the plant that needs water in your office? Acknowledge these feelings and connections. This beings may begin to visit you in your dreams.
    • Each day, acknowledge the “beingness” of animals and objects by greeting them.
    • Say (silently or better yet, out loud) “Hello, Coffee Grinder. Thank you for making my morning a bit better today."
    • As you become comfortable finding (and believing in) this proof during the day, it will be easier to continue this practice as you sleep.
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    Recognize synchronicity. Almost nothing in life is “just a coincidence.” Attending to synchronicity in our waking lives opens us up to messages from the Universe. When you encounter synchronicity, that is the Universe's way of saying that you are on the right track.[1] Synchronicities are often clues for what to look for or where to go during a dream. Examples of synchronicity include:
    • Seeing the same person as a variety of unrelated locations.
    • Speaking a word out loud at the exact same time as someone else.
    • When you experience a synchronistic moment, don't ignore it. Stop and notice it. Write it down.
    • Pay specific attention to synchronicities that cross the threshold between waking and dream. (Did you see a person in real life and then in a dream? Try to talk to them in your dream!)
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    Play in the “twilight zone.” Begin your journey in Shamanic dream practice by playing the period between sleeping and wakefulness. This space is called the “Twilight Zone.”[2] As you lie in bed and prepare for sleep, direct your mind and imagination to fertile places for Shamanic activity. You've already been laying the groundwork for these messages![3]
    • Think back to the bookstore. Who spoke to you? Call them to mind and imagine a scenario where they give you advice. Picture the outside of the store and imaging yourself entering. This bookstore may be a gateway to an Upper Level.
    • Recall any "proof" you recently encountered. Bring to mind the coffee grinder who seemed alive. Listen to the sound of its motor. Can you hear any messages through that hum? What could a coffee grinder want to tell you?
    • Recall a synchronicity that happened to you. Remember the details. What were the circumstances and how did you feel? Can you relive the experience as you drift into sleep?
    • Use the classic approach and imagine a staircase. Visualize it in as much detail as you can. As you drift into sleep, imagine yourself ascending it. This will enable you to enter the Upper Level as you drift into sleep.
    • Finally, think about what you want to know. As you pass through the threshold between waking and dream worlds, ask a question about yourself, your future, or your ancestors.
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    Look for symbols. In order glean wisdom from Shamanic dream journeys, you will need to learn the language of your dreams.[4] Begin tracking common symbols. For now, simply take note of these symbols and notice patterns. There are two types of Shamanic Dream Symbols.[5]
    • Archetypical symbols are images that have transcended generations and cultures. Things like the elements (water, air, earth, fire), celestial bodies (the sun, the moon, the stars), and animals (tigers, bears, reptiles).
    • Personal symbols are symbols that are specific to you, your experience, and your family. Was your grandfather struck by lighting? Lighting will be a powerful symbol for you.
    • Sometimes symbols can be both. The divine will communicate using symbol systems you already know. Have you been educated in any forms of religious practice? These symbols may appear to you in your dreams.
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    Track your dreams across the “three levels.” There are three levels of dreams, or three “dream worlds.” Begin tracking which “levels” you naturally dream within. Do you favor one in particular? Do you notice a pattern for when you switch?
    • The Upper Level is linked to intellectual and spiritual knowledge. Upper Level dreams may feature libraries, sunlight, and open skies.
    • The Middle Level (or Mid-level) is where most dreaming takes place. The Middle World is very much like the waking world. This level will yield the least Shamanic insight.
    • The Lower Level (also called the Journey Level) is linked to primal knowledge. Lower Level dreams will be populated by nature and animals.
    • If you know when you’re prone to dream on a specific level, you can aim to gain specific knowledge when the conditions are right.

Method 2
Practice “Waking Up” in Your Dreams

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    Practice daily reality checks. In order to engage with the Shamanic wisdom of your dreams, you must become “awake” (or “lucid”) while still dreaming. [6] In other words, you must be aware that you are dreaming while you remain asleep. One simple way to induce lucid dreaming is to get into the practice of regularly asking yourself whether or not you are dreaming.
    • By routinely asking yourself whether or not you are dreaming while you are awake, you will naturally extend this practice while you are asleep.
    • When you ask yourself this question during a dream, it will be obvious that you are, in fact, dreaming, and your dream will become lucid.
    • Lucid dreaming is an essential step on path to Shamanic dreaming.
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    Learn to recognize dream signs. There are some common signs that can indicate that you are dreaming. Several of these apply to most people, but in time, you will come to recognize those signals most relevant to you. These signals can encourage you to become lucid.
    • Clocks, phones, and other technological devices will often malfunction.
    • Your hands will often look bizarre.
    • Your reflection in a mirror may look strange and different.
    • Anytime you encounter one of these tip-offs, ask yourself, “Am I dreaming or awake?”
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    Use audio stimulation. Traditional Shamans would regularly use drumming to induce a trace, or dreamlike state. You can tap into this method by listening to binaural beats while you sleep.
    • Binaural beats are audio tracks, for use with headphones, that play different frequencies in each ear.
    • These beats induce an almost automatic meditative state, and have been shown to encourage lucid sleep.[7]
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    Interpret Shamanic Symbols. Once you become effective at “waking up” in your dreams, it is time to glean deeper messages. You have already been looking for and recognizing personal and archetypal symbols in your dreams. Now it is time to interpret them.
    • For example, if your grandfather was struck by lighting, lighting may be an important symbol to you. If your grandfather’s story inspires you, lighting may signify inspiration. If you are terrified of storms because of what happened, lighting may signify fear or caution.
    • Additionally, lighting can be an archetypal symbol. It is linked to Greek, Norse, and Hindu Gods. It can symbolize punishment from the Gods or loss of innocence.
    • How did you feel when you encountered lighting in the dream? This can guide your interpretation of the symbol.
    • Practice this interpretation after you wake from a dream. In time, you will be able to perform this analysis in the midst of the dream.
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    Determine which level you are dreaming on. Remember the “three levels”? When you become lucid in a dream, look around and determine which of the three levels you are functioning on.
    • If you are on the Middle Level, look for a door or passage way. Look for stairs. If you can find any kind of portal, go through it. It will likely lead to an Upper or Lower Level.
    • If you find yourself on an Upper Level, observe any messages about your connection to the divine, about your quest for knowledge, or about the after life. On this level, you will often be visited by ancestors.
    • If you find yourself on the Lower Level, observe messages about your primal being. This level can tell you about your deepest needs and desires. On this level, you may be spoken to by animals, or by your unborn children.

Method 3
Remember Your Dreams

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    Get plenty of sleep. In order to glean the Shamanistic insights of dreams, you must practice remembering them. The first step is to spend an adequate number of hours sleeping. As the night goes on, your period of REM sleep (dreaming sleep) will grow longer, providing you with more substantial details to hold on to. [8]
    • Your first dream of the night will be the shortest, but after 8 hours of sleep, dream periods can last 45 minutes or more.
    • Dreams that happen later in the night may contain more Shamanic value.
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    Keep a dream journal. Have you ever remembered a dream upon waking, only to have it quickly slip away? Keep some paper and pen near your bed and write down your thoughts as soon as you wake up.[9] This will serve you well in two ways:
    • Over time, this practice will help you to recall your dreams without needing to write them down.
    • When you have a record of your dreams, you can analyze them later to glean additional Shamanic wisdom.
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    Begin a meditation practice. By engaging in a meditation practice during the day, you will strengthen your mind’s ability to relax into a successful dream-state, as well as your capacity to retain the messages of your dreams.[10]
    • Guided audio meditation with binaural beats can be a simple way to engage with a meditation practice.
    • If you do not like guided meditation, simply try sitting quietly for 5-10 minutes and taking deep breaths.
    • For best results, meditate every day to every other day.
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    Abstain from alcohol before bed. Consuming alcohol will reduce the amount of time you spend in REM sleep, thereby, reducing your number of vivid dreams.[11]
    • If you have time to sleep in the next morning, however, you might experience “REM rebound” where you can make up for the REM sleep you lost.
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    Use a positive affirmation. Before you go to sleep each night, say “I always remember my dreams.” Repeat this every time you go to sleep. This will help you orient your mind toward lucid dreaming and Shamanic symbolism. In time, you will manifest the ability to remember your dreams.[12]


  • Studying dream symbols and Shamanic wisdom is a lifelong process. Always continue this quest for knowledge in both your waking life and your dreams.


  • Shamanic dreaming should not be used as a religion, or as a way to escape life. The escapist temptation in all philosophy and religion is a danger for the practitioner, as is the urge to be admired and seen by ourselves and others in a pleasant light. Working with Shamanic techniques requires a person always committed to seek the truth--often on behalf of his own ego, but never trying to kill the ego, only to work along with it as an observer.
  • You may be tempted to experiment with hallucinogenic substances to induce a shamanic state. This should only be done in extremely safe environments, and with experienced practitioners.

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Categories: Dreams