Snippets and appetizers
Journey to the underworld
It was the gift of shamans to speak with the dead and discover the underlying causes for what is going on. Karma and reincarnation are based on their world view. The shaman enters the underworld, in a state of trance, and searches for the deceased. He does not believe that they lie rotting in silence, become one with the ground and disappear forever. That is what happens to the physical body. Spiritually, the shaman experiences confrontations in this realm first with himself, then later, he becomes an experienced traveler into the spiritual worlds with those of his protégés, their destinies and life's tasks. Maybe he learns that it was the life task of the five-year-old to open a 100-year-old drunkard's eyes. Maybe the drunkard should learn that you have to do the important things from early childhood on, and missed opportunities do not come back. Life cannot be postponed. Anyway, that's of course pure speculation about an imaginary case.
On the other hand, it is a fact that people of all ages have thought about rebirth and destiny. They dressed their ideas in different cultural garments, calling it Hades in Greece, Helheim in Norse mythology, which later became "our" hell, Chuin in Buddhism, and Bardo in Tibet. What is common to all is that after the body has been handed over to the earth, life should not end, but something follows. Something that, depending on behavior in life, turns out to be more or less uproarious. In most cases, the stay in the hereafter is presented as little enjoyable.
Of course, you can wait until you die yourself, to find out what you did wrong to get the right lesson from it. Or you may ask the shaman if he wants to travel to the underworld to get to the bottom of important issues of life, happiness, and causes of illness. You may as well be sent yourself on this journey by a shaman who performs a trance ritual for you. Or you go on a journey by yourself. There are travel guides available like guided meditations on tape, flower essences, essential oils and more.
What will you find in the underworld? First and foremost: yourself. Unvarnished and without beautification, rough and genuine with rough edges, contradictions and pimples, which is not necessarily a picnic. But also helpfulness and love, and the other good sides you may tend to devalue. The usual human mix.
The shaman or yourself can discover even more. For example, the cause of the disease or dissatisfaction in life. It can save a lot of tinkering with the symptoms when you find out who you really are and what you really want. There is, for example, the power or totem animal that you may like to meet. In the western world - whether he or she believes in it or not - everyone knows his astrological zodiac sign. Similarly, "a true Indian" knows of his totem animal; it gives him affiliation to the corresponding clan and its place in human togetherness. In addition, the totem tells you something about your own life task. When you become well acquainted with it, you no longer need to pretend to be someone else, chase after false goals or try to give in to the demands of peer pressure, but can now live how you want to live from out the depth of your heart. This ensures fulfillment and satisfaction, authenticity and also the feel-good factor in your life.
If one has lost contact with one's power animal, this is usually considered a less good sign. It often takes a shaman to call it back, and some good persuasion and reconciliation to get back on track. Without your inner protector, you run the risk of losing your health and inner balance.
Some have a few "skeletons in the closet" or in the underworld, unfinished stories, old grudges or a guilty conscience. A thorough cleanup cannot hurt. You recognize the relationship of your previous patterns of behavior to the degree of happiness, and learn how to be honest with yourself. An example provides the fairy tale of Mother Hulda (her original German name is Frau Holle, from which the German word ‘Hölle = hell’ is derived). The two girls are given tasks in the underworld that they know from the real world, similar or equal. Harvesting apples, baking bread and making beds represent the necessities of everyday life. But also their meaning in terms of karma. Anyone who wants to dodge the daily tasks gets the bucket of tar pitch (which is a metaphor for bad luck) in the next incarnation, while whoever faced up.to his task is rewarded with plenty of gold.
Insights into such connections can be won with the help of deep meditation, guided visualisations as well as an experienced hypnotherapist in a therapeutic setting, which some people may prefer because of their cultural socialization and the safety of a modern practice. Helpful tools can be incense anyway, and there are flower essences, too, to make the first steps easier.