An introduction to working within unseen worlds

by Robert Owings

All spiritual practices maintain some form of connection to unseen worlds, be that Buddha fields or the heaven promised so prominently in Christianity and Islam. In some regard shamanism is not that different; however, where those religions offer the unseen world in an afterlife, shamanism opens those realms in this life as well. Plus, it’s a vastly more expansive, animated, and interactive version to the concept.

Shamanic practice has been described as crossing the veil, walking in other worlds, and a direct spiritual engagement with spirits, deities, and other realms. Naturally, such processes bring one into contact with unseen worlds, and the beings that populate these domains. It’s been going on since day one, since that first proto shaman took on the work.


A more contemporary interpretation of these beings is to refer to them as energies. These energies often come with different purposes and causality, meaning their own agendas. The description and nomenclature for these energies can be gods, goddesses, demi-gods, exalted teachers, bodhisattva, astral beings, guides, wise ancestors, guardian angels—to less anthropocentric beings such as plant spirits, power animals, the spirit of a forest or river, planetary archetypes, tricksters, demons, hungry ghosts, aliens and hyper-dimensional beings, and so on and so on. One might be advised to be prudent in selecting which energies to align with and such.

Most shamanic practitioners use their engagement with unseen forces for gaining an ally: a being who will assist them in acquiring knowledge, expanding their shamanic powers, and providing protection from harmful forces, be those of the physical or ethereal variety.

To those uninitiated, this might all sound absurd, a by-product of superstition and ignorance. I don’t blame anyone for dismissing this as delusional. And that’s all fine, until you personally have that first encounter with some disembodied being that resonates with intelligence and purpose. Then you have a choice: either to repress the experience and refuse to further unpack what happened, or to go further and possibly establish a working relationship with this spirit being.

So much of all of this is daunting to the modern mindset because we have been so acculturated to the construct of monotheism, which is an unseen force unto itself. We’re just not accustomed to allowing our perception to accept the diversity of what’s active in the Universe, preferring to package it all under one over-simplified expression of Divinity.

One of the effects of shamanic consciousness is that it fractures this limitation, opens the mind to a vastly more complex and sophisticated worldview. Herein one may engage with a larger reality or many realities, and gain a glance into hidden domains that suggest a far greater multi-sphere, a holographic complex with unfathomable intelligence and interconnectivity than ever imagined in our mundane world.

There’s no simple map to these domains—quite the opposite. The more you journey to such realms, the more of them you discover exist. The same holds true for those beings who may be encountered during these experiences.

Which brings us back to working with unseen forces and being diligent with whom you may align. This is where it can be ever so beneficial to work with someone who has experience with such things. The sort of core guideline for working with these energies is using an objective view as to how this relationship is serving you and the world. Here’s where that common mantra, “For the greatest good for all,” can come in handy, which of course makes you look hard at your own motivations.

Now, if you want to engage at a deeper level, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. There are those who are called to do so. This brings a more expansive engagement and can require taking on responsibilities that can be subsuming. I would suggest some deep personal reflection before signing up for that work. Yet there are those, who come into such work not of their own choosing, but are drawn to do so by Spirit. The protagonist in my trilogy is such a person—we share that in common.

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