Soul Journey

The soul journey or flight is a universal feature of shamanism, although not characteristic of all of the shamans'ASC. The shaman's interaction with spirits may take the form of a journey into the spirit worlds, a visit from the spirit world, or a transformation into an animal. Shamans' ASC are typically referred to as flights or journeys, and share visual experiences in which some aspect of the practitioner (i.e., soul, spirit, or animal familiar)

interacts with spirits in a non-ordinary reality. The cross-cultural distribution of experiences similar to shamanic flight has an innate basis in psychophysiological structures that reflect homologies across symbolic, somatic, and physiological systems (Hunt, 1995; Laughlin, 1997; Winkelman, 2000). The visionary experiences of the soul journey reflect a natural phenomenon of the human nervous system and occur as a consequence of the dysinhibi-tion of the visual centers of the brain. Soul journey involves "taking the role of the other" in the visual spatial modality involving a presentational symbolism (Hunt, 1995). These externalized self-representations provide new forms of self-awareness and subjective experience, maximizing the symbolic self-referential capacity in the imagetic-intuitive mode. The shamanic soul flight is a representation of the shaman's transcendence. Shamans' ASC normally do not involve possession (spirit takes over and dominates consciousness), but rather the control of spirits, particularly animal spirits.

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