Sacred Path Writing Exercise: Finding the Portal

Last week we listened to the mystery in an exercise from Writing as a Sacred Path by Jill Jepson. This week: an exercise from the shamanic path section that’s designed to help you enter the world of imagination and explore what you find there. Jill Jepson explains:

“Even when he is fully prepared, the shaman isn’t instantaneously beamed into the other realm. He eases into it, transitioning gradually through a series of stages, often over many hours. Writers can’t usually take hours to get started, but we can’t simply race off into the mythic realm either. Like shamans, we must be patient, take our time, and shift gradually into the realm of imagination.”

This exercise is called Finding the Portal and it involves creating an imaginary or real threshold that you can use to step into the other world:

“All shamanic journeys involve an opening into the spirit realm – an entryway between this world and the other. Sometimes writers, too, find that creating a ‘portal’ can help our transition into the world of imagination:

  1. Visualise a door, gate, or threshold. Create a meditative state through relaxation and deep breathing to aid you in your visualisation. Picture yourself as you are right now, sitting at your desk or table. Then picture yourself getting up and going to your portal. Allow an image of the portal to come to you. Perhaps you discover a strange cave in the mountains or take a fork in a road. You might even discover a mysterious door in your own house that you never saw before. Perhaps you need a special key to open the door, or a secret password.
  2. Create a depiction of your portal. If you would like something more concrete, you can make a physical depiction of your portal in paint, pencil, clay, or whatever medium you like. Place the representation in front of you as you prepare to write. Another possibility is to use an actual door or spot in your house that you endow with the power to act as your portal to the other realm.
  3. Rest with your portal until it opens. Whether you use visualisation or a physical depiction of your portal, spend some time focusing on it. Pay attention to its details. Wait patiently for it to open.
  4. Finally, imagine your patience rewarded: the ancient stone door creaks open, the drawbridge is lowered, the boulder magically rolls away from the mouth of the cave. However you visualise your portal to the mythic realm, see it as inviting you to adventure.”

Next time: an exercise from the warrior path

More Writing Prompts here