Friday, August 17, 2012

Vocabulary for Spirit-Walkers

It occurred to me based on a question on the Tumblr I just got that hey, not everybody understands what the fuck I talk about when I rattle on about spirit-walking this and x-walking that.

So I have compiled a list of what I mean by various phrases I throw around.

Spirit-Walker is the umbrella term I use for anybody (pagan, not pagan, whatever, yo) who actively works with Spirits in a service capacity.

By Spirits I mean:
  • Human Entities (Alive and non)
  • Non-Human Entities (Lightbeings, Elementals, Higher realms)
  • Animal Spirits
  • Land Spirits
  • Demons/Void Critters in whatever that entails to you
  • Fae of any capacity
  • Ancestral shit (non-human too) counts too
  • Totemic Critters
  • Deities (I consider them another class of Spirit)
Anddddd whatever else you can think of.

So Spirit-Walker: An individual who works with Spirits in a service/relationship capacity.
Now I divide Spirit-Walker by function, for ease of description.

Death-Walkers are individuals who work primarily with psycho-pomping, death stewardship, and literally walking said Spirit through death/the void and out the other side. This might include doing Death Rites for said Spirit, and in many cases literally holding their hand through the moving on process, often when the Spirit is scared, confused or hurt. (Recently or non) dead humans and animals fall under Death-Walking/Deathwork. Generally working with Spirits who were once alive, but now have Dead status. A lot of Deathwalkers work so closely with Death it accidentally claims them a couple times. I’ve heard that happen with my wife, when you suddenly accidentally stop breathing, or have a lot of close-calls.

Void-Walkers are individuals who routinely take up Death-working, but for all manner of Spirits. It’s like a subgenre of Death-Walking to me. It’s like being on-call. It involves slogging Spirits, Deities and Whathaveyou through the Void to help them shed their baggage/old selves, and it’s often thankless. Whereas Death-Walking usually involves the recently dead being confused/angry/whatever, Void-Walking involves dragging things, sometimes Entities that were never alive but became imbalanced due to fuckery, through the void. In a word, sometimes they don’t strictly speaking want to go, because they’re crazy. So you can expect to get punched more in this discipline. And getting so close to a Void space risks your entire being as well, so it’s one of the more “risky”, shall we say, paths to take.

Alternatively, I sometimes use Void-Walking to refer to those who partner with Demon entities/forces just because my wife does both of those things so in my head they kind of morph. (And I feel like Demons often get roped into Void-Walking anyway.)

Hedge-Walkers I consider specifically individuals who traverse the veil in liminal spaces or work heavily with Spirits of Place/Land Spirits, which can include local or large land Spirits, Elementals, Fae-like creatures, Animal Spirits ‘round the place, and Deities connected to said place. So Hedge-Walking I suppose you could say takes place primarily in your backyard, whatever that entails. I consider working with the Spirits of plants and trees to be hedge or veil-walking too.

Shadow-Walking is what I say when I don’t want to say Journey or refer specifically to Shamanism. (I consider what I do, even though it’s Spirit-Walking by my definition, to be Shamanism because the duties I have taken on match, on the whole, the duties an individual of that description is expected to perform. FYI, I am well read on the mundane history of Shamanism, the word Shaman, and its usage and issues between core and non. So trust me, I know in what context I use these terms.) That aside, Shadow-walking is what I mean by traveling to the ‘Underealms’, which to me “feel” animalistic and chaotic. It lacks the structured rules of some of the higher realms/planes. It generally is a chaotic landscape of natural formations, and often contains animal or part-animal Spirits and guides that err to the side of off their rocker. So Shadow-walking refers to going specifically to the Shamanic Underealms and carrying out business there. (Generally my business there happens to be Shadow-Work, or extreme work on the Self and Spirit death, which is where I yoinked that term from. Other business includes getting bitched at by animal spirits.)

Alternatively, Shadow-Walking can be used specifically to refer to walking your own personal Underworld; your own personal shadows, and using them as a method of transformation.

Life-Walking is the other “side” of Death-Walking, and often you have both tasks, since it takes one to understand the other. Life-Walking involves aiding unborn souls or energies to get where they need to go to be “created”, more or less. It involves a lot of formless lightbodies and watching universes expand and contract. Probably one of the trippier things to be called to do. Also, very difficult. Creating things on the Astral in general requires a perfect balance of several forces/considerations at once, so learning to do it isn’t exactly easy. I personally consider energy healing work on the living to be a subset of Life-Walking, since I feel like it’s also concerned with sustaining life once created, not just pushing it along.

Grave-Walkers are my term for individuals who work heavily with Ancestral (human) Spirits. I differentiate this from Death-Walking only because usually they’re already dead, they don’t need your aid getting there. (USUALLY.) Alternatively I know a few people that work with other people’s Ancestral Spirits too, and help pass on their messages to the living family members and etc etc.

Dream-Walking is my term for those who do most of their Work in the Dream state. Generally that means journey, Spirit-interaction, Guide-centric and Deity-centric shit, and potentially everything listed above. The only difference is the amount of time you spend doing those things awake vs. asleep.

Heart-Walking is my term for those who journey specifically to a Deity's particular place/world with the intent of working for/with that Deity for their own purposes. So it's like a Deity-focused type of Walking, versus the other types that don't necessarily have to involve Deity at all. So people who work only with Hermes or something, and nobody else, and journey only to get to him and work with him on shit, I consider that Heart-walking. (The term comes from my flowery British writer guide, blame his ass.)

Complicating this, I consider myself Spirit-Walker, but at different times take on the role of Death-Walker, Life-Walker, Shadow-Walker, and Hedge-Walker. These terms aren’t mutually exclusive. One individual can do several of these at once, and in fact they tend to overlap and expand. And my terms are flexible: the definitions are meant to be general so they can conform to the individual.
I hope that helps explain some of the words I throw around.

Back to regular posting.


  1. What would you call someone who astral travels to their deities' realms/world and work with them there?

  2. Ah, I think I may be a Dream-Walker, at least for now. Heh, such a noob.

  3. Nice to know there is a term for what I do. I always thought of myself as an animal connector - connecting animals and people. Giving voice to both. Since my brain injury, I have been giving voice to prehistoric and extinct animals. I sort of ended up in liminal time and space these days.

  4. Sweet, I like it. And I'm nominated you for the Sunshine Award; I figure spread the awesomeness.

  5. Tag! I've nominated you for a Sunshine award! Enjoy!

  6. I know you don't do awards, but I figured you deserved it anyway.

  7. Mind, if I take that vocabulary and run off with it?
    Very good post on the topic.

  8. Great to find your blog! Indeed, we often don't have an accurate vocabulary for such work. It can be really challenging to put shamanic work forward in a culture that already doesn't value it.

    I write about the challenges of modern shamanism on Huffington a bit, but also what that looks like on a practical level in my blog--Intentional Insights.

    Cheers to you!

  9. I astral project through time but I don't know how to astral project I just realize deja vu happening all over again and this happens to me most of the time. feels like my life has been a replay. What do you call me?

  10. could someone possibly be put into the underrealms? by someone with more knowledge about these realms? i feel like ive been in the underrealm but no idea how i got there or even what it was i thought i was going crazy,

  11. Can a shadow Walker not know that he is a Shadow Walker.? And how can I find out if the specific person is the shadow Walker ?