Three Worlds, Non-Ordinary Reality By Viola Woolcott
We live in a world of duality. A world of the seen as well as the unseen. Many traditions talk of three worlds. The lower world, the middle world and the upper world. The Shaman sees these worlds as connection to the world tree. As a bridge that connects these three worlds. It is on this tree that the spirits pass from one world to the other.
From both traditional societies as well as in modern shamanic circles, the world tree is a common image of the connection between things in shamanic experiences. The shaman being a cosmic traveller ‘walks’ between these worlds, reads the signs as well as the visions he has which are offered to him in this waking twilight. With all of its beauty and danger, it is an introduction to the ancient ways of walking between the worlds.
The world tree represents power and courage and it forms the completed parts of the shamanic universe. It is also is the centre of the world, but paradoxically - paradoxes are rife in shamanism - the centre of the world is also anywhere and everywhere. This line of thinking allows shamans to know the tree situated outside his door is the world tree. It is used in the initiation ceremonies linking the world of humanity with the world of the spirits. Shamanic rituals and performances frequently feature world trees symbolically. In these rituals the shaman or medicine man performs in an altered state of consciousness, his feet in both realities, therefore the symbolic object becomes the world tree and where the ritual is taking place become the centre of the world.
The three worlds are equally important. None is above the other.