Journey Alchemy

April 27, 2018

I thought I would try something new today… writing a blog on horseback!

As Colonel is munching away at some tasty Spring grass, I am sitting on his back with my iPhone tapping away with my inspiration of the day.

This scene couldn’t be more relevant for what I want to share with you.



Let me explain.

Jason and I have been chatting recently about how Shamanic Journeying has helped us in our lives. It led us on to sharing examples of what our Spirit Guides have advised us over the years, and where this has led us…

… and I am in no doubt that one of the most influential messages that I got from my Spirit Guides during a Shamanic Journey was to fix my back.

Now bear with me… I’m going to explain how this is relevant to handsome Colonel here in a moment, with his ginger fringe and mouth full of juicy grass, but first I want to share with you how I came across Shamanic Journeying.


Overcoming anxiety

Years ago I was a really anxious person. I worked in a large construction firm as an Environmental Advisor, and found the job really stressful. I enjoyed the work, but with the onset of the financial recession in 2008 our team reduced in size and expectations increased. I struggled to say ‘no’ to things, and took on more and more work, which saw me in the office for an average of 60 hours a week.

I was tired, my health was suffering and I couldn’t see a way out.

I remember being given the choice of two new jobs to apply for, and I was really confused as to which one to take. I sought advice from a Tarot card reader, but I was none the closer to being able to make a decision. I knew that I wasn’t in the right place, but I couldn’t find the strength to do anything about it. I was in weekly psychotherapy sessions to help me keep afloat which were my lifeline and prevented me from having a breakdown, but I just couldn’t make decisions and was left treading water for quite a few years.

I was made redundant during a restructure which although incredibly stressful I knew was a blessing as it gave me a way out. Along with a redundancy package I also found myself with lots of time. I decided not to go back and work for another company and instead I set up my own business, which meant I was in control of my time.

I sought out training courses which looked of interest on anything which spoke to me and one of them was a Shamanic Medicine Wheel.

Here I learned how to go on a Shamanic Journey and seek advice from my Spirit Guides. Learning this skill changed my life.

Since then I have found I am a lot clearer with my path in life. If I need to make a decision I can go directly to my Spirit Guides for advice. They might give me an answer to my question in a way which needs unraveling, but I always get to the solution.


The gift of Shamanic Journeying

My Spirit Guides give me insights far beyond what I could possibly come up with myself. They give me clarification of my purpose. They show me the next step ahead. They point me in the direction of things I need to focus on, areas of study I need to research, new concepts I need to bring into my life. Following their advice gives me peace from my anxiety, and a certainty about what I need to do and where I am heading.

Now I have a life which is much more comfortable. I work in an environment which I am suited to away from large organisations. I spend my days working from home, choosing what I do and when I do it, being guided by my intuition, my Spirit Guides, the Universe.

Let me share an example of how my Spirit Guides have guided me through messages I have received through Shamanic Journeying.


A body focus

A few years ago, as I was closing down my Environmental consultancy business, I developed acute back pain. It was caused originally by doing something very silly to prove a point a few years before that. I was working on an environmental project in my local community to convert an old toilet block into an energy efficient advice centre. I moved eight tonnes of stone in one morning into a skip. Specifically these stones into this skip!


I hurt my back and at that point the pain was tolerable. However as I came out of working for the corporations it turned acute. It was like all the stress I had been holding through those years finally came out through my back once I began to rest. I struggled to sit on a chair, I couldn’t lift shopping bags and I was uncomfortable in bed at night.

I have learned over the years, as I am sure you know as well, that our body is a great teacher. Our body tells us when there is something wrong in our lives that needs addressing. Pain has a very loud voice and if we ignore it it gets worse and worse. It is a voice which often isn’t possible to avoid without some kind of intervention, and often medication is the most favoured route. I am not a big fan of taking tablets, and once I realised I was becoming dependent on Ibuprofen and paracetamol I stopped taking them and looked for another way.

What was really interesting for me was that around that time I did a Shamanic Journey to my Spirit Teacher to ask what I should focus on in my spiritual path next.

Now Spirit Teachers are often rather strict, and have a real no nonsense approach. Unlike Spirit Guides who are usually approachable, understanding, patient and will put their arm around you and have a softness about them, Spirit Teachers can have a stern school headmaster or headmistress feel about them. It is understandable really, given that they are your Teacher, and are there to teach you.

So I went to my Spirit Teacher and he looked up from his writing desk for all of about ten seconds and said to me really directly, ‘focus on your body Nicola and don’t come back to me until you have got results’.

I was really surprised, as I hadn’t at that point linked my body with my spirituality. My body was something which got me about, but I didn’t take much care of it to be truthful. I just wanted, and expected it to carry on working.

When I got this advice from my Spirit Teacher, I immediately took it as fixing my back. That was going to be my Number 1 focus until it was better.


Acting on the advice

So, I began to think about what I could do which was non-invasive. It didn’t even occur to me to go to the doctors.

Instead, I found a Personal Trainer. I figured that if I lost some weight, and strengthened my core muscles that would help. I also went for physiotherapy and booked some sessions with an osteopath.

A year later I had made some progress. I had stuck with my personal training sessions, and lost a bit of weight. My back pain had eased a little and I was lifting shopping bags again.

I went back to my Spirit Teacher and asked him what else I could do to help fix my back.

Now the message I received really confused me at the time. I was told ‘horse riding’.

It confused me for two reasons. Firstly because I never thought I would ride a horse again. I had loved horse riding as a child, into my teens and early twenties. But I put that passion to bed when I got a job in an office. I figured the two things weren’t compatible. Work came before play … that was the message I had been brought up with. After a stint working as a groom for the Household Cavalry, I hung my jodhpurs up for what I thought was forever.

Working as a groom for the Household Cavalry in my early twenties


The second reason was that I didn’t think that riding a horse would be good for my back.

I couldn’t have been more wrong, again for two reasons, as I was later to find out. Firstly the movements which are involved with horse riding are excellent for my spine. It keeps me mobile. Secondly riding horses motivates me to work on my body so it is stronger, and I am a better rider.


The essential missing piece

Now I had one huge problem. I didn’t have a horse.

But the Universe took care of that for me.

A few days after the journey Jason and I led a Full Moon ceremony up at Arbor Low Stone Circle in Derbyshire. I called in fun and adventure under the rising Harvest Full Moon.

Harvest Full Moon Ceremony at Arbor Low

Two days later I bumped into Colonel. Well almost. I was on a walk on the moors behind our home, and I opened a gate for a horse rider. I got chatting, and he told me he had another horse he was looking to loan out a few days a week. So, two days later we had a happy union which is still in place today. I get to ride Phil and Lynne’s handsome Colonel, and as it turned out they had another couple of horses too so I was in my element. So many horses all of a sudden I had to change my life to keep up with them all!

A happy union

Counting the benefits

So there was lots of play outside, away from the computer. It reconnected me to a part of myself I had long forgotten. That child who just lived for horse riding.

My childhood interpretation of the English Country Garden 
(I am the flower on the right)


It also brought me a lot of confidence, as I was quite scared when I first got on Colonel.

It brought me a new community as I made friends with some lovely folk down at the yard.

It brought me fitness as I was determined to improve my body so that I could be a better rider.

It brought me a sense of freedom I had long forgotten.


Life behind the ginger ears of Anglezarke


I am struggling to think of any guidance which would have led me to this same place, and brought me so many benefits… and my back? Well some days I am pain free now, and most days I don’t notice the pain. I still have a way to go, but I am much much better and it doesn’t hold me back from doing anything now.

So there we have it. I told you I would team up Shamanic Journeying with Colonel and my back!



I wonder where I would be now if I hadn’t have gone on that Shamanic Journey to my Spirit Teacher to ask for guidance on what I should focus on next on my path. I wonder where I would be now if I hadn’t had asked for guidance on how I should fix my back a year later. I wonder where I would be now if I hadn’t have carried out that ceremony welcoming in fun and adventure into my life.

When we are lost and looking for focus, connecting in with our Spirit Guides is such a valuable thing to do. Above all else it gave me confidence in myself to weave my own path in life, knowing that I am fulfilling their advice and going in a good direction.

If you are wanting to learn Shamanic Journeying as a way to connect in with your Spirit Guides, or if you can already journey but want to improve this valuable skill, keep an eye on your inbox over the coming weeks as we have something exciting which is on it’s way to you.



About the Author


Nicola Smalley is an edge-dweller, shamanic practitioner and writer living in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty in north Lancashire, England.

Following a career in corporate sustainability, she now runs The Way of the Buzzard with her husband Jason. Her passion is anything connected to nature and the mysteries of the Earth.

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  1. Hi nicola thank you for sharing your blog I absolutely loved reading it . It was beautifully written and full of helpful content that everyone could learn from . I myself have had a few health issues and I will be making it my mission to apply the concept of asking my guides through journeying as a way forward . Thank you again with much gratitude and blessings

    Julie xx

  2. Thank you Nicola.
    I needed to read something to keep me motivated today.
    I have a duff (polite word so the consultant says) knee that I can’t have replaced till I’m another 15 years older. At the beginning of this year I started to do exercise everyday again & it has strengthened my knee so much (who knew exercise had that power) & I’m now down to only painkillers in a morning(I too hate tablets)
    One of my very first journeys I got a message from who I couldn’t tell you but they said “continue” that has stuck with me these past few months. I did continue & now I’m back up to walking 5 miles or more up on the moors. Not bad to say at Christmas I couldn’t walk a mile without been in pain.
    Whichever guide it was who said “Continue” did me the power of good.

    I love Colonel & your photos bring back so many memories of my hacks out. Unfortunately the knee isn’t strong enough to get me up onto or off the back of a horse these days but I never give up hope!

    1. Hello Amanda, lovely to hear your story here. How amazing is that… that you are up to 5 miles in such a short time. The body is very clever how it responds to the right kind of exercise. Well done you. I love that you have followed your guides advice. Incredible isn’t it that one word during a journey can be so insightful and lead us to new ground, literally.

      I have stopped loaning Colonel now for a number of reasons but the main one was I wanted no commitments for a while so I could experience unbridled adventure. I am glad I did as I had a whole year pre-pandemic to go wherever I wanted in my little red van and I clock up 60 nights camping. Hard to comprehend now with lockdown that I had so much freedom! I understand how you feel though not being able to do things you want to do because of a physical condition. I hope your knee strengthens enough so you can hack out again.

  3. Thank you for the lovely post. I read from a previous comment that another Lady like myself was finding it hard to journey likewise, I too shall keep on going.

  4. Wonderful Nicola, Colonel even looks to be smiling in one of your pictures.
    Journeying is something I feel I struggle with but I’ll keep trying xx

  5. What a lovely read Nicola and yes I definitely want to learn Shamanic journeying. I am looking forward to Space to Emerge so much.

  6. Hmm! An interesting journey Nicola,most enjoyable reading.Thank you,look forward to seeing you both sometime.

  7. Hi Nicola,
    I find myself very much in a similar predicament concerning my very stressful job, my health isn’t great either…
    I’ve been lost to my path for what seems a long while now although I’m still very much being drawn back to it lately which is a good thing for certain.
    Definitely interested in learning more about Shamanic Journeying to begin reconnecting .

    Fae ?

    1. Yes that is a good thing for sure… thanks for your comment Fae, and I hope you find your way through this stressful time swiftly. Shamanic Journeying certainly helped me find my way 🙂

  8. Loved hearing the back story about Colonel (and you!). What a lovely, practical way Spirit has to transform our lives. Aho!

    1. Thank you Stephanie… we have something we are working on at the moment which you might find helpful… we will be in touch next month with more info 🙂

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your story and path back into health and spirituality. I’m realky interested in learning more about Shamanic journeying and healing physical pain too. I’ve had an ongoing problem for 2 years now on my arm and neck through being a professional drummer. I’m also on a spiritual path and am seeking answers. I’m coming to meet you all next friday at the Space To Emerge festival and am so excited about learning more. Thank you again as I’m wanting to expand my knowledge and spiritualism and your really helping me along ghe way. Sending you lots of Love and Blessings. Serenity Sam xxx

    1. Lovely to read your comment and really looking forward to sharing next weekend with you 🙂 … rather humbling to hear I am helping you along the way. I know hearing others stories really helped me back in the day when I was looking for change, and still does. See you next week!!

  10. I’m really interested in learning more about shamanic journeying Nicola.
    It has been inspirational reading your posts, thank you for sharing it.

    Julie. ???

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