What is meant by the higher, middle and lower worlds?

Higher, middle and lower worlds stem from shamanic cosmology and describe three different states of consciousness.

The middle world is your everyday, waking state of consciousness characterised by your personal identity. It is the subjective, manifested world bound by the laws of Time (duality). Home to your individual self (ego or “I”) and its interpersonal relations, it is the domain of family, friends, work, school, politics, religion, community and the environment in which you live. It is where your soul expresses itself practically in embodied form.

The lower world or underworld is a transpersonal state of consciousness that extends beyond your individual identity and encompasses wider aspects of your psyche that are largely unknown until they become conscious. It is a subjective but unmanifested realm, bound by the laws of Time in much the same way the middle world is. The underworld is characterised by depth, darkness, death, the dead, Shadow, the subconscious & unconscious, archetypal & ancestral forces, demons, the daemon, and sacred woundings. It is where ego descends to connect with its soul and to evolve & mature itself through shadow-work. This is where the battle between good and evil is fought. It is also where the proverbial “dark night of the soul” occurs that provides access to the upperworld and celestial realms.

The higher world or upperworld is a spiritual state of consciousness that extends beyond the middle and under worlds. It is another more expansive aspect of your psyche that remains unknown until it becomes conscious. The upperworld is characterised by unity and eternality. This is the realm of non-duality, transcendence, purity, truth, emptiness, enlightenment, self-realisation, celestial realms, christ-consciousness and pure awareness. This is where your individual consciousness merges/communes with Spirit. Entering upperworld states involves disidentifying with ego, dismantling your belief system and shedding attachments & desires. The upperworld is an objective, un-manifested and unbound realm. It does not recognise the laws of Time, it recognises only the law of One.

The evolutionary journey of the psyche involves awakening to higher and lower states of consciousness and integrating all three states into a cohesive whole – this is what is meant by self-realisation.

Shaman, psychotherapists, depth psychologists, gurus, energy healers and spiritual teachers are among those who navigate the upper and under worlds for the purposes of healing.