In this conversation with Sandra Ingerman, we dive into the path of shamanism and a look at the origins of shamanic wisdom, and the implications of the explosion of interest in shamanic practices, within the context of our modern day world.
We talk about what makes a shaman a shaman, what it means to be a gardener of energy, and the difference between a shaman and a shamanic practitioner. We discuss the importance our words, the emphasis on fine tuning our intuition and the power of ceremony for cultivating a heightened sense of concentration and focus, and how social media is causing polarity, division and distracting us from centered presence. We also talk about the shamanic path in terms of tuning into other dimensions of reality and shamanic practices we can cultivate to live our best lives.
Ep. 2 Modern Day Shamanism with Sandra Ingerman
Laura Dawn: My name is Laura Dawn, and you’re listening to episode number two of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast, featuring my conversation with world renowned, teacher of Shamanism, Sandra Ingerman.
Sandra: Shamanism is universal. The word Shaman is from the Tungus tribe in Siberia, and it means one who sees in the dark, and we know the practice dates back over a hundred thousand years center, this inner practice that predates Shamanism. There’s a difference between what you have to go through to become a Shaman versus your work as a Shamanic practitioner, so that’s where I make a really clear distinction.
The bottom line is all spiritual traditions for the beginning of time, have been talking about multi-dimensions of reality that are parallel to this one, but we have a huge part of the culture, not just in America, all over the world, who is also believing stories that are keeping us divided. So, through ceremony and through being a gardener of energy, the Shaman’s role is to transfer that new healed energy into the ordinary realm. So that now that replaces the own fabric of reality. So, we’re constantly weaving a new dream and being.
Laura Dawn: In this episode, I had the honor and privilege of speaking with Sandra Ingerman, an elder who I’ve admired for a very long time. Sandra has been teaching Shamanic wisdom for close to 40 years. She’s taught workshops internationally on Shamanic journeying, healing and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods. Sandra is also an award winning author of 12 books, and I highly recommend two of her books in particular, Walking in Light and The Book of Ceremony, Shamanic wisdom for invoking the sacred in everyday life. She’s also written soul retrieval, mending the fragment itself and medicine for the earth. Sandra is just such a prolific creator and teacher.
She also has eight audio programs produced by sounds true, and just as a side note, I just can’t mention sounds true without mentioning how much I love that company. Tami Simon is the founder of Sounds True, and she’s just a total bad-ass and she’s been one of my sheroes for really long time, and Tami hosts, one of my all-time favorite podcasts that I’ve been listening to forever called, Insights at The Edge, which I aspire to speak on one day, and I also aspire to be as good of an interviewer as she is, because she’s honestly just amazing.
So, I just finished listening to Sandra increments, audio book, that sounds true produced called Awakening to the Spirit World that she co-authored with Hank Wesselman whose work I’m also a big fan of, and I also highly recommend anyone of Sandra’s audio books, which I’ll have all the links to if you go to this episode’s page on my website, that you can find at livefreelaurad.com/ep2, like episode two, but just ep2. She also has music albums out for Shamanic journeying and I’ll link to those as well, and while you’re on my website, if you haven’t received my eight hour music playlist for psychedelic journeys and beyond, or my free eight day micro-dosing course, you can swipe those on the freebies tab on my main page at livefreelaurad.com.
Okay. So, there was just so freaking much I loved about this conversation with Sandra. She brings such a grounded perspective to Shamanic wisdom that I really just appreciate. Some of the big takeaways for me was that Shamanism is universal and that all peoples from all over the world have ancestors from cultures who have practiced Shamanism and this has really been inspiring me to explore my own ancestry and learn more about Celtic Shamanism. In this conversation she discusses how Shamanism has evolved over the last hundred thousand years and how it wasn’t really designed for our modern technological culture. Yet we can still learn to incorporate Shamanic practices into our lives that can help us tap into our highest potential.
We talk quite a bit about our connection to the unseen realms, the dimensions of reality beyond which we can see, which is frankly my favorite topic of conversation just in general, and I love to explore it from all angles, especially experientially with the help of my plant allies. Sandra also talks about the power of words, how words carry vibration that create our reality. She talks about how we can learn to become more disciplined in our daydreaming and the importance of that.
She goes into the three worlds of Shamanism and the difference between a Shaman and a Shamanic practitioner and another strong theme to this talk was her emphasis on the importance of cultivating concentration and focus and how distracted we are as a culture. She mentioned social media a couple of times throughout this talk and how she feels like it’s fueling ego and division and how Shamanic practices, especially ceremony can support spirit and connection, and I just love Sandra’s passion for ceremony, and she talks about it in this talk and also of course, if you want to learn more practices that you can incorporate into the fabric of your everyday life, then I definitely recommend checking out her book, The Book of Ceremony.
She also touches on how we can adopt Shamanic practices into our lives and she also speaks specifically to the people who are just getting worked these days. As we know, we’re still dealing with this pandemic and just this greater transition that we’re moving through on the planet and it feels like many of us are being called to go into this cocoon of metamorphosis and let go of the past so that we can step into and birth something new. It’s like the quintessential dark night of the soul and a lot of people are going through that right now. So, she also speaks to that and some practices that people can incorporate, and she also offers her perspective on the use of psychedelics and plant medicines as a Shamanic practice, as well as her thoughts on cultural appropriation.
Okay, and so just as a quick side note, before we jump into this interview, I just want you guys to know that I’m recording this in my bungalow in Hawaii, that’s in front of a 20 foot long bus, that’s converted into a tiny home, and so I am very much outdoors right now, recording this and so I hope that you can have some understanding that I don’t have a recording studio and make space to welcome some of the sounds of nature. Like the birds chirping around me right now, and the occasional sounds of rain and even the occasional lawnmower that happens that I can’t control and know that I’m really just doing the best that I can to bring a high quality listening experience to you, and on that note, I’ll be leaving this episode off with a song called beautiful bird by my two dear sisters, Annie May Willis, and Aea Luz and on the episode page with the show notes livefreelaurad.com/ep2.
You can find their links to social media and other incredible music albums that they’ve created that I am just so stoked to share with you. All right, without any further ado, here is my interview with Sandra Ingerman. Wow. What a pleasure it is to have Sandra Ingerman on the show today. Thank you so much for taking the time. It is an honor to be dropping in with you.
Sandra: Yeah. Thank you. It’s really lovely to meet you, then. I’m excited to get to know you during the show.
Laura Dawn: I love the way that you frame Shamanic wisdom and the Shamanic path. I recently just finished The Book of Ceremony for the second time. Just really touching my heart and just such a depth. So, you for the work that you do.
Sandra: Thank you. It’s been quite the long journey, but it’s kind of like a destiny call and I love people. I love the planet. I love nature beings and so I’m really called to contribute in every way that I can and so I’m really happy that people are interested in the work right now.
Laura: Just even taking a snapshot at the past, you know, 40 plus years, are you amazed at just how much people are interested in Shamanic practices? It seems like it’s really an all-time high.
Sandra: Yeah, it is. There’s pluses and minuses to all of this so that you can understand because Shamanism was never a practice to be made popular. The word Shaman itself is a Tungus word that comes from the Siberian tribes in Siberia and it means one who sees in the dark, healer, one who knows, wise person. You know, there’s depends on what anthropologist you talk to you’re going to get a wide range of definitions and so Shamanism is universal. The word Shaman is from the Tungus tribe in Siberia, but the practice is universal and we know the practice dates back over a hundred thousand years and because of how the earth changed, the land bridges, you know, people just kept moving.
They had to, it’s just like with climate change, people are going to have to keep moving. We’re not dealing with new issues today, and that’s why we try to get people to actually talk to our ancestors who already went through this and have all the bread crumbs to give us. So, this is very universal work when I share is that probably every person on the planet has a relative who practice Shamanism and so the power of Shamanism, and I think why it’s been around for so long, because there isn’t a practice that predates Shamanism.
I think the reason why it’s been around so long is that it changes, because it’s so nature-based the practice itself changes by the times that we’re living in, the needs that we’re living in, the cultures that we’re living and so what I’ve seen in 40 years is all these different cultures coming through because in the beginning we were just a bunch of ex hippies. Nobody had books out. Michael Harner had a book out, Joan Halifax had an amazing book out, of course, Mircea Eliade book out which is the Encyclopedia of Shamanism. Those are out, but you had to be a certain kind of spirit a particular generation and, you know, we came together, we danced, we sang, we made magic.
We never slept, never went to bed we just wanted a drum dancing all the time, we went really, really deep and had amazing experiences, miraculous experiences of people getting healing and then it started to happen as more and more people started getting interested in it, but from even a more surface understanding of what it was and so they started seeing ads on TV for Shaman shampoo and Shaman soap and Hollywood was starting to get into Shamanism and everybody started talking about power animals and what are your power animals? Power animals are part of Shamanism, but that’s not the only part.
So, the part of our culture now really got stuck on just who’s my power animal and what book can I look it up to tell me what my power animals trying to tell me. Where Shamanism is actually a practice of direct revelation, where you work with divine spirits, real divine spirits, not just that appear in books, real divine spirits that are aligning themselves with your divinity so that you embrace and become in love with each other as the divine and flood this incredible planet with beauty but all of the practices that go with Shamanism, which I know we’re going to talk about, they take time and the current generation wants everything really fast.
Can I just take a workshop in an hour and get a certification, certificate afterwards to say that I am now a Shaman, it’s really sad people are sending me Shamanic certificate programs with my name on it that my work is part of the program and I don’t promote online shamanic training, Latin healing because we can hurt too many clients. So, ethics is a really big thing for me. So, this is a very, long-winded answer to your question.
I’m sorry because 40 years is a long time and we went from hippies, doing magic, really doing the best direct revelation and all kinds of initiation experiences and now we just have this such diverse population coming in. People who are ready, I’m ready to go deep and they do and then we have people going well, I’ve heard the word Shaman and it sounds like a good profession, so I’m going to sign up for the workshop and see what it is, and then we have people who didn’t know that, that they were going to have to do their own personal work. They thought that everything was just given. So, it’s an interesting culture to bring Shamanism and because Shamanism wasn’t designed for modern day technological culture.
Laura Dawn: That’s so interesting, and I’d love to actually touch on that, but first I think just to go a little bit deeper into what really makes a Shaman, a Shaman, you say it’s one who sees in the dark, a Shaman is an inspired visionary. You talk about a Shaman being someone who has one foot in this realm and one foot in the invisible realm. I love that you talk so much about these invisible realms. Can we go a little bit deeper into that specifically?
Sandra: Yeah. Absolutely. So, Shamanism is this really widespread practice. It’s not as limited as everybody thinks it has, and so it has these beautiful elements to the work which attracts so many people. That’s why we all love to do it. The work, the practices, the ceremonies are amazing. So, a Shaman is a person who was destined. Back in the old time Shamanic days, a person who went through terrible tragedy, terrible illness had a near death experience where initiation after initiation, they have to find a way to stand up and heal themselves and then become the healer for their whole entire community, and so the Shaman did the spiritual work for the community, the Shaman was the healer, the Shaman was the diviner, the Shaman was the person who helped out with psychological problems, you know the Shaman had so many roles in Shamanic communities, and then the people lived a Shamanic way of life supporting the Shaman at the same time, and what I mean by a Shamanic way of life is that number one, when children are born, they’re so welcomed into the world, given a name, recognized for the amazing gift they’re bringing to this organism. I mean their community is an organism.
It all works together. So, the community is so happy when a child enters into the community, because now they have a strength they didn’t have before this child came and they teach children that words are power and how you create how you actually create form is through words. So, children from a very young age are taught about the vibration that goes up with your words and how that manifests down into form. Now almost every spiritual tradition teaches this. I just teach it from the Shamanic point of view because words are everything.
I was doing a lecture on power of words at a conference in Colorado ages ago, past life ago, and there was a Navajo elder who sat in the back, listening to my talk and she came up to me afterwards and she said, may I sit down and talk to you? I said, of course, and so we started talking together and sharing together, and one of the things she said to me was, do you know, what may you walk in beauty means? I said, no, I don’t, and she said, may you walk in beauty means that when you talk to another human being, you only say beauty to them. You will only say words that will invoke beauty in them because every tradition knows. Every tradition knows that as soon as you open your mouth, the vibration comes up and actually manifest down in a form. The same thing happens with your thoughts. You’re thinking, thinking, thinking all the worst things that are going to happen. Where is your train of thought leading you to?
So in Shamanic cultures, children are taught how to work with their thoughts so that they express when they’re angry, and when they’re sad, but that what they’re feeding their community with what they’re feeding the energetic collective with is love and light because they were taught how to transmute the energy of anger and sadness and all that goes with it, and then of course, daydreams is a huge topic in shamanic communities because they believe we’re dreaming the wrong dream, and they would love for us to learn how to dream better because think about what you’re daydreaming about while you’re sitting on the bus, on the train you know at work, if you actually look at what you’re daydreaming, there’s no questions why the world is where it is because we’re not disciplined in our daydreams of putting out animals, living in harmony, people loving each other and sharing their wealth and taking care of each other and the climate.
That’s not what people dream about during the day. People dream about how bad it’s going to be. So, these skills are learned very early on in a Shamanic culture with everybody living there, and then there were a lot of initiations that happened, which I can talk about in a bit. So, there was a separation between who was the Shaman and the Shamanic community. Yes, you asked the question and the definition of a Shaman is the Shaman is a man or woman who goes into an altered state of consciousness, typically by using some form of percussion bells, bowls, rattles, singing, dancing, didgeridoo, click sticks, and that Shaman the sound starts to allow the Shaman’s brain to slow down and that state the Shamans soul can rise up and be free to now travel into what we call the unseen realm. So, there’s lots of words for that.
There’s non-ordinary reality. There’s the unseen realms. There’s the hidden realms. The Celtic people called it the other world; the Australian Aborigines called it the dream time. So, you know, everybody had a name for this special territory that was inhabited by gods and goddesses and ancestors and divine beings who just were looking down on earth and saying, how can we help? How can we volunteer right now? So, in Shamanism, there are what are called three worlds, the lower world, the middle world, the upper world, and in the lower world is beautiful nature, animal spirits, all the nature beings that you can imagine and that’s a transcendent divine realm too and people travel to the lower world and meet up with power animals and go on fascinating adventures that evolve and learn and heal, and then the middle world is non-ordinary reality to here.
So, people who like to sit and talk to trees, that would be more middle world work, you know, where they go out and relate to and tree here, and then what’s called the upper world is a place for also power animal’s spirits could live anywhere they want, but mostly inhabited by what we call teachers in human realm who are gods and goddesses, ancestors, beings who know mystics, old gurus, old teachers. I’m sure I’m leaving out some, but there’s such a wealth it’s unbelievable who you can discover out there and what the Shaman does when he, or she goes into that altered state of consciousness they have one of those spirits in the three worlds that’s connected by the world tree.
So, the roots go down to the lower world and then the middle represents the earthly realm and then the branches represent the upper world and Shamans fly up the branches to the upper world to meet the spirits and travel down the routes to meet other spirits in the lower world. So, it’s a very simple system and complex at the same time, but in the evolution of consciousness, what’s happened is we went from small groups of people in the 1980s who said, I want to learn this process of direct revelation and they did and that grew exponentially to now we have tens of thousands of practitioners of Shamanism, but they’re not shamans. There’s a difference between what you have to go through to become a Shaman versus your work as a Shamanic practitioner. So that’s where I make a really clear distinction.
Laura Dawn: Thank you for making that distinction. I appreciate that, and it seems like when you’re on the Shamanic path and you’re learning to open your perceptual field of awareness, that one of the things that we’re gaining is more of an understanding between the fluidity between this reality and the unseen realm. I’m just so curious about how we can go into the invisible realm to influence and catalyze change, and is that a more effective way? Like when we go in and hold a specific vibrational frequency of prayer, can we understand that we are the elements that we’re not separate from it, and can these experiences of really experientially knowing that there is an unseen realm, cannot catalyze and influence our capacity to influence change on this planet?
Sandra: Yeah. It does for a lot of people, a lot of people wake up and that’s what we’re seeing now is a lot of people waking up so that it can catalyze change for people to start raising up. What my work has been really focused on is that people have to make a choice because the bottom line is all spiritual traditions for the beginning of time have been talking about multi-dimensions of reality that are parallel to this one, but we have a huge part of the culture, not just in America, all over the world, who is also believing stories that are keeping us as divided, you know, as we possibly can be and that’s a real problem.
So, I’ll tell you my tack on this is because I work with the Egyptian goddess Isis and Isis brings through constantly. She’s always bringing this through, do not get stuck in the level of suffering. There are other dimensions that you can step into. There are dimensions where there are actually bottled souls who are meditating all the time and just shining love on earth right now. So, we have a choice which dimension we live in, and so we have the possibility to shake down to all the news that’s going on, and, that’s a really important thing to understand. I think social media is actually feeding all the division and it’s impossible to talk to the people on social media. It’s all egos, it’s all egos expressing themselves and Shaman isn’t as all spirit expressing itself.
So, like if a Shamanic practitioner says to me, I think we don’t work like that in Shamanism. You’re only a vessel for your helping spirits. So, when did your helping spirits say, I don’t care what you think. I want to know what your helping spirits says, that’s your role. So what happens is that as people stay on the path, some people really need that distraction and they can’t stay focused and they can stay concentrated, and then there are people who go and this happened in another one of my courses, my god, I haven’t listened to the news in three days, but you wouldn’t believe how many more animals are coming up to my lawn since I started talking to them and the tree on the right started to call to me, and one had to share with me some of its story and its history.
So, if you can follow me on this, when you can see how people are making a consciousness choice to focus on the dimension, where they’re getting connection with nature, and that’s so feeding that you don’t want to go back into all the drama of the news what’s going on, that has nothing to do about not being compassionate or ignorant. It’s about not staying up all night, worrying about everybody who’s suffering. So, we have choices of which world we want to walk in the world of suffering, or if we want to walk into the world of nature, or if we want to find a way to meet with those ascendant meditators who are meditating 24/7; millions of them around the world. So, there’s different dimensions we can step into.
Laura Dawn: Right, and it also sounds like in this plethora of just information coming at us, I mean, so much data that we’re being exposed to in any given moment that it seems like the practice is really making a conscious choice where we shine our light of awareness and bringing intention to that, and really choosing that as a cultivation of a practice almost in and of itself.
Laura Dawn: It almost seems like that’s part of it.
Sandra: Yeah, absolutely. So, I just taught a course called The Dark Night of the Soul leads to The Light of the Shaman because I really wanted to give people my roadmap through the darkness because my life has been to walking to the dark night of the soul and I feel like I’ve developed an amazing roadmap to help people get through. One of the very first exercises I taught in my course was how to how to recognize trickster energy because when you’re in the dark night of the soul, when you’re in such a confusing time as this, there are people coming out from everywhere. I have the real story. Now I have the real story. I have the magic bomb that’s going to heal. You know, don’t listen to them.
This drug is going to help you not get that illness. This drug is going to make you sick and we’re being flooded by this, flooded 24/7. It doesn’t go away. I actually read a new label that they’re putting in the DSM, which is where you get your labels for psychological issues, and people can’t put their cell phones down for two minutes without starting to feel all the issues of addiction. So, then you open up your social media because that’s what you have to and that’s where your addictions are leading you to and you’ve got five people telling you, this is a lie, this is a lie, this is a lie.
So, what we all have to do, because I see it, it’s only going to get worse is that we have to learn the difference between the tricksters that show up and our allies and how you do that is that you have to really start to focus on doing exercises that increase the power of your intuition, and it’s just that clear, because your intuition will not let you step into trickster energy. It’s going to say, wait, you’re going the wrong way, but your ego, oh yeah, that sounds good. Ooh, maybe that conspiracy theory is right. I don’t know. You know, what’s happening for people today, they’re losing their minds, and so my own personal opinion is being seeded by social media.
My own personal opinion is that if we want to make any forward progress, we have to get off social media and start working in communities and start working together that’s just really important to me, and this is a time where everybody has to learn how to fire up their intuition because who are you going to trust? Who exists on the planet right now that you can trust except for yourself? Who exists? So, learn how to trust yourself and learn how to get the signals inside of you when you’re feeling, ooh, no, that’s not the right decision or, ooh, I feel expansive. Yeah. That makes sense to me, I can hear that. I can take that in or you’re taking it home and walk outside and you go, is that piece of news fake or real and a branch falls off a tree right in front of you. I would take that as an element.
Laura Dawn: So, you’re really just training your mind to pay attention in a distinct way.
Laura Dawn: That seems like what you’re saying.
Laura Dawn: So, in your audio book, Awakening to the Spirit World that you co-authored with Hank Wesselman, you talk about how you can use the practice of Shamanism to live your life from the highest potential you say in this way, we can truly walk the path of a Shaman who works with the forces of the universe to create positive change on the planet and so you’re already alluding to this practices that we need to cultivate and develop, emphasizing the importance of cultivating our intuition.
So, I’m curious, like what are some of the keys from Shamanic wisdom that we can start applying in our lives immediately to help catalyze change? I hear, you know, getting off of social media, that’s a really practical, implementable tip in the nowness of life. What are some other ways that we can really bring Shamanic practices into our lives? The importance of ceremony, especially in this time, you know, that we’re still in it with the pandemic. Any other practical tips that are helpful?
Sandra: Sure, 40 years, so I can give a few. So, intuition is important as we shared and intuition comes from trusting your body signals and so when I teach Shamanism, I talk about how people are clairvoyant and or clairaudience, and or clairsentient.
Clairvoyant is those people who see those visions. Clairaudience is me; I hear everything. I’m hearing spirits talking in the other room. I’m hearing everything.
So, the information that I trust when I hear the voice of my spirits and their vocabulary, because they speak differently from me and others, I know that they’re there. So, you know, there’s my intuition. clairsentient, so I’m also clairsentient, and I believe clairsentient is actually the highest, the best sense that you want to be the most sensitive in.
Everybody in this culture, I want to see, I want to watch the movies. I want to see the visions, but when your body starts to know in your gut, in your bones, in your cells, and it’s telling you that, that’s direct, it doesn’t get more direct than that, and so everybody has these different senses, and so it’s learning when you start to go into nature, or when you start to do your work, that the helping spirits who really want to volunteer themselves right now are going to be speaking to you either by showing you something or by you hearing something or by you feeling something, and again, you know, you really want to open up your senses otherwise people start to judge the experience and in our book, we give different tools.
Like if your mind kicks in, if your ego kicks in, if you say what if I’m making all of this up, I truly believe I’ve brought through different lines in this last year that Shamans are gardeners of energy, and that’s really all they do. They’re gardeners of energy. What they’re doing is they’re traveling up into the unseen realms, working with the divine spirits to weave. Shamans are weavers, and you see that in different cultures, and so the Shamans with the divine beings, are weaving the new fabric of reality, that’s going to replace the one that’s dismembering now. So, through ceremony and through being a gardener of energy, the Shaman’s role is to transfer that new healed energy into the ordinary realm. So that now that replaces the old fabric of reality. So, we’re constantly weaving a new dream and being, and for me, because the ceremony is the main part of my life. Ceremony is the Shaman’s vehicle of change.
That’s how the Shaman creates change. So, in Shamanism, we’re not connected to nature. We are nature. So, we’re not connected. It’s not like a human being is going to go out and meet a tree. The tree is part of our family. It’s not separate from us and we’ve forgotten that and that’s why we’re in the trouble that we’re in right now. It’s obvious, and we don’t have to go there, and so you know, it’s just been a really important practice for Shamans and Shamanic people throughout time. I tell people to go up to a nature being at their home and say, may I step into your field of energy? So, you ask for permission, you just don’t run and hug a tree and you sit down with a plant and you ask it about its healing powers. How long has it been here?
What’s its history? Get to know it and then before you know it, you’re talking to a plant, another species, because this word is being used a lot right now that humans are species lonely, they are, and so you sit and you talk to a plant, you sit you talk to a tree, you learn about how that tree took care of a tree that was dying years ago. So, you actually develop this real relationship and my feeling is I’ve really seen this strongly is when we fall in love with nature, fall in love with nature, romantic love, you know that unconditional love, you know, of a baby, of your greatest loved one, and when we fall unconditionally in love with nature, nature will help us out.
You know there’s a story about a native American woman who was in love with water and the water was going to flood her village, and she was sold in love with water she went out, she sang with it and she talked to it and the water came through, but it didn’t take out the homes that it was headed for. So, where my issues come up is when the global community sees the gigantic fire in the Amazon or Australia or California or somewhere else or earthquakes, because the elements were the first beings to be here on the earth. That earth is 4.6 billion years old. The wind was the very first being, very, very first being to enter the earth.
Water has been here billions of years, the sun has been here forever and so here’s this group of practitioners they’ve been studying for two days and they start posting on Facebook, let’s command and thwarts the wind or the rain and I’m going, wait a second, where’s honor and respect? So that’s one of the things that’s missing out of the modern day practices that indigenous people really knew well is that these are life forms. Everything is a life form. The wind is a life form. The earth is a life form. The sun is a life form, the moon, the stars. The waters of the world are life and we need to put in practices of honor, respect, and showing kindness. My students who are showing kindness to insects, birds, rodents that are coming up to their homes right now, the birds all of a sudden, the message is coming out in the community and they are having amazing experiences with animals. But I know I have given a lot in this list and there is a lot more to give but what I want to say is the missing piece of why this doesn’t create all the same results as we used to get, are people today we’re so distracted and we don’t have the concentration and focus and every spiritual master has been telling us throughout the time that we must have concentration and focus.
Laura Dawn: Do you think a good way to cultivate that is through meditation practice?
Sandra: Yeah, definitely anything where you cut out distractions and so if you do a ceremony like I love sharing ceremonies. I lead guided ceremonies, I lead ceremonies that retreats and communities, I led retreat ceremonies at the hospital. There is a lot of work to be done, people just want to go and do it, I’m in a rush, I’m in between dinner. But in Shamanism we do a lot of preparation to make sure that your humanness got lifted out of yourself and stepped aside so that the divine in you, find a way to show its strong link. There’s just one link between the divine and you and the divine above. What happens is people come in distracted and there are so many weak links that the message doesn’t get up to the creative forces of the universe because people were too distracted. So, you know, we weren’t really doing our work, but I can tell you one of the reasons I’m so devoted to the ceremony and I get my students devoted to the ceremony, is it brings you back to such a place of center, such a place of grounded-ness and connection with the elements and the spirits of nature. It really takes you into a holy place. The world that we are in right now to be able to enter into a holy space and to actually say to the universe, please take my pain. Please take my illness and you do the ceremony; you have tons of ceremonies.
Please take my prayers that harmony returned to the earth again back to the creative universe. So ceremonies have been done throughout time to welcome children into the world, every single time somebody makes a change in life, any change getting a new job, a new boyfriend, girlfriend, driver’s license, graduating school, getting married, having a baby, but then there are losses, I lose my job, I got a divorce, I haven’t been feeling well, the losses that are a part of life, it’s what we’ve been dealt, the hand that we are dealt in life, oftentimes it is not that easy and so we could do, we can perform ceremonies to ask the spirits to work with us to help to allay some of the more negative energy and side effects that are really starting to hit us, to help us enter into the flow because I find that once you enter in to flow magic just happens, everything works, and so you can do ceremonies to get back into the flow again. I venture that a flow and you can ask for the health of your family.
Sandra: One ceremony I love to do is where I make, I do all these invitations to the prayer tree where I live. In central Asia, they have what are called prayer trees where the indigenous people and the Shaman they cut ribbons with prayers for themselves and others and they tie them very loosely on the branches because you want to branch to be able to keep growing. It’s so the prayer and the energy of the prayer is taken up by the wind to the creative forces of the universe. I got really into prayer trees and with my groups, we started creating some here, of course, I have a prayer tree at my house and then I started to find out as I kept teaching that they are from all over the world, in Italy, they call them wishing trees in Turkey blessing trees, in South America, I can’t remember the names but prayer blessing, wishing trees, literally are all over the world.
Laura Dawn: That’s beautiful. One of the things that I love that you’re talking about is, as you talk about distraction it’s like the mind and the body are not in alignment in these moments of just like the mind all over the place, and you’re talking about the flow state and to me this is just like these practices of taking care of our people taking care of our physical body or emotional bodies our minds to really come all together in one place in this place of like real central alignment, that’s where that channel flow opens where I feel like we can really connect to divinity from that place and I love that you’re really pointing to that the sense you even held your hand up to show this vertical alignment. I get that message so much to around, you know, even just being integrity is a way that we’re in alignment, you know, being mindful of our words is a way that we can be an alignment and so there are all these ways that we can really focus the mine.
So, I want to ask you about this initiation of this pandemic that many millions of people are going through you talk about the shamanic path actually as a path that involves, you know, initiations, and you’re also, you also mentioned the dark night of the soul, and I definitely see this moment in time as the era of reinvention and a lot of people are just like going into the darkness of the cocoon and we have to let something die, in order to allow something to come through. And so, I’m curious like can you offer a snippet of practice maybe it’s a fire-burning practice that someone could do, who’s in it right now who’s in the cocoon, who’s dark space. Who needs you know throw me a lifeline of hope, right now?
Sandra: Yeah, I have done really long talks on the pandemic from the shamanic point of view, the negative intrusions. Talking about platforms, in Shamanism there’s the difference between expressing and sending. And so, we know about physic war, but we don’t realize it all the time and we’re just doing it to us. Because let’s say, I’m really angry about something going on out there. I sent it to a political leader, it ends up coming back to me and my favorite granddaughter. I don’t have one but you get the point because we are in oneness so Shaman strategy to teach don’t send, don’t start shooting the physic bullets, learn how to come back. See that you’re triggered. It’s not about that you’re not right and this is not okay. I’m angry and I have a reason to be right and angry and embrace it, let it discharge from your body so you don’t get sick from it. And then you can build a fire or you can you know right now fire danger is, is pretty high. I love this paper that you can get from an organization called science. It’s called dissolving paper. It’s completely, completely environmentally safe to compose completely. And the papers that you know 8.5 and I just take squares and so I write angry towards and I leave out the name and I put it in warm water in a bowl, I write it on my dissolving paper and it just dissolves and I go outside and give it to the earth, it’s amazing how it works. With fire, if you could do something with fire that would be to build a really small fire, or you could build something in your house really small.
Sandra: In the US, we’re moving into winter so you know people are building a few more fires at their house. However, I’ll take a stick from outside, and then again, I really get into the focus and concentration for me everything is focus and concentration, did you throw nothing into the fire, or did you actually get it in? So, I am a spinner. So, I spin fiber into yarn so I actually imagined myself spinning out of my body. This hate, this anger, this illness whatever I need to get rid of into a piece of brightly colored yarn, you know, I just got my yarn from a regular place. If I haven’t spun it myself. And I wrapped it on a stick. And I get really, really still really prayerful. 100% focus 100% tension. You may have soon start thinking about social media. You’ve broken it, you broke the link. There is no link.
So, 100% focus and tension, you put that stick in that fire will take that anger away from you. But it might leave an opening, oh this is something I still need to do personal work with. So, the beauty of ceremonies, fire ceremonies, releasing ceremonies, or blessings ceremonies, I call blessing ceremonies when we are trying to call down the goodness of life for ourselves. Those kinds of ceremonies. You can do them anywhere; you can do them inside you can do them outside. I encourage people to do them physically, but if the weather doesn’t permit or you’re not feeling well. You don’t have the health to be able to go outside and do your ceremony. What I suggest is just put on some really nice spiritual music without any words and lie down. Imagine yourself going into a beautiful place to nature and do the ceremony. I’m doing this online with my groups right now because I can’t take people to outdoor ceremonies and they work incredibly well. So, I really hope that you’ll try it and remember ceremonies are the Shaman’s vehicle for change. They do work, but not always in our own timing. That’s what we have to understand.
Laura Dawn: What do you think this time is really truly calling us?
Sandra: You know, I believe it’s calling us back to our soul back to that we came here as caretakers for the earth. To understand about being an unconditional loving spirit that took a body, you know, because we’re all spirits. Your spirit my spirit and everybody listening is a spirit. So, I have an ego, a body as you do. You put your ego aside you do some spiritual work, you put your body aside. What’s in you is just a star like you are just a walking star. So, I teach people how to work with, like, by imagining one of their favorite stars, or one of the brightest stars. It just starts growing, growing, growing solar plexus, and then absorbing it into every single cell of your body, every cell of your body like a dry sponge. Take some light, and let it just radiate out like a star. A star doesn’t sand, a star doesn’t try, a star doesn’t get tired, it just shines. And just shines and what that does is it pushes the negativity, all of the collective because what happened for us was, everything became ego and mind. Makes sense we moved into a fairer space. And so, we start seeing ourselves as spiritual beings who came here knowing we’re coming in for this time. And that we were actually born with the tools that know how to get through this. And so, in Shamanism. There’s a, we don’t label for insurance purposes but one of the forms of illness that we work with is what’s called the spiritual intrusion, and it goes back to what I was talking about sending. So, you have billions of people in the world sending. I don’t know billions of people who are sending, I’m walking down the street it just comes into me, giving me cancer, stomach issues, shoulder issue, neck issue or a friend is mad at me and she doesn’t understand power Shamanism and sends me a physic tart. And so, one of the jobs of a Shaman is to see what Godsend to the client that’s causing something localized in the body, emotionally, spiritually, or physically, and then the Shaman pulls that out, extracts that. To me, that’s what happened with the COVID.
From the fires of the Amazon, the fires in Australia. All diplomatic events, the children being separated from their mothers, being separated in Mexico, all the political things that were going to think about all of that. Think about how much negative intrusion build-up that’s in their collective right now, that we’re a part of. We’re feeding it and we’re also absorbing it. So, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but people are killing replicate right now. There’s a lot of illness right now, serious illnesses, going on right now we have to clean up the collective. Besides the earth, we have to clean up the collective.
Laura Dawn: Can you learn to protect yourself from these negative energies if someone’s like throwing you a dart as you as you call it, we like to create a field around ourselves?
Sandra: Yes. Izzy said to me one time that I was psychically attacked really badly back in the nineties. She said to me, just say no. If you feel something coming at you unusual, just say no. If you feel like something actually got to you, got in she gave me the metaphor of packing the energy up in a package and writing the person’s name, even if you don’t it, you know just use your imagination and placing return to sender and shipping it off. But she said, return to sender with love. Because whatever energy you send is going to be sent back to you. And then I’ve learned about protecting myself in a blue translucent blue way, which I’ve written in every single book I’ve ever written I’ve written about the translucent blue way, which I learned from a Chumash medicine woman in California back in the 80s, and some of my students don’t relate to blue, so I talked to them about pink bubbles, and find the color that you like, for me right now. I am dealing with health issues and my health issues are coming from a lot of Zoom and a lot of how public I’m being right now. And I’ve realized I have to step up my own protection, everything that’s been working for me for 40 years is starting to not be strong enough. So, I’m creating, I’m building an ordinary reality especially my sleep time, a little nice cushion to not a cave but something I could just kind of put over me that as a spiritual bubble over it and keeps me safe at night.
I appreciate that what came through for me in ceremony was golden light, have this golden bubble that I put around myself and the medicine was just really clear that it was golden, like radiating golden light was forcefield that’s also like an egg around me, and I felt like that’s been really, really effective for protection. I just have a couple more questions. I’m curious you know there are so many ways to access altered states of consciousness and the unseen dimensions, and right now it’s hard to ignore that psychedelics are sacred plant medicines that are just exploding on the scene. People are just there’s so much interest, there’s so much desire for people to have these altered states, of conscious experiences. What’s your perspective on what’s the sort of macro view on what’s unfolding right now in our culture, if you just want to speak to that?
Sandra: Yeah, the macro view is very multi-level, the issue with the psychedelic plant is really multi-level tissue, that’s really interesting because I started taking plants for medicine when I was 13 years old, but I grew up in the 60s. I’m a licensed psychotherapist and there was a time with my license when I could legally do ecstasy with my clients. So besides watching this, I have friends who are really big in the field. And what we’re all observing the same thing. Nobody’s observing anything different. Again, you have a culture who’s not trained in a particular culture way going to work with medicine, that they haven’t learned the language of yet. You know it took the people in the jungles, 1000s of years to learn the language, they oftentimes don’t do the diet. They often times end up with a Shaman who you know, he just got a costume from a store and put it on. This is what’s happening all over the world, wherever you go. You’re getting Shamans who are just dressing up, and needing plain of Westerners and saying I’m a shaman.
Sandra: So, if they don’t know the diet, if they weren’t really initiated into the path. There is a very big possibility that you’re going to get into trouble and that’s what’s happening is, Shaman’s know the flow of the songs, they know the people. They’ve gotten to know them, they put them on a diet. You know, there’s been a lot as I talked about the ceremony, this is a big ceremony, lots of preparation. A lot of people are not doing that. The other thing that’s really clear with plants, is the plants show you the possibilities. They’ll show you like if we all took Ayahuasca today we can have this massive experience of how gorgeous the earth is. There’s not a problem anywhere everything is gorgeous. We don’t have to worry about a thing, we don’t have to worry about global warming, we don’t have to worry about the pandemic, oh it’s all the pollution. And then we come down from this experience and a couple of days later, it’s going. I don’t know. There’s no step ABC. How do I do the path, you know?
So, what happens is people just end up more confused, they saw these glorious things somewhat possible, but that’s possible in the future, we haven’t manifested them here yet. So, I personally have found drumming to be more grounding for modern western culture. It’s not just more grounded, it’s very practical. You know, my students get tomorrow, change your alter. Not tomorrow, go out and start the commute. There’s a difference in the practicality and on the other side of it plant medicine is a doorway, that it can heal you. It could, it could move you into places of evolution, you didn’t have existed. So, there are just so many different levels.
Laura Dawn: It is so multi-dimensional I’m curious if you hold the same opinion around psilocybin because I do think it’s actually really good that people work with plants locally and now you can grow, you know, mushrooms, in your backyard, it’s pretty easy and spores are native to all parts of the planet. Does your feeling about, yeah, working with plants in that way does that apply to psilocybin as well, because you’re, I feel like you’re really referring to, like going down to the jungle and I think that is actually a really big issue.
LauraDawn: What’s your feeling on psilocybin?
Sandra: Psilocybin is the new upcoming medicine. It’s a plant it’s a happy plant. Someone told me 30 something years ago you need me, we are your ally, you come to us, we will fix you, you come to us. We will fix you. They are all door openers. The research on how they are helping people with depression right now.
Laura Dawn: It’s amazing. And I think integration, which you’re pointing to, you know, is really essential, what is next and in a lot of your teachings actually to me feel very applicable to the path of integration. And what you were speaking to actually is kind of the segue into my one of my last questions which are, around this notion and you make it really clear in your writing that shamanism is traced back to being one of the first spiritual traditions, but we’re living in this really interesting moment of time where perhaps in order for us to find equilibrium. Things are swinging in polarized directions and I know people who will straight up tell you, you can’t use the word shaman or shamanism because you’re white, and that’s not okay. And you don’t have indigenous blood and therefore we need a shamanic teacher from an indigenous culture who carries Shamanic lineage. How do you respond to that?
Sandra: Yeah well, I’ve had a lot of time to practice that response, because this issue, started being brought up 40 years ago. So, for my side the communities that I’ve worked with, we’ve actually sat down and talked. What’s happened now is just screaming on social media, I don’t know what’s going on, on social media, it’s ugly, it’s not right, it’s disrespectful to all indigenous people around the world, it’s disrespectful to the earth. It’s disrespectful to everybody, the screaming that’s going on right now. We sat down we had real conversations. My clients were all Crow and Pueblo people from New Mexico. A lot of the Native American communities the Shamans, they don’t know how to do soul retrievals anymore, they don’t know how to do some of the work and so they found out about me and they were care baring down to my house. I’ve lectured at Hopi, I’ve lectured at other pueblos and nobody’s ever said to me, sometimes before I go to a pueblo, I just make sure everybody understands why, because sometimes when people look at my picture, some may have mistaken me for an Indian. And I say, I just need to let you know I’m a white woman coming, do you still want me to come? I understand if you don’t, I don’t drag out my drum and start drumming. I start talking about bridging modern-day shamanism.
The issue is we’re all indigenous to this planet. Nobody wants anything. So, when I keep teaching and I’ve been teaching this for 40 years. Imagine if people. We don’t have to go into a native community and steal a dance or steal a ritual and bring it back into our workshops, we work with direct revelation. Work with your Spirit, come up with a ceremony. Not one indigenous person has ever heard of on the planet, and perform it, it’s yours. It came from your direct revelation. You know, so there’s a difference between writing copious notes, at a Shamanic ceremony and reading them. They have no power whatsoever. You’re just trying to fake something you saw, learn about the bones, sorry to mention my book. The book of the ceremony. Learn about the bones of the ceremony and create different ceremonies and learn how much joy and bliss It brings you, to perform the ceremony.
Ceremonies can take one second, I can go outside and break a stick and break my connection with somebody who’s unhealthy in my life, I’m not asking you to devote the rest of your life to hard work, I’m talking simple ceremonies, I’d like to share with people. But don’t take from other cultures, don’t take from other cultures. You know, this could all branch out into the unethical behavior of the west towards sacred tools. Millions and millions and millions of animals are being killed only for their skins and feathers. Because so many 10s of 1000s of shamanic practitioners are buying sacred tools. They have to keep up. That’s what I want to focus on is trying to so yeah, why are all my workshops are very mixed. I worked with a mixed community. I say Do you know where your drum’s skin came from, do you know where the feather on your radicals? So, I really my heart, I don’t have words for what happened to indigenous people in this culture. I don’t, my heart hurts too much on this whole issue.
It’s a term that’s been around for a really long time and it’s universal. The issue is every tribe should be honored and respected and their practices not taken, unless you have been given permission to share them. And I think that’s really, that’s how it started. Now social media is just blowing it up into anything, but that’s, that’s how it started and that was the real reason. I mean, I went around saying, this isn’t right. We should be honoring. What our elders are asking of us.
Laura Dawn: When we opened up this conversation you mentioned, so many different traditional cultures, who work with Shamanic practices. Almost all of us have some connection to lineage of our own ancestry. And so, it seems like that is a good place to start cultivating learning from those direct ancestors that we do have access to. And the unseen dimension and cultivating that connection right there seems to be like. Also, another good place to start.
Sandra: Absolutely brilliant.
Laura Dawn: If you could plant one seed of belief in the minds and hearts of humanity, right now, especially, what do you think that would be?
Sandra: Got this last night. Fall in love with the divine, fall back in love with the divine, we’ve fallen out of love with the divine. Think of our source who brought you here, unconditional love. Open your arms, see that bright light, reach for it. Watch how it reaches for you, and put your hands and legs out so you’re standing like a star and say, I am a divine being, I am a holy one, that came to me last night. So, I’ll share it with you.
Laura Dawn: Thank you so much. In closing, I would love to just invite you to share what you’re working on what you’re most excited about, where people can find you, and any upcoming books or programs that you’d love to tell people about.
Sandra: Well, I have 12 books out there and they’re all my babies. The Book of ceremony and walking in the light, which is my last two. They’re really all my work condensed into two books, with so many tools, and you can find them at any bookstore or on my website, sandraingerman.com, on my website I have lots of free articles about shamanism they’re really short. So, you can read them really easily. I write a monthly column called the transmutation news. I haven’t missed a month in, since 2000 believe it or not. And I just started a project, starting a project on the winter solstice where I am going to record, either a journey or ceremony, press to do, monthly, and we started a Facebook page called Shamans are gardeners of energy. So, you could look at my website that gives that kind of transmutation news section under November. Look at that. You’ll see that trick question to get to the Facebook page. So, you have to be on my email list, just to let you know and then I’ve trained 100s of amazing practitioners and teachers all over the world, all of us who can teach, physically or right now the whole world is shutting down so I don’t think you will be able to find many workshops, there are just a few going on in Europe. I love teaching online but it’s been a long online journey for me. I want to dance and sing and laugh and eat with people again and walk outside. So, as soon as things clear, keep, get on my email list, keep watching sandraingerman.com. They’ll be beautiful offerings but, all my teachers right now, they’re 100s of them who are doing brilliant successful free journey groups right now, we have that list so check out Sandraingerman.com and Shamanicteachers.com.
Laura Dawn: Okay, wonderful and I’ll add all of those to show notes. Thank you again, Sandra Ingerman, you are a blessing to this world. I have just enjoyed every minute of this conversation, and I’d love to just end by saying, may you walk in beauty.
Sandra: Thank you. And thank you, everyone, blessings, stay safe.
Laura Dawn: Blessings, thank you.
Hi friend, if you enjoyed this episode with Sandra Ingerman, I would so appreciate it if you could share it with a friend who might be interested. Or share it on social media. Or if you feel inspired to subscribe to the psychedelic leadership podcast wherever you listen to podcasts or write a review on iTunes, all of these things would really help me reach a wider audience and if we’re not yet connected on social media, please send me a message, my primary platform is Instagram, and my account is @livefreelaurad and I would love to connect with you there. And I’m leaving you off with this song beautiful bird by Annie Mae Willis, and Aea Luz. Enjoy.
Sandra Ingerman, MA, is an award winning author of twelve books, including Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self, Medicine for the Earth, Walking in Light, and The Book of Ceremony: Shamanic Wisdom for Invoking the Sacred in Everyday Life. She is the presenter of eight audio programs produced by Sounds True. Sandra is a world renowned teacher of shamanism and has been teaching for close to 40 years. She has taught workshops internationally on shamanic journeying, healing, and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods. Sandra is recognized for bridging ancient cross-cultural healing methods into our modern culture addressing the needs of our times.
Sandra is known for gathering the global spiritual community together to perform powerful transformative ceremonies as well as inspiring us to stand strong in unity so we do our own spiritual and social activism work while keeping a vision of hope and being a light in the world.
She is passionate about helping people to reconnect with nature. Since the 1980’s thousands of people have healed from past and present traumas through the classic cross cultural shamanic healing method Sandra teaches called Soul Retrieval.
She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and professional mental health counselor. She is also a board-certified expert on traumatic stress. Watkins Body Mind Spirit Magazine honored Sandra by including her on their 100 Most Spiritually Influential People of 2020.
Sandra and Renee Baribeau do a weekly 30 minute podcast The Shamans Cave. For more information visit: ShamansTV.com
Episode #2 of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast features music by my dear song sister Annie May Willis featuring Aea Luz
For aspiring Bodhisattva’s on the plant medicine path.