Shamanic Journeying:
A Beginner's Guide

by Sandra Ingerman

Sounds True, 2004. ISBN 1591791510.
Reviewed by Mary Ann Moore
Posted on 01/08/2007

Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration; Nonfiction: Life Lessons

Sandra Ingerman is a gentle and wise teacher with warmth and compassion for her subject and for those she teaches. Even though she has led workshops on shamanism around the world for almost 25 years, Ingerman's experience doesn't detract from being able to carefully assist beginners in simple, straight forward language.

She begins the book with her own story and how, while a student getting her master's degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, she attended a workshop on shamanism with Dr. Michael Harner. He is known for having revived the tradition of shamanic journeying in modern Western culture. Dr. Harner learned while researching his book, The Way of the Shaman, that the shamanic journey is a practice common to all shamans and indigenous societies throughout history and around the world.

During the workshop in 1980, Ingerman learned how the practice of shamanic journeying "can be used by anyone today in order to get answers to personal questions, to learn different healing methods, to help others in their community, and to work on world and global issues". Since then, with her background in psychotherapy, Ingerman's goal "has been to find the best way to apply and share this powerful, ancient technique". She is recognized for bridging ancient cross-cultural healing methods to our modern culture.

Ingerman points out that she doesn't teach people to become shamans. A shaman is "chosen by the spirits to become a shaman and to act in the service of their community". What she teaches is a practice that can help you access your own spiritual guidance. Accompanying the book is a CD containing three drumming sessions to help people get started with their journeying practice. Each of the drumming sessions vary in length with the longest being a single-drumming track for 30 minutes. It is by listening to a drumbeat (or other rhythmic percussion) that the shaman or journeyer can enter "an altered state of consciousness beyond time and space".

"According to the shamanic view, there is an invisible reality beyond the physical world that is accessible through shamanic journeying". Carlos Castenada called it "non-ordinary reality" and Ingerman thinks of it as "a parallel universe". As many shamanic traditions believe, there are three separate worlds in that unseen reality: Lower World, Upper World, and Middle World. You can choose to journey to either one. Before journeying, to the repetitive beat of a drum, you can clarify your intention and choose which world you will journey to. Ingerman reminds readers that you have "complete control of where you go, whom you talk to" and you can choose when you want to return from the journey if you don't wait until the end of the drumming on the CD.

The book includes questions and answers, always helpful to those new to shamanic journeying. Ingerman offers simple steps to get started and describes information you may want to divine from a journey. She encourages readers to "meet with the spirits of animals, birds, plants, trees, rocks, insects, fish, and reptiles with whom we share this great earth". Besides journeying for divination (answers to your questions) and for personal healing, there are additional topics included in the book. A few of them are Journeys of Interpretation (about a dream), Journeys to Learn about Your History (asking to meet an ancestor) and Journeys for Social Issues (resolving conflict with loved ones or to help heal a social wound).

This is a useful book for accessing one's own visionary wisdom. The practice of shamanic journeying is taught by a teacher with love and respect for a tool she has seen used for the benefit of herself and many others around the world.

Sandra Ingerman is the former educational director of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and professional mental health counselor. Her books include Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self; Welcome Home: Following Your Soul's Journey Home; A Fall to Grace; and Medicine for the Earth. She has recorded a three-hour lecture, "The Soul Retrieval Journey", and "The Beginner's Guide to Shamanic Journeying" with Sound True. You can visit her website at

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