Interviewer: Can you tell me more about the world of shamans?
Greg: The word shaman is not one I have been totally comfortable with over the years. But it’s the general word most folks use to associate to what I do.
Interviewer: Can you explain what you mean?
Greg: In my tradition or lineage which is from the Northern Plains of the United States you would not hear the word Shaman used. They would say, Medicine Men or Holy People. The word shaman is really from South American indigenous cultures and Artic or Asian Tribes. I believe it originates from the Tungusic Turkish languages .
Interviewer: So you use it because it’s a word that the public understands?
Greg: Yes. For my book, “The Shaman & His Daughter,” I was in my wisdom about using the word Shaman. The insight I got was to reach as many folks as possible with the message. To let go of concerns about definitions. My brothers, the Holy Men, agreed.
Interviewer: Is that why I see in some of your writing the phrase, “the medicine path.”
Greg: Yes, the medicine path or the path of power would be another way of saying the term shamanism. You could say, “They are someone who walks the Medicine Path.”
Interviewer: Do you feel there is a misconceptions about people who practice shamanism or walk the medicine path?
Greg: Yes, but I don’t think it’s anything negative. And it’s one of the reasons I wrote The Shaman & His Daughter to show how shamanism ingrates into a real world life – like shopping at Safeway!
Interviewer: That was a great story. Could we say shamanism is about listening to yourself and the world at a deeper level?
Greg: Someone is reading my stuff! Yes, that is it exactly. To learn to listen from your Spirit not your mind. I talk about that very specifically in my first book, The Woodstock Bridge.
Interviewer: Can you explain that a little more?
Greg: When you quiet your mind down, it opens up the gate to a deeper seeing, hearing, and feeling of the world. There is magic happening all around you! The world and all its life-forces are whispering to you. To hear those whispers and act of them is the medicine path or shamanism!
Interviewer: In your Master of Studentship Video you talk about how to hang out with spiritual teachers, mentors, or shamans.
Greg: Yes, I really believe it’s the big missing piece of spiritual practices in the world. How to deeply listen to a teacher as opposed to what we could call prescription-listening. Which is listening to try and get something or listening to try and apply it to your problems. In the 20th Century I feel this happens quite a bit — the need to know.
Interviewer: I have been totally guilty of that!
Greg: I struggled with it too. I was thrown out of the Holy Men’s house so many times because I wasn’t listening from Spirit. With the admonishment of, “Come back when you’re not so full of yourself!” as the screen door banged behind me.
Interviewer: The Holy Men you mention in your books?
Greg: They were my teachers. I really feel like they were two fathers who raised me. But they consider me their brother and there is no greater honor for me.
Interviewer: I can see how much they mean to you.
Greg: No words, my friend.
Interviewer: Do you offer a shamanic studies course?
Greg: I have my Shaman Online Training Program and of course on site here in Sedona.
Interviewer: Does it teach Shamanic Healing?
Greg: It guides you how to find those healing gifts inside you — and they are there. People feel them, they just don’t know how to bring them out.
Interviewer: Can you talk about the “seeing” that shamans do? (catches himself). I’m sorry if I keep using the word shaman.
Greg: It’s okay, it’s what you are used to and you will see me use it because it’s the reference. Much of what I do is based on my “seeing” in the moment. This could be with clairvoyance, – audience or – sentiency.
Interviewer: What happens when you are “seeing?”
Greg: Wow, that’s a big question! It can be very dramatic, like suddenly I “see” a tiger in the middle of the trail. They have come through the veil to connect with me or the client. Or it could be I “feel” one of the Tree-People flow up energy telling me they want me to get closer.
Interviewer: That’s amazing. Some people call the other side of the veil, the Spirit World.
Greg: There are all sorts of definitions for that place depending on your belief system. My feeling is to refer to it in way that resonates with you. Sometimes I call it the Dreamweave which is a Native American expression.
Interviewer: Do shamans need to be in a trance state or altered states of consciousness to enter that place?
Greg: Not really. Those phrases were never used with my brothers. They would say, they traveled to the other side or journeyed there. We can just go there, we don’t need to get into specific state.
Interviewer: Are you leaving your physical body?
Greg: I would say yes but not in the way people think. I am projecting myself to another place but I am certainly still anchored to my body. Not sure that even explains it (laughing). Some of these stuff can’t be explained only experienced.
Interviewer: So be careful of asking for a step-by-step plan?!
Greg: (laughing again) Yes! But it’s not that I can’t show you how to create the way that it might happen. You know shamanism practitioners have been handing this down for thousands of years. So it’s always changing — meaning there is no right or wrong way to do this.
Interviewer: Can you expand on that?
Greg: My mission is to help folks find the original shamanism or medicine in them. Not a duplicate of what I teach. And this came from my brothers when I was writing “The Woodstock Bridge” when I kept checking with them about being accurate. Their response was, “Brother, what is traditional is what is in your heart.”
Interviewer: I’m getting that there is an openness to this world you live in.
Greg: Wow, that’s exactly right and I really appreciate you hearing that. The word shamanism or spiritual or medicine path are all the same! If you want to use, shaman spiritual, go right ahead — use language that makes you feel something inside.
Interviewer: That sounds freeing.
Greg: It is and indigenous people around the world have knowledge to help us live in this world which can be very challenging. We must honor them and all shamanic tradition. There are a number of foundations for shamanic study across the globe.
Interviewer: Do you work with clients or students who are part of organized religions?
Greg: Another great question! Yes, I do. I have found that shamanism is not only cross-cultural but cross-religion. That person’s religious practices never seem to inhibit learning about aspects of shamanism.
Interview: We’re back to that idea of freedom.
Greg: Yes, freedom to be you, the you inside. Shamanism is an ancient language of the soul and its speaking to that part of you — waking up your heart.
Student: For a long time, I’ve had the feeling I’m suppose to become a shaman, to learn shamanic healing. How do I find out?
Greg: By taking action on that feeling. That is the warrior code. When you get an inspiration, act on it. In the code, it’s referred to as having “No Gap.”
Student: I’m not sure where to start? I’m afraid I will go in the wrong direction.
Greg: Sounds like you are overthinking it. To not do that is the first step on the Shaman’s path. Warrior’s allow their inspiration to guide them, not their thoughts. Start there. Believing in these inspirations with “action” is the language of the shamanic warrior. Because always and forever, behavior is the truth.
Student: I guess that’s the problem, I’m not acting on what I feel. If I’m ready to act can you suggest a next step?
Greg: You could clear these blocks in you.
Greg: Here are a few invocations:
“God (Creator, Spirit, Source), I give over to you all these blocks inside me that are keeping me from my true destiny. Please take them from me! I am ready for you to receive them! I give them to you!”
Ask: “I invite my Divinity to show me how to clear these blocks. I stand in faith that this will flow up. I’m in faith, that’s my stand!”
Find a dry-creek bed and stand in the middle of it and call forth the Spirit of the Water, the Blood of Mother Earth to clear you of these blocks
Ask your inner-child why they are afraid? And then just acknowledge their feelings – don’t try to fix them! It might sound like this: “I see you are really afraid, can you tell me what’s going on.” Please see my YT video on inner child healing.
Client: Wow! I’m excited. That feels powerful.
Greg: If you do the Creek Clearing one, guess what? You’ve just done shamanic healing session!
Client: I will do it! I promise. I would love to do healing work as a profession.
Greg: That sounds like an answer to your question. If you “love to do it” — that’s all you need to guide you. Let me know what happens.
Over the years in my practice, I’ve had hundreds of folks tell me they want to create a healing practice or practice shamanism. Sometimes, these are feelings they have had for many years and they don’t act on them. The first thing to know is you are absolutely not alone in this resistance. You have done nothing wrong. It’s very natural and innocent to allow our thoughts to scare us, to block us. How do you punch through?
There are many healing processes to get to the other side. It’s my job as teacher in partnership with clients to discover the path that gets them there the quickest. But let’s say you can’t reach out for support for whatever reason and you need to figure it out on your own. Those invocations above are few ways that could tip the scales and help you breakthrough to taking action — turn it to healing ceremony for yourself.
Client: I know you have a core principle to your shamanic healing work. Can you talk about it a bit?
Greg: “If you honor them, they will honor you.” That was what was handed down to me, everything I do flows from that. That is my shamanic tradition or path of medicine.
Client: Is it a form of acknowledgement?
Greg: You got it. When I honor the Tree-People or Rock-People by acknowledging them even with a simple hello, they honor me and my clients by perhaps flowing up energy or a clearing. These life-forces in nature want to be your friend, they want to help you.
Client: That’s how you could create an opening for a spiritual healing?
Greg: The Holy Men, my brothers, always kept it simple. Reach out your hand and it will be held. Everything around you is alive, the plants, tree, rocks, special little places. When you acknowledge it’s aliveness by a simple gesture – all nature will you hug you back. This is the path of Spirit. A Ho.
Indigenous cultures and shamanic practitioners since the beginning of time have had a deep intimate relationship with the Earth. Many folks know this of this history or through their shamanic studies. But here is my invitation: I have translated that knowing into engaging nature like you would a new friend? This is just not through donations or recycling, etc. but really getting out an talking to the Tree-People!
Brothers and sisters, shamanic healing is not just about altered states of consciousness, soul retrieval, the spirit world or spirit guides. It’s about a simple friendship with all the life forces around you in this physical world — the Tree, Rocks, Plants, Water. They really want to be your friends. All you have to do is say hello to them!
Image: “Sisters In Spirit” by the late Donna Jacobson.
Greg: Is there animal you feel in kinship with?
Student: The black panther totem!
Greg: Wow! Did you know that’s my totem?!
Greg: Yes, that’s how it all started for me when I met my black panther brother over 30 years ago. He was the gateway into shamanism.
Student: How do I meet my animal totem, my spirit animal?
Greg: Go to a place in nature that feels special to you, where you have spent time. Sit down on the ground. Close your eyes and go very quiet inside for a few minutes then say these words from your heart. “I invite the Black Panther to come and join me. My heart is open. I want to become your friend. My name is …”
Student: It’s that simple?
Greg: It can be. There are other ways. But I would give that a try and see what happens! If you suddenly see or feel a black panther in front of you, please don’t discount it and think you’re just imagining it!
Student: Can you have more than one spirit animal? I feel very close to wolves
Greg: Wolf spirit animal! These are powerful partners! Yes, you can definitely have more than one. Are any of them coming to in your dreams?
Student: Yes, it’s a wolf but he seems bigger than normal wolves.
Greg: Sometimes that happens. I would call that a Spirit Wolf.
Student: What is the symbolism of a wolf totem or panther?
Greg. Well, I have different feelings about this most folks that teach this. They feel that each totem has specific characteristics. I feel they are like humans in that each spirit has its own personality.
Student: I like that.
Greg: People will ask sometimes when I see an animal in nature does that mean something. Yes, for example: butterfly symbolism–if you saw a butterfly float by when you were connecting deeply with nature I would say that butterfly represents transformation for you.
Student: That makes total sense. It’s like nature and the butterflies are helping you, giving you a message.
Greg: You’re getting it! That’s shamanism–listening to the signs of the world. And sometimes are totem brothers and sisters can help us read those signs. Like your black panther totem can nudge you and say look over there! He’s your buddy!
I feel many teachers of shamanism want to make meeting your totem animal way too complicated. Simple and from the heart is always best. For me, my shamanic journey started with meeting my black panther totem those many years ago. At first, he was pissed! Because I had been innocently ignoring him for a while — I knew I had a kinship with panthers.
Over our 35 year journey together we have become brothers, best friends and partners. I go-He goes. We have had a lot of great adventures together! In my practice he helps me see into the darkness of client’s emotional body to identify the root or foundational thought creating a block. One could say, he is “lending me his power.” A phrase you will see used in Castaneda’s books or in the Toltec tradition.
My big message to everyone about totems is they want to become friends with you, just like a person would. Meaning it’s not “just” about using them in some way — whether it’s in your healing work or for some other reason. Its’ like the Tree, Rock and Plant-People – they want to be your friend. Always and forever, brothers and sisters, “If you honor them, they will honor you. A Ho.”
Gregory Drambour is the author of three books on shamanism, each of them exploring the friendship with spirit animals. He offers a series of Totem Animal Tutorials and also a Shaman Training Online Program. I found this great site on totems. Check it out: Spirit Animal Info
My mission in creating The Shaman Series was to take readers through a shamanic journey in the real world. In three books I show shamanism can integrate into your real life on the ground whether it’s in your personal relationships, work or simply the way you go about your day. What’s the benefit? Life flows! Life is richer!
The world around you is always giving you signs and guidance. The shamanism I teach is about seeing those signposts and acting on them. In The Shaman & His Daughter the omens pops up while shopping at Safeway! In The Woodstock Bridge while out in nature with expressions of Spirit from the Tree-, Rock- and Plant-People. In The Lead Guitarist & The Sisterhood of the Wolf with a record producer and a deep bond with her animal-totem, the wolf. In the Native American tradition everything is alive. It wants to be your friend, it’s reaching out its hand to you – always. Shamanism doesn’t have to happen only in the amazon or in altered state of consciousness. It’s a way of being in the world and feeling all the life forces around you that everyone else thinks are not alive.
In the shamanic tradition during healing ceremonies, we always thank the Grandfather and Grandmother Rock-, Tree- and Plant-People and the Four-legged, Two-legged, Winged, those that Crawl-under-the-earth and Over-the-earth and the Great Spirit of the Water. This is part of any shamanic journey. One could say gratitude it is central part of the healing practice. All indigenous people are always focused on gratitude for Mother Earth.
My quest was to show how these beautiful spiritual practices can come into a normal human life with grocery shopping, school parent meeting, looking for a job — just a life! And how they can help you navigate through this challenging Earth-Walk.
The Shaman Series is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ibook, Kobo and everywhere else in the universe. $8.99 3 Book Box Set.
Gregory Drambour is a master shamanic healer and owner of Sedona Sacred Journeys. He offers Shaman Training online and in Sedona, Arizona