Q & A

Aligning Energies


Michael Harner is considered the founder of modern shamanic practice, especially in this country. He defined core shamanism and brought the practices to ordinary people across this country and around the world. His classic text and associated workshops really created the framework for this important movement.  The Way of the Shaman: A Guide to Power and Healing, 1980.   Here is an interview with Michael Harner that presents basic information about shamanism and his work.

For a comprehensive guide to shamanism, here are two outstanding resources.  They are both highly readable, practical and inspiring.  Singing the Soul Back Home, Shamanism in Daily Life, Caitlin Matthews, Element 1995; and Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life by Tom Cowan, Crossing Press, 1996.


If you are interested in pursuing shamanic studies, begin by taking some basic workshops and classes.  Find a shamanic drumming circle that you can attend on a regular basis. The Foundation for Shamanic Studies lists workshops, classes and circles all over the world.

If you live in Eastern Massachusetts, have learned the basics of shamanic journeying, and know that you have a commitment to this path, I recommend David Perry’s Shamanic Drumming Circle in Millis, MA.  It happens on the third or fourth Friday evening of each month.  David is very adept at weaving together diverse energies and shamanic information for powerful journeys and ceremonies.  For more information, send David an e-mail at:

Sandra Ingerman is generally considered the premier authority on the practice of soul retrieval. Her book, Soul Retrieval, Mending the Fragmented Self, Harper Collins 1991 is a straightforward and easy to read resource on this topic.  If you are specifically interested in soul retrieval, it is very important to study and work with an experienced shamanic practitioner such as Sandra Ingerman.  I don’t think this is something you can get primarily from a book.

I’m a founding member and enthusiastic supporter of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners. Its mission is to create an alliance of diverse shamanic practitioners functioning as a circle of peers.  Membership includes newsletters, teleconferences and a new journal called Shamanic Practice.  I’ve been very delighted with the high caliber of leadership in this organization and the quality of all their offerings.

Two books by Ted Andrews:  Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small, and Animal Wise:  The Spirit Language and Signs of Nature  are both valuable sources and basic references that I turn to whenever I have had a special encounter with a creature in the wild. They provide important information for anyone interested in a shamanic approach to spirituality. Read more in Connecting with Nature. 


Shamanism deeply values encounters with wild nature. But that doesn’t mean that urban environments cannot support shamanic practice.  An outstanding teacher about the transformative encounters possible in urban gatherings and urban settings is Gabrielle Roth. Her work, Maps to Ecstacy, Teachings of an Urban Shaman 1989, and her associated workshops have been very influential in my own life and for many others.

An early and important teacher in my development as a healer is Sylvia Brallier, who now has her own Tantric Shamanism Institute.   I completed a year-long training with her in Body-Centered Spiritual Healing years ago. Her teaching and healing gifts were extremely valuable for me.  They came at a time when I was dealing with particularly challenging energies and psychic content.   To learn more about Sylvia’s work, check out her website at:  tantricshamanism.com  You might also want to look at her recommended reading page: tantricshamanism.com/readings.

Another important, outstanding and influential teacher / practitioner in the field of shamanism is my good friend Rachmiel Langer. He is the technical whiz behind this website, but he is so much more. Rachmiel has a deep and strong connection with Spirit that is truly palpable. He brings great love, integrity and healing power to his work. He has expertise in all the basics, plus specialized training in Celtic, Tibetan and Jewish shamanism.  Rachmiel is absolutely at the top of my list for who to call if there is psychopomp work to be done. Psychopomp work involves assisting those souls who have recently died or are lingering at death’s door. To learn more, visit his website at Heart-Fire Healing.

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Connecting with Nature