Shamanism is one of the few spiritual practices practised throughout the World. In locations as geographically diverse as Russia, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, North and South America a shamanic tradition exists with only small deviations in the way that it is honored.
The word ‘shaman’ originates from the Tungus tribe in Siberia. It means ‘spiritual healer’ and reflects the fact that at its core the tradition features group or community healing. Shamans apply their skills to both physical and spiritual ailments.
Shamanism, unlike religion and some more traditional spiritual doctrines, is a living philosophy that has learned to remain relevant to its people’s need via its ability to develop and embrace new generations of teachers.
Sandra Ingerman is one of those working in the West who has, for the past thirty years, taught shamanism and within the setting of a modern, largely secular society.
As a licensed therapist and shamanic practitioner, she has held international workshops on shamanic journeying, and healing as well as having written extensively on the subject.
In Walking in Light, she presents the core of her teaching on shamanusm but in a simple. concise and contemporary way.
In the introduction to her book she promises that her reader will find that a shamanic journey will help them to better engage with the flow if life as well as allowing them to connect to its symphony in a more balanced and joyful way.
The book begins with an exercise to achieve this very thing through breathing and relaxation practices. This forms the start of her philosophy of what it means to be a shaman and the power that can be wielded through its ceremonial practice.
The author explains that the core practice of the shamanic tradition is the process of ‘journeying’ and she reveals the techniques that are involved; including drumming and the use if music as ways to enter the necessary trance-like state.
Other useful shamanic tools that are introduced at this point include grounding exercises, keeping a journal as a record of events and even laughter as powerful tonic to the deep transfirmational work the student has to experience along the way.
The author explains how the shamanic journey involves encountering your own healing spirits as well as power animals and ancestral spirits. She explains what these powerful allies are and how you can find and connect to them throughout the Lower and Upper Worlds.
Whilst these are powerful allies and guides the author states that ultimately it is nature itself that acts as our greatest and most benevolent asset with its innate ability to send us signs and omens that can steer and guide us along the correct path in life.
Healing is a core element of shamanism and so Ingerman explores shamanic techniques of self-healing either by actively engaging with the inner planes or by working with spirits encountered through healing dreams.
Ingerman is of the firm conviction that a great deal disease, unhappiness and disharmony in our modern society—and within our younger generation in particular, is due to our lack of transformaing initiation as we pass through the various phases of our lives.
She believs that shamanism offers a powerful antedote to this and explores the role that the cycles of transformation, life, death and rebirth play in the shamanic tradition. She notes that the symbolic act of dismemberment is often used to represent the necessary process of dissolving the ego.
The qualty and composition of the inner world that the shaman creates for him or her self forms the central thesis of part four of the book. Here the author reinforces the importance of working to cultivate a rich and fertile inner realm to the psyche. She feels that an important aspect of this is to create your own creation myth and to understand the fertility of ones own skills, talents as well as understanding the reasons for having entered the earth sphere at this time.
The author explains how through the power of the imagination we can start to internally create, then externally manifest, a life that is in accordance with our soul destiny. This process is aided by specific dream and journeying techniques.
Her practices have been formulated in such a way as to help the reader to deal with several issues that typically arise such as the sense of scarcity we often feel as well as internal oibstacles and self-llimiting beliefs.
Throughout her book the author offers practical exercises as a way of helping the reader discover these vitallly important aspects to one’s incarnation by oneself and without recourse to any teacher.
The key feature that emerges throughout the book is that of personal self-empowerment. The author offers these shamanic practices with the purpose of releasing internal energy blocks, revitalising the inner spirit and of empowering through words, forgiveness and gratitude.
These are extended later on to include self-protection in an aften chaotic World that is so toxic with emotional energy pollutations. The author singles out those that work with the public as examples of those shamans who need to be particularly wary of this problem.
Ultimately, the author asserts that the core to a shamanic lifestyle is one that centers around harmony—both within ourselves and the natural world. From this pivotal point of balance and unconditional love we can learn to radiate the sort of inner light that so many shamans are notable for expressing to the World around them.
This is a highly inoffensive book! It is one that happily flows along and touches the occasional flower of wisdom before meandering off somewhere else. It is polite and safe and as a reader you feel like you are in safe and comforting hands.
However, what is missing from this book is magick—that dangerous and exciting dynamic that operates with all shamanic traditions but which rarely gets touched upon in this publication.
This rather is unfortunate for what we are left with is a little like a squeezed orange—all the inherent elements are there but the really juicy bits have been taken out. The result is a book that often reads like so many other New Age publications that focus on the hangups and neuroses of our modern society but with the label of shamanism tagged on for good measure.
I really wanted and expected more from someone who has such an extensive period of shamanic experience.
Still, I could be wrong and that this is not meant to be anything other than a broad spectrum of shamanic thought and practice. If that is the case then it fullfills its function well as a commentary on the lighter side of modern spiritual practice.
Other pluses to be taken from this book?
Well, it may appear to be inconsequential to some but is always an important aspect to the reading experience that the publisher includes an index for later referencing the books’ content. Few bother to include them these days which means that a book’s inherent long-term value is often greatly diminshed.
I am so pleased to see that this book has not just an index but a great one which means that it is easy to quickly access the exercises, commentaries and techniques at your own leisure. This results in a book that is much more valuable as a teaching resource and reminds one that there are some powerful nuggets of spiritual wisdom to be discovered within it!
Walking in the Light contains the powerful message that anyone can open up to the shamanic way through becoming a self-empowered, transformed and an insightful individual.