Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation - Sandra Ingerman MA, Hank Wesselman Ph.D. 2010


This book, with its accompanying audio, may provide you with a body of sacred knowledge that contains the key with which to open your own inner, visionary doorway into the sacred realms.

Needless to say, it’s not designed to replace the years of disciplined practice engaged in by the mystics of the world’s many visionary traditions. But it may serve as a catalyst in helping you embark upon an extraordinary spiritual adventure, assisting you by double-clicking the “visionary program” on your own inner hard drive, your DNA, so that you may find your way into connection with your own inner sources of wisdom, power, and healing.

It is this extraordinary ability to access the transpersonal worlds that sets shamans apart from all other religious practitioners, something we shall examine in greater depth in Chapter 1.

Chapter 2 will explore the experiential centerpiece of the shaman’s practice—the shamanic journey. It will also provide us with guidance in how we may utilize techniques such as monotonous, rhythmic percussion (provided by the audio tracks) combined with our focused intentionality, a safe and time-tested meditative way to access the sacred realms of the spirit world. And as we shall see, this practice is anything but primitive.

The shamans of antiquity were the first brave pioneers to begin to investigate our human body-mind-spirit complex as well as the nature of reality, both outer and inner. Their discoveries, derived from the path of direct revelation, have served as the foundation for who we are and what we have all become today.

In our time, the shaman’s path could be equated with the path of the modern visionary—one that is very much available to all who care to walk it. In making this assertion, our thoughts turn inevitably toward our reconnection with Nature, for Nature is, and forever has been, the gateway into the invisible worlds that are all around us, and all the time—something we shall touch on in Chapter 3.

Surprisingly, most are able to do this on the first attempt, and once “there,” most are able to establish connection with those inner sources of wisdom and power that the traditional peoples call spirits, returning with accounts that would pass muster at any aboriginal campfire. Accordingly Chapter 4 is focused upon how we may work with Nature, including influencing the weather.

Motivated by the need to more fully understand what happens in these transcendent realms of experience, as well as how to access them, Chapter 5 will explore the nature of ceremony and ritual, allowing us to investigate aspects of the ancient technology of transcendence that was pioneered tens of thousands of years ago by the shamans of the Upper Paleolithic Period—the Late Stone Age.

In Chapter 6 we will focus upon this process with respect to dreams, the nature of dreams, and the experience of dreaming-while-awake. In Chapter 7 we explore other ways of accessing the sacred realms of the transpersonal, specifically through the creative arts that may serve us as another experiential bridge, revealing the various paths on which the participants in our gatherings across the years have been able to find that inner doorway through which they were able to make the journey into the dream worlds while very much awake.

Allow us to add here that our many years of facilitating such groups have left us deeply impressed by the internal consistency of these experiences as well as by the transformative effect that they obviously confer upon the experiencer. We have watched, fascinated, as our inner explorers are led toward an inescapable conclusion shared by the indigenous peoples—that the fabric of reality is composed of a multi-leveled vibrational field that is conscious and intelligent—and when conditions are favorable, this field can and does respond!

In Chapter 8 we will explore how we may work with sound and light, and in this respect, we can observe with confidence that all authentic visionaries speak about the spirits, and the states of consciousness that become available to us through them, as “the light beyond the form, and the formless beyond the light.”

In Chapters 9, 10, and 11 we will discuss the death experience as a passage on the one hand and as a necessary and omnipresent force in all the changes that take place throughout our lives on the other. The fact remains that ten out of ten of us are going to go through this experience, and it was always the job of the traditional shaman to scope out the dimensions of the death transit, returning to describe where we will find ourselves and what we will experience at this stage, enabling these gifted visionaries to prepare the living for the experience of dying.

Chapter 12 is dedicated to our children as our connections with our future—bringing us into considering who we are today, who we are becoming, and what our responsibilities toward our communities and our children may be. There is absolutely no question that they, and their descendants, are our future.

In Chapter 13 we will describe ways of working together in community from the shamanic perspective, and Chapter 14 will summarize and reveal who and what we are becoming as members of the transformational community. We will present an overview of those values and beliefs that we all hold dear, allowing all of us to understand more fully what the nature of our path through this life may be—the path on which we most likely chose to walk before we came into this life.

And finally in Chapter 15 each of the contributors, including ourselves, will share our visions for the future of the work, including the challenges that we face as practitioners and teachers and the insights we have gleaned along the trail.


Shamanism is a spiritual practice in which you can have immediate and dramatic access to the wealth of knowledge, as well as the power and protection, of the helping spirits. It is a practice that is difficult to learn by simply reading about it. You must experience it for yourself.

Accordingly, all the contributors have shared different meditative exercises that are seeded throughout the chapters to help you engage in the shamanic path of direct revelation. As some of these exercises involve shamanic journeying, we have included a journeying audio with recordings of drumming, rattling, and different instruments that will allow you to work with the practices in this book. Instructions for shamanic journeying are given in Chapter 2.


The audio that accompanies this book includes four tracks. Track 1 is five minutes of whistling or rattling that will give you time to prepare for your journey by taking some deep breaths, setting your intention, and giving thanks to the helping spirits for the assistance you will receive.

Track 2 is a fifteen-minute session of drumming and rattling with a return beat. Track 3 is a fifteen-minute session of monotonous rhythm involving the berimbau (a Brazilian stringed instrument), rattles, and Australian click sticks. This track also has a return beat. And Track 4 is twenty-five minutes including a return beat involving three drummers.

As you practice journeying with this audio component, you might notice that you prefer one track to another. Some people like a longer session for journeying and some a shorter. Just notice what works best for you. All the tracks are played at a steady rhythm, the theta brain wave rate of four to five beats (or shakes) per second.

One very important note: Don’t listen to the audio program in your car or while operating machinery. The audio is designed to help you achieve the shamanic trance state, and for obvious reasons this is not appropriate while driving a car or mowing the lawn.


In summation, we are going to explore the path of direct revelation as a personal practice in this book, and we will discover that it is essentially an ancient form of meditation. When practiced with humility, reverence, and discipline, it can give the spiritual seeker virtually instant access to many varieties of experience, including connection with the spirit world if that is his or her intention.

Speaking as highly educated persons who unknowingly stumbled onto this path decades ago, we can affirm with confidence that the ability to achieve the shamanic state of consciousness is a learned skill that improves with practice. We also know with absolute certainty that once the “visionary program” on our DNA is activated, this can enable us to ascend toward the luminous horizon of our personal and collective destiny as we travel across time in a completely new way.

The wise ones among the tribal people would agree with this statement because they know a great secret: any human activity or endeavor can be enormously enhanced through utilizing and eventually mastering this sacred technology. Another secret: if we go back far enough (as Hank has said), we are all descended from indigenous tribal ancestors—Westerners and non-Westerners alike—and they all had great shamans.

The six contributors to this book are all accomplished professionals, writers, and fully initiated shamanic practitioners and teachers who walk the path: Sandra Ingerman, a psychotherapist; Hank Wesselman, a paleoanthropologist; Tom Cowan, a historian; Carol Proudfoot-Edgar, a psychotherapist; José Stevens, a psychologist; and Alberto Villoldo, a medical anthropologist. We all have different voices and we all bring our shared wisdom for you to soak up and work with in the ways that speak to you.

Together, we will shed light on how the shaman’s time-tested method may help us awaken from the consensus slumber of culture at large, enabling our life experiences to manifest as a true hero’s journey, as an upward quest that may lead us into the direct experience of spirit—a journey that becomes possible for us through the doorway of the heart.

It is through this gateless gate that we can personally experience reunion with unlimited power and a mysterious, godlike mind. Once in connection, we then know with certainty that no holy words or books, no secret ceremonies or rituals, no spiritual leaders or gurus or faiths can do this for us.

Once the higher evolutionary functions are triggered within us, some mysterious predetermined schedule is set into motion, activating a program that cannot be given to us by any outside agency. This is because most of us already have it.

In the chapters that follow, we will explore a path on which we may learn something truly interesting about ourselves, as well as where we are headed.

We are excited about this literary project, for in it we will be sharing different perspectives on how we as modern people may walk the shamanic path. We are also providing you with a book filled with enlivening narratives and spiritual practices that you may incorporate into your life—ways that may help you establish your own bridges into the sacred realms.

To create a readable narrative, we could not represent every shamanic tradition. Rather we are giving you a sprinkling of stories from some traditions, providing you with a foundation that hopefully will lead you onto your own path of direct revelation.

Now imagine yourself sitting in a circle of elders, listening to each share his or her stories and teachings with you. As you listen to and absorb their words and thoughts, you will inevitably cross-reference them with your own experiences and your own dreams … and this is good medicine indeed.