Invoke the Sacred Power of Ceremony with Sandra Ingerman
Radiantly You – Episode 61
SUSIE: Hey, good morning and welcome to another episode of Radiantly You, a half-hour of talk radio to raise your vibes and create magic in your life. I’m your host Susie Hindle Kher and I’m honored that you’re spending the next 30 minutes with me and today’s fabulous guest.
So I have a question for you. As you got up this morning, as you prepared for your day, made your coffee or your tea or your smoothie, orange juice or have you, how much time did you spend in the intention that every moment of what you were doing is sacred? Since you’re listening to the show, I know you probably do this more than most, but really that practice of infusing the sacred into our everyday lives is a practice that takes practice. Like, maybe you forget when you oversleep – or maybe that’s I forget when I oversleep! Or maybe it doesn’t feel sacred when you have an argument with someone or you don’t get the job or the client you wanted or, God forbid these days, you turn on the news.
So, as most of you know, my work is about helping people connect with that sacred part of themselves that they forgotten or maybe even shutout in order to focus on things that seem more important – getting ahead in your job, or paying the bills, or being successful.
I’d say that a huge chunk of my clients – and I’d wager, my listeners – seem to have reached a point though in their lives where they’re sensing an emptiness, even if they’re tremendously successful. You don’t have to hit rock bottom, like being terribly ill or being unemployed, to kind of get that bone-gnawing feeling or that gut knowing that the joy the purpose and the magic in your life just all seem to have vanished – and bringing them back in can feel like a monumental effort.
I tend to get a lot of questions around this topic, sot today I’m really excited because we’ve brought on an expert to teach us how to invoke the sacred in our everyday lives using ceremony.
I bet you already know Sandra Ingerman. She is a shamanic practitioner and teacher and an award-winning author who’s written a new book. Her latest book is my favorite so far and I can already tell I’m going to be using this one a lot in my work with my clients as well as personally, actually in my own life and even with my family. Her new book is called The Book of Ceremony: Shamanic Wisdom for Invoking the Sacred in Everyday Life, and it’s published even by my favorite publisher, Sounds True.
This book really is Sandra’s invitation for us to go deep, to learn to peel away, peel back those layers of busyness, to dial back that go-mode that we’re stuck in, and to use ceremony to create a sacred space for divine guidance, for transformation, and even for just savoring life.
Sandra Ingerman has been teaching shamanic spirituality for more than 30 years now and you might know some of her other books, like Soul Retrieval, which is another favorite of mine, Medicine for the Earth, or Walking the Light. She teaches shamanic journeying, healing and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods, and she’s also a licensed marriage and family therapist and a professional mental health counselor, as well as a board certified expert on traumatic stress. So she’s got us covered from a number of different angles. She was awarded the Peace Award from the Global Foundation for Integrative Medicine in 2007 and selected as one of the top 10 spiritual leaders of 2013 by Spirituality and Health Magazine.
This beautiful woman – and I really mean that at a soul level – knows how to work with ceremony in a way that invites this beautiful sacred into the otherwise ordinary and when she started this writing this book, I think really it was because she wanted to create an easy-to-follow guide for anyone, no matter what their experience is, to plan and create ceremonies for all types of life experiences.
Now quickly before we dive in I want to let you know that KKNW Alternative Talk 1150 is hosting a listener survey and I’ve got our fabulous producer here, Benny Mathers. Benny, can you tell us all about the survey?
BENNY: [04:47] Hey Susie! Yeah, the survey is really kind of important to our listeners and to us, the hosts. Basically, we design it every year to bring more information out to the general public and back to us as far as what you want to hear and what you don’t want to hear. Basically visit 1150kknw.com, you’ll see a check mark there for the listener survey. It just takes a couple of minutes, and by doing so you’re actually getting yourself into a drawing for some wonderful prizes….We really want to hear what kinds of things that are on your mind also because this helps us as show host to know.
SUSIE: Thank you Benny. So one more thing before we dive since we’re kind of doing a little bit of housekeeping. I just want to let you know that this episode is sponsored by ‘Wild at Heart: Awakening the Powerful Woman in Uncertain Times.’ This 6-day retreat to Budapest in September 2019 is a chance to work with me one-on-one, with a small group of women who I guarantee you will become your soul sisters.
We will spend time with a Hungarian Taltos, which is a Hungarian Shaman, and this particular one is a wisdom keeper for his spiritual traditions. During this retreat, you’ll do some deep inner work to awaken your own inner lioness and find your sacred roar. Plus, just imagine the time you’ll spend unwinding and untangling and healing in the thermal baths that Budapest is so famous for. So, if you’ve been struggling moving past the things that are holding you back in your health, your career, your relationships, your happiness, your spiritual growth – all those areas where you want to experience more fulfillment, then sign up for this transformative travel retreat. Just go to radiantriverwellness.com/budapest to get more information and hold your spot.
Now, without further ado, let’s jump right into the topic of ceremony with our special guest today, Sandra Ingerman. Welcome to the show and thank you so much for being here.
SANDRA: [07:34] Well, thank you so much Susie, and I have to say I’m ready to sign up for your trip.
SUSIE: I would LOVE to have you! Okay there are only 7 spots left as of now!
SANDRA: It sounds amazing.
SUSIE: The synchronicities, in terms of even this Hungarian Taltos who I discovered, and the stories of the work that he has done because there’s been a lot of war and conflict in that country, and Shamanism had to go underground, so they literally have certain Shamans who, all they do is, during the times that it’s not okay to express openly, they are passing along the traditions. So it’s really beautiful work that they do.
So, for our listeners who might not know you yet, I know that you performed your first ceremony about 38 years ago, if I’m getting my math right, share a little bit about how you were drawn into Shamanism and ceremonies and ceremonial work. I’d love to hear that.
SANDRA: [08:41] Well, I think for me, I was such a spiritual child and I had three near-death experiences in my life, and everybody tries to associate my near-death experiences and going to the light with my desire to study Shamanism, but I was so much more spiritual before all of that. So I think I was just born with a desire to connect on very deep levels with everything that’s alive. And I grew up in Brooklyn New York and I felt incredibly honored to grow up in Brooklyn. I thought it was the most beautiful place imaginable. Everything to me look beautiful when I was so little it’s amazing to remember the eyes of awe and wonder you know that we embraced as children, but I could see even at an early age. I could see that people were suffering, I didn’t see light coming out of people’s eyes and I started a really see something was not right.
We were dealing with the demonstrations against the Vietnam War at a very crucial time in my spiritual development. And so really feeling like I needed to seek alternative ways of looking at life and looking at the world and so I accidentally entered the path of Shamanism taking a workshop. I was just getting two easy units because I was going for my masters in counseling psychology and working full-time to put myself through school. And so I heard about some workshop that didn’t have a lot of requirements afterwards for trade. And so I signed up for it, and you know how the universe can just trick you sometimes. It was such a trick, because it was Halloween of 1980, and since that day my life has been 100 percent devoted to the practice of Shamanism.
SUSIE: Wow, so it was a pretty radical shift for you there and you can actually you remember the time.
SANDRA: [11:09] Oh my God…You know in Shamanism we work with helping, compassionate Divine Spirits who are looking down on us with an amazing amount of compassion and love. And we’re so busy playing the game of life, we can’t always see around us. And so we have these helping spirits like our Guardian Angels who can say, look this is what’s happening and this is the better path to walk. And so I met this Guardian Spirit who started sharing everything about my life and what I needed to do and where I was stuck.
At that point it was a marriage between me and Shamanism. To have that kind of tool available, you know, and especially during the times that we live in, you know, this was in 1980. The times are exponentially more challenged, but we were going through a lot of challenges at that time too.
And so that is the power of Shamanism, to give tools of how to survive in a really challenging time. That’s how it would actually came into being over 100,000 years ago was the spirits saw that the humans didn’t have any tools for survival and they came in and volunteered their help and they’re doing the same thing right now.
SUSIE: Oh, wow, perfect timing then, because I think I think we’re in need of this this sort of information and almost a spiritual tool for people.
One of the things I was thinking about as I was reading through the book is how…well, I started thinking about that word ceremony and I think we use it pretty loosely nowadays. I mean, we have a wedding ceremony and we don’t even really think about it that much, right, its sort of a set process that we go through. What are some of the things that maybe we don’t understand in these modern times or that we’re missing about the true potential of ceremony or maybe even what what is ceremony?
SANDRA: [13:26] Yeah, well just to agree with you, that we have a lot of ceremonies that we do that are rote, that actually come out of spiritual traditions and they had a lot of meaning. It’s really important to understand that in Shamanism everything is seen as energy, and so Shamans work with energy. They actually don’t work with form that much. They’re always looking at energy and doing ceremonial work. This is so exciting. It’s like being a gardener of the energy.
SUSIE: That’s beautiful. Can you say that again?
SANDRA: [14:10] It’s like being a gardener of energy because when Shamans perform their ceremonies, they’re cultivating these incredible forces, ancient forces. You know, we talk about wanting to honor the Earth, but the Earth is 4.6 billion years old. We talk about how we love when the wind kisses our cheek, and the wind is actually the first living being that has ever been on the planet. It was here before anything. And then you have the sea, which is billions of years old, and the Sun and the Moon and the constellations. And so, when we perform ceremony, and in ceremonial work we call in the power of the Earth and the moon and the stars and the waters and the wind to support our work. They do come in to support our work, but think about how ancient they are. Think about when you call in the wind and it brushes your hair in the middle of the ceremony, that’s a billion-year-old being coming over to say, I support you in your work. So in ceremonial work we cultivate these ancient energies that have the ability to mark changes in our lives and to support us as we’re going through childhood to being a teen, to being an adult, to getting married, and they honor the changes of birth and death. And as you pointed out, marriages and blessing a house and blessing the land and bringing ceremony into a divorce so that the energy – again remember shamans are only working with cultivating energy, so how do we work with the energy so that it’s really clean after the divorce and has no ill effects on anybody involved. So ceremonies were done to cultivate energy, to call in healing energies, and to call in balance. And if an energy needed to be released or an illness needed to be released then the shaman would journey to learn about the forces of the Earth, wind, fire and air that were willing to volunteer to be part of the healing ceremony, where maybe very simply a stick is broken. It sounds like such a simple ceremony to bring to these ancient forces, but when you do it with intention, think about it when you have that much support around you and you say, I will not have this energy in my life anymore, I am going to disconnect from it by breaking this stick and having such spiritual support. That’s a powerful ceremony.
SUSIE: Wow, and I love also in the book you use a word in there that really jumped out at me, and it was ‘incubate,’ and I think one of the things you said was in ceremony, we create a sacred space and you incubate conscious intentions. So – I’m kind of going back to that gardening analogy – is it accurate to say that a ceremony is a little bit like planting seeds, and it’s not like you conduct a ceremony and then expect miraculous results, right?
SANDRA: [18:09] Yeah, you do have to let those seeds germinate and you know that that is part of the challenge of bringing ceremonial work into modern day world because we mark time in a very short way, linearly, and that was not done in communities where they marked time by nature, by changes in nature. So we have as a culture, a very short timeline of how we see the window when we should be getting good results from our ceremonial work. In indigenous cultures people really understood the organic process of growing and gardening and that gives you a completely different perspective on when you might see the results from your ceremonial work.
SUSIE: So one of the things I love is that this book really is made, written in such a way that anyone could pick it up, whether you already have been studying some Shamanism or whether you are completely new to it, right? And you explain the process and then you also include a number of actual ceremonies in there.
I wonder if you could help people understand, you know, where do we start? So let’s say we’re interested in getting into ceremony, where do we start in this whole process of preparation or an idea for a ceremony, to the process and the completion?
SANDRA: [19:44] Well, let them start with something really simple just to give people an idea. So from a shamanic point of view. You want your environment to reflect back to you the beauty of your own soul, and that means you want your living environment to be spiritually as beautiful and radiant as you. And so, set an intention that you’d like to do with their ceremony to call back the soul of your house and have it shine as radiant as you are, so that it becomes the sacred space for you to live in. And so you start by setting your intention that you want to honor your house. And then if you work with religious figures or spiritual figures you would invite them in. I’m doing a ceremony; will you join me to bless my house? And you gather some flowers, then maybe you have a favorite incense that you like to burn and you walk around the house feeling connected to these helping spirits that you called in and you honor every living little being, every little kitsch, every little object that you have bought and didn’t know the meaning of it. You honor it, you bring it to life and you honor the spirit of the house and the materials that were used to make the house. And when you feel like you’re done and you’ve brought fresh energy into every single room, you thank the spirits who worked with you and then you sit and enjoy a different energy in your house. And that’s a really simple ceremony to do that will create a healthy change that will feel good to you for a very long period of time.
SUSIE: I love that… That is really beautiful. I’m going to go home and do that I think when I’m finished here. What about the time of season we’re in right now, which happens to be fall? And I think I can already feel winter coming. What are ways that we can use ceremony to honor the cycles of nature.
SANDRA: [22:08] Yes, so, you know, we are nature…we’re not connected to nature – we are nature. And that means that it’s not that other life forms are experiencing fall, we’re experiencing fall in a big way too. It’s just that we have homes and ways of living that protect us a little bit more. But when you think about all fall, fall is about letting go, fall is about that phase of life that has to do with what isn’t working anymore, what do I need to let go of, and give it to the Earth to compost and then what I give to the Earth to compost becomes fertilizer for new growth coming in the spring. And so it’s a time to mark the change of what is ready to let go of, because we’re always in a cycle of death and rebirth in our lives always – and that never stops. So write down on a piece of paper something you’re ready to let go of – a belief, a hurt an old wound, a relationship, something that doesn’t serve you anymore. It’s anchoring you to your past in a very unhealthy way. Write it down on a piece of paper and burn it in a little bowl or get some bubbles from a toy store and blow those old wounds up into the air.
SUSIE: I love that idea and it’s fun too.
SANDRA: [23:47] That’s been to the favorite of some of my students and just ask that the energy be transformed into love and light, so we’re not sending all of our wounds into the air. And so releasing ceremonies, putting a natural object into the water and saying goodbye to it as the water takes it away. You know, those are just some examples or blowing an old stone and burying it into the Earth. Those are those are actual ceremonies, and how you turn them into ceremonies is, before you blow your bubbles or blow your stone into the Earth, you set an intention. You honor the spirit that you’re working with, and you close by giving thanks and that brings the sacred into it.
SUSIE: So we have just about a minute left here. I would love to hear if you have any ideas, or maybe there’s a maybe there’s a ceremony that’s already in the book that would be good at this time for honoring and expressing and even transforming what feels like a tremendous amount of heartache and pain and anger out there right now that people are experiencing given our current political climate.
SANDRA: [25:09] Wow, there are so many ceremonies the book that would be perfect for what people are experiencing right now, but one that I would like to leave you with, because I feel it has the most transformative effect, is to imagine yourself as a star. Imagine a star inside of you, and you know how stars are so beautiful in the night sky and they radiate their light and don’t send it anywhere, they just radiate. Imagine, put on some beautiful music, let that light radiate through you and it will transform the pain that you’re feeling, and it will flood the entire planet and all of life with light. And light is what heals, love and light are the two healing forces in the universe.
SUSIE: Wow, this is such good stuff. I’m loving this episode – so many gems of wisdom in here, Sandra and I have to say this has been really helpful for me too. Because I think my own definition of ceremony and what it can do in the life is really, really expanded. I spend a lot of time creating sacred space and I just see now how I’m ready to take it to the next level with ceremony. So thank you so much for joining me today to talk about your new book, which is The Book of Ceremony: Shamanic Wisdom for Invoking the Sacred in Everyday Life. What’s the best way for listeners to find out more about the book and stay in touch with you?
SANDRA: [26:44] Well, I have a website, sandraingerman.com, that has articles, YouTube videos, interviews and a monthly column, and it’s all free. And there’s of course ordering information for the book on my website.
SUSIE: Perfect. Thank you so much. I can’t wait for everyone who’s listening to check out Sandra’s book if you haven’t already done so. Sandra, thank you again for sharing so much with us today and thank you for everything you’re doing to bring the power of ceremony to all people.
SANDRA: [27:16] And thank you so much for the absolutely beautiful work that you’re sharing with the world too, I enjoy it.
SUSIE: Thank you. So there you have it, a fantastic conversation with Sandra Ingerman, and I hope today’s show has helped spark a passion for ceremony in your own life.
And also don’t forget to check out my 6-day retreat to Budapest in September 2019. Go to radiantriverwellness.com. You can find information about that, plus you can get the recording of this radio show there as well. Talk to you next week – have a radiant day.