Three Tools of the Shaman

an excerpt from

The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation

by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman
Published by Sounds True
Reprinted with Permission


Below is an excerpt from the book, Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation, by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman. The excerpt is entitled Three Tools of the Shaman, and describes the essential tools in the shaman's kit: gratitude, seeing and blessing. It concludes with a lovely blessing ceremony.

After the excerpt, you'll find more information about co-authors Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman, the book Awakening to the Spirit World, and a spoken-word CD set, Shamanic Meditations, containing journeys led by Sandra Ingerman, all published by Sounds True.

"Three Tools of the Shaman"*

by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman

~ Gratitude ~

The first shamanic tool in your toolbox is gratitude, an attitude and an orientation designed to open the heart. Gratitude is a high-level amplitude that is designed to open portals, windows, and doorways into the spirit world.

Shamanically speaking, in everyday reality (what a shaman considers a consensus dream), Spirit is not apparent to the naked eye. In fact this ordinary world of stone, flesh, and fiber is often quite depressing because it involves frustration, pain, and frightening circumstances and events. The pleasures are more often than not offset by the everyday survival and the constant mind chatter that is enough to drive even the most stable person crazy.

Yet a shaman knows that just behind the movie set that makes up the world, Spirit lies camouflaged, bursting with light and freedom, waiting to be recognized and resourced. Spirit has cleverly arranged portals in strategic places that if opened, lead directly past the everyday outer world into the power of the inner reality where all answers lie and where all problems are revealed to be the illusions that they are.

These portals are literally everywhere, but there are primary ones that are so close to us that they are practically impossible to miss. The one most accessible is the heart, which lies smack in the middle of your chest just below your chin, and it is so accessible that you can easily reach your heart with your hands. When you speak it vibrates, and when you breathe it is massaged all around. It is hard to comprehend how you would miss it, yet we do ignore it every day unless we should have the misfortune of a heart attack.

Shamans "see" through their hearts. Shamanic tribes like the Maori of New Zealand believe that the physical world we experience is actually a projection coming from each individual heart. The Mayans and the Q'ero tribe in the Peruvian Andes have their own versions of this basic understanding. Their shamans know that self-importance, created by the ego, is dedicated to keeping the powerful heart portal closed off enough to prevent Spirit from shining through.

The ego accomplishes this by shutting down the heart to the point where the portal remains closed to the spirit world. The portals pop open only when a certain amplitude is reached, so keeping it below a certain level prevents opening. What keeps amplitude low are all the familiar maladies: fear, hostility, self-importance, depression, self-doubt, cynicism, and frustration. Because of these, most people's hearts are shut down most of the time, which feels bad in the chest and cuts off the main avenue of escape from pain and suffering -- an open heart.

Gratitude counters these ploys by the parasitical false personality and raises the amplitude high enough to begin the heart-opening process.

~ Seeing ~

The second great shamanic tool in your toolbox is seeing. For a shaman, "to see" is to cut through the veils of ignorance, the false appearance of the world, in order to see clearly into the true nature of Spirit as it manifests through all of reality. In other traditions, it is known as forgiveness or compassion. Seeing is the post powerful method of releasing blame, guilt, and shame.

Seeing ends the war within us just as it resolves conflicts with externals and paves the way for our cooperation and extension. The false personality tries to convince you that forgiving or having compassion is a weakness, that you are setting yourself up to be taken advantage of again. It also tries to get you to believe that you and the others have no value and therefore deserve ill treatment or self-loathing. Seeing makes these terrible perceptions impossible. Seeing the truth provides relief from the terrible stress or guilt, and this results in shifting our energy in a way that allows us to open the heart and other portals to the world of spirit.

When shamans speak of "seeing," they are actually talking about clearing away the projections and distorted thoughts of the conscious mind onto the world at large and all its forms.

Shamans and visionaries know that these projections are blinding and the source of endless misunderstandings and assumptions based on fear of the unknown.

Seeing means that we are perceiving the truth, and therefore there is no room for hostility, blame, fear, or set decrees. How does this take place? When we really see in the shamanic or visionary way, we know that we are Spirit and that we have simply become confused and are lost in appearances for awhile. The false personality is only a delusional construct created by the egoic self; in dealing with the world, it tends to create lies in which we and others take refuge.

Shamans say that when people learn to see they are able to access almost limitless power because they realize they are intimately connected to the vast web of life. For the shaman, seeing into the true nature of reality and the self is a great power; it is a required skill for self-realization and ultimately enlightenment.

~ Blessing ~

Now we come to the third great power tool in that shamanic toolbox that everyone has from birth -- the ability to bless.

In general, people do not know their function as human beings, and it never occurs to them that their job is actually to bless the world. Many people have been taught to bless their food; they consider a blessing to be a few words mumbled over a meal that lacks heart and meaning. This is hardly what shamans mean by blessing.

Blessing is the act of recognizing that Spirit is coming through what we are witnessing or experiencing. It is recognizing and acknowledging the grand flow of Beingness that is present as what we eat or what we see as the landscape, through our bodies, through each moment of now and gives it indescribable vitality and life force. Yet the physical plane appears to most as a camouflage universe where Spirit does not appear to exist.

Shamanically speaking, many of us respond to the physical world by assuming a deep hypnosis, a deep sleep where we no longer recognize that Spirit is present. Not only do we go to sleep, but large parts of the world may temporarily go to sleep as well. So it is our job to wake up and to awaken all that is around us. This act of waking up could be called "blessing the world."

Many of us have been taught to believe that only people who have gone to seminary or special training programs to become ministers, rabbis, priests, imams, or shamans have the right to bless. We invite the ordained individuals to come before us and bless ceremonies, fields, businesses, projects, meetings, and banquets, and we bow our heads while they talk to Spirit for us.

This is not a bad practice, but it is extraordinarily limiting. Many of those we invite to do the blessing for us are the most asleep of all, revealing that no one can do the work of blessing for us. Each human comes with that capacity, with that ability, and with the responsibility to bless.

So what happens when we bless, and how do we go about blessing in an effective way?

To bless means that you become conscious that you are alive and that Spirit is flowing through you. This realization allows you to see that Spirit is flowing all around and that what is coming through you is coming through everything and that it is all the same. When you see or feel this you merely say something like, "I am Spirit. Let us awake. Let us awake Spirit in everything I see."

While saying this you can look around and bless with your hands and arms outstretched, waking everything up to the incredible power of Spirit that flows through everything with great passion and peace. In response, everything receives a boost, everything celebrates, everything is grateful, and everything forgives its slumber. There are few practices as powerful as this awakening. If you want to add a little something else to your blessing, you may bestow upon everything that you are experiencing or witnessing the gift of well-being from the bottom of your heart.

You might say, "I give you great happiness and love. May all who come here or pass this way be blessed with joy, abundance, and wellness." What you give is what you get, so make sure you give the best you can imagine.

Blessing is incomprehensibly powerful and is perhaps the greatest tool of all because it is the pathway back to Spirit. Yet it is hard to bless if you have no gratitude and you have not seen the need to forgive. These three tools work together as a powerhouse trio. They are all important characteristics of the physical universe: Truth, Love, and Energy -- or Yachay, Munay, and Llankay, the three Andean shamanic principles of living. Each tool works with all three components. Gratitude recognizes truth, transmits love, and enhances energy. Seeing tells the truth, radiates love, and release phenomenal energy.

Always remember that you have shamanic tools resting in your toolbox. They require deliberate use to become effective. These three tools, when used regularly, are all that is needed to become liberated and self-realized and to gain mastery over life. Why wait?

~ Exercise: For Blessing ~

First thing in the morning, go outside and practice blessing the sky, the Earth, the trees, or whatever elements are most visible. Then go on to bless your family, your colleagues, your students, your teachers, and all of their communities as well. Bless all their relations and on and on until everything and everyone has been included. Bless Spirit and don't forget to bless yourself. Now experience how you feel. Do you feel more expansive, more powerful, more happy, more on the right path? This is the true shamanic way -- and the way of the visionary.

About the Authors

Hank Wesselman, Ph.D., is a paleoanthropologist and shamanic teacher who has worked with noted anthropologists investigating the mysteries of human origins in Africa. His books include "Visionseeker," "Spiritwalker," and "Journey to the Sacred Garden." He lives in Hawaii. Visit his web site at

Sandra Ingerman, MA, is an author, teacher and shamanic researcher with a worldwide following. Sandra teaches workshops on shamanic journeying, healing, and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods. She has trained and founded an international alliance of Medicine for the Earth Teachers and shamanic teachers. Sandra is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist and a professional Mental Health Counselor. She is also a board-certified expert on traumatic stress, and she is certified in acute traumatic stress management. Sandra Ingerman is the author of eight books and four spoken-word CD sets.

Sandra produces a free monthly newsletter, "Transmutation News," which has information on spiritual practices that can be incorporated into your daily life to increase your own health and vitality as well as impact the health of our planet. We invite you to subscribe to the "Transmutation News" and to participate in our monthly Full Moon Meditation. You can find past issues and a subscribe button at

To find a local shamanic teacher or shamanic practitioner in your area, visit

About the Book

The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation

by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman
Published by Sounds True
(ISBN 978-1591797500, 360 pages, paperback and CD, $19.95)
Available through bookstores or directly from the author:

Today, practicing shamanism doesn't mean you have to live in a rain forest or a desert. Thanks to a modern renaissance of shamanic spirituality, practitioners from all walks of life now use powerful indigenous techniques for healing, insight, and spiritual growth.

With Awakening to the Spirit World, teachers Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman bring together a circle of renowned Western shamanic elders to present a comprehensive manual for making these practices accessible and available in our daily lives, including:

  • How the original practice of shamanism shaped the world's spiritual traditions and why it is still relevant today

  • The art of the shamanic journey -- a time-tested meditative method for experiencing important spiritual lessons and truths

  • Guidance for avoiding common pitfalls of shamanic practice
  • Instruction for working with your dreams, connecting to your spirit guides, healing yourself and your environment
  • A CD of drumming to facilitate your shamanic journeys

Praise for Awakening to the Spirit World:

"The book is highly recommended, especially to newcomers, for its breadth of coverage of modern shamanism and the clarity of its practical usefulness." -- Richard D. Wright, Tranquil Things

About the CD Set

Guided Journeys for Insight, Vision, and Healing

by Sandra Ingerman
Published by Sounds True
(ISBN 978-1591797579, 2 CD Set, 135 minutes, $19.95)
Available through bookstores or directly from the author:

The first meditators in history were the shamans, whose practices for contemplation and connecting with the divine are echoed in virtually every spiritual tradition today. On Shamanic Meditations, Sandra Ingerman invites you to return to the source of human spirituality -- and experience for yourself the enduring power of these ancient practices for healing, guidance, and awakening.

With seven guided meditations -- called "journeys" in the shamanic tradition -- from a renowned author and teacher, this two-hour program features an overview of shamanic principles, guided practices for finding your "spirit teachers" and "power animals," the shamanic initiation into oneness, and more.

* Excerpted from the book Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation. Copyright (c) 2010 by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Sounds True. Please feel free to duplicate or distribute this file as long as the contents are not changed and this copyright notice is intact. Thank you.

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