Shamanism is a system of medicine — the oldest known to humankind — and like any other, contains certain standard practices. One of these core practices is called entering the altered state, in which brainwave patterns shift out of their waking state into a trance state in which the shaman can meet ancestors, helping spirits and guides. This process is called journeying. Rhythm has been acknowledged since ancient times as the most reliable way of achieving altered states; the Yakut shamans of Siberia call the drum “the shaman’s horse,” alluding to its use in facilitating the journey. In The Spirit of Healing CD, noted shaman Sandra Ingerman and musician Byron Metcalf have added a modern technology called Field Effect Audio Technology (FEAT) to their drumming that took my journeying far beyond anything I’ve ever experienced while listening to ordinary drum music.
I’ve journeyed a lot over the years, yet have never had a full-body experience the way I did listening to this CD — and having that quality of experience is the whole point of the journey. When you are able to walk in the imaginal world and to experience it with all your five senses, able to confidently absorb all the information you receive from Spirit — that is when you can fully believe in the reality of that realm.
Believing is important, because the most common question of beginning journeyers, and even some with years of experience is, can I trust that what I’m seeing and hearing is real? Sometimes the scenarios and the guidance you receive while journeying is, quite frankly, weird and nonsensical. The spirits communicate through symbols and references that do not always translate into our everyday world, that sometimes do not seem to apply to the question, that may make no sense to you, but make perfect sense to a client; indeed, it might be the one piece of information they need to get well. To be an effective shamanic practitioner, you need to trust what you’re getting is real and be confident enough to act on it. This CD will build your confidence in the authenticity of the information you receive.
The Spirit of Healing contains three tracks, each designed for a specific purpose. However, I journeyed with all of them while working on a personal project different than the intended uses and they were just as effective, as Ingerman and Metcalf stated they would be. The first track is for cleansing and purification, the second is titled, “Dreaming into Being the Life You Want,” and the third is called “Transfiguration: Your Inner Light.” Suggestions for the corresponding journeys are printed on the jacket, along with a brief explanation of FEAT and a warning not to listen to the CD while driving. (Take that seriously, please.)
So what is FEAT? An excerpt from the jacket states: “FEAT assists in training the conscious mind to accurately perceive and effectively interact with the larger understanding of reality, commonly referred to as the ‘field’… a system of audio technologies that incorporate isochronic and binaural beats1 with specific drum and percussion rhythms to create an open and receptive energy field for consciousness exploration.” The exact technology is all a bit beyond me, since I’m not a musician or audio expert; for a fuller explanation I’ll refer you to Metcalf’s website.
However complex-sounding, it worked very simply for me — in fact, this “open and receptive energy field” created a journey in which my feet spontaneously began tapping on the floor under my chair, in which I felt myself dancing vigorously with my helping spirit, shaking my rattle and moving across the ground, and hearing and seeing my helping spirit more clearly than I ever had before. I can remember only one other journey where the imagery, feeling, sound and sight were so vivid; usually everything is duller, and although my hearing is my most vivid sense, sound is still faint.
Be aware that the vividness or emotion may be overwhelming. The first time I listened to a track my helping spirits weren’t being gentle with me and I got so spooked I had to stop the journey in the middle. It took several weeks to work up the nerve to continue with the other tracks. In fact, the jacket advises that if a user has “a history of seizures or auditory or mental disorders, do not listen to FEAT without consulting your physician or other qualified healthcare professional.”
Provided there are no medical obstacles, if you are serious about shamanic journeying and want to intensify your experience, The Spirit of Healing: Shamanic Journey Music is a must-have. Students of Sandra Ingerman will find FEAT a worthy enhancement to her magical drumming, rattling and whistling journey music. And if you are a beginning journeyer, this is an excellent CD to start and grow your practice with.