Transition Blanket

Transition Blanket by Jan Engels-Smith

Transition Blanket


I created a Transition Blanket in preparation for my father’s imminent death. To this day, this sacred object continues to bestow life-altering blessings on my entire family. I’m convinced that this divinely inspired gift is meant to reach far beyond my own family after witnessing what this blanket did not only for my father, but for all who experienced its healing power. This is the story of how the first Transition Blanket came into being, and the remarkable impact it had on everyone it touched.

When my father died, he died with an expression of horror frozen on his face. His eyes bulged; a mask of stark terror twisted his visage as his final breath escaped- a deeply distressing image that haunted all of us who witnessed his passage. My stepmother instantly succumbed to a wrenching fear that something awful had just happened to her beloved husband on the Other Side and that he was now trapped in a terrible place, for eternity. She was inconsolably distraught.

In my own heart, I knew how much my father had always dreaded death and his ultimate passage into unknown realms. Once this inevitable moment was upon him, it was impossible for Dad to conceal his terror any longer. I felt certain what we’d seen on my father’s face was simply a lifetime of fear at last releasing itself; though realizing this brought little solace. I, too, felt overwhelmed at this moment, imagining what the future would be like as I struggled to make peace with this final horrific scene, and somehow bring comfort to my family in the days and years ahead.

The Transition Blanket proved to be the generous purveyor of the strength and comfort we all needed to find. Its miraculous powers soon transformed our family’s experience from one of tragedy and suffering into an experience of profound healing and peaceful acceptance. Yet this miracle, like this very special blanket, took a while to unfold… Our ultimate opening to the inevitable death process may represent one of life’s richest experiences. In fact, ancient Tibetan traditions teach that death is life’s most important event. One’s own impending death, or the death of a loved one, holds great potential for shifting priorities and reframing relationships more profoundly than any other earthly event. Renewed and reshaped perceptions have the power to alter both physical and non-physical realities in surprising ways that can contribute enormously toward an aware and awakened life. Yet the looming sense of loss and finality that fills the heart and mind as death approaches can precipitate either great healing or emotionally devastating results. Death becomes the Master Teacher during such deeply transformational times. And so it was for my family…

I have spent my entire adult life in a career of service, helping people in difficult life situations. As a licensed psychologist, I’ve worked with thousands of individuals over the years. I am a seasoned alternative healer as well, primarily in shamanic practices, having received formal training and intense individual instruction from powerful medicine people. I teach shamanic classes on death and dying. I’m a certified Reiki master and have been actively merging my shamanic training with Reiki disciplines for ten years. Yet none of this extensive experience had fully prepared me for this time when I would be called to usher my own family through the gates.

I felt an overwhelming personal sorrow about soon losing all physical connection with my dying father. We lived thousands of miles apart. Knowing I could help him in so many ways, if we lived closer left me frustrated and longing for deeper connection. I called upon the spirits and other compassionate energies for assistance, as is my shamanic way.

It is impossible to fully explain the spiritual beliefs I hold, or the nature of my personal interactions with the divine realm, in the scope of this brief article, yet I must offer at least a little background so you can better understand the constant sources of my inspiration, and how the Transition Blanket eventually came to be.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, an unfathomable resource of wisdom and love, in many forms, exists just beyond what we know as our reality. This other universe is commonly called non-ordinary reality. In this parallel realm, all is possible. Non-ordinary reality is the place to which a shaman journeys in an altered state to obtain information from the spirit helpers. Reiki is also sourced from this sphere.

Keenly aware of my human limitations, I often journey out to ask my wise spirit helpers and guides for advice and assistance. Now I asked the spirits to teach me how I might best serve my father in spite of the physical distance between us. During this astounding journey, not only did my trusted allies show me powerful ways to support my elders, but they also tended my own grieving heart in the most loving and intimate way. I emerged with a clear sense of purpose and renewed confidence that all would be well as soon as I followed the detailed guidance I was given. The spirits were certainly answering my urgent needs, but it also felt like they were using me to “birth” yet another powerful healing method into ordinary reality, a method I would soon feel compelled to share with others. They were teaching me how to create a beautiful transition experience for my father, which included something I didn’t yet understand… a Transition Blanket!

The first task my spirit helpers assigned me was to examine and define what I personally believed about the death process. They wanted me to review how my Western culture had prepared me, or not prepared me, for the eventuality of a loved one’s death.

I was shocked by what I discovered. While my own unusual path of exploration and learning provided m with powerful beliefs and intricate road maps for navigating through the end-of-life experience, Western culture, in general, essentially ignores this entire “uncomfortable” subject. Fixated on perpetual youth and feel-good-now pursuits, Western culture acts as if death will never come.

It became painfully clear how ill-informed and ill-prepared our society is for the ineffable end-of-life event that will surely touch us all. In this fast-moving culture where elders are often pushed aside, viewed as burdens rather than precious reservoirs of wisdom, the ancient rituals and ceremonies that truly honor aging, and the sacred transition to the afterlife, have all but disappeared. Is it really any wonder we feel shocked, and lost, and utterly terrified when Death’s hard knuckles finally wrap upon our door?

My own father was one of these lost and terrified people now, facing the most profound, unknown experience of his life. Like so many others, Dad’s natural fear of the unknown was magnified because he had so little real knowledge about where he was going or how he was supposed to get there.

In my many years of counseling and death work, I’ve noticed that those who’ve led an essentially “unexamined life” seem to experience far greater anxiety and suffering as death approaches. They find themselves without any meaningful way to relate to the life they’ve lived, or to the great mystery that now unfolds before them. Their end-of-life struggle and confusion creates HUGE emotional distress, and their exit, which could be and should be an elegantly peaceful process, is severely hampered. What a terrible travesty this is!

Unfortunately, “pat” religious dogma that often preempts personal questioning and introspection can never substitute for a gentle, truly meaningful, and deeply explored experience when the end of life draws near. Unsupported by ancient beliefs, the powerful death rituals and ceremonies that once safely guided our forbears into the afterlife, how might we better prepare our “modern” selves for this inevitable end-of-life experience? What can we expect and what should we believe? Where is our roadmap? Perhaps the Transition Blanket had come to show us the way…

I hardly knew where to begin, but enduring love for my father held my feet to the sacred fire. I was supposed to create some kind of “transition blanket.” But beyond this, what exactly was I expected to do? If I truly intended to help my father, I needed to act NOW.

Long aware that our beliefs ultimately create our reality, it was time for me to carefully review my own beliefs about the death process, just as the spirits had already advised. I needed to recognize which of “my beliefs” were actually borrowed, and which were authentically mine. This would help me discover and discard any old, outmoded beliefs that now stood in my way. It was a daunting but necessary task if I hoped to offer my father a peaceful transition.

My head swirled with endless questions. Even with “freshly cleaned” beliefs, even if I were allowed to unravel the death mystery for myself, would my personal discoveries really translate to help others with very different beliefs? (like my own father, for example!) Could my intense desire to help him, along with some kind of “mystery blanket” actually bridge the huge gap between our personal beliefs about death and the afterlife… could a Transition Blanket somehow bring both ends of my father’s life circle gracefully back together again? Was there still enough time to find out?

In my father’s final moments, did I need to visualize my version of what the afterlife promised, or his? What exactly does my father believe about death anyway? An uncomfortable subject, to be sure! Like most families, we’d never really talked about it, and I’d never bothered to ask. How could I ever construct a proper Transition Blanket for him, or create a ceremony that would truly support his transition experience if I didn’t know these answers? Floundering in an endless sea of questions, I decided to seek more guidance from my trusted spirit helpers.

As I journeyed this time, a strange calm came over me and a plan suddenly emerged. A whole tapestry of death transition teachings already existed for me- threads of clarity woven throughout the various faiths of the world. I could look there for my answers!

There was no time to waste. I was already familiar with Methodist and Baptist versions of Christian doctrine from my childhood, though I’d left this path many years before. Now my belief system is steeped in the Lakota traditions, though I’m not a traditionalist by any stretch of the imagination. I began researching the death transition practices from many other cultures of the world.

The common thread unifying all these variant versions of the death transition always led the soul into a new existence. However, in these other traditions, without exception, each individual was carefully prepared in advance, receiving clearly defined information about the precise actions necessary to achieve a successful transition to the afterlife. Somehow, this critical piece was missing from “modern” Western culture’s puzzle and many souls were now paying the agonizing price.

For some unexplained reason, I suddenly found myself pondering the biblical concept that “wherever two or more are gathered” there is strength and power. Aha! Perhaps believing is the important part — maybe the “details” of what we believe really don’t matter much at all. In the final analysis, could it be that the generic power of believing (in anything!) supplies all the energy the human consciousness needs to escape the physical body and fuel the soul’s journey to the “believed in” afterlife? Wherever two or more are gathered. Propelled by the loving support of others who genuinely care about us, no matter what their personal beliefs- could this extra fuel ease and speed our death transition process? These sudden insights landed like rock-solid truth in the middle of my being- I was onto something here… I could feel it!

My new understanding indicated that no particular spiritual belief system is superior to any other. It also suggested that we might very well continue to follow our own truth, whatever it is, even after we die.

I was ecstatic! Oh, we are all such magnificent beings, filled with such incredible eternal power… but how easily we forget!

Hungry for even deeper understanding now, I journeyed again and again. With each journey, I discussed another layer of my feelings and my intense desire to provide powerful transition support for my father. My spirit helpers were eager to actively participate in this process. They confirmed that there is, indeed, a sacred preparation for each soul, to help it on its way. I learned that proper care of the soul is essential for well being both here on the earth plane and in the afterlife. To my delight, the spirits were now willing to teach me this transition preparation!

During subsequent journeys, various spirit helpers presented themselves. They were eager to provide help not only for my own family members, but for humankind in general. I’ve found this to be true at other times in my work as well. That the benevolent spirits of non-ordinary reality are just itching for humankind to seek their advice and ask the correct questions. They can finally offer us the techniques, the ceremonies, the rituals that will help us, as a nation of human beings, to take better energetic care of ourselves. This is precisely why they had been instructing me to make a Transition Blanket for my father. Now I was finally ready to do it!

My spirit helpers told me to buy blanket material and to sew small objects on the blanket, objects that I would imbue with power in shamanic terms, “imbue” indicates the act of “blowing power into” an object). I bought some gorgeous woolen blanket material at the Pendleton Woolen Store and sewed a rich binding around the borders. I made it a manageable size so a sick person could easily carry it to cover himself or herself as they lay in bed, rested in a chair, or stretched out on a couch in front of the TV.

With each step of construction, I journeyed again, asking for additional detail about the objects I should use for my father’s blanket. I was given several options and decided to make four red prayer tie bundles in the Lakota way. My spirit helpers told me that each bundle was to hold different information- power objects, spiritual helpers, and Reiki symbols. Each time I was given new information, I brought this information back from non-ordinary reality into ordinary reality by holding my intention and then literally blowing this energy into the individual objects as I finished my journey.

Once imbued with power, the object now contained the specific prayers, spiritual helpers, Reiki symbols, etc. is tied onto the blanket. Even though the imbuing process seems to be directed toward the objects, the entire blanket soon becomes imbued with love and healing power. When the dying individual lies under the Transition Blanket, the Reiki symbols and spirits instantly become activated (as the recipient might soon report!)

With my father’s Transition Blanket, the first spirits to take form and action were the Spirits of Extraction and the Reiki Usui power symbol. They entered the first object I made. These particular spirits activate a clearing process, removed any foreign energy that might intrude into a person’s natural (authentic) energy system. Such intrusive energies are harmful to a person, causing hardship because of their low vibratory frequency. These harmful energies include fear, doubt, anxiety, worry, sadness, and other low frequency emotions. The extraction process allows a person’s energy system to quickly return to its pure radiant, magnificent nature- the highest vibration frequency, which is most natural for this particular soul. This instantly restores balance to the person on an energetic level. What a profound blessing for someone whose body is so gravely ill!

The second object attached to my father’s blanket contained the Spirits of Soul Retrieval and the Reiki Distance Symbol. These spirits bring back lost soul parts or any divine essence a person may have lost throughout their lifetime. Soul retrieval restores the person in the most sacred way, so that when the soul begins its next journey outside of the body it will do so in its most intact and complete form. The Reiki distance symbol facilitates the soul retrieval process. By interfacing with these benevolent spirits, lost soul parts or divine essence can far more easily find its way back home to the original host as they rest beneath the cozy warmth of their Transition Blanket. The qualities of calmness, serenity, peace, joy, trust, and knowingness will also return, for these are the natural feelings of wholeness every intact soul enjoys.

I then imbued the third object with the Master Healers and the Reiki Master Symbols, opening the channels to the Universal Life Force of unconditional love. Several of these particular symbols and spirits will also help with pain reduction and inspire feelings of well-being no matter how difficult the last “physical” days may become.

The final object held the spirit helpers of Transition and Psycho Pomp (a Greek word for taking souls to the light) and the Reiki Distance Symbol. The Distance symbol activates what I call the angels (spirits) of transition. These angels escort the soul after it lifts from the body. They midwife the soul to the other side, to heaven or the equivalent realm, according to that individual’s personal beliefs.

All of these sacred symbols can be activated into greater strength by saying or drawing the symbol each time the person lies under the blanket. But if the recipient is not a Reiki practitioner or even aware of Reiki or shamanism, love and power will still be activated simply by the presence of a body form lying under the blanket.

Many other small objects could be used on a blanket to hold spiritual power. One might sew on strips of cloth, feathers, beads, or ribbons, draw pictures of power allies on fabric, later attaching these to the blanket. Shamanic journeys and information from your allies will offer your best guidance about this. Let your intuition inspire you. The spirits are always eager to help their human relatives!

The Transition Blanket, now fully imbued with spirit helpers and Reiki symbols, will protect the individual both in this world and the next. As an individual lies under the blanket, all the spirit helpers will be activated and working with the individual energetically (except the transition helpers, which will activate only once, at the actual moment of death). The feelings and energies that an individual receives from the blanket should be exceptional. But remember- as with any spiritual healing being offered to another, always ask their permission first and never assume they would want help such as this.

I tried the blanket myself before I mailed it off to my father and I loved it! I could feel the power pouring from it. When Dad received his Transition Blanket, he was in stage four of esophageal cancer. He experienced immediate reduction in his pain level whenever he placed the blanket over himself. He told me it brought him peace and he could feel my love.

I spoke almost daily with Dad by phone. After he received the blanket he often mentioned the effects it had on him. He said, “I feel so much better. I have less pain. It makes me feel good. I feel your love. I feel more at peace. It calms me.” In fact my step-mom soon refused to leave Dad alone in the house unless he had his special blanket nearby, because she knew if things got bad while she was gone, he’d have it as a ready resource for instant help and pain management.

Since my Dad had no prior experience with energetic healing of any kind, his words couldn’t really reflect what was happening to him energetically. The balancing (I feel better), the extraction of fear (it brings me peace), the soul pieces returning to him (I feel love, it makes me feel better) were all clear signs that the healing spirits and Reiki energies were working powerfully with him. What I took for granted and knew to be happening on an energetic level, my father was expressing in his own beautifully simple way.

I earnestly believe the Transition Blanket prepared my father well for his transition. During his illness, he managed his fear and showed amazing life vitality. He barely seemed ill just a week before he died His voice, color, and personality were strong almost to the end. I believe this was all a gift from the blanket. When Dad’s time finally came, he crossed over quickly. I remain convinced that the final horror that swept over his face in those last moments was just the dread he felt about his imminent “life review” (or as he would say, “His Judgment Day”). Perhaps we’ll all tremble a bit when it’s our turn to have every “shortcoming” pointed out, one by one?

I was instructed to keep the Transition Blanket over someone for four hours after death. For a person to “die in a good way” the time after passing shouldn’t be rushed. Four is a sacred number to the Lakota and this amount of time gives the soul time to transition. The number four reflects the four elements of earth, fire, air and water, and the four seasons of winter, spring, summer and fall. The four elements of earth, fire, air and water contained in the physical body must also transition. This, too, takes time.

If prayer ties are used on a Transition Blanket these ties should be removed from the blanket so they can be burned or buried with the body once the death process is complete. The blanket can then become a family heirloom, perhaps to be used again when other family members are ready to transition. The Reiki symbols and spirit helpers will reunite you quickly with loved ones on the Other Side!

At the time of my father’s death, all that I had been taught by the helping spirits proved true. His Transition Blanket was pulled over his body and face, where it remained for the next four hours. We all breathed a sigh of relief when the blanket mercifully concealed Dad’s horrified expression.

After the designated amount of time, my father was uncovered. As the blanket was pulled back, we were shocked by what we saw. Dad’s face was now completely serene, relaxed and peaceful with a slight smile on his lips. My stepmother fell to the floor in weeping gratitude. I have witnessed many miracles in my life but this one tops the list.

Looking back just four hours, I wondered if the spirits had orchestrated this profound change of my father’s expression just to awaken my family. So much remains a mystery.

This sacred blanket served us all miraculously and still brings daily strength and comfort to my stepmother. With the blanket nearby, my step-mom feels strongly connected to my Dad and well-protected by the spirits. In fact, she sleeps with it every night!

The Transition Blanket did far more than anyone expected. Besides preparing my father for his transition and next incarnation, the healing energy of the blanket touched each of us in the most profound and personal way. It seems as though the spirits and Reiki energy knew exactly what each of us needed and provided individual healings for all of us as well. This magical blanket certainly proved itself to my stepmother and my sisters! The tangible evidence we received quickly erased any doubts about the power of a Transition Blanket.

My intuitive guess is that a Transition Blanket will likely yield different experiences for each person it serves. Compassionate spirits and Reiki energies know precisely what to do in every situation. Quite literally, we can trust them with our lives!

By sharing this story, my ultimate intention is fulfilled- to make the powerful concept of a “transition blanket” available to everyone who wants it. How you choose to apply this information is left to you, and the guidance of Universal Love.

The first Transition Blanket brought my father peace when he needed it most. It brings me peace now. May it do the same for you and everyone you cherish. I invite you to prepare for the inevitable, for surely it will come. As my own family learned, mindful preparation can quickly transmute fear into faith, worry into compassion, and anxiety into peace. This is apparently the sacred mission of the Transition Blanket. Is there any greater parting gift to wrap around someone we love?

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21st Century Shamanism

21st Century Shamanism By Jan Engels-Smith

Life is a journey of becoming. The goal of the journey is not in its destination; rather, it is the understanding and wisdom that emerges from the journey.

My hope is that as you read this article you fill with wonder and an interest in pursuing further learning and experiences in shamanism. Practicing and exploring the shamanic landscape offers everyone the opportunity to discover anew what we once knew, and to benefit from the wisdom that is still available to us. I have witnessed the transformation, vitalization, and growth of thousands of people, including myself, who have found healing, fulfillment, and joy in this journey.

What is Shamanism?

I get asked this question daily. Looking back in history, shamanism is an ancient tradition that dates back at least 40,000 years and was a part of most ancient indigenous cultures. It is a healing method based on the understanding that all experiences affect one’s soul; thus, all healing comes through the soul. Once the soul is healed, other healings can manifest in the physical, emotional, and mental bodies. I believe this perception of the mended and healthy soul that brings healing to all aspects of one’s being is truer than most people realize. We are a soul/spirit having a human experience. When we realize this and address the soul in healing, we will be healthier in our mind, body, and emotions.

What is a Shaman?

21st century shamanism


The Siberian definition of the word shaman is “someone who sees in the dark with his or her heart.” This is a loving expression of service. The shaman is dedicated to the cause of helping alleviate suffering in the world.

Some of you may have read about shamanic experiences in texts such as the Carlos Castaneda series of books. These books describe shamans in a particular way that differs from the view of 21st Century Shamanism. These books are more about the ancient mystical power of the shaman and less about the shaman as healer.

The history of shamanism has provided different accounts of the practice and diverse images of how the shaman exists in various cultures. All are powerful and speak to the needs of their contemporaneous civilization.

Following common protocol, you would never call yourself a shaman. It is a title given to you by your community after training, experience, and proven results are recognized and valued.

21st Century Shamanism

For many people, images of masks, grass skirts, painted faces, and witch doctor cures are conjured up when they consider the word shaman. Some of these images are historically accurate. However, there is now a 21st century version of a shaman, which I use as a model for my teachings. A significant consideration to this concept of contemporary shamanism is the current context of an emerging spiritualism which represents an essential answer to the seemingly hopeless and helpless situations that modern humans face in a world gone wrong. Shamanism offers a bridge from an imperfect world to a universe of perfection, where healing and a new beginning are possible.

The emerging modern 21st century shaman is required in a world in dire need of healing and in a culture that thirsts for a spiritual reconnection to our True Selves. Thus, I see shamanism as it relates to energy medicine as existing to help relieve suffering in the world, as well as a component of human enlightenment. One of the intentions that I personally carry is to consciously broadcast light and love into the world while experiencing joy. Light and joy are major healing elements, alleviating suffering in countless ways.

The Siberian characterization of a shaman as one who has a heart that yearns to be of service is full of implications for me. The 21st Century shaman believes in quality of life, happiness, and love; that everyone deserves the best possible life; to be healthy emotionally and physically; and that each person is a radiant being of light. Seeing into the dark means that shamanic journeys will often take us into unseen realms where there isn’t “light” to visually see with your eyes. Yet the heart guides us with such luminous radiance that it casts its own brilliance through the strong sense of love that emanates outward, bringing different realities into view.

The darkness and the heart play a significant and multilayered part in shamanic practice. When we are journeying, (a shamanic style of obtaining information from the unseen realms) if there is light in the room, we use eye covers to produce a condition of total darkness. Eliminating your “ordinary reality” senses and creating a totally dark environment allows you to descend deep inside of yourself, and you are able to access information from “non-ordinary reality” using all your senses.

Core Shamanism

Shamanism, as it is taught and practiced in 21st Century Shamanism, is not a doctrine or a tradition, but is grounded in the core concept of historical shamanism.

In the core practice of the 21st Century Shamanism we envision, we are asking you to develop your own personal relationships with your own personal spirit guides. You are not asked to follow a particular tradition or set of standards. You are setting your own standards as to what is important and meaningful to you, and your choices determine who appears in your journeys.

In modern shamanism, our reconnection to the past is for the purpose of personal empowerment. This new journey is about finding your own path, the one that works for you, while using some core concepts that are from indigenous cultures around the world. Modern shamanism owes a great debt to the past and sustains a strong connection to our ancestors, but is also deeply embedded in the present and accessible by all people who choose to follow the contemporary path. We do not abandon the current world and seek a return to the past, rather we draw on the wisdom of the past to help heal a present that has forgotten how to be at one with the universe, and has a need to restore a unified existence.

Historically, our culture has not endorsed the magic and the miracles of a personal connection to spirit. We have spent hundreds of years out of touch with our own divinity. Many humans have spent many lifetimes experiencing the hardships in life – betrayal, doubt, prejudice, abuse, unworthiness, inadequacy, hatred, and war. These lifetimes were not grounded in love, but in fear.

In the 21st Century, we understand the tools for healing are vast, all encompassing, and within reach of everyone. We are the creators of the future and our tools of creation are our thoughts and words. Each person plays a vital role in the creation of their life, their environment, and their world. Quantum physics has revealed that the simple act of observation has a tremendous impact on that which is being observed. As scientists attempted to observe matter at the sub-atomic level they discovered, to their initial surprise, that their observation itself altered and mutated the matter. Physicists have come to understand that existence itself is so highly interdependent that even the engagement of consciousness with external matter and force fields changes the nature of what they study.

The message from this for humankind is that we can truly create force fields of change by our very thoughts and intentions, we can alter the vibrations surrounding all of us, and the spiritual forces emanating from and to us are real and ever active. These understandings, combined with basic shamanic journey skills, have the capacity to empower individuals like never before.

Jan’s book, Through the Rabbit Hole: Explore and Experience the Shamanic Journey and Energy Medicine is a wonderful starter text to begin your journey into 21st Century Shamanism and energy medicine.

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Invocation and Intention in Shamanism and Energy Medicine

The Use of Invocation and Intention in Shamanism and Energy Medicine

Invocation and Intention in Shamanism and Energy Medicine



The reason for an invocation is to inform yourself and the spirit world, to a lesser extent, that you are beginning a process of connecting with them. Intentionally you are invoking particular compassionate helping spirits to assist you in making this connection. Be very clear about whom you are calling in to your experience always intending the spirits to be compassionate and healing. Set boundaries to prevent lower frequency vibrations from emerging and focus on beseeching your protecting spirits. I solicit deities from many different traditions and cultures such as Egyptian goddesses, Hindu protectors and the Archangels. I tend to be very eclectic in my spirit approach and do not adhere to a particular cultural form. For me energy medicine is universal and unlimited by rigid practices. I request the spirits to enter my space as well as my person and I only let in energies as great as self or greater; so, I am automatically protected from lower frequency or negative energies by stating that intention. Whenever I am involved in ceremony, or when I am performing healing ceremonies, I always call in protecting spirits. Be responsible for yourself in any ceremony or any time that you create contact with other realms, call in your own protecting spirits and your own allies. Always take care of yourself. Stating a clear intention will create safety. Trust the process.

At the end of the invocation I declare an intention for the purpose of the invocation. This practice is based on the fact that energy follows intention. I believe that intention forms an experience. If you could develop a habit of declaring an intention when you get in the car, when you go to the grocery store, or when you pick up the phone, you will be amazed at how this deliberate act will alter the situation in a positive way. Consciously create through intention instead of leaving outcome to randomness. Intention generates an energy and that energy creates an outcome. In a shamanic journey be very clear about what you are asking of the spirits. The clarity of your intention will influence your entire journey and how clear the response from the spirits will be. You can use clear intentions in every aspect of your life and actively create the results that you desire. Experiment with this information. Intend that you have a good experience when you are driving your car, intend to be on time, intend to enjoy the company of a stranger, or intend contentment in your work. You will be amazed how circumstances will alter to manifest your intention. These truths we learn in studying shamanism and energy medicine, however it may be something that you expand upon and apply to your everyday life.

Remember you are a creative energy being. Energy is always in motion and you are always broadcasting something from your person. The intentions that emanate from you and that are declared in these invocations will put frequencies of energy in motion and influence all that you come in contact with.

An example of an Invocation:


In this moment in time, let me lift my vibration above the density of the earth to the area of purity. Of pure light, pure truth, pure beauty, pure love, pure wholeness. . . .

I send a strong voice and I stand in gratitude, awe, appreciation and give thanks in advance for those divine beings that have come. I ask to lift my vibrations above the densities of the earth. Those densities being the things that weigh me down—doubt, fears, disbelief, problems, wounds, heartaches, body aches. The things that can pull me down out of the divine and make me feel like I am less than. I ask to lift myself above these things into places of purity—of pure light and of pure love, of pure truth and of pure beauty, of pure healing and pure wholeness, and of the pure feeling of this divine connection with spirit.  I call forth and invite the divine to be present. Opening the blessing fields allowing the universal life force energy to flow down into this room, into me, and into the space between the space, so that everything is connected. I invite Mother-Father-God, I invite the Great Mystery, I invite the power of Reiki, bringing in the sacred symbols and having them activated in the room. I invite the Angels, the Archangels, the Guardian Angels, the Light Beings, the healing Angels. And I give great thanks for the diligence you have had with the human race. And I ask you to come in strongly, to intervene in ways I do not even know I need help. You offer a divine message that I am open to. I invite the elements air, water, fire, earth, and sacred space. I have reverence, for it is you that have given all life, form and matter—without you here I would not exist. I invite the protecting spirits to stand guard at the four corners of the room and all around me only allowing in energies as great as self or greater.  I invite the teachers, animal allies and any of the other allies and light beings waiting to make this connection with me. I am excited to connect with you. I invite the spirits of the room, the land. I give thanks in advance for the great healings that will take place while I interact with you and the connections that will take place and the transformation and change that will be the result. I thank you for your beautiful response to this request. I invite all those compassionate healing spirits that are unnamed and unknown that are here to guide me, the teachers that want me to learn these ways. They have tapped me on the shoulder, the ancestors that have gone before me, and the descendants that will go after me. And I ask the ascendeddescendants of the New Earth to teach me how to be, because it is the choices and decisions I make today that will determine who is created in the future, and how it will be. So I ask the ascended descendants of the New Earth to come here. They are coming from a world of light, of love, of peace. And I call my True Self, an unwounded and unwoundable version of me. And with all of this, I set my intention. My intention is … (this is filled in with the intention of the journey, or the intention of the day, etc.) That I feel connected and loved. That community is established between the worlds and that there is sharing of the heart and opening of the heart, the language of the heart is spoken. And so we stand together believing and loving. I thank you Great Spirit, thank you Blessed Ones. Ahomitakuye oyasin.


This example is available for you to use. The example includes references to personal spirits that I work with—you can put in your own. I want to draw attention to the statement I include in every invocation. I have used these words since 1993, and I still bask in teachings from the spirits pertaining to them. I am referring to:

In this moment in time, let me lift my vibration above the density of the earth to the area of purity. Of pure light, pure truth, pure beauty, pure love, pure wholeness. . . .

The spirits have been explaining to me that in order to move into the place of the higher vibrations, we have to energetically move out of the thoughts that weigh us down, the densities —the words, the negativity, the hardship, the worries, all those vibrations that weigh on us all. With this invocation the vibrations elevate into higher levels eliminating the heavy, dense, lower frequency energies weighing on you. I was using the statement before I really understood its significance.

In my invocation, I am of course calling to my spiritual allies; I am voicing who I want present—my spiritual teachers, guides, enlightened ones, light beings, Reiki masters, symbols, archangels. Sometimes I name them, and sometimes I do not. You can invoke anybody that you like to work with—particular saints or Tibetan deities or other spiritual helpers. I frequently address the ancestors and the descendants. The descendants are the people who will live after us. They do not have to be your direct descendants, just the ones that come after us. We can call the descendants here, just like we can call the ancestors here. Just because they have not been born yet, does not mean they cannot energetically appear. In shamanism we do not view time as linear; all dimensions are happening simultaneously. I like to call the descendants that are living in peace and harmony, The New Earth. Because those are the conditions I want to consciously create. Always call in any protection you desire.

The word I end my invocation with, mitakuye oyasin, is a Lakota phrase that means, “All my relations.” It is loosely translated: We are related to everything. We are related to the trees, the earth, the dirt, the ants, the air and each other. The use of the phrase acknowledges that we are all related. We are all sisters and brothers. There is no difference in us in that way. We are all breathing the same air; we are all on the earth.  She is our home.

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Shamanism and Songs

Shamanism and Songs by Jan Engels-Smith

The Power of Shamanism and Songs


Songs carry a tremendous amount of power, and sound is a major healing vibration; it is in your body, and goes out into the world.There are songs for everything. There are songs that are healing songs or doctoring songs. There are songs for calling in the spirits, and there are songs for greeting the sun, the great shaman that comes up in the east every morning, and for the night sun, the moon. Songs use the power of the drum and the power of your own personal connection to spirit. Songs are alive. In many traditions, you are not allowed to sing or use the songs unless they are ceremoniously and officially given to you. I was gifted some songs from my adopted Grandfather, from a traditional Lakota family. He told me I could use the songs, the traditional songs from the family, in my classes and in ceremony. They are not to be taken outside this classroom. In advanced LightSong classes, we use some of those songs.

The point in here is not to necessarily follow a tradition, but rather that you carry your own songs inside you that are also very powerful. In a traditional setting, songs would be used for healing, calling in the spirits, or for ceremonies that call in specific spirits. There are songs for everything, for gathering berries, and for going hunting. These songs are handed down; everyone knows the same song, and you sing them together.

Songs in English—a shaman’s song and a directional song—are presented below:

Circle Around Song

I circle around

I circle around; the boundaries of the Earth.

I circle around

I circle around; the boundaries of the Earth

Wearing my long winged feathers as I fly

Wearing my long winged feathers as I fly.

I circle around

I circle around; the boundaries of the Earth.


English Directional Song 

I call to the power of the Thunder Beings,

I call to the power of the Earth,

I call to the power of the East and West

I call to the power of the North and South,

Behold the time has come

The time has come to unite as one

Behold the time has come,

To encircle the Earth with our love.

In addition to the songs above, LightSong students learn about the song that is within. Within each of us is a power song. A power song is to help bring power into your being. When you are doing shamanic work, you want to be big; you want to be filled with power. Some songs are ancient, but they all started somewhere. Someone “caught” it, inside themselves, and started using it, and now they are centuries old. This power lives within all of us.

Songs are often accompanied by the drum and the rattle. If you travel around the world, other instruments are used such as the didgeridoo, bells, bowls, etc. The drum is indigenous to those areas too. Whistling is a very common way to call in the spirits. Singing – most indigenous peoples have loads of power songs they sing in their native language to invite the spirits in.


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What is a Shamanic Journey?

What is a Shamanic Journey? by Jan Engels-Smith

What is a Shamanic Journey?


A Shamanic journey is a method of making contact with non-ordinary reality. Although there are actually many methods that people can use to make this contact with the non-physical, the reason that I like journeying so much is because it fosters, accepts, and encourages an active mind. The journey style takes this active mind and puts it to good use by teaching the mind how to rise out of the density of the Earth and all of its hardship into the places of the god self. A person can quickly learn how to journey and this is appealing to most people. The shamanic journey opens the door to non-ordinary reality, allowing you to enter, and offers a technique to explore this vast, creative, and healing space.

The shamanic journey is filled with mystery, and despite its ancient history, is little understood in Western culture. The journey is one of the most effective ways to make contact with the spirits. The altered state of consciousness achieved in a journey allows you to transcend the limitations of the rational world and connect with a non-ordinary reality. The shamanic journey is common to all cultures and the nature of the journey is remarkably similar, even in cultures widely separated by era and geography. In the spirit world, both time and place are illusions. The lessons from the other world are universally true, drawing from a collective unconsciousness that is accessible to all.

Journeying is the method we are going to learn to make contact with the spirit realm. When you journey, you are moving into an altered state of consciousness. Learning how to journey successfully takes time and practice. The first step in journeying is shifting, stilling, and altering the mind, which often involves rhythmic drumming. Journeying requires you to tune in to all of your senses. It is vital to activate as many of the senses as possible to stimulate your powers of observation beyond the visual. Many people depend too much on the visual in journeying, and fail to access all of the information offered in the journey. Often, the information will come through a sense of “knowingness,” a kind of sixth sense that is beyond seeing or any of the other single senses.

I have taught hundreds and hundreds of people how to journey, most with remarkable success. The journey method empowers and enriches their lives. They develop a modality through journeying that is useful to everyday life. They can reach and communicate with their spirit helpers in a constructive and accurate way.

Remember that your spirit helpers and power animals are magical and they can do anything, they do not follow physical law. Birds can swim under water, whales can fly, and tigers can talk. They are your protectors and guardians. They do not lie, that is only a human trait—you can trust them.

Each journey will be different; some will be more powerfully realized than others. There is much to learn about the spiritual realm. In each journey I gather information concerning my intention, but I also listen openly for what the spirits may want to tell me. I have found the shamanic journey to be one of my most profound ways of connecting with the spirits and one of the richest sources of understanding and awareness. It has literally healed me and keeps my mind curious and reaching.

I suggest that, in the beginning when you are learning to journey, you don’t ask big, life-altering questions until you take the time to develop your relationship with the spirits. Spend time learning who they are and how you are going to communicate with them. Learn about the spirits in an organized way. When we begin journeying, it’s like the story in the chapters of a book unfolding. You don’t see the big picture until you get further on, and can look back at what happened. The things you experience in your first journeys are often very profound, although you may not be quite ready to understand the information as it comes in. There may be layers to it, and as you get further along in your work, you can look back on those journeys and glean amazing information. It is important that you keep a journal that is just for your journeys, and keep them in order, let them lay out a story for you.

LightSong’s Level I: Basic Journey Skills class provides an excellent introduction to working with Spirit in a shamanic way.

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Experiencing Shamanism

Experiencing Shamanism by Jan Engels-Smith

Experiencing Shamanism


Another important tenet of core shamanism to understand is that you are sovereign to yourself. Through spiritual law, you have the right to have only you, in you and around you. The more you learn about that, and own it for yourself, the less likely you will struggle with beings, emotions, and things that are not yours and can intrude. For example, how many of you have ever walked into a building and felt “creeped out”? You can walk into different energies, and you can take them with you.

The more you learn about how to work with energy and how to communicate with your helpers, the more you learn to negotiate and navigate your life in a healthy way.

I believe the shamanic revival that is happening, and the alternative energy revival that is happening in the United States and in Europe has to do with going back to something that is natural. When something is not practiced, there is a sense of disconnect. This disconnect is caused because we are not connecting to the life around us that exists in the spirit form. I asked the spirits in a journey: How much that is around us, do we actually see? And I thought they would say something like 20%. They answered less than one, less than 1%! We are blind!!! You are seeing less than 1% of what is going on around you right now.

Shamanism is a life skill. All people and all children, should learn it.

It teaches you how to navigate the energies that exist in our world, and to be safe. I am not a fear-based person. I do not dwell in the negative, but to say it doesn’t exist is not realistic. It does exist. But you can learn to negotiate and navigate it, so that it is not affecting you in a negative way.

The Basic Shamanic Journey is a very exciting class for me to teach. New people are being introduced to shamanism, and it is an exciting phase in life. I remember when I first started studying and learning about it, and the changes that I felt happening within me. It changed some very different belief patterns I had, as I started to open up and think and be different. I welcome you and hope that this topic for you is extraordinary.

I really believe that the important part of shamanism is the experience of it – it’s the connections that you create, not the ones I tell you about; the ones you create for yourself.

There are a lot of beautiful experiences and ideas in this work. It is based in intention, in love, and in honoring the value in all things. All of this is part of the respect that is at the core of this lifestyle.

Watch the video to learn more about shamanism and LightSong School of Shamanic Studies:


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What is Core Shamanism?

What is Core Shamanism? by Jan Engels-Smith

Core Shamanism


When we study shamanism’s core values, we don’t get confused or side-tracked by specific traditions or dogmas that a particular belief system might hold. For example, I was adopted into a Lakota family many years ago, and in those particular indigenous ways of living, there is a set protocol on how you connect to spirits, and which spirits they are. You have certain songs that connect you to them, and certain ceremonies that connect you to them. They would not be accepting of a core shamanic way of doing things, because they have a specific protocol and way of doing it. As a matter of fact, the Lakota people would say, “You are wrong.” They are very, very strict in their ceremonies and methodologies, as are most native traditions. In core shamanism, we are asking you to develop your own personal relationships, with your own personal spirit guides. You are not asked to follow a particular dogma or set of standards.

You are setting your own standards as to whom and what is important to you, and who comes to you in your journeys.

If you were to follow one particular tradition, there are definite right and wrong ways and methods. There are specific ways to do things, ways to believe, and dogmas. You can follow a path that has been defined by history, and by a group of people doing certain things a certain way. What we are doing is not following a particular path, it is not about that. It is about you becoming empowered within yourself. It is you finding your own path, the one that works for you, and using some core concepts that are from indigenous cultures around the world. I am extremely eclectic. I work with the Egyptian mystery schools, as well as the Native Americans, Celtic, South Americans, and others. If you were interested in a more traditional way, you would pick one of those things and follow it precisely.

Another interesting concept introduced in the range of possibilities in 21st Century Shamanism comes from the fact that we live in a time of global awareness. For example, indigenous people didn’t have any way of knowing what type of animals existed outside of a very small range of territory. So, if you lived in North America, you had no clue what an elephant or a giraffe was. If you lived in Africa, you would have no idea what a mountain lion looked like. Now we have a diverse awareness of animals globally, so the type and variety of power animals coming into our journeys is much greater. It opens many more possibilities for people. So, I have found this way of being extremely empowering because if you get a particular animal that is not seen as some other tradition, you still claim it.

In shamanism, everything is seen as alive and intelligent. The clouds are alive, they have intelligence, they have wisdom, and you can communicate with them.

Everything is respected and honored in its life force, in its life existence. A stone or a rock is seen as a wisdom keeper. They have been around for millions of years, and they have recorded all of this information in them. Stones carry vast amounts of wisdom. They are the bones of the earth. You can tap into this wisdom by learning to communicate, to journey with the rock. They are incredible spirit allies that can provide all kinds of information. In a sweat lodge, they heat the rocks really hot, and then pour water on them, like a sauna. The idea is that you are releasing the energy in the rock so that it can speak to you and give you information. These things have spirits, they have families.

All things are seen as having a vast amount of intelligence and kinship. You are in relationship to everything. We are sharing life together. We are all on this planet, breathing the same air. The elements play a key role in core shamanism. For example, the spirit of the air is a vast spirit. It is the first spirit you meet when you are born, and is necessary for maintaining life. It is the last spirit that leaves your body when you die. It has an incredibly intimate relationship with you. Have any of you thanked the air lately, for this amazing act of love? It greets you, it sustains you.

In shamanism, all things are looked at as beings you can communicate with and honor. They can be in service to you; they can guide and inform you.

Believe me, the elements are amazing helpers.

The term, Mitakuye Oyasin, means we are related to each other, we are related to the clouds, the standing ones, the winged ones, the creepy-crawlers, the finned ones, all the different animals in the world. We are in relationship with them. We are in relationship with the elements. We carry the elements in our bodies; our bodies are made up of the elements. There is nothing we are not in relationship with. You are in relationship with the stars. You are communicating to them and they are communicating back to you. The question is: How do you open up these lines of communication?

With every action and every word, you are affecting everything else. Everything you do is affecting everything else.

There is an incredible web of life, in which all life is interacting, and you are a major player in it. The more you understand and accept that the things you do have an effect on everything else, the more you bring that healing component into everything that you are doing. Everything has intelligence. Things we may not think of as being alive, having a heartbeat and a pulse, are alive.

When we are working in journeys, things are alive, things are magical, and things in a journey do not follow our physical laws. Animals, like elephants, can swim under water and they can fly. There are no physical limitations to them like there are on the planet. It is the same with us, we can do all those things, we can fly, and we can breathe underwater. So, it’s fun to journey. The realms that we  journey can be found in the range of concepts we refer to as core shamanism.

My book, Through the Rabbit Hole: Explore and Experience the Shamanic Journey and Energy Medicine is a wonderful starter text to begin your journey into core shamanism and energy medicine.

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