Interviews and Book


"Your book is stunning, Jaime. Thoughful, insightful, practical and poetic at the same time, honest, brave, and, unlike any other book on shamanism, laugh out loud funny! Thank you!"  -Jeanne

Click the book to read an excerpt!


A meditation on the unceasing rain

Nearly 200 years ago, the poet John Keats offered a lovely little phrase: “Call the world if you please ‘The vale of soul-making.’ Then you will find out the use of the world.” He meant to go against the common idea of the world as a “vale (valley, landscape) of tears.”  Keats is saying that the world is not just a place of meaningless suffering (because of original sin), but suffering is a training ground for the soul. Our experiences shape and refine our deep humanness. We become human not only by merely passing through this valley, but by paying attention with our soul to what we are experiencing.  

The “Valley of Tears” idea is said to originate in  Psalm 84:6:  “Who passing through the valley of tears make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.” The common interpretation is that God turns believers’ tears into a pool of life-giving water if they keep their faith during suffering times. The thinnest view of this is that, after death, all will be well.

The shamanic view, which, in my book is always the thickest, juiciest, and most relevant view, is this: We are worked by the Sprit(s) - as a potter works clay, as a painter works the layers of color one over another, as a poet works the image and rhythm line after line - we are worked into a shape that allows us to apply our powers and gifts to this world.

In the Celtic tradition, it is said that we have a cooking pot in our heart center. Sorrow and joy are the food tossed in, our attitude toward them is the spice, and the fire that cooks them is the spirit. We cook these ingredients into food to be served in this world.  So many people think the shamanic path is about the other world – it’s about journeying to the spirits and having dramatic out of body experiences.  So many religious people think that faith is all about building a mansion in the afterlife after you leave this wreckage of this life in the body. To me the spiritual life, the life of faith, is about the here and now. Right now is what matters. What matters is the food we are cooking and serving, right now.

So on Friday, we will bless the seeds with song and prayer so that they may grow into good food. We bless Beltane, the beginning of summer. We bless the skin and the body and the sunlight and the rain falling on them right now. 


A Sami shaman once stabbed me in the heart with a reindeer antler

A Sami shaman once stabbed me in the heart with a reindeer antler. That’s how the reindeer came to live in me as a spiritual ally. That was twenty years ago, and since then the reindeer has been an otherworldly teacher and healer for me and a protector when I do shamanic healing for clients and groups.

Do I know this sounds crazy? Of course. Have I stopped caring? Mostly.

This is why the 10th Winter Solstice Blessing is a personal experience for me. It is my way of honoring all of our unseen spiritual helpers.

There’s more.

He taught me the story of how the Great Goddess, the Antlered One, carried the blessing sun. the source of life, back from the underworld at the winter solstice, so that all creatures could jump up and live again. And how she sacrificed her own heart to implant at the center of creation and it is her heartbeat that gives life to all creatures.

These images of the reindeer are so beautiful to me, and though I’m not a reindeer herder, I seem to know this Goddess. In our culture, the Christmas reindeer are male, and the lead  reindeer is a funny little guy with a nose that lights up – a twisted image of the Great Goddess Reindeer carrying the life-giving sun back from the underworld, between her antlers.

I do the Winter Solstice Ceremony because she asked me to help her come back into the world in her proper shape, in her honorable form, the form that gives life to all life at this darkest time. This is the blessing she brings us, and the blessing we try to deliver at the 10th Annual Winter Solstice Blessing.  

A few years ago she gave me this song. (You could put the woird “she” at the beginning of each phrase to make it a little more rational):


Moves the dark wind through the sky bones.

Flows the a silence from the unknown.

Flickers fire in the cold hearth.

Drums the thunder under earth.


Breathes the light into the star room.

Weaves the ice on winter’s tree loom.

Calls the song back from the deep dark.

Aims the antler to the heart.





Naming and Renaming

I’m thinking about the power of naming and renaming. I’m thinking about it because it’s the focus of a string of ceremonies I’m offering next week for the summer solstice.

Our name is our visible sign of how we belong to this world, and what kind of qualities we carry. Every name, like every word in any language, has a history that reveals shades of mythic meaning. My name, Jaime, emerges from the Hebrew Jacob, one of the primordial patriarchs in that tradition, known for being a trickster. Your name carries power for you. I urge you to research it.

Naming is how we make things real. We see a tree and it’s just a tree. When we find out it’s a cedar tree, it becomes more real. It is distinct from the Arbor Vitae, which looks, feels and smells a lot like it, but is not from the Cedar family, but from the Cyprus family (that’s according to our system of naming). In the book of Genesis, Adam names the animals and that is how, fulfilling the theme of that story, he gains dominance over them. He chooses their name for them but they don’t choose his name for him.

In modern America, we don’t pay attention to many deep spiritual connections, and naming is one of them. We are given our names by our parents. Sometimes they name us for spiritual reasons, but most often our name is given to us without the thought of the mythic power the name carries. We named our 8 year old Ethan because we liked it, and the softness of it seemed to suit him. We found out later it was in the top three trendy names in America that year. I had no idea. I looked it up to find it meant “steadfast.” I liked that, because my theologian’s mind liked that it is one of the primary descriptions of God in the Hebrew Scriptures – God’s love is steadfast, unwavering, committed. As Ethan grew, we realized the other side of steadfast is “annoyingly, mind-batteringly, heels-digging-in stubborn.” Our names carry power, whether we realize it or not.

In many spiritual traditions, names are changed when we undergo a spiritual transformation. That transformation frequently involves some kind of initiatory experience. Sometimes those experiences are chosen to bring on a spiritual transformation. Nuns choose to be transformed into brides of Christ, and they change their human name to a spiritual name – a name of a saint. In indigenous traditions, names are changed, or new names added in after certain kinds of a ceremonial initiation. We graduate from academic study, and we add a title to our name, which is a way of taking on an additional name.

In shamanic traditions, names are changed or augmented as part of healing rituals. Sometimes names are changed when people have been sick for a long time. I worked in the Hmong community for a long time. A friend told me about her 8 month old daughter begin renamed by the shaman because she was sick and cried all the time.  The shaman said that her spirit didn’t like the name her parents gave her, it didn’t suit her energy or her ancestors. He asked the spirits what name she wanted. They changed her name and the baby became quite happy.

In healing, the name change is a visible sign in this world that we have made an inner transformation. Changing or adding a new name also is a way to summon a kind of energy that we need – a new kind of connection that we seek, that we need to help us along on our transformation. Carrying the name is our way of saying we will carry that energy, work with it, learn from it, and honor it.

In the naming and renaming ceremonies this upcoming solstice week, the basic idea is to draw on the fiery power present in nature right now at the summer solstice to see and from a name that can embody spiritual power for the person receiving it. It may be a name that has been present for them for a long time and they haven’t seen it. It may be a name that surprises them. It may be a name that heals an old shame or anger. It will be a name that connects them to the power of the life force and to the power of love.

 These ceremonies take place in the House of Spirit Medicine in my back yard. The house is built of bent red willow (which carries great spiritual qualities of love, forgiveness and adaptability) after the style of Mongolian yurt or a Native American sweat lodge. We’ll drum, sing, pray and vision in a variety of ways asking for a new name to emerge to help us change our inner story of who we are and what we are doing in this life. If you’d like to join, there are still a few spots left. Email me:


Winter into Spring

Have you noticed the back and forth tug between winter and spring?

Patricia Waters

The warm days followed by bone chilling winds, followed by calm clear skies followed by biting rain. The ice turns to water which turns to ice again and then to water. 

This is how it goes when we change identity. This is how it is in nature, and what happens in nature happens in us.

The Celts have a story about this: One story says that Brigit, the Goddess of springtime, awakens at this time, rises up from the earth and wrestles the land from the cranky old woman, the Cailleach, the Old Bone Mother, the goddess of winter. Same say it is the wrestling between mother and daughter. In that wrestling we see this wildly changing weather.

Another story says that the Old Woman of Winter grows tired, and makes her way to a small boat. She sails across nine waves to an island. She painfully makes her way to the center of the island where she finds a well. Exhausted, grieving, barely able to stand, her quivering hand fills a cup with clear blue water from the well. She drinks, sinks to the ground, and falls asleep. When she awakens the next morning, she is Brigit, the maiden goddess of spring time.

Both versions speak to the weather, but they speak too of how we change our identity. Maybe it's a fight between the old and the new. It's full of confusion, anger, resistance and victories as layer after new layer unfolds in us and old layers crumble and fall away. Or maybe it's a lonely, grief-filled journey as we make our way to the well of wisdom, to sip the regenerating waters of Spirit, the waters of new life.

The drum this Saturday initiates a series of experiences I'm called to offer in April and May that focus on changing who we are. Call it Transformation. Call it Initiation. Call it opening to new life, blossoming, coming into your authentic self. Call it the inner song of the Hyacinth and tulip. Call it raising your Akashic, Aquarian, Celestial, Atlantean vibration. We are, each and every one of us, transforming our identity in small and large ways, as individuals, as a culture, as a species. This process involves, as the old Celtic wisdom proverb says:  

The eye that sees what is

The heart that feels what is

And the boldness that dares to follow them. 

Another way to say this: To leap into our next shape we need Vision, Healing, and Courage.



Time to Grieve

Dear Drummers on the Heart of Life,

I've been told that it's time for a grieving ceremony. So, at 7PM this Friday at Spring House Center (28th and Garfield, Minneapolis) we will open a safe, protected sacred space for you to grieve. It's set in motion already, I've been making prayers for you. 

We need to grieve because we are human, and because we store grief in us, and if we don't run it through us, it eats us, and it eats the people in our lives. We grieve because we don't heal without it.

Our lives are full of grief, small to large, and in our culture it is largely unattended to. We turn to blame instead of grief. We turn to intellect, to TV, to sugar, to sarcasm, to shopping - rather than to the grieving.  But we need to run the grief through us, and into the other world, so that we may live well in this life.

We grieve because we are human beings, and to be human is to be battered by awareness of horror, and by awareness of death and injustice and unfairness, and to be reminded of our powerlessness (and our power). We are human, and to be human is sometimes to be wrapped in confusion and shame over what has happened to us or what we have witnessed, or what we have done.

Without grieving, there is no forgiveness of self or others. Without grieving, there is no "moving on." Without grieving there is no re-centering - there is lumbering clumsily under the weight of that which should be shed. Without grieving there is no cosmos, there is only the small, enclosed world of trying to not to grieve.

So, for you who will enter into it, at this Friday's drum we will move into safe, protected sacred space so that you may become open and grieve, so that you may enter into your humanness, and so that you may restore your fullness, so that you may re-center yourself.

If all of this makes you nervous, it's a signal for you to come on Friday and grieve. If you want to you can bring an offering or anything that symbolizes your grief. You won't get it back. Please make sure it is biodegradable.  Offerings can be food, candy, alcohol, milk, herbs or flowers, incense, dirt, a drawing, a poem, a prayer, words of anger or shame or forgiveness  - whatever carries symbolic power for your grieving. If for some reason your offering is meat, it's okay, we will send it to the crows. You don't have to bring an offering - your grieving is an offering of beauty. Your grieving makes you beautiful.

If you don't need to grieve but you want to be present to help create the safe container, please come - you are needed! If you want to do some supportive ceremonial tasks in advance, contact me. I'll be grateful, as will all those who come to grieve, as will the spirits who will be watching over us with love.

Seer you soon.