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!


The Secret of Prayer is the Secret of the Kiss

Dear Drummers,
Drumming tnis Saturday at Saint Paul Council of Churches Building, 1671 Summit Avenue (two blocks west of Snelling).
We'll drum up some stress-relieving, body-delighting groovi-lusciousness. Then we will enter the sacred space of the evening riding on a little phrase given to me many years ago by the spirit world: "There is only one prayer: 'Open me.' Pray that prayer until you weep." Well, I don't expect you to weep on Friday, but we will work together on what it means to be opened by prayer.  About 45 drummers  entered this lovely work together last Friday in Minneapolis, and it was really wonderful (thank you all for coming--and feel free to come back if you want to move through it gain!)
We will focus our prayer on the Celtic wheel, praying the directions. If you are unfamiliar with the Celtic medicine wheel, I'll teach you the meanings of the mythic directions in the Celtic tradition, and we will carefully pray each direction. We will work our way around the directions, and spiral into the center where we step into our "sovereignty" - the place of our own power, our authenticity.
This is not only going to be a beautifully deep evening together, but if you don't pray often (for all the reasons so few of us do) I believe the night will offer you a profoundly powerful tool that can immeasurably advance your spiritual practice.
Some musings about prayer
I used to get twitchy when it came to prayer. In the mainstream religious world, prayer is often so fake, forced or foolish. It's wrongly thought of as a plea for God's intervention (smite my enemies, find me a parking place). Listening to that morose drone of the Lord's Prayer in church makes me break out in hives. Mainstream religion throughout history degenerates again and again into emotionless and faithless gestures repeated shallowly by emotionless and faithless people who are, nevertheless, dressed very well for church.
But the real secret of prayer is in the intimacy, and like all intimate acts, like true conversation, like love-making, we can become afraid of being open (and of being opened). It becomes all too easy to go through the motions rather than peel away our fear and protection.
There is but one prayer: open me. There is but one love-making: open me.
Curiously, right before Jesus taught the disciples the Lord's Prayer, he said this: "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." (Matthew 6:7). He was saying don't mindlessly repeat words that don't open you, don't ask for the kiss from the Holy if you don't intend to fully open your mouth and use the grace-filled tongue you were given. And then he delivered the prayer that would all too soon become a mindlessly repeated dry kiss.
There is another secret in prayer, and it's what feminist theologian Sally McFague described in her book Models of God. The secret is who you think you are praying to, or with. A huge parent in the sky? A lover? A peer? A family member? Trying on different models of the Holy allows you to open your prayer life immensely.  

Below are some words to get us started this saturday:
It is lovely, oh lovely
We turn our eyes to the East:
The graceful air, the awakening light,
the unfolding of the blooms.
Arise in me, and pour forth from me
Thou grace of the East.
It is lovely, oh lovely
We turn our eyes to the South:
The fiery sun, the dancing melody,
the ripening of the fruit.
Arise in me, and pour forth from me
Thou music of the South.
It is lovely, oh lovely
We turn our eyes to the West:
The darkening sea, the beckoning horizon,
the heartbreaking goodbye.
Arise in me, and pour forth from me
Thou mystery of the West.
It is lovely, oh lovely
We turn our eyes to the North:
The frozen earth, the defense against the dark,
the silence between the dreams.
Arise in me, and pour forth from me
Thou silence of the North.
It is lovely, oh lovely
We turn our eyes to the tree:
The branches reaching up,
The roots reaching down,
The marriage of earth and sky.
Arise in me, and pour forth from me
Thou wholeness of the tree.


See you soon.



If you missed the two drums last weekend you missed some vibrant groveliciousness, and I hope you’ll be able to make it another time. The ceremonial/shamanic theme of the evenings was “wholeheartedness” and I’ve written some notes below including the meditation we did, in case you find it useful.

Listen to Tara Brach’s podcast entitled Wholeheartedness for a beautiful approach to this topic from a Buddhist perspective.  To the question “What allows us to be awake?” she repeats the answer of a famous Buddhist teacher: “Intention and attention.”  We pay attention to where we are half-hearted, where we approach a part of our life with hesitation and lack of vigor. We bring intention to that place.

A phrase springs from her podcast: “the antidote to depression is devotion.” That’s a powerful few words! They are true – it is devotion to your spiritual life that realigns and transforms your half-hearted energies, making you more able to negotiate the sorrows, frustrations and joys of this life. And of course that phrase is terribly frightening because it completely matters what you are devoted to.  

However, people in apocalyptic cults and greedy nuts on wall street are chock full of devotion. My generalized view is that if your devotion lacks active compassion for the suffering fellow creatures of the earth, if it inspires you somehow to believe you are separate and better than other creatures of the earth, it’s not devotion in the true sense of that word, it’s a focal point for your ego, and a place of denial of sprit. Well, that’s for you to decide of course.

In Tara Brach’s meditation she guides her students to meditate on this question:  

Where are you half hearted? Bring your attention to the place(s) you feel half hearted. Then bring intention. Ask what would make you wholehearted in this place.  Another way of approaching it is asking yourself what matters to you? What do you want to be devoted to? Bring intention to go deeper into that devotion. Intention carries the power of yearning—the power of desire and love. Locate the place where you are half-hearted, and aim the power of desire there, asking to bring this life power to that life-less place in you.

We are half-hearted for all kinds of reasons. Maybe we are trying to disprove our unworthiness. Maybe we are competing with something that may not matter that much? Or we are living someone else's vision. Or we are covered over by fear and want. Bring attention, and bring the power intention to that place in you. Sometimes we fear that if we devote ourself it will fail, it will wreck something else (and often that is true!). Wholeheartedness is a kind of death. Death is complete commitment, and so is wholeheartedness.

I like Brach’s work but I’m not Buddhist, and for a reason. It works mildly for me to meditate on the questions as she advises. But Buddhism is an atheistic path, especially western Buddhism which is a wonderful mixture of mindfulness techniques, Buddhist ethics and metaphysics, and self-help psychology. I like it, but it doesn’t take me as far as I want to go. It helps me, but it doesn’t heal me.

I like - maybe I need - a sense of a loving, embracing Spirit working with me, and working me toward a place that it sees for me. It needs me to cooperate and shed my fears, but it is with me in this struggle. So, it’s not all me working my way toward bloodless enlightenment, but it is me, with help, working toward becoming as beautiful a creature as I can be in this world. And that is why the shamanic path is so beautiful and helpful to me.

So at this last weekend’s drums, I offered drummers the opportunity to enter into Tara Brach’s meditation on the question “Where am I half hearted, or where am I whole hearted?” But I also offered them an additional, shamanic-ceremonial structure whereby they could ask the Spirit(s) to come and help them see and wrestle with the question, and learn from the spirits.

So if you want to, you can try it: daydream/visualize yourself into somewhere in nature that makes you feel safe and permeated by beauty. This is a form of what some call “the shamanic journey.”  Then you can call out a prayer to the spirits to come and offer you a vision that will show you something about your half heartedness, or about your wholeheartedness. This “showing” can be a vision, a daydream, an image, an idea, a feeling. For me, this is a different angle on that same question posed by Tara Brach, and this different angle is helpful and beautiful for me.  

Alternatively, you can ask the spirits to come and “work” your half-heart. That “working” may mean something completely different from one person to the next. Being “worked” by the spirits is different from meditating on the question, and for me, it’s very helpful.

So I offer this idea to you in case you want to use it. If it helps you can drum or rattle for yourself while doing this journey, or listen to recorded shamanic drumming while you ask the Spirits for this kind of healing help for your quest to become “wholehearted.”

Below is the lovely poem I worked with at Saturday night’s drum:


The Pathway Finally Opened

By Mahsati Ganjavi (12th Century) /English version by David and Sabrineh Fideler


When my heart came to rule

in the world of love,

it was freed

from both belief

and from disbelief.


On this journey,

I found the problem

to be myself.


When I went beyond myself,

the pathway finally opened.



Blessings of the Reindeer Spirit be yours

Dear Seekers,

One week until Winter Solstice Blessing!

I just completed two months of “Reindeer Spirit Training” with 12 women who will help carry the Blessing of the Reindeer to you during the Solstice event. They have worked hard to be open and trusting of the sprit and of me as a teacher, and I’m awed at what transpired in our trainings. They have been worked magnificently by the Reindeer Spirit, all in order to carry the Blessing to you. They are working on your behalf, months before the event.

What is the Reindeer Spirit, and who the hell do I think I am working with it?

I’m not an Arctic reindeer herder. I’m an urban white boy, a guy who spends his days on a laptop, who salivates at the idea of coffee with foam on it, who buys his food wrapped in cardboard. But somehow I’m a guy who was adopted by the reindeer 20 years ago during a strange little ceremony with a Sami Shaman. As they say: WTF?

For me the Reindeer has revealed itself slowly over time as the “Mother of the life force.” The image She gives me each year as it becomes my time to work with Her again is this: in the coldest, darkest most barren time, she carries the new life in her – she is pregnant all through the dark, frozen winter. She keeps her antlers all winter as the visible sign that she protects, defends and carries the life force forward.

This the blessing and the demand she places on us: How will you carry the life force forward through dark times? How will you defend it against the hunger of wolves? She places this question on us, and she comes to deliver the Blessing of strength, of endurance, of fight and of forgiveness (this is what ties her Mother of Christ in my mind). These blessings are given to us so that we can carry the life force, and protect it, and ensure that it is born into the world in some way. It doesn’t matter how we birth the life force—that’s a question between you and Spirit, and question the reindeer can answer. By the way, just to be clear, she never told me to do a three-night run of a drumming event with hundreds of people attending in ecstatic Wahoo as my way of carrying the life force. All she has ever asked of me is to dance Her once a year. To give her a body to dance in for a few minutes as a way of bringing her pleasure and honoring her. I could do that in my back yard, but somehow to my amazement, this whole Wahoo-infused event has swirled up from that simple reindeer dance which, I admit, humbles and terrifies me every year.

Well, that’s why I am called to do this ceremony each year. And I’m hoping that you will come, and open yourself to the degree that you are comfortable, to this image of the Sacred, to this healing and awakening and forgiving Presence. Of course you don’t have to come to my “show” to do this work with the Reindeer Spirit, and that’s why I’m writing this email – to help you do the work even without coming. But it’s helpful to do this work surrounded by your tribe, with lots of fun, and stories and laughing and shared experience.

And chocolate. There will be chocolate there. Just to be clear, the Reindeer Spirit did not command that I make chocolate available to you – this is purely human desire on my part. But I sense with my shamanic senses that she’s totally okay with the chocolate.

Blessing of the gleaming antlers be yours,

Blessings of crunching snow.

Blessings of the silver stars be yours,

Blessings of the Reindeer Spirit.

Blessings of the Reindeer Spirit.




Protection for the Holidays

Dear Drummers,

Welcome one and all to the joyous jumble of groovelicious rhythmocity known as Drumming The Soul Awake, this Friday in Minneapolis and Saturday in St. Paul. (See the sidebar at right for.)  This will be the last two drums before the winter solstice extravaganza at the Minnesota Opera Center, December 16, 17, & 18.

Welcome one and all! Welcome tender tappers and welcome happy-whappers. Welcome to all of you who have made the drum a spiritual tool and those of you who sense that drumming might be a fun thing to try. Welcome to you who always want to get to our drumming evenings and never quite seem to. No drumming or mystical experience needed. Bring your own drums or borrow one of mine from the great “Mound ‘O Glee” that is part of all of our drums.

We’ve had extraordinary experiences together recently. There is a power and beauty arising from this community that I’ve never felt or seen before. Thank you all for helping confirm to me and each other that reality is made of layers, some seen, many unseen.

This week’s drumming will focus on an important issue for all of us: protection. We all need protection in this world, for all sorts of personal reasons. Plus, we are heading into a dangerous time: the holidays. Since I won’t see you until the solstice, I want to offer you some protections to help you to keep your head on straight, live with more joy, and feel less holiday depression as we enter the holly jolly jingle dingle best time of the year.

December in modern America is ruled by certain energy. Islam has a word for these energies: the Al-Nafs Al Amara. There are various translations for this, like "the lower soul" but the one I like best is "The Wanting Creature" - that creature in us that wants more, more MORE. Somewhere along the line, December transformed from a month-long celebration of the "One Who Brings Forgiveness" to a 50-day invocation and feeding of the "Wanting Creature."

The Nafs, are not only about wanting with all your heart the IPad, the recliner with cupholders, the diamond encrusted bauble, and the radio controlled Rhumba. The Nafs convince us to never stop wanting more and more of everything for ourselves - including more praise, more sex, more fun, more spiritual experiences, more status, more market share, more zeros in the bank account, and on and on. When we become wrapped in the power of the wanting creature, we forget about everything else but us, we break our connection to everything – each other, nature, Mystery, love, wisdom.

Our culture calls this energy drive and healthy ambition. Certainly, as every wise person from the ancients to today affirm, there is a balance between wanting for yourself, wanting for others, and wanting not at all. For the next month, we will be battered with the power of "the holly jolly happiest time of the year" which is our name for the NAFs, which fill us with wild eyed wanting, and which also arise in us as holiday depression. So with some humor and some help from Spirit, we will try to strengthen our soul so that we may enter the holiday season with a calm joy.

See you soon, Jaime


A Spiritual Halloween

Dear Drummers,

This Saturday I want to offer you an opportunity to sink richly into a "spiritual Halloween." The intention is to offer you a way to honor, listen to or heal your ancestors. Drumming will begin at 7, but please feel free to come earlier to hang out and help with some set up. I'll be in the space by 6:15 PM. As always, come with or without a drum, with or without any experience in drumming, with or without the need to dance wildly, but definitely with a desire to open whatever has been closed off in you for too long, to be with similarly exotically cool people and to sail out onto amber-lit, undulating waves of the irrational human soul-scape.

It's going to be a big, messy ceremony - beautiful, and very communal. I'm hoping several people will step forward to help facilitate the ceremony. You don't need special skills or training. I'll let you know what's needed. Just email me. One thing you'll have to do is make prayers each day this week: prayers of protection for the people who come on Saturday, prayers of love to the Unseen, prayers of blessing to this world. And you'll do some other stuff. I'll teach you, don't worry.

Working with the ancestors can be very powerful for all kinds of reasons which I'll talk about a little on Saturday.

Everyone who comes will make an offering to their ancestors. You can either bring the offering with you or you can make it when you arrive (I'll have stuff for you to use). What kind of offering? Flowers with your breath-prayers on them, objects upon which you've placed prayers, memories, or intentions as an act of love or gratitude to your ancestors. So, for example, go on an autumn walk and allow some natural object to call to you - a leaf, a twig, an acorn, a stone. Ask it if it will carry a prayer to the ancestors for you. If it agrees, take it, and place that prayer for thanks, or healing, or just plain love on it with words, with song, with breath. Then bring it on Saturday. Instead of a natural object it can be something you make, or something you own - a photo, a letter, an object that reminds you of the ancestors. You'll put them on the altar, which becomes the threshold between our world and the world of the dead. Most of the time you don't get your object back from our ceremonies, but in this case, you may retrieve it if you wish. That allows you to bring something that you value deeply, have it participate in the ceremony, and be able to take it back into your life with you.

Please consider bringing a little food to share. Nuts, fruit, breads, crackers, veggies, sweets - it's all good. If you forget, or can't get to it, don't worry. Just show up.

We'll be in the social hall at First Universalist Church, which has a huge labyrinth etched on the floor. It provides a beautiful image for the evening, because with Halloween, or the Celtic Samhain (pronounced SOW-wen), we enter the mythic direction of the west, which in the Celtic tradition is associated with big ideas of destiny and mystery, and contemplating the purpose and patterns of our life.

We'll begin with drumming and dancing on the labyrinth. If you want to wear anything that speaks somehow of your ancestors or of the Unseen, please do. This includes any masks that you think of as distinctly spiritual, or any item of clothing that reminds you of your ancestors. After some drumming, we'll move into the ceremony for the ancestors. Part of that will be an opportunity for you to bring healing to your ancestors if you feel that's needed. We'll end with clearing the space and, if you want to, you can walk the labyrinth as a meditation, or you can hang out and commune with your tribes-people and have snacks. So what I'm saying is the last part of the evening is more like a relaxed party.

Feel free to email questions to me. See you soon!