I have always loved working with children. Since the 1980s I have been teaching children of all ages how to perform shamanic journeys as this is such a powerful way to help children and young adults feel empowered by challenging life situations. Over the years I have also worked with children who needed healing work to retrieve their lost soul essence, to remove a spiritual blockage causing an illness, or to help children deal with nightmares.
I felt it was important to write a book that included not just how power animals can assist children of all ages, but also life practices that are the same taught to children in shamanic cultures. For how to navigate challenges of life, to live a life of harmony with nature, and where children are acknowledged for their gifts and strengths are all taught as early as possible to children living in indigenous cultures. Our children are our future and deserve a way to work with the personal and planetary challenges they are facing.
So I set my intention to write a beautiful book that would incorporate the practice of shamanic journeying and how to live in harmony with nature.
When I submitted The Hidden Worlds to my agent she said, “This is the worst book I have read of yours.” My agent was born to be a mother, and she knew this book would not capture the imagination of readers. It was too heavy on spiritual lessons with not enough of a story to draw the readers in.
It was clear that as I did not have children of my own, I did not understand how to write an engaging story.
I was leading a reunion of shamanic teachers I trained. And Katherine Wood and I had lunch together. Katherine had a long career as a school teacher, and through our long history together I knew her work with children was simply brilliant!
She agreed to work with me and take the story I had created to become an engaging teaching adventure for young adults. Then the magic began.
Initially Isaiah, the main character of the story, appeared to me in a dream. In the dream I could see that he was frail and quite sick. I could easily see how writing a story of how Grizzly Bear could befriend and bring guidance and healing to a child who was ill would be a great start to the story.
Then I wanted to bring in other characters who had certain issues. I created Rose, George, and Magda who were all so different. Isaiah who was frail, George who had special needs, Rose who was Chinese was so angry about being adopted and fought so much at school, and Madga was so popular and a great soccer player. I paired them with Grizzly Bear, Octopus, Giraffe, and Panther to help them with their issues at home and with other students at school.
With Katherine’s help, we devised a story to bring more adventure into the book. For in the first draft I only had the characters meet each other and their power animals in their dreams—not enough intrigue for children to get hooked into the story. And I did not create much character development. Katherine with her knowledge of how children can act out in life and behave towards each other in school brought in the details of their stories and their personal challenges. She brought texture to the characters to make them alive so that readers could really relate to them and their struggles.
We came up with the idea of the children meeting each other in a dream. And then during the day they met while wandering on their own during a break. They all found themselves at a pond that was filled with dead birds. This unlikely group of friends decided to become detectives to find out the source of the pollution. They did not tell their parents or any school officials what they were up to. By putting their heads together and also asking for help from their most trusted power animals they found that a toxic waste plant was disposing of poison illegally.
I have found that when crafting a story there is a point where the character’s lives deepen to the point that they take control of the plot. It was great for me to experience this as the four worked together to shut this plant down. The story took interesting twists as they developed respect for each other’s gifts, performed rescues, explored romance, confronted bullies, and resolved their conflicts with each other. I hope they will remind our readers of the limitless possibilities that are available in their own lives.
About the Author:
Sandra Ingerman, MA, is an award winning author of twelve books, including The Hidden Worlds and The Book of Ceremony: Shamanic Wisdom for Invoking the Sacred in Everyday Life. She is a world-renowned teacher of shamanism and has been teaching for more than 30 years. Sandra is recognized for bridging ancient cross-cultural healing methods into our modern culture, addressing the needs of our times. For more information, please visit and follow the author on and .