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Jim Harold interviews experts on metaphysics in this PLUS ONLY podcast. For Jim's other PLUS shows, go to

Feb 25, 2022

We talk about how to use the concept of "Shamanic Creativity" to free our imaginations and minds. Our guest is Evelyn Rysdyk.

You can find her book on the subject at Amazon: Shamanic Creativity: Free the Imagination with Rituals, Energy Work, and Spirit Journeying

Thanks Evelyn!


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Please note we do not guarantee 100% transcript accuracy. The below reflects a best effort. Thank you for your understanding.

Jim Harold 0:00
Fleeting glimpses of things seen through a veil darkly. Do we understand the meaning of these visions of life? Why we are here and how little of our existence we truly understand. Tonight we will talk about these things on the other side. Welcome to the Other Side. I am Jim Harold. So glad to be with you once again. I think we're going to have a fun show today. And we're going to talk about a new book just out called Shamanic Creativity: free the imagination with rituals, energy work, and spirit journeying. And our guest is the author of the book, Evelyn C. Rysdyk. She is an internationally recognized shamanic practitioner, and author of several books including The Norse Shaman, Spirit Walking, and the Nepalese Shamanic Path. Along with her writing, she is an impassioned teacher and a featured presenter for sounds true, the shift network and other international and online programs. She finds creative inspiration and renewal on the coast of Maine. And you can find her website at Evelyn, welcome to the show today.

Evelyn Rysdyk 1:14
Oh, good to be with you, Jim.

Jim Harold 1:17
So I, when we talk about the word, Shaman when that comes up, I mean, it's such an evocative word that maybe people think about it in different ways. How do you define shaman and in how do you define shamanic practitioner?

Evelyn Rysdyk 1:38
So the shaman is the one who can expand their awareness, I don't like to think of it as altered consciousness so much as stepping into that larger sense of who we are. They've gained a facility in being able to do that, for the purposes of initially solving the problems of survival that were beyond the reach of our ordinary senses. So I'll give you a great example. If you're a hunter gatherer group, and you depended upon a migrating herd any particular time of the year, you have 30 people roughly on foot, old people, young people, and you have to intercept that herd. And I learned when my partner and I went to visit the caribou migration in Upper Canada. The people who sponsored the tour had had built residences there so that you could stay for the week, and they had everything all set up and the trip was canceled because the caribou decided to go a different way. So now, if you have a helicopter, and you have GPS and all those things as we do no problem, right? But it would be a terrible problem in the past when we were hunter gatherers. It's a, it's a natural ability, we all do it spontaneously, we have those experiences where we perceive something. Some people are seers. Some people are feelers, some people have an auditory experience. But the one that got facile at using that ability, became the summons just like the one who was particularly good at making cordage was in charge of making snares and nets. And the one that was really good at napping flint got the job of making arrows and tools. So it's a natural human ability that became a kind of technology through through practice, and it's common around the globe. Not every place, certainly, but it's pretty common because it has roots in our on our earlier past, the earlier versions of us, let's put it that way. And as far as being a practitioner, I don't call myself a shaman, because I think that's reserved for people who are indigenous. So I'm a Western practitioner, and I call myself a shamanic practitioner.

Jim Harold 3:58
And that makes sense. I'm glad. I'm glad you pointed that out. Now, some people may look at this and say, Oh, shamanic creativity. I'm not a shaman or shamanic practitioner. That seems like maybe that's beyond me. Is this something that everybody can incorporate into their lives?

Evelyn Rysdyk 4:16
Absolutely. I believe that every human being no matter what the make and model, age, height, race, whatever. You were imbued with onboard technology of creativity. It was passed to us from our incredibly resourceful ancestors. And part of our problem in Western culture is we tend to think of creativity in a very narrow band. Usually, things like paintings and plays and operas and pieces of music and what have you, poetry, because there's a whole business involved with the assigning monetary value, shall we say, to the byproducts of creative energy. And those objects, because they have to, you know, they have great market value have been swapped for what creativity actually is. So we tend to look at the painting and go, Oh, that's, that's from a really creative person. Well, it's, that's not true. It's somebody who has the same onboard creative energy, and then worked really hard to gain technique to be able to produce something. But that's not the creativity, the creativity is the way our minds work, to solve problems to innovate, to find solutions that are not readily available, yet, we have those leaps of idea, you know, we have that flash of insight, we have that spontaneous, you know, I think I could build a better mousetrap, you know, all those wonderful entrepreneurial creators that are out there. Now, you know, you can fund their projects with Kickstarter, they, they have that idea in their head that there is a better way to do this. And then they go about the search, and playing with ideas until they come up with a solution to the problem. And that's really part of all of us. So if you combine what is an onboard technology of your creativity, with your capacity, every human being has the capacity to expand their awareness. What you wind up with, is not only an enhancement of your everyday creativity, it's excuse me, it changes how your brain is wired. So I complained a little bit about that. Go ahead.

Jim Harold 6:50
Go ahead. (overlapping speech) No, no, I said, go ahead. Explain a little bit about that, please.

Evelyn Rysdyk 6:56
We're on the phone, we can't see one another. So we, we have this expression in the culture about being either right brained or left brained. And the bucket that we call right brain is our spacious, nonlinear mind. It's the part of us that is online, in our dreams. It's the part of us that's online, in that liminal state just before sleep or just after waking up, but you're not fully awake yet. It's a state that you can access through shamanic journeying, certainly. But there are other ways that people have spontaneous experiences of that more expansive sense of who you are. Certainly all those who all of us that experimented with different substances several decades ago in the 60s, and now that's all coming back in medicine, believe it or not, that expansiveness where you feel connected to everything, you have a sense of yourself existing, not only filling your body, but extending beyond the limits of your body. That brain state is parallel, I think, to when you're in the creative, when you're in a creative activity, when your mind is working in that way. That aspect of us, what we have termed the right brain is essential. Because it's a much better innovator than our linear brain, the way we were taught in school, we memorize states and capitals, and learn how to do arithmetic and all those things that are linear tasks. And we kind of made that part of our brain a little, maybe a little too muscular, a little too much on that side of our brain. It's a great implementer. But it's a terrible, innovator.

Jim Harold 8:49
Interesting, interesting.

Evelyn Rysdyk 8:51
If we step into that other part of who we are, we then have the best of both worlds. We have the one that's coming up with ideas, and then we still have that healthy part of our left hemisphere, that linear brain that can then follow the steps to accomplish it.

Jim Harold 9:11
Now, here's something I'm curious about. And I've always wondered about this. I've had my personal theory, but I'd like to get your far more erudite thoughts on it. It seems to me that, for lack of a better phrase, there's kind of a creative field that we can all tap into. For example, I'll give you a perfect example of what I mean by this. If you look at maybe particular inventions that came around before the era of instant communication on the internet, you'll find that many times scientists across the world that had no knowledge of each other were working on exactly the same ideas at the same time. Television I think is one that comes to mind. Other things are when you have a songwriter who maybe has like their their let's say it's a, pop songwriter. And they have the biggest hit of their career. Like it's a song everybody knows. And they'll say something like, that was the easiest song I ever wrote, it took me 15 minutes on the back of a paper bag. And it's what they're going to, you know, it's going to be in their obituaries, like the lead thing that they did in their life. And it seems to me when you hear these things, and then people will literally say, I don't know where the idea came from. Where do those ideas come from?

Evelyn Rysdyk 10:31
I think you're really on the right track here, for sure. There is this, because we're all wired as a species, we interact with each other all the time in the non local field. There's all kinds of research being done now about our emotional states, and how my emotional state can affect other people at a distance. The Institute of Heart Math has a whole body of information on that. So I believe there is a larger kind of consciousness for our species. And within that, we share information. They, it may not be conscious always. But it's there nonetheless. With certain inventions, say television is a great example. I think a lot of people saw the need for visuals. How can we come up with a way to not just hear one another on the radio, but how can we present imagery, we're missing imagery and as a primarily visual species, it makes sense. The same thing with songs where it's sort of in, in the ethers, as we say, of our consciousness, and it's, and it's like whoever radio happens to be on first, how it comes from them. So there's this beautiful interaction, we have our individual selves, which we love to cling to, here in the United States, our rugged individuality. But then we have this other aspect of us to steal the name of your show the other side of us, that is wired, in a extraordinary way to each other. And we can go beyond that and understand that there's also a consciousness of the the earth as a whole, all the organisms together having some sense of a unified consciousness that we can tap into. Because on some level, we we are like living on a terrarium, you know, everything is an enclosed system. And within that closed system, all the different species interact with one another to make life possible. You know, the ones that are giving off oxygen, the plants and the trees, the ones that take in oxygen, all of this and beautiful harmony, as long as we don't screw it up any further. So that sense of connection is something that we are starting to relearn. I think our deep ancestors understood that, they practiced what we now call animism, where they had the understanding that everything around them even landscape features were alive, that they had a sentience that we would call a spirit. And that you could interact with those spirits, the forces of nature as well, the lightning, the thunder, the rain, all of that was alive. In so in our time now, in the 2022 year here, we have this growing awakening of our interconnection, the fact that we are not just connected as a species, but connected to all other species on the earth. That sense of interconnection is, I think, essential as with creativity, those two things are essential in helping us to come together as as close to being a unified species as is possible. To solve the big problems that we have to solve. We have enormous problems to solve, because now we're jeopardizing our closed system. So we need all of the creativity, all of that all of those fired up minds, you know, we think about the way they've been able to chain together, electronically chained together computers to make supercomputers. Sure, why do you have a bunch of computers around the planet that are all working in unison? Imagine if there were 8 billion of us because we're getting close to 8 billion that understood that we were connected and could be that creative force that we need to sort of think of us as this. You know, 8 Billion Strong supercomputer that is not only serve the brainpower, but also has compassion that also looks at at the world with gratitude. I mean, I think we're moving in that direction, because there's really no other place for us to go. That's going to work.

Jim Harold 15:16
Well, it's interesting. We're all in. We're all now in the same boat, even though we don't realize it. We're poking holes in it. And, and we don't realize it. We're all we're all in this thing together, whether we like it or not. In the book, you have a chapter it's called shamanic journeying to the lower and upper worlds. Could you talk to us about that, what the lower and upper worlds are and how we go about journeying to them?

Evelyn Rysdyk 15:47
Well, the idea of a low world, middle world and upper world are ways that we can translate that which is formless, into something that we understand. Our minds have been wired for the three dimensional world, we, we understand that. And we move through that world. Now when you step into what is essentially a non physical, I'll use the word landscape, I'm making air quotes. But of course, you can't see those on the phones. When you move into a place that does not have that three dimensional feeling, we, our minds can work in synergy with the invisible world to create some kind of template to help us move our consciousness to that expanded state. So in journeys, whether they're done with a repetitive stimulus of some kind, drumming, rattling, chanting, repetitive dancing, or through using an entheogen, when we step into that state, we are making that transition in some ways from imagine walking from the left hemisphere across the corpus callosum, that bundle of fibers that unites the two hemispheres of our brain and going over to the right side. That is, what you're engaged in doing. But you have to have some kind of metaphoric translation device, so that the mind which has this structure of three dimensional world, to be able to follow along. So in a typical journey, you would start in place that is familiar, you would use whatever tool you're using to expand your consciousness, whether it be drumming, rattling, chanting, whatever it might be. And you would follow the idea that you are moving through a landscape to somewhere else. And somewhere else, is typically described as having levels, you know, think you know, you can get certain things on certain levels. I think of that, I think of that, in some ways as also experiences of our, of our moving to a more and more expanded experience of the world. So you're kind of moving through imagine that there spheres, like the Ukrainian nesting dolls, where there's a little doll in the middle, and then it's number one around that that's a little bigger, another one around that that's a little bigger, and you're making that transition from where we are in that in that small doll, out through the layers and out to what is perceived as different realms to receive insight, guidance, healing, support for whatever it is that's coming up in your life. I hope that explains it a little bit better

Jim Harold 18:47
That certainly does explain it, that certainly does explain it. And, you know, this is, is this something that people can build to, you know, maybe jumping in with both feet sounds kind of intimidating is something people can start with baby steps, and what would those baby steps be?

Evelyn Rysdyk 19:07
I like to say to him that we sliced the Bologna in our culture ever sooner, and we tend to differentiate all these things very, very, very, you know, we we say, well, it's imagination. Well, it's dreams. Well, you know, these are all separate things. Our ancestors didn't think that way. So we are stepping into that state all the time. We step into that expanded state when you drove home and had no awareness of how you got home, which we have all done.

Jim Harold 19:37
Right? Like, it's scary actually.

Evelyn Rysdyk 19:41
Yeah, it is scary. But we were in in that expanded state not paying attention here to the earth plane. Now, I don't recommend that is a habit, but it happens spontaneously. When we have those kind of flash daydreams where you have an insight you've been working on a problem, working on a problem, and you sort of set it aside, you're doing something else, and you have this moment of reverie, you are stepping into that other kind of experience itself. So it's, it's not so foreign. It's about learning to do it intentionally. And we get good at things when we practice.

Jim Harold 20:20
Yeah, that's, that's true. That's true. And you do things that you don't even realize, you know, whether it's, you know, and I've got a long way to go. But I've been podcasting for 17 years. So things I used to think about consciously, just kind of happen. And you don't even you don't even realize you're doing it. Now, there's an old saying out there, and I've heard multiple scientists say it's a myth that we only use 10% of our brain. But do you think that we only let's put it a different way? We only tap into a small piece of our potential?

Evelyn Rysdyk 20:56
Oh, I absolutely believe that. Absolutely. And I think that's why we, we tend to culturally deify people who express themselves in extraordinary ways. So talk about somebody who's very good at their creativity, you know, they have honed their skills, that they produce beautiful work, or they're particularly brilliant scientists, like where did that come from? We all have those capabilities. That because we're mostly in our linear brain, you know, we go to work, we come home, if you if you're leaving the house, you you know, you have a list of things that you have to do most of the stuff that you do every week, you're in that kind of rat race, for lack of a better word, where you're, you're following the steps that are already preset for you in life. And I think that's part of the source of so much depression and anxiety, because that is really soul deadening. You know, if you're doing that every single week of your life looks the same. You are not living like our deep ancestors did. Now, granted, there's probably a lot more hair raising than ours are. But we limit ourselves for the illusion of safety. We limit ourselves to think if I have a plan, and I follow these steps, everything's going to work out and then we're horrified and you know, really rocked back in our chair if an unexpected event comes.

Jim Harold 22:37
You know, that's so true. I just want to interject that is so true. Because I'll give you a perfect example. I worked for years in the media. And, you know, I always thought, well, if I go out on my own and do my own thing, you know, that's so risky. That's so risky. But I can't tell you how many people that I worked with, who, you know, some bean counter in New York, you know, the local management may have loved them, but some bean counter in New York said, ah, they make too much money. There you go. And they supposedly have this secure situation. The truth is, you know, I'm talking about professionally. There's a lot of, it's not like the old days in America, where you work for a company and you got the gold watch and whatever. Now you can be tossed out like yesterday's garbage at any, any point. And I think that's a lot of the reason we're seeing what we're seeing now with people saying, hey, you know what, I'm a free agent. I'm gonna do what's right for me, because corporate America is not gonna look out for me. But there's always was this illusion. And remember, when I started podcasting full time, 10 years ago, and people kind of looked at me and said, Oh, that's risky. Oooh. What are you doing? That's risky. You've got a wife and two kids and a mortgage. And I'm like, Yeah, that's risky. And so I was going to work every day, I could get hit by a car, I could get in a car accident, I could get fired. You know, and if this doesn't work, I'll just go out and I'll find a job somewhere. You know, I think sometimes we live in cages of our own building. Not I'm not saying all the time. I mean, sometimes things are tough. And in you have reasons you can't step out on faith, I guess. But I think sometimes we build our own cages.

Evelyn Rysdyk 24:26
Oh, I absolutely agree. And that quest for safety means you're surrendering away a part of yourself. And I think that's what people don't yet understand. I mean, you kind of get it in the swapping paycheck for time model, right? But there's more than that, because you're not able to really be all of who you are. You have to stay particularly in corporate America, you have to stay in the box. And I have to say years ago, I was in corporate America, I worked in advertising years ago. And there was no, you know, you had to sell things that you didn't really believe in, you had to be a corporate person, which is, which is a thing of corporate first. And, you know, some part of us gets traded away for that, for the idea that, Oh, I'm going to get a raise this year, and this and that. And when I, when I quit, I quit with no net, probably the same way you did. over 30 years ago, now. Instead, I can't do this anymore. I have to do something else. And I moved away. I'm originally from downstate New York. And on on Long Island, close to the Queen's border. And I knew that this was killing me. It was literally killing me because I could feel myself diminishing, having no time for life, because I spent most of my time engaged in the workplace work that was not fulfilling. And so like, I bailed with no net. And here, now I'm sitting in the front room of a house that we bought, Gosh, 29 years ago, 30 years ago, I guess. And the sun is shining. And I've been able to make a decent life for myself that feels good, that I feel enriched, that I enjoy getting up in the morning. And I never know, what is going to come next is going to be a project like talking to you on the phone, or is it going to be a new book project? Or am I going to be working with a group or whatever it might be? It's always fresh. I'm never doing the same thing that I did the day before. And that is, yes, it's sometimes hair raising? Of course it is. But I'd rather have the bit of hair raising and go to sleep at night going, Oh, this was such a good day.

Jim Harold 27:14
Yes, I couldn't. I couldn't agree more. A lot of what you just said resonated with me. And my story is, although it's only 10 years for me, but I know exactly where you're you're coming from. Now. I'm one thing and I know that I had to fight it through life. And still I think guys still sometimes have to fight it. But I've gotten a lot better, is negative self talk. So for example, my dad, who was thankfully still with us, he's in his 80s, but he's doing well. But he was always the eternal pessimist. You know, he, and he still is. And he was a steel worker working class family. I was the first one of their immediate family. To go to college. I think I think a couple generations back I had an uncle who was a teacher who went to college, but of my group, I was the first one. And it was always well, you can rise so far. But you you know, you don't know people. So you can't do this. And you can't do that. And you can't do this. Oh, you better not do that. That's risky. He'll still call me. He'll still tell me. You know, your mom didn't think it was a very good idea when you when you went out on your own and started working for yourself and doing these podcasts. And I feel like saying mom wherever you are, you were wrong. (laughs) But but the point being, how, even though scripts today sometimes will pop up like oh, well, you know, you don't know the right people. Maybe you won't be you know, how do you how do you fight that?

Evelyn Rysdyk 28:47
Well, you know, what I learned from the tribal shaman that I studied with is shamans spend the lion's share of their time doing ceremony of gratitude. So they make offerings to the spirits. They put offerings out on the land, they do ceremonies that that are about honoring the, the landscape and the animals and the the seasons or everything about life gets honored. And the Nepalese Jhākri, which is their word, one of their words for shaman that is a friend of mine, I mean, he has different actions that he can take each day based on all the different spirits that he works with. So that action is so critical to shamanic practitioners, to tribal shamans, because it puts not only the world in balance, but it puts us in balance. So when we are feeling gratitude, or appreciation, or love or compassion, they all have the same effect on our physical body. It is the stress reliever. So your respiration comes down, your heart rate comes down, the hormone of well being DHEA goes up, cortisol and adrenaline go down. And uniquely, in every one of our cells, our DNA molecule actually relaxes into its perfect conformation. What has come out recently in the last 1010 to 20 years, is that the actual shape of the folded molecule, you know that a misfolded protein, for instance, can cause disease. When the, when the DNA is a wound tighter onto itself impairs its ability to do its job. And DNA is responsible for cellular repair, it's responsible for basically keeping everything in giving the master instructions for keeping us motoring along you know, to to have your cells behaving correctly to have your entire system working correctly, is still has a place in the DNA through the epigenetic field, all the things that impact our genetic code. And it's no wonder we have so much stress related disease, because we are not doing like our ancestors did, who honored everybody, including the ancestors like your, like your mom, you were just talking about. They honor them, because they understood that they were part of life. They were part of us being here now, as are all the aspects of nature, they're responsible for helping us to be alive. So that use of gratitude. And I think it's easier for us, at least in this culture to remember something that we're grateful for until we have those feelings again. Because we confuse love with lust and codependence and and we're not quite sure about compassion is that empathy is that sympathy, you know, we kind of get that all confused. But we all have the feeling when you're really grateful for something.

Jim Harold 32:19
And I would say (overlapping speech) Go ahead. No, I was just thinking, everyone listening to the sound of our voices, I think has a great deal to be thankful for just the ability to not saying that my shows are great or anything, but to listen to something like this a presentation like this means that you have a certain amount of wealth, and you may not look at it that way. But compared to many people who may not have access to technology and things and that's that in of itself is something to be grateful for, not saying that people that don't have that access are lesser or anything like that. I'm not suggesting that. But I'm suggesting that even by the act of being able to listen to this show, whether you have the brand new iPhone, or you have the the bargain basement, you know, the 10 year old phone, that you're listening to this or computer regardless, you have access to something that, you know, people throughout history never had access to, to look up the world's information and that alone and being able to have access to something like that is something to be grateful for.

Evelyn Rysdyk 33:31
Absolutely. And the fact that you woke up this morning, I'm of a certain age...

Jim Harold 33:35
Absolutely, that's right. But you know, that's the that's the thing people think, though, but I know plenty of people who have passed very, very young, we assume that just because we're X age that we're gonna wake up tomorrow, I was just reading an article about people who have sudden death at night. And then and then it gets, you know, as you said, it gets scarier the older you get. And yeah, exactly. It's a what is it? It's better to be seen than to be viewed.

Evelyn Rysdyk 34:07
Yes, exactly. It's like a friend that used to say, Ah, it's a good day, I woke up on the right side of Assad.

Jim Harold 34:14
Exactly. I love it. And as we close out, and I'm going to give you an opportunity to tell people where to find the book and your website, and so forth. But before we do that last piece of wisdom that you'd like to share with everybody listening, you'd like to have them, have them be aware of it and think about a little bit.

Evelyn Rysdyk 34:34
I want to give you an anecdote to think about: when you feel your most limited. When you feel as though you're sort of hanging by the rope that you've tied a knot in and you're at the end of it, to remember that you have extraordinary capacities that if you choose to open them up, will transform your life in amazing ways. Part of your onboard technology. It's a little like getting a car and not deciding to turn on the air conditioner. Use all of who you are. Explore the breadth and depth of yourself as a human being, because you, are you. Because you are unique, you're extraordinary. And you have something to provide our wonderful collective. It may seem small to you, but all those little small things like all the little small plants that provide food and oxygen for us, are not to be taken lightly. Step into your fullness because it's fun in here.

Jim Harold 35:40
There you go. There you go. Well, Evelyn, where can people find the book and also more information about everything you do?

Evelyn Rysdyk 35:48
The book is available everywhere you can find books, you if you're an online person, you can use Amazon or Barnes and Noble, but your local bookstore probably has it as well. And if not, they can order it for you. And I like to promote independent bookstores. If you have one. Go and buy the book from them. It might cost you a buck or two more than Amazon, but you're keeping a family together by doing that. And as far as websites, go to my bigger website, which is That's where you'll find things about my classes and articles and probably a recording of this podcast, if I put it up.

Jim Harold 36:30
There you go. Well, the book is shamanic creativity, free the imagination with rituals, energy work and spirit journeying and we just scratched the surface of do check it out. Our guest has been Evelyn Rysdyk. Evelyn, thank you for joining us today. It's been a lot of fun.

Evelyn Rysdyk 36:50
Oh, thanks a lot, Jim. It's been a blast.

Jim Harold 36:53
Thank you for tuning in to the other side and we will talk to you next time. Have a great week everybody. Bye bye.