I*magic*nation: A Basic Tool of Psychological Shamanism

August 27, 2019
Jan Ögren, LMFT

All human beings have a natural ability that they use daily to transform their world. It’s called imagination. I like to pronounce it I*magic*nation, because it reminds me of its magical powers. Often the rational, scientific part or our mind discounts our mental creations as “just” imagination. But none of the advances of science would have been possible without the ability to conceive of the opportunity first. I enjoy seeing pictures of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge while it was being built and it had only the two towers and no connection in the middle. It reminds me that it didn’t always exist. If Joseph Strauss hadn’t imagined the bridge, and others were not able to also visualize it and to add to the creation, this marvel of human ingenuity would never have been built.

Every time I fly in an airplane, I’m amazed. As an intellectually focused culture, we tend to have a disdain for people who get excited at normal things like flying, flush toilets, or cameras. When I express wonderment at these inventions I am often met with the response, “it’s a scientific invention. The mechanism can be fully explained, it’s perfectly logical and there’s no magic involved.” But for me there is. It’s the magic of I*magic*nation. At one time people thought it was crazy to think that humans could fly; now over 3.5 billion passengers soar through the skies each year.

Studying perceptual psychology, I learned that the old saying, “seeing is believing” is actually backwards. We have to believe to be able to see possibilities. There are numerous studies that show that people will see what they expect to see, not always what is actually there. What they imagine can be more powerful than the actual situation.

This does not mean that we have control over material reality, and by simply imagining something it will subsequently happen. Nor does it mean that if we think about something bad and then it happens we are to blame. The unfolding of I*magic*nation is a complex, interactive process. Yet getting started is simple. Try it for yourself. Before doing a task, like going to work, shopping, or making a phone call, imagine it’s going to be the worst experience you’ve ever had. People won’t treat you well and it’s going to be a disaster. Notice how you feel afterwards. Then switch your thoughts and imagine an encounter that will be the best experience ever. People will be responsive, and things will work out, maybe in a new and special way. After doing both, explore the differences in these two experiences — not only how you felt, but how you perceived the outcome of each situation.

I noticed the influence of I*magic*nation with my father, who worked at having a positive attitude right up to and past his 100th birthday. One evening we went out to dinner with a friend who lived in the same senior living apartments where he lived. Some other people joined us and they asked my father and his friend, “How do you like where you live?” The friend replied, “It’s terrible. The director avoids me. They never fix anything. Every time I go to dinner there are at least five mistakes I can find in the food and the service.” My father responded, “It’s wonderful. The director is nice, they fix things as soon as they can, and I always find something to enjoy at every meal.”

Not only was their perception different but it manifested in the community. My father always tried to compliment the new director, and appreciate her efforts, even when she made mistakes. Therefore, she enjoyed my father and would search him out to talk with him. The staff would fix things in my father’s apartment sooner because he always wanted to make sure they left smiling rather than with the long list of complaints that his friend would give them.

While we know that our thoughts affect the world around us, we tend to miss the opportunities for using that knowledge for our own, and our community’s benefit. We dismiss I*magic*nation as something for kids or for leisure time, rather than a crucial part of our everyday lives. Our culture values the material, the fast and the rational. Visualization and creativity are often subtle, slower and emotional.

When I teach my workshops on Laughing with Spirits: Creating Healthy Relationships with Spirits and Natural Energies people often ask, “how can I tell the difference between my own imagination and hearing something from the spiritual world?” I have a list of ways to explore the difference. But I always start by responding with the question: “if the message you receive is helpful, positive and affirms you in a way that is healing, what difference does it make where it comes from?”

Unfortunately, it does make a difference to most people. If it’s an external source it has more validity and worth. But, as a psychotherapist, I’ve found it is actually more important if the affirming messages come from within, then the positive statement is more fully grounded within the person.

Try using your I*magic*nation to see yourself as a wonderful, special person. Take a breath and bring forth positive words about yourself, or remember a time someone appreciated you. Now notice how you feel in your body, how your breathing is, and what emotions you are aware of. I’m not going to suggest imagining yourself as a terrible person because we tend to be too critical of ourselves. And if you’re not critical of yourself, I definitely don’t want to encourage you to start doing it.

Using I*magic*nation is part of the foundation of Psychological Shamanism, which is the branch of shamanism within Western Culture. Different cultures use various tools when practicing shamanism: drumming, fasting, plants, and/or animals. The primary tool of Psychological Shamanism is the mind, because we in Western Culture focus on the mind as our primary method of exploring the world.

We need to remember, as we honor the intellect and rational, that underneath all of our scientific discoveries is our I*magic*nation. Our world needs us now to bring forth our most creative selves to transform global consciousness for the health of all species on earth. With a new, interconnected human consciousness we can create the magical discoveries in science and human potential to change our world. Can you I*magic it? I can.

Join Jan in exploring I*magic*nation and more in her upcoming offerings:

Noetic Global Gathering

A free, online webinar!

Laughing with Spirits – An Introduction to Psychological Shamanism
September 12, 2019
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm (Pacific)

In-person Workshops

Held at our beautiful EarthRise campus in Northern California

Celebrating Oneness: Psychological Shamanism Core Practices
September 28, 2019
10:00 am – 5:00 pm (Pacific)

Laughing With Spirits: Creating Healthy Relationships with Spirits and Natural Energies
November 1, 2019
10:00 am – 5:00 pm (Pacific)

Jan ÖgrenJan Ögren, MA, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist, international author and “resident shaman” at EarthRise. She has apprenticed with Native American teachers for over thirty years, learning to walk in both the “normal” world and in the mystical realms. She’s an approved continuing education provider for psychotherapy professionals in the field of Psychological Shamanism. For videos, books, and workshops visit

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