Sandra Ingerman and Marie Manuchehri: What are Spirit Guides?

Tami Simon: You’re listening to a special edition of Insights at the Edge. This edition features a dialogue between Sandra Ingerman and Marie Manuchehri.

Sandra teaches workshops internationally on shamanic journeying, healing, and reversing environmental pollution using spiritual methods. With Sounds True, Sandra has published the books Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner’s Guide and Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation. She’s also published many audio programs with Sounds True, including a new series on Shamanic Visioning.

Marie Manuchehri is a nationally known energy intuitive and Reiki master, who first discovered her gifts for energetic healing while working as a registered oncology nurse. With Sounds True, she has published a book on Intuitive Self-Healing and an audio program on How to Communicate with Your Spirit Guides.

In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Sandra and Marie talked about their own initial experiences meeting spirit guides. They also talked about how they each work with spirit guides in healing. Finally, they offered advice and recommendations—even for skeptics—[for people] who might want to connect with their own spirit guides. Here’s my conversation with Sandra Ingerman and Marie Manuchehri.

To begin with, and I think this will help orient our listeners to each of your perspectives, really, on this question of what are spirit guides: I’m wondering if you could each tell us how you first experienced a meeting with a spirit guide in your life. Whoever wants to go first.

Sandra Ingerman: Marie, go ahead.

Marie Manuchehri: Actually, it was during a meditation. I really didn’t even know what a spirit guide was. Somehow, I had missed that type of information in my childhood readings of spirituality, for some odd reason. But, I was in a meditation and it was a very vivid and very—I’m such a visual person that the meditation was alive, outside, near a creek, and a gorgeous Northwest forest. I was walking along this creek and a man appeared on the other side of this small creek. He was actually kind of handsome. He looks like Sean Connery a little bit. [Laughs] He just started talking with me and it was clear that he seemed to know a lot about me, even things that I felt were quite secret, even to myself—that I had an awareness of, but hadn’t really dove deeply into.

The meditation lasted for about 45 minutes, with a lot of conversation. He explained to me that he was—he didn’t really use the word “spirit,” but more [of] a guide and introduced himself. That’s how it began for me.

TS: Now, Marie, just to ask a question about that before we turn it over to Sandra here. Why did you think that wasn’t just some kind of imaginative experience or some kind of visionary experience? How did you know you were actually meeting a “guide?”

MM: Well, it’s true. From his conversation—especially the depths about how many things he knew about me—he even showed me aspects of my past lives. It was a really detailed—and it was like a movie. You’re absolutely right.

When I got off the phone, I called a person who I had become friends with in a meditation group. I had tried for years to meditate and I was very unsuccessful at it. I was finally taking classes. I called this woman to ask her what she thought of it, because I thought it was very odd and peculiar, but also very comforting and enjoyable. And she goes, “Oh, that’s a spirit guide.” And I go, “What?!” The fact that she had mentioned the term “spirit guide” and he had said, “guide,” to me that was a confirmation—the beginnings of me understanding the relationship between our human life and world and guides who are available to us.

TS: OK, let’s turn it over to you, Sandra.

SI: It’s kind of a difficult question in a lot of ways of when I first started meeting spirit guides, because I was talking to spirits even when I was a little kid growing up in Brooklyn and had a real relationship with the spirit that lived in the trees and the moon and the birds and different animals. From a shamanic point of view, nature is a helping spirit, so we can have direct revelation with nature. I started pretty young.

Oftentimes people think that I started getting into shamanic work and working with spiritual guides because I was hit by lightning when I was seven and had my first near-death experience then. But, I was talking to spirits way before I got hit by lightning. It was just another part of my path that took me out a little bit further. Through my life, I had a variety of different spirits coming in. I’ve always been a real dreamer and have met lots of different spirits in my night dreams. As a child, I got an incredible amount of guidance in my dreams from different guides coming through.

Then in 1980, I had the profound experience of being formally introduced to shamanic journeying when one wants to. In my life, it wasn’t that I always asked for guidance. It just kind of came. I didn’t have a real disciplined past. My spirituality and working with guides felt a little bit chaotic to me. I didn’t have a real discipline to follow. I never knew when I was going to get guidance or when I was going to meet different spirit helpers coming through.

In 1980, I got introduced to the formal practice of shamanic journeying where I started to learn at will how to make contact with different spiritual helpers, different guides, different guardian spirits, and continued my practice of direct revelation with nature—but learned how to develop my line of questioning and healing abilities and what to do with that information. Again, I keep repeating the word “discipline,” but it was real important to me personally to find a very grounded and disciplined path to be able to follow my spiritual process.

TS: One thing I’m curious about is sometimes when people talk about spirit guides, they sound like beings that are outside of us—like another person or someone you would meet that would tell you things you couldn’t have known otherwise. And other times, I’ve heard people talk about spirit guides and it’s more like some higher dimension of one’s own knowing. I’m wondering how you each think about that.

Do you know what I mean? Is this a force that’s outside of the person, that’s really like a different being, or more some higher frequency that’s part of the person?

SI: Well, for me, personally, it’s really both. In some of my writings, I write about [how] “in” and “out” are the same. What I mean by that is [that] from an ancient shamanic point-of-view which dates back over 100,000 years, one can look at our spirit helpers, these spirit guides, as a part of non-ordinary reality or Dreamtime or of another dimension of beings who can give us guidance and a different perspective on what’s going on in our life. But, I also feel at the same time that shamans developed a very deep and rich inner world, which was what created so much health and joy for many of the different shamans around the world doing work.

So, for me personally, my journey has been about—as an ego, as Sandy—I oftentimes need to think that there’s a spirit helper outside of me that’s giving guidance in my life. But, I also have the realization that all that wisdom is coming through me at the same time. Sometimes, for my own egoic personality needs, I need to project it onto an outside force that provides some kind of comfort. There’s this outside force that’s taking care of me and watching out for my well-being and safety. At the same time, I know it’s me.

For me, I actually don’t analyze it too much, because I realize that it’s both. It’s just about what my personality needs at a give time in my life of how much comfort I need to feel around me. As I evolve more and more with my practice, I find myself needing less to be relying on feeling that there are spirit helpers around me, but trusting my own innate wisdom and that guidance that’s coming through me. That’s a place where I’m [now] getting comfort to be able to trust in myself the same way I used to trust in my spirit helpers.

TS: Interesting. It’s interesting to think about that progression throughout your life.

Marie, what about you?

MM: Yes, I would agree with that.

TS: Do you experience spirit guides outside?

MM: Yes, I do experience them outside, especially when, in my soul—I kind of look at it—wants to get my attention and I’m feeling detached, disconnected, scared, or perhaps [even] ungrounded. I think that when we look at our connection to the unseen world—or even the world that’s right here with us—the world of nature, which is very alive and has many ways that we can access information. That’s really what we’re looking for: how can we access information that we can feel confident about, that we can trust, and that’s accessible to us?

There are multiple ways to do it. Some days, we may feel so warm and delicious with our internal world that nothing can stop us from retrieving the most amazing answers and support. Some days—it’s kind of like taking yoga. You can do downward dog perfectly fine and other days you may feel that your hamstrings are too strong and that having a visual or an auditory sense or even a physical sensation from something outside of you is more comforting.

Everything is really communicating to us—spirit is in everything, even in the computer that I’m looking into right now. Spirit is in all things. Sometimes we find more comfort—I love having the comfort in the guides that look like humans to me. I don’t necessarily see animals, even when I look at other peoples’ spirit guides. But I happen to be madly in love with the human race, so there’s that comfort in looking in what looks like human eyeballs, hair, and garments that allows me to feel more at peace, serene, and comfortable.

But, yes, all of it is there for us all of the time if we would just only allow ourselves to be open and accepting of our preciousness.

TS: It’s interesting that you both used this word of “comfort”—spirit guides offering a certain amount of comfort. I certainly can imagine somebody thinking, “Well, yes, people make up their spirit guides because it makes them feel comfortable, because humans are just terrified of being here, how limited we feel, and how insecure we are.” So, yes, it’s really comforting to think, “My ancestors are helping me.” Isn’t that just—human beings made up religion, God. Human beings make up all kinds of things.

SI: Well, that’s true and that’s—I think, out of the many, many thousands of people who I’ve trained, that’s the basic question that comes up in a Western culture. Am I making up my spirit helpers? Am I making up the information that I receive?

I think that, for me, what really keeps me so drawn to my shamanic practice is the surprise element that comes in where the answers that I get when I actually journey and talk to the animal spirits who are around me or the gods and goddesses who I have had access to—those human teachers as Marie talks about. There’s no way I could have made up that information. The wording is different than the wording I would choose. The perspective is such a shift from anything that I could have made up on a personality level.

When I work with clients to go back and see exactly what they wore at the age of five when they had a trauma and the stuffed animal that they were holding and the room that they were in—those are things I can’t make up that I’ve been able to have access to by my own spiritual practice. Even being able to access that spiritual wisdom that lives inside of me that might be beyond my helping spirits—when I’m out in nature, the perspective that’s coming through.

Even just today, I’m kind of going through a bit of a challenging time in my life and I felt that maybe my mind is too in the way to actually do a formal journey or meditation to a helping spirit. Maybe I could access that same information from a clearer space if I take a long, nice walk in nature. I went out to my favorite place where I walk every day. And the wisdom that started just pouring through from my helping spirit says I was able to step away—whether it was my helping spirits or from that inner place inside of me—of such a shift of perspective that I could never make up.

Basically, what I tell all the people who I train in shamanism—and have been training around the world for 30 years—is that shamanism is based on results. It’s not just about, “Oh, that was really nice information.” It was, “Did you get information that worked? Did you get information and guidance that changed your life and changed your client’s life when you performed shamanic healings on them?”

It’s all about proving it to yourself—of learning through experience. Trust comes from experience that this information came from either a deep well within or these amazing helping spirits who are around us, who are so willing to give us guidance, and who love us so much. What’s the nature of that information and how does it work in your life? For many of us, we’ve been on this path for so many years because it is beyond what we could make up. The system, the information, the guidance keeps proving itself to us and we learn how to develop a sense of trust through our experience. Trust comes from experience.

TS: Marie, anything to add to that?

MM: Yes. I think your comment, Tami, is really accurate in terms of what a lot of people feel and what they worry about. My comment is, “Who cares?” Who cares if it’s a pillow talking to you—a wall, a lamp, a being that you supposedly imagine next to you? As long as you’re getting accurate, helpful, useful information, it doesn’t really matter. All of it is Source—higher levels of consciousness and awareness. When you can step out of the way and detach from what you think are the rules or how things are supposed to be, then you really allow yourself to be in that. The wisest possible information that is so surprising and shocking that there’s no way you could know that about another person if you’re working as a practitioner, or information that can be revealed to you personally that sets you free from years of worry, pain, or disappointment.

I just think that that’s irreplaceable—to have those moments that are so ah ha and forming, and so freeing at the same time that it doesn’t really matter how it comes. I don’t think there are any rules about it. When people try to make rules, I think they really limit themselves from this extraordinary unseen world that is around us and near touching us deeply within and outside of us all the time.

TS: I’m wondering if you’ve both received information that’s turned out to be wrong—and if so, how you’ve made sense of that. I’m sure you could each tell me remarkable stories of healings that happened and things that you saw and learned about people and lottery tickets. I don’t know exactly the details, but I’m sure you both have remarkable stories like that. I’m curious—have you ever had experiences where you got what you thought was clear information and it just turned out to be factually wrong?

SI: Well, I think in my own personal life, I can say that I have. I think that there are a few different perspectives that really help me to make sense of what that’s about. For one, our future is created from our present. Sometimes when we get information, things change as our present changes. As each moment of our life as we go through the day, we might make a decision in a day that might change the future where our guidance might have been showing a different path coming around the corner to us. But a change happened because of something that shifted in our present.

Also, one of the things that I really teach—and I know people really struggle with and I’ve had my own issues with this in my own life—is that the spirits love to communicate through metaphor. The reason for this—and all spiritual information when you go into any spiritual text, everything is written as metaphor. The Bible is written as metaphor. All the ancient texts are written as metaphorical stories.

The helping spirits also are trying to get us to broaden our perspective and to evolve and so they share information on many, many different levels for us. Oftentimes—again from a personality perspective—we want a literal interpretation. So, when we’re journeying for ourselves—maybe not for another person, but when we’re journeying for ourselves—we might start to make literal associations with storytelling that our spirits are giving us, and it’s not that they’re not being accurate, it’s the interpretation of what I might have done with the story that might not be as accurate as if I really opened up on a much broader perspective.

The other thing that’s really tricky is so many of us start to ask questions that have to do with when things are going to happen. To be honest with you, I have never really heard of anybody who could accurately predict the future. Prophecies are off plus or minus a few hundred years. There might be a mystic out there who can accurately predict one event, but one event out of a hundred. I think it’s really tricky trying to predict any kind of future event because of the timing aspect. When we work spiritually, we’re working outside of time. We’re also working with metaphorical information and on a personality level, we always have to ask ourselves, “What’s the deeper meaning?” instead of taking things too literally. And also realizing that our future changes as our present changes. Shifts always keep happening and nothing is really written in stone.

TS: Marie, your experience?

MM: I would agree that it’s about the interpretation and not what spirit is telling us—but how we interpret it. I prefer to be as accurate as possible in my work and of course personally as well. My kids ask me questions all the time. Certainly, I have been wrong, personally and professionally, in terms of what I predicted from the translation of what I heard or what I saw in metaphors.

I remember this one particular time—luckily, it’s not very often, thank goodness—but even if it were, I know that that would be something to embrace, dive into, and get curious about. Years ago, I had a young man come to see me. I say “young” because he seemed quite young to me. He was probably in his early 40s and he had been previously been diagnosed with a brain tumor—blastoma. Unfortunately, that particular tumor tends to be terminal. Not always. He and his wife came to see me. This is probably eight or nine years ago. Because I worked in oncology, a lot of cancer patients come to see me. Probably 45 percent of my clients are quite ill. The rest, not so much—just wanting to have more personal information about their lives and maybe preventive work through energy work.

He was just glowing in bright light—just absolutely stunning. He had just finished a complete treatment—there was no tumor left from his PET scans and his MRI’s. From an intuitive perspective, I thought, “He’s good to go. Wow, this guy’s gonna make it.” I had never met anyone who had survived a blastoma in my nursing career. I was confident about it and thrilled. He went off in the world after his one and only energy session with me.

Then, he came back two years later with a tumor growth again in the same area of his brain. So, the cancer was growing back. He still just looked so vibrant to me and so alive that I was just convinced that he was going to survive his illness. I even told his family that. I was confident about my perception. Clearly, after a while—I mean, you didn’t have to be a psychic to know that he was probably not going to survive his illness. He started to have physical characteristics of not doing well. His body was failing. I remember feeling so terrible, like I had failed his family. I had given them wrong information. They were actually incredibly gracious, sweet, and kind about it and we continued to work together.

I gave a little talk at his memorial. Afterwards, one of his friends came up to me—because I was so curious about my lack of the ability to translate the information properly. One of his closest friends came up to me after the talk, or the lovely memorial, and said, “You know, when my friend got sick, that’s when he really began to live.” It was at that moment, I was like, “Oh my gosh!” I was seeing him as his body was deteriorating—that’s when I came into his life—but his life force, his essence, his happiness—that’s when it turned on. In fact, I was actually with the family when he passed, and it was probably one of the most conscious passings I had ever seen, and I’ve been at the bedside of hundreds of people passing away. He was very alert and aware. So, that was a comfort to me—not that I should have needed to be comforted, but I did. It was just a comfort to—wow! He was more alive in his dying than he had been when his body was well. I thought that was fascinating.

TS: So, you’re interpreting that the message that you received was about the quality of aliveness that he had and his being, but not necessarily his physical body.

MM: Right. Well, because we’re dying all the time and death can be one of the most healing and amazing experiences that anyone can go through anyway. Hopefully, that’s what we’re working on in our consciousness here on human Earth is to be alive in our death so that we can transform the fear that we have about this type of dying. So, yes, I think that the metaphor that if I had had the understanding, the comfort, or the relaxation—when I looked at my metaphors—[was]that he was perfectly alive the way he was and it wouldn’t matter how long he lived in his physical body.

SI: I always teach my students, “Never ask the question, ‘Are you or is the client going to live or die?’” Because in order to heal, we have to die. So, if you actually go to a helping spirit and ask if a client who has cancer is going to die, the helping spirit—if they actually give an accurate answer—is going to say yes, because even if the person lives, they have to die on some level in order to heal.

I’ve found, through my experience, that I really have to caution people who go into a shamanic healing practice, because so many clients who have what would be termed a life-threatening illness come in and say to the shamanic practitioner, “Could you please ask your helping spirit if I’m going to live or if I’m going to die?” The information is always going to be accurate. If you get the answer, “Yes,” the person is going to die and they live. But, you never want to say to a person, “I got—my intuition or my helping spirit says this is the end of your life. You should prepare.” That’s like planting a seed and in shamanism we definitely learn that you can curse a person or can bless a person.

Again, I try with all the clients who I work with to share metaphorical stories. I don’t share literal stories. I always talk about how I’m not privy to certain information, but I’m going to do the healing on you that’s necessary to strengthen your own soul so that your own soul can decide what’s next in your healing process.

[Musical interlude.]

TS: I’m curious to know from both of you how you work with spirit guides in healing. Are there certain, particular guides that come through you when you’re trying to help another person?

MM: I would say the room is definitely full. It’s a busy, busy room. For me, a lot of times when I’m working with clients, that’s when I have medium communications. When I’m doing one-on-one work, a lot of relatives or close friends—people who are on the other side—actually enter the room, especially those who can offer the most advice or help or invoke some sort of healing through talking about past hurts or pains. That tends to be a very big process for me.

In my healing room—when I’m working—I tend to not really look at spirit guides at the time of the healing. I know that sounds kind of weird, but I’m so engrossed in the body—so to speak—and then family members start walking into the room and we begin to have conversation. As soon as a client asks about their spirit guide or if I recognize one—they do appear different to me.

There’s a different frequency between people who maybe left life within the last—whatever years for that person’s lifetime—the person’s who’s alive—their lifetime—their loved ones and relatives versus guides that are in their life prior to them coming to Earth where they’ve created this very strong, personal, and deep relationship with that’s not emotionally built on family or friends. Then, of course, I work in an engagement with them with their guides. But, I spend a lot of time talking to departed loved ones in sessions.

TS: Now I just want to ask one clarifying question there, Marie. You said there’s a different frequency between the departed loved ones and the guides that were there before the person’s birth. What’s that difference in your experience?

MM: It’s a little bit higher. There’s more neutrality in a being that’s a guide who’s not related to the person in that particular lifetime—in their present lifetime. There’s just much more neutrality. I can see into further, previous lifetimes—perhaps into even deeper wounds about the individual, if that’s something I need to look at—where the family members are talking about childhood experiences. I may have access to a previous lifetime during a chat about childhood experiences or some other traumas. But, yes, there’s definitely a finite frequency that happens between these two types of beings, for me.

TS: You said there’s a lot of spirit beings in the room. Are your guides also there and, if so, what are they doing?

MM: I’m sure they are. I generally don’t have conversation with them while I’m in session. I know that sounds kind of odd. I do have a couple of things that happen that I haven’t talked about publically, by the way.

TS: This is just between us.

[All laugh.]

MM: Well, it’s fun to share. I think it’s fascinating. I do have a man who sometimes assists me whose daughter—who’s alive—actually came to see me years ago as a client. I actually met her father at that point. He was on the other side and he came to talk to her. He was a radiologist when he was alive. Sometimes he comes in my office and helps me with difficult cases, especially while I’m talking to people about options, conventional or otherwise. He has been incredibly accurate. Or I should say, my translation of his language has been incredibly accurate. So I appreciate that.

Then, I have these two men who have been in my office—well, it doesn’t matter where my office is—for the last 14 years, since I’ve been practicing professionally. They look like a father and son to me. If I were to characterize their age, one looks around 50, one maybe late 20s. They way that I interpret their description of themselves is—they call themselves “checkers.” I know that sounds like a weird phrase, but what they’re doing is they’re watching people who are energy workers or healers in the world. They’re monitoring their energy system. Are they maintaining health, well-being, and balance for themselves as they also grow and evolve in their abilities to help other people heal? They’ve been in my office for—they were gone for about five years, but they reappeared a couple of years ago. They actually do research so that we can help humans to become more efficient in the field and also to remain healthy and whole in their own energy system.

TS: So, just a couple more questions here, Marie. When you’re doing a healing session on someone, how many guides would you say might be in the room at any given time? How many spirit beings?

MM: A lot. At least 20, let’s say. There’s 20 beings in and out of the room. I may not see all of them exactly at the same time, but they’ll come in and out.

TS: And you see them visually?

MM: Yes, as if I were seeing you standing in the room.

TS: Is it really just like that? Like you’re seeing me?

MM: It’s really just like that for me. It’s that clear. I can see—and most of the time they’re clothed. Sometimes they’re not. So, I can see detail.

TS: OK, too much information now. I was with you until now, but that’s too much. [All laugh.]

OK. Do you invite them or say an invocation of some kind to welcome in this group?

MM: I don’t. I just have an intention that whatever is in the highest good for all of us—the person on my massage table and myself—to occur. I learned something at a very young age. My mother, who was deeply spiritual and who still is—she’s living—but when I was young—I run a constant flow of white light throughout my whole body wherever I am. My home, my car. I don’t think of it in terms of protection. I think of it in terms of just being in the loving grace of creation. That’s the only thing I really do.

TS: If there were 20 human beings in a room, it could get pretty crowded, noisy, and chaotic, and here you are trying to have a healing session on someone. How do you know how to manage that?

MM: I think that they’re incredibly respectful. Obviously, they know what’s going on much more beyond anything that I know that’s going on in the room. It’s actually very calm, peaceful, loving, and gracious. It’s an incredible experience.

TS: Sandra, your experience working with spirit guides and healing.

SI: Well, mine is actually quite different than that, which is wonderful. We all have different pieces of the puzzle. I’ve been working with the same spirit helper since 1980 in all of my sessions. Basically, that’s the only spirit that I work with. I do—depending on the healing method that I’m doing—if I have a client who’s come to see me who has a particular kind of illness that would show itself as a spiritual block in the person’s body, I have another spirit [that] will come in and assist in actually removing that particular block. But, I’ve been working with a particular guardian spirit for 33 years and it’s the two of us and that’s it. We don’t invite in any other spirits.

I think that for me, the importance of it—because everybody has their own way of working and everybody has to find what works for them and brings good results. For me, because I’ve been working with the same spirit in partnership for 33 years and I have seen the results that I have gotten, I can really trust the information that’s coming through and the healing that’s coming through as I do my sessions. He can tell me very odd, bizarre things and I might be taken aback, but I also know I’ve been working with him for over 30 years, and he hasn’t steered me wrong. So, I can really allow myself to settle and to trust into that.

At some point, I might return to a person or bring back to a person their helping spirit, who will restore power and vitality into their life. But, I work in partnership with one guardian spirit who I really trust and I trust the information and the healing that comes through. Even though I give a form to that particular guardian spirit, I’m really working with the power of the universe, the Divine, which is unlimited. [I’m] bringing through that Divine energy for healing in a session.

But when I’m actually accessing information—and I’m more clairaudient than clairvoyant, which means I hear, I don’t see very much. Spiritually, I hear and I trust what I hear and I trust what my guardian spirit shares with me. We’re a real team in our work. It’s a great team.

TS: I’m going to put you both on the spot, because I kind of can’t help myself. Here’s what I’m curious about: right now, in this conversation—so, right here in this conversation—do you have the sense that you are working with or partnering with a spirit guide that is contributing or influencing in some significant way what you’re saying, here, as we’re talking?

MM: That’s a really great question. I think that when you allow yourself to be connected to wisdom—which we all have the capacity to be connected to wisdom—you do really feel surrounded by support or companionship. There is this light source that definitely comes through the top of my head that I believe gives me—at least I hope, anyway—more clarity in what I am hearing, feeling, and seeing beyond the physical. So, in that way, I would say that it’s helpful for me to have a realm of experience as I’m communicating to an audience, if you will—and also connecting to you, Tami and Sandra. But, I don’t know if it’s exactly in the way that you are implying. [Laughs.]

It’s like an opportunity. It’s like an option. It’s like a worldview. When you allow yourself to be in that grace—like when Sandra was talking about having the Divine in her workspace, because that’s really what it’s like when you’re working in a healing perspective where I’m sure many of the other things that she does—there’s this divinity that you feel. Your own energy and your own frequency increases in such a large capacity that there becomes this magical worldview, [which] allows you more options in terms of what you do want to speak about and you want connect to and what you want to convey and also what you want to experience in the moment for yourself.

SI: I think for me—when I’m teaching—what I do when I teach workshops is I actually prepare my opening sentence. Just that opening sentence. Once I can get that out, another spirit is coming through. I work with the Egyptian goddess Isis and she just starts coming through. I really feel myself step away and I really feel her teaching—whether it’s in a workshop where people are physically present or a webinar. All of a sudden, I feel myself go away and she comes through.

But, in a conversation like this, Tami—where you’re actually asking personal questions of me or of my personal experience or how I, as Sandra, experience the spirits, I know that my spirits are around me, but it doesn’t mean that they’re going to speak through me. Because the questions that are being directed towards me are being directed to Sandra more than the spirits themselves. I don’t know if that makes sense.

TS: Well now the dialogue is opening up. I didn’t know how many people or beings I could call forth here. We’ll plan that for another time. [All laugh.]

One thing I’m curious about, Marie—you mentioned about how when you’re working with someone in a healing room—how their departed relatives can sometimes come forward and offer help. I’m quite curious about this whole idea of departed relatives, ancestors, as guides for us and how you both understand that.

MM: I definitely, from my perspective—and that could change, because one of the great things about evolution is you keep growing and changing. For me, I think personal guides for an individual, that that’s determined prior to incarnation. A lot of our family is already born—our parents and whatnot—and if we have siblings or nieces and nephews, they’re going to have their own guides. They’re pretty busy in the earth realm. Our relatives don’t have time to be guides for us. To me, those are separate arenas, at least from my perspective.

I do think that the mediumship—which is talking to family members who have passed—I was so surprised when that happened. It definitely was—actually, none of this was planned for me. I didn’t intend to have this in my life, although I love it. I’m just still very surprised, delighted, and grateful how much love and healing occurs from loved ones who are on the other side. Even great aunts or uncles or a neighbor who can bring about information that I would have no idea of knowing, yet touches the heart and the soul of the person who’s on the table in such a way that they’re able to let go of a block or start to make strides towards releasing a defense mechanism so that they can have a more whole effect in their life.

TS: Marie, just to go a little further with this, because you hinted that this mediumship or this contact with dead relatives happened to you in a certain way. What happened? How did that emerge?

MM: It first kind of—my living room—the camera is actually looking into my living room. I consider it the most sacred room in my house. I was just sitting on my couch one day and I had already begun to have multiple multisensory experiences. A little sign that you would stick into the ground—like a poster with a stick—showed up on this little grassy area in front of the southwestern exposed window. It told me that I was going to be talking to departed ones. It literally was written out [laughs] that I was going to be talking to departed ones and that they were all learning how I work.

In other words, just like how Sandra said that she’s really auditory, she has a strong auditory sense. People on the other side—beings, spirits, departed ones, whatever language we want to use to describe these incredible beings in our lives—they look at how we work. I was told that they actually look almost at like a transcript to determine how a healer or an intuitive works with their clients so that they can provide the best possible link to us—to novices. People can certainly help their family members who haven’t even studied professionally. Those moments have certainly happened to other individuals.

So, they link up to us in a way where they can provide the best way that we can interpret information. That’s how it all started for me. I thought, “OK, I must be just having a really odd experience.” Then, I actually had an experience while I was working in a hospital where I had my first encounter with a patient’s wife—I mean a mother, excuse me—who had passed over on the other side. That was the first one that I had.

TS: Just one more question about this. Someone’s dead relatives appear. Do they always have helpful and good advice? Often when we’re alive, our relatives are not particularly helpful or they’re not the people we would go to get advice about what to do.

MM: I think sometimes that’s what makes it interesting. Some people are hoping that a certain relative will come across, but that person may not have the awareness or the consciousness—even though they’re not in a body any longer. I think some people think that when you leave your body, you reach this instant Nirvana. My experience has been—through talking with people who have passed—is that whatever we hadn’t finished working on in physical form, we still have to continue working on in non-physical realities.

Sometimes it’s not always the person that—maybe they want their mother to come, but their mother has to work on maybe more aspects of unconditional love, so their uncle shows up who can pass on a healing message. Sometimes it’s easier to heal from and to hear that from a relative that you don’t have a lot of emotional connection with. So, I never know who’s going to come through. Luckily, through my physical description of them—even their personality—and sometimes I do know exactly how they’re linked to the family. The person on the table is able to identify the person I’m seeing and communicating with.

TS: And Sandra, your experience working with dead relatives, ancestors, etc. as spirit guides.

SI: I have to laugh, because when you talk about, “Do you talk to dead people?” or working with dead people . . .

TS: Yes, well, I’m not quite sure what language to use, but yes.

SI: One time, I told my mother that I talked to my uncle, who was deceased. This was over 25 years ago. Now she really loves my work and she has her own helping spirits. But, at the time, she said to me, “Do you talk to dead people often?” And I thought she was actually, genuinely interested in my work, and I said, “Well, actually, I do.” After I hung up, my brother called me up and says, “Mom is coming out to put you in a mental institution.” [All laugh.] So, I just cracked up when you said that.

There are so many different levels. I talk to the departed in some similar ways to Marie. Sometimes when I’m working with a client who might have advice. I really love working with ancestor spirits. There are different kinds of ancestral spirits that I work with. Our ancestors really care about our health and well-being. Just through biology, they pass down so much to us. They sacrificed so much so their descendants could have a good life. Ancestors are really wonderful helping spirits to work with, because they really care so much about what happens to you. Being able to call them in for support or guidance is something that I really feel is important.

Also, I’m very aware of helping ancestors that live on the land where we live and where we travel to and where we do our work. I found, as a teacher of shamanism, that my workshops went in a smoother way—I had more support from the weather, whatever was going on—if I would immediately—either before I got there through a journey or once I got to the place where I was teaching—introduce myself to the ancestral spirits of the land who really love the land so much and are very protective of the land. [I would] introduce myself and say, “I’m bringing a group of people—an open-hearted group of people—who want to learn how to live a healthier way of life and in balance with the Earth and all of life in order to do good work for others in the world.”

I found that, magically—if a tornado was coming all of a sudden, it wouldn’t be there during a fire ceremony or we weren’t getting rained out or people were able to make their flights. I really noticed, over 30 years, the only difference of when I had smoother experiences was when I introduced myself to the helping spirits—the helping ancestors—of the land and asked for their permission that we come and do this work.

There are different levels of the ancestors that I work with—the ancestors of a place. Then, also, I try to help people get in touch with their helping ancestors who really care about the present, but also their future health and their success—whether it’s work, in their life, or in their happiness. Then, as Marie was talking about, there’s the recently departed, or a great aunt, or a great-great grandmother who might also come through at a very critical time in a session or at the point of death. I’ve always experienced at the time of death that helping ancestors, loved ones, a neighbor who was very close to the person, or a friend will come to help that transition.

I think that there’s so much help, so much love, so much support that we can get from the ancestral spirits, whether they’re our personal ancestral spirits or they’re the ancestral spirits of the place where we live.

TS: I just have two final questions. This penultimate one—it’s kind of a big question—but you can each just give me your real—the pith—response here. As I’ve been listening to you both, there’s quite a lot of complimentarity and overlap, yet you also clearly have different experiences and different ways of relating to the spiritual realm. I’m curious to know from each of you, what your working model is—if you will—of life.

Do you have one—a working model—like this is the multi-dimensional or whatever—sort of my working model of life?

MM: I don’t know if this is exactly what you’re looking for or not, but yes, I have a working model for myself to be present as much as possible. Even when you’re looking at multiple dimensions, you can feel your feet be in your shoes—or like right now as I’m speaking to an almost blank screen, looking into a camera, I’m feeling the cushion that I’m sitting on. I think that being present so that you can thoroughly enjoy the moment is huge. I think it’s gigantic. It allows me to not worry about the past or the future. It allows me to really enjoy my family and my clients no matter what kind of day I’m having. no matter if it’s incredibly spectacular or seems mundane, boring, or a disaster.

If I can be present and really enjoy every aspect of my moment—and there are so many layers to the moment. Even as I’m thinking about that and looking in this camera, I’m noticing this beautiful light next to me that has these gorgeous crystals that hang from it and this old-fashioned wood table that the computer is sitting on. It allows me, I think, to feel the most alive that I can be if I can just be present. I think it takes conscious effort. That is definitely my model for my life, whether that’s professional or personal.

TS: Sandra?

SI: I think for me, my working model—and it’s definitely a work in progress—is to keep experiencing the divine part of myself. Who I am beyond the skin, which is a spirit—so, to keep moving. I am personality and I came here to experience a range of emotions, but I also am a spiritual being. To tap into that place of oneness and that divine light and be a vessel of unconditional love in the world right now, which is what we really need. At the same time, to really deepen and cultivate my own inner world and not be so attached to the outcome of what’s going on in the material world. Happiness, health, and what I would call wealth, success, or prosperity all lives within. Nothing is what I’m seeing outside of myself. It’s all an inner state. I need to keep learning like a beautiful garden how to keep cultivating, seeding, and taking out the plants that no longer serve the garden anymore.

The two aspects that I continue to work on that’s a real work-in-progress in my working model is who I am beyond the personality—that spiritual part of myself, that divine part of myself. While at the same time, [I cultivate] my inner life and that inner garden, so that I feel that I feel joy inside of myself, health inside of myself, success inside of myself and it’s not about what’s in the outside world around me.

TS: You both gave such beautiful answers. Thank you.

[Here’s] my final question. Someone’s listening to this and they’re thinking, “I would like to open more to spiritual guidance. I would like contact with a spirit guide. I’ve never had it. I’d like to deepen the contact that I do have with spirit helpers.” What would be your—are you ready for this—your number one piece of advice?

MM: Ooh, number one. Do you want to go first, Sandra?

SI: Sure. It’s easy for me. Set your intention. Intention is everything. Let the spirits know your intention. You want to meet them. You want to learn how to improve your life and you’re looking for the guidance of how to do that. Set your intention and that will open the path.

MM: I love that. Maybe if you add that with maintaining a vibration. Frequency is very important. The spiritual realm vibrates at a different frequency than the earth realm. If we can heighten our frequency through awareness, compassion, or joy, then it’s much easier to connect to the unseen world. Whether we see it, hear it, feel it, or have some sort of awareness of its existence—frequency in our own body energy is a profound, important aspect.

TS: Thank you both so much. I’ve been speaking with Marie Manuchehri and Sandra Ingerman Thank you for your openness and love.

SI: Thank you.

MM: Thank you.

TS: It’s great to hear people coming really rooted in your own life experience and being so open to each other. It’s really beautiful. Thank you.

With Sounds True, Marie Manuchehri has published a book on intuitive self-healing as well as an audio series on How to Communicate with Your Spirit Guides. With Sandra Ingerman, we’ve published a book on The Shamanic Journey: A Beginner’s Guide and also along with Hank Wesselman, she’s created a book called Awakening to the Spirit World along with many audio programs and several online courses, including an online course on Experiencing the Shamanic Journey. Many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.

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