As a patent attorney, I was trained in science and law, and much as I longed for spiritual connection, wasn't about to believe in anything I couldn't experience for myself. In 1984, I came across Michael Harner's The Way of the Shaman, with its instructions for making a classic shamanic journey to the Lower World. That was my first inkling that something qualitatively different from my own personal imagination was at work in the journey. When I saw an advertisement for the Foundation's Basic Workshop, I thought, "I'll try it and see if it works."
It did seem to work. Healings occurred and divinations proved correct — not repeatably and reliably as the scientific method requires — but often enough that I could no longer be satisfied with the old mechanistic model of reality.
My world began to open to a new sense of possibility and connection — with nature, other people, unseen spirits, the mysterious transformations of time — in a flow that felt meaningful and safe. The ancient shamanic model of reality, renewing itself in our age, was overtaking that old model in its power to explain the way my life was unfolding.
According to this shamanic worldview, we exist with the stuff of the Universe in shared awareness. Consciousness is primary (not a side-effect of interacting physical objects), and we can relate directly with beings of infinite love, intelligence and power who are not physically present to our ordinary senses.
After taking advanced Foundation workshops in extraction, divination, death and dying, soul retrieval, and others, in 1988 I had a chance to study in Nepal with Rai shamans, Mohan Rai and Jebi Bhandari, and Tamang shaman, Maile Lama. It was fascinating to discover differences and similarities between their Himalayan shamanic practices and core shamanism. Without having studied first with the Foundation, it would have been almost impossible to separate the important teachings from embellishments ancestral shamans had added over the centuries.
Ellen's students say:
Great! Being a beginner is always difficult for me. Ellen made it very easy -- gave great examples that took away the intimidating feeling of "how can I ever do that?"
Ellen's low-key, unassuming manner was a warm invitation for students to view themselves with deep compassion and trust the visions and experiences during journeys and divinations.
I was looking for a more reliable way to achieve an altered state -- and the sonic driver of drumming worked wonderfully.
Very positive . . . Certainly one of the most creative experiences I've had in a long time.
Everything was very clear and said from a place of experience and wisdom.
I came out of the workshop feeling exhilarated and powerful.
Ellen was a wonderful instructor. She was kind, understanding, funny, and held an open heart that was willing to give of herself in every way.
The overall experience of the workshop was one of excitement and I felt it was very informative. Ellen did a great job of explaining everything and answering questions.
The story of my teacher Mohan Rai's shamanic training in Bhutan is told in my book, World Shaman. A more personal narrative of my own experiences is given in Thoughts in the Mind of God. (Both books are available on Amazon.com).
My further training with the Foundation includes the Three-year Program, the Two-Week Intensive, and Harner Shamanic Counseling. I've also learned from other wise teachers of this reality, including Claude and Noelle Poncelet, Sandra Ingerman, and most of all, from my own spirit teachers and power animals.
In ordinary reality, I live in Boulder, Colorado with my husband, Joe O'Laughlin, practice patent law, and host a weekly drumming group. Core shamanism remains the basis of my shamanic practice and teaching.