Transcript for Dr. Stanley Krippner – Native American Shamanism, Dream Experimentation, Parapsychology

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strangers thank you for listening he not

only had that ability with humans but

with other animals and even with birds

and the eagle was squawking and

screaming and they brought the Eagle to

Rolling Thunder ruling thunder picked up

the Eagle headed it and then the Rolling

Thunder said you carry now you can take

the picture immediately after the

picture was taken that Eagles flew off

back to the nest injuries no more

healthy eagle and that picture is one of

the pictures in our book the shamanic

powers of Rolling Thunder

what’s up guys Xavier Crisanta here with

the human experience and wow what an

interesting episode here with dr.

Stanley Crippler where we get into his

work with Native Americans and

specifically his book called

the shamanic powers of Rolling Thunder

we get into some really interesting

stuff on consciousness dr. Kempner has

been in the consciousness field for 40

50 years so years and is very much

regarded as a pioneer when it comes to

consciousness studies we talk about dr.

Crippen errs work with Alan Watts dr.

Gardner’s work with Jerry Garcia of the

Grateful Dead so this is one of those

once-in-a-lifetime interviews that only

happen once in a while so hopefully you

guys really enjoy this thank you guys so

much for listening the human experience

is in session my guest for today is dr.

Stanley krypter dr. Crippen or welcome

to hxp welcome to you and thank you so

much for inviting me to your show oh

yeah the honor is all ours

sir dr. Crippen you know Europe very

much a pioneer you’ve been in the field

of consciousness study for a very very

long time for anyone who doesn’t know

who you are can you just give us a short

kind of about me a short biography of

what you do and who you are please I am

a professor of psychology at Saybrook

University pounds this is a graduate

school which means that I work with

students who are doing doctoral research

in the area of consciousness studies in

other words they’re doing work with

dreams with hypnosis with shamanism with

parapsychological phenomena and these

are all topics that were not part of the

university curriculum 50 years ago when

I first started out and so when you say

that I am a pioneer I didn’t realize it

at the time because I have always been

interested in these topics from a

scientific perspective

I’m in the position where I can actually

train and educate students who can do

their own research who can continue this

particular tradition yes indeed dr.


for my own sort of edification how old

are you sir

I’m 84 so you’ve been doing this for a

long time I mean like how much has this

field of research changed for you you

said that it wasn’t part of the

curriculum at first when you first

started sort of lecturing how has this

evolved as you’ve kind of witnessed this

evolution in civilization and the way

that we learn things well let me give

you a few example when I was at the

University of Wisconsin I took my first

psychology course and dreams were only

mentioned one time the professor said

one of the signs of the person is

schizophrenic is if that person dreams

in color well I looked at my friends and

we were a little bit in shock

because all of us dreamed in color well

this was back in the middle 1950s so you

can see how much progress has been made

since that theory ill-informed remark

was made and I’ll give you another

example when I was in graduate school I

was taking a course in anthropology and

one of the professor’s said that shamans

traditional healers were probably

schizophrenic psychotic mentally

unstable and this is one way that the

tribe head of controlling their madness

well now we know that this is not true

at all that shamans and traditional

healers are some of the most stable and

most intelligent and most innovative

members of their society so back in

those days anything that was a little

bit deviant was the sign of

schizophrenia give you another example

when we were talking about schizophrenia

in class one of the sure signs of

schizophrenia was the people claimed to

have dreams about the future well now we

know the dreams about the future whether

they come true or not dreams of

the future are perfectly normal dream

about what they think might be future

events and there are really no signs if

this is schizophrenic at all that’s just

part of the human condition so these are

three specific examples that I can give


we’re topics that I was interested in

we’re all consigned to symptoms of

mental illness unfortunately that is no

longer the case so it’s no longer

considered mentally ill if a person is

dreaming color certain dreams of

schizophrenics are usually very blase

they’re usually very simple-minded

they’re not extremely interesting or

exotic at all the exotic dreams there

are signs of creativity not to the

schizophrenia hmm okay I want to move

into your work with this book that

you’ve written called these shamanic

powers of Rolling Thunder what led you

to this book how did you get to a point

where you felt like you had to put this

in a readable format well for those

listeners who do not know what a shaman

is let me just give you a brief

description this is an anthropological

term because each tribe has its own name

for these special people but shamans are

men and women who give information from

unusual sources that people in their

culture or their tribe don’t have access

to they can give information from dreams

they can get information from taking

drugs and going into altered states of

consciousness they can get information

from intuition from hunches and they use

this information to help them to heal

members of their community so rolling

thunder’ is somebody who I met more or

less accidentally several decades ago

and we became close friends and we saw

each other and even did some work

together up to the time of his death and

now in this book the shamanic powers of

Rolling Thunder I’ve worked with rolling

thunders grandson Sid Morningstar and

we’ve pulled together a couple of dozen

accounts of people whose lives were

ducted is in some cases radically

changed by their contact with Rolling

Thunder as his name implies he was

Native American Shoshone Cherokee he

drew upon his Native American tradition

to do all of the helpful acts of

kindness acts of compassion and also

militancy standing up for Indian rights

over the course of his life

he had a uncanny ability to look at the

person and yet some hunch as to what

that person’s ailment might be and the

best way to heal it he not only had that

ability with humans but with other

animals and even with birds one of the

people who contributed to the book Kerry

Garnier was given six months to live by

his doctor and so he went off to find

Rolling Thunder and the Rolling Thunder

let him stay at his camp Kerry was a

photographer and Rolling Thunder said I

don’t like my photograph taken so don’t

take any photographs until I give you


so period read and he took the sweat

lodge the Bears the herbs the prayers he

did all of the things Rolling Thunder

told him to do if the other six months

he was still alive and he’s still alive

today even though the doctor said he of

the fatal disease during his last week

at rolling thunders camp

Terry’s friends had come to pick him up

and a little Eagle had fallen out of the

nest and it was in bad shape

maybe the wing was broken and the eagle

was squawking and screaming and they

brought the eagle to Rolling Thunder

Rolling Thunder picked up the eagle and

petted it and the eagle calm down and

then the Rolling Thunder said you carry

now you can take the picture and Harry

took the picture immediately after the

picture was taken that eagle flew off

back to the nest injuries no more

healthy eagle and that picture is one of

the pictures in our book the shamanic

powers of Rolling Thunder as well as the


so dr. Crippen if I could just back you

up for a second there was a an

experiment that Timothy Leary ran a

psilocybin experiment do you recall the

aim of the experiment and its effects on

you and what is your current take on the

usefulness or not of researchers using

psilocybin or similar substances in the

pursuit of testing parrots psychological

phenomena well this was back in the

1960s when I volunteered for a

experiment with psilocybin and again for

listeners who don’t know what psilocybin

is it’s a mind-altering drug similar to

LSD so this was another area in which

you might say I was a pioneer because I

could see the usefulness of these drugs

for psychotherapy for creativity for

exploring the drain and its function in

altered states of consciousness and then

there were several decades in which this

work was illegal unfortunately we lost a

lot of time even lost a lot of lives

that could have been saved now

psilocybin is being used in different

parts of the world even in the United

States and a few locations to treat

people who are mentally ill especially

people who have what we call bipolar

conditions where they’re very excited

and happy one minute and very low and

depressed the next one that they go back

and forth and psilocybin seems to be

helpful for many of these people so

again something that I foresaw back in

the 1960s I wasn’t the only one that saw

this of course and so now it’s being

used and it’s being written up in

psychological and psychiatric journals

and so finally the what we might say

psilocybin time has arrived psilocybin

by the way is the chief active

ingredient in a mushroom and I actually

had a chance to disarm ins

in central Mexico who were using the

mushroom in sacred ceremony – was their

way of contacting God their way of

making contact of the spirits

so it sounds like this is a key part in

these shamanic rituals and continues to

be a key part in these shamanic rituals

that correct well not all shamanic

rituals use drugs and I have to keep

emphasizing this over and over again

drugs are only one way the shamans to

get information just think of the letter

D drugs is one way dreams is another way

dancing is another way drums is another

way deprivation going without sleep

going without food all of those are ways

that shamans change their consciousness

alter their attention get inspiration

get insight in non ordinary ways that

other members of their tribe don’t have

the skill or the patience to do hmm very

interesting also during these shamanic

ceremonies it’s very common to have

ritual chanting is that correct oh good

heavens chanting is very important

that’s something that I’ve experienced

myself because almost all shamans use a

great deal of singing and chanting and

dancing drumming and music that’s an

integral way of getting in touch with

shall we say parts of the brain that are

pretty far removed from our verbal

rational logical discourse puts us of

touch with unconscious information in

some of the deep sources of our wisdom

I’ve been with the Rolling Thunder when

we’ve gone into a sweat lodge which is a

little hot usually made out of animal

skin and wood and in the sweat lodge

there are prayers and there are chants

and you sweat all the impurities out of

your body sometimes you have visions

sometimes you hear voices I’ve done many

many sweat lodges with Rolling Thunder

with other people and I’ve seen him use

sweat lodges as a way of helping to heal

people and to symbolically physically or

both extry the poisons from their body

that have been holding them back hmm

very interesting is very very important

in the shamanic tradition it’s also


in other traditions the Christian Orion

chance for example which go back

centuries the Tibetan chant the Buddhist

chants this rhythmic repetition of key

words and sacred phrases over and over

again has been a part of spiritual

traditions for millennia okay so dr.

creepier what’s happening during these

chants during this chanting process as a

scientist is the brain going into a sort

of trance state when it’s tearing this

rhythmic kind of repetition of sound you

just mentioned the key word rhythmic yes

a rhythm is set up and the rhythm can be

done by chanting it can be done by

drumming it can be done by a mantra

meditation any repetition of a phrase or

a word or a song shall we say

synchronize the brain can pull it

together can put it into a condition

which is far away from ordinary

discourse ordinary logical thinking

chanting and drumming and singing in

prayer are all excellent ways of

shifting from the logical and rational

to the deep unconscious to the imagery

to the inner knowledge that exists in

all of us but most of us don’t take

advantage of yeah yeah I can truly

understand that

so dr. Crippin let’s say that I was

interested in participating in a

ceremony in a shamanic ceremony with a

Native American tribe is it set up to

heal us was the goal of one of these

ceremonies well first of all there are

some 500 Native American tribes that

have been listed and registered by

anthropologists and even by the US

government that’s a lot of tribes but

before the Europeans came there were

closer to a thousand tribes millions of

Native Americans died when the Europeans

came of diseases and of warfare and


it was a massacre even worse than the

Holocaust during the Second World War

tens of millions of Native Americans

died then many of the tribes died too

however there are many tribes left and

there is now a renaissance there is a

new interest in Native Americans Rolling

Thunder was part of this he was very

militant he thought through length under

Rights there’s a whole chapter in our

book about the ways that Congress passed

laws to protect Native Americans and we

see that played out today in terms of

the protests that Native Americans are

holding when corporations threatened

their tribal lands and their burial

grounds so back to Rolling Thunder in

his typical eeling ceremonies he used

drumming and I’ve been with him when he

has it maybe 50 people in a circle and

while the drums are going on they chant

a typical Native American song which he

has taught them and the sick person is

in the middle of the circle the sick

person is absorbing the attention and

the energy and the music and the rhythm

and of course the sick person goes into

what we call an altered state of

consciousness and then in Rolling

Thunder gives a suggestion about that

person getting well or gives a

suggestion about a power animal or a

power bird that is going to be helpful

that person is very suggestible it’s the

same type of skill that people in the

psychotherapy profession draw upon in

the use hypnosis people become very

suggestible to outside influence and if

you can make a connection with their

inner source of healing what I call

their inner shaman then they can

mobilize all of the bodily defenses all

of those wonderful endorphins and

neurotransmitters that can begin to

restore a person to health well Rolling

Thunder didn’t use fanciful terms but he

also spoke about contacting one’s inner

healer he often said I don’t heal

anybody I try to get my patients to heal


that was the essence of his whole

procedure and everything he did was to

empower the patient to give the

patient’s the skill in the insight so

they could start on their own route of

self-healing okay very interesting so

one of the things that you’ve talked

about in your previous book was the

effect that Rolling Thunder had on the

Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart what was the

experience that happened there if you

could if you could tell us that well

very kind of you to mention our previous

book the voice of Rolling Thunder and we

call the book the voice of Rolling

Thunder because Mickey Hart the drummer

for the Grateful Dead now called

deadened company had several dozen hours

of rolling thunders lectures tape

recorded and we transcribed all of those

tape recorded lectures and use those in

the book so that people could actually

get rolling thunders own words but

Mickey Hart is actually the person who

introduced me to Rolling Thunder when I

would visit Mickey Hart at his ranch at

California he kept saying I’ve got to

introduce you to Rolling Thunder you’ve

gotta meet Rolling Thunder this Native

American medicine man who I know and so

finally when I visited his ranch he sent

a private plane to Nevada to pick up

Rolling Thunder and being Rolling

Thunder to California so that we could

meet and let me tell you it was quite a

remarkable meeting that’s what our

friendship started and for the next

several decades I was in close contact

with Rolling Thunder visiting him at his

ranch but also we did workshops together

in Germany and I was able to introduce

him to people all over the United States

including Doug Boyd who wrote a

wonderful book about Rolling Thunder

many many decades ago the distill in

trim so Rolling Thunder and I have a

long history Mickey Hart and I have an

even longer history and Rolling Thunder

was the product of the contact I had

with Mickey Hart and the Grateful Dead

and with Roth music that goes back of

course many many years but the

again you talk about me being a pioneer

back in those days when most of the

people my age thought that rock and roll

is a passing fancy I said no this

appeals to something basic in the human

body this is a type of music that goes

deeply into the unconscious this is

going to become a major art form and

early on identified the Grateful Dead as

being in the vanguard because not only

did they draw upon rock and roll but

they told they use Soul Country and

Western jazz and even some Native

American music from both North and South

America in their music mm-hmm yeah so

dr. Cabrera I’m really curious to know

you know how did this persona impact

your life in the greatest way I mean was

there something that you learned from

Rolling Thunder that that’s stuck with

you through the years yes I learned many

things of from Rolling Thunder and one

thing that is very important ruling

Thunder was very much of an activist

back in the 1960s and 1970s

but he never resorted to violence all of

his methods are very nonviolent in the

tradition of Martin Luther King and

Mahatma Gandhi and young our book the

shamanic powers of Rolling Thunder I

give an example of that corporations

were illegally tearing up the pine nut

trees and taking over the land this was

against the law but the Indians didn’t

have good lawyers they didn’t know how

to fight this takeover of their land and

many of growing thunders young Draves

said well we’ll get our rifles and we’ll

just start a rebellion against them and

the Rolling Thunder said no we do not

resort to violence first of all let’s go

and get a camera and do a video showing

the way that the land is being torn up

because it had bulldozers tearing up

these pine nut trees and pine nuts are a

cheap source of protein for the Native

Americans they’re very very important so

they got a photograph and then at night

they wasn’t they put sand in the gas


the bulldozers so the bulldozers are out

of commission for several days and in

the meantime somebody through the

Washington DC and showed the video to

politicians said to say most of the

politicians were not interested however

senator Ted Kennedy took a great

interest in this and he went to

President Nixon Kennedy of course is a

Democrat Nixon was a Republican but they

both agreed that this this had to stop

and Nixon issued a presidential order

that stopped the exploitation of

American lands Nixon was obviously

guilty of many many serious breaches of

the law but when it came to Native

Americans he did the right thing he had

the Native American athletic coach and

that contact remained with him he

probably did more for Native Americans

and then the other recent American

president so anyway that’s the example

of whether stayed with me in terms of

using one’s intelligence to become

active rather than to resort to anything

that might be violent now a completely

different aspect in terms of what I

learned from Rolling Thunder is to find

the source of healing within yourself

and the natural environment and not

become too dependent upon pharmaceutical

drugs you can do a great deal of diet

you can do a great deal with exercise

with prayer with meditation with

thinking positive thoughts you could use

more natural ways of recovering from an

illness and keeping healthy by becoming

shall we say linked with nature because

we’re all a very important part of

nature the Western tradition has been

for people to control nature

Rolling Thunder felt that we were a part

of nature and that’s a another learning

that I’ve had from him over the years

so dr. Crippin I mean because it seems

like Western civilization is so behind

on so many things

how can we learn from these other

cultures that seem to be so far ahead in

a regard to consciousness and what can

we learn from these other cultures that

the West hasn’t picked up yet well of

course as I mentioned earlier I teach

the Saybrook University and it’s a Brook

University emphasize humanistic and

transpersonal psychology and these are

approaches to psychology that emphasize

the link between people and the natural

environment not that there’s anything

wrong with other psychological

approaches but they don’t pay as much

attention to the connection with nature

and also with cross-cultural traditions

as humanistic and transpersonal

psychology do there’s a lot that we can

learn from other cultures there’s a lot

that we can learn from being in nature

and Alan Watts another one of my great

friends and teachers made the point that

the earth gives birth to people just

like an apple tree gives birth to apples

well the earth peoples were part of the


Rolling Thunder realized this and as a

matter of fact one of my students

arranged for Rolling Thunder Alan Watts

and myself to do a week of joint

lectures and seminars at the University

of New Mexico so there are a lot of wise

people today who are teaching us to

learn from other traditions not that

there’s anything wrong with our

tradition there’s a lot that’s right

with it and not that other traditions

are always perfect they are not they

make many many mistakes one has to think

critically one has to evaluate one has

to use common sense but by broadening

the scope of our knowledge in learning

from what Rolling Thunder and other

Native American leaders have been

teaching us we can all live better lives

and healthier lives and we can find ways

to bond more closely with other humans

and also to take better care of

ourselves and also to form spiritual

bonds with nature and the world beyond


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