holistic health magazine






Interview with Lynn Andrews
On spiritual travel, healing retreats, and shamanism

By Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Publisher

Lynn Andrews is an internationally acclaimed author who has written 18 books, including Medicine Woman (now in its 39th printing), Jaguar Woman and Crystal Woman. Considered a preeminent teacher in the field of personal development, Lynn is a 21st Century shaman whose words reflect her path, a path of heart. Her work explores the ancient teachings taught by the Sisterhood of the Shields, which embrace the study of global shamanic cosmologies and sacred art technologies. For over a decade, people from all over the world have gathered with Lynn for her annual Joshua Tree four-day retreat. In 1994, The Lynn Andrews Center for Sacred Arts and Training was created--a unique mystery school designed to integrate the sacred into every aspect of life.

Holistic Health Newsletter!


About Share Guide

Holistic Health Articles

Health Directory

Health Store



Contact us

Do you have a
Holistic Business?
Get listed in Share Guide's Holistic Health Directory for only $9.95 per month. For more info
Click Here

The Share Guide: What do you see as the difference between vacations and retreats?

Lynn Andrews: The difference between a vacation and a retreat is that on a vacation, you are going truly to just let everything go. Maybe have fun, play golf, play tennis, etc. I have hardly ever been on one, so I can't really say. On a retreat, you have a form and structure for that period of time. The form is a very important thing. For instance, when we give our retreats, I have a very definite point of view in mind. It usually comes up in the title of the retreat. For the Joshua Tree Retreat, which we do at the end of every May, we always have a theme. This year it's is called, "Digging for Gold, Transformation of the Spirit." This is about learning how to go into the source of your own being, of your own spiritual personality structure, all of the conditioning that you have had, and to be able to look at that and find the magnificent nuggets of gold that are within that structure, in seminar form.

The Share Guide: There are some holistic style vacations available now, like spas, health resorts, new age cruises, that might be in the middle--somewhat structured and holistic health conscious, but different from going on a retreat. In your mind, are these just basically vacations?

Lynn Andrews: I think so. Vacations are fabulous, but that's more for rest and relaxation. That's when you've come up against a wall and you really need someplace to go where all you want to do is relax. You don't necessarily want to use your mind to do anything.

The Share Guide: So a retreat is more work, than just rest.

Lynn Andrews: Yes. It is certainly in a different setting than what you are used to. One time I looked at the astronauts that were being thrown into outer space in a tin can. After three or four days they had a sense of enlightenment, of God. I thought, how can that possibly be, they are up there and they are very busy. It's most likely because they have been ripped out of their daily routine in life long enough so that something new had the opportunity to come in. We are so busy in our lives. We never get a chance for peace, for play, for an opening, where something very valuable, perhaps, is on the edge of your consciousness, knocking, trying to get in there. On my retreats I take you into a completely different experiential environment so that something new really does have a chance to come in.

The Share Guide: So your retreats are more of a commitment.

Lynn: Yes. We do have an event that we do in Hawaii that is much more of a rest. We give things and we have people go through experiences together and it is wonderful, but the style is different. And the space between the different things that we do is very different. We take long periods of time to go and do projects out on the land that work with the spirits of nature and the devas, the little people in the trees, and the water babies in the ocean, and so forth. But it is much more contemplative.

The Share Guide: What do people seek most during retreats, in your experience?

Lynn: I think they are looking for information, a way to see life differently. When we give our events, we script them. We have magnificent music by absolutely extraordinary musicians, like Scarlet who was with Bob Dylan for years. We use people that have incredible abilities to inspire with sound. We do a lot of work with sound, looking for another way of seeing reality. There is so much in life all around us that is not visible in our normal vision. Shamans talk a lot about "Seeing"--being able to see the energy fields around people, and to see the power of the earth and begin to really work with the energies of the constellations and the stars. When we are at Joshua Tree out in the desert, we have magnificent things happen there. We have had eagles circle around the lecture area. We have had double rainbows. We have had people healed of so many emotional and traumatic events in life. I think when you gather a group of people together who are of "like spirit," kindred souls, you can break through blocks that you can't do necessarily on your own. But it has to be something that is structured carefully. I think that with spiritual work, people don't realize that you have a tremendous responsibility to take care how you do things; you have to use a lot of energy and power. For example, a lot of people are ignorant about what kind of energy you use on a person who has an infection or open wound. You would never shoot energy into that wound; it would simply infect it more. What you are trying to do in that situation is implode energy, pull it out, so that it has a chance to heal itself.

The Share Guide: That reminds me of Oriental healing, where they take pulses and they either add or take energy away from points.

Lynn: That's right. But you don't do the same thing every time. It may be a wound where it needs energy because the person is almost dead, who knows? It is always a very specialized situation. I think this is one of the things people need to realize. Everything is a very unique situation, and you really have to know what you are trying to accomplish before you begin.

The Share Guide: You have mentioned opening gateways and transformation. Those are two common themes I have heard you repeat. You probably are involved with those in mostly all of your retreats.

Lynn: Yes, particularly right now, there is an opening of energy in the universe. The energy has speeded up and we need to let go of what no longer serves us and move ourselves consciously and with awareness into our life's work, whatever that might be. That might just b living with your full consciousness, raising your family, or it may involve activating that power that you have been afraid to do. Now is the time. If you want to write a book, now is the time to do it.

The Share Guide: You may know of Art Bell, the radio personality. He wrote a book called The Quickening. He is studying society and sees things speeding up, so that is the term he uses.

Lynn: I talked about this concept in Crystal Woman, when I was in Australia. Whenever I needed to learn in my years of apprenticeship (and as far as I am concerned I am still an apprentice to the Great Spirit) working with the women, if there was an aspect of my spirit that was flawed in some way or my personality--for example, fear of death, something I needed to work with--I needed to make that my ally and understand the beauty of elderhood. I would work with one of the elder women in the Sisterhood of the Shields, and they would take me through a sequence of events and teach me about myself. One of those events was going to Australia and working with this extraordinary aboriginal woman named Ginevee, who taught me a great deal about "quickening."

We were out in the desert one night, in the outback alone, and we were sitting by a fire. We suddenly felt the ground start to shake. It was a herd of wild camels that were running through the camp. They came towards us and ran right by us. She said that is what the universe is giving us right now. Time is speeding up and we need to quicken ourselves as teachers, as Shamans, as women being on this earth. We need to quicken up so that we can catch up with those camels running by. The camels symbolically meant the time that is the quickening and that we have to move, and get rid of what we can't carry. If you are going to run to catch up with a herd of wild camels on the run, you have to let go of almost everything, right? You couldn't carry hardly anything. You would have to run.

The Share Guide: You would just have to go for it.

Lynn: Right, go for it, and remember that risk is a great part of spirituality; it awakens the spirit. Many people are very lazy, not only physically but spiritually. They may look very disciplined on the physical level, but they remain spiritually lazy. What wakes that up, that part of you that needs to get going and needs to pay attention, is risk.

The Share Guide: I have read in your books a couple of phrases I'd like to discuss: "Being committed to your own enlightenment" and also "Removing our masks and seeing our original face." These things seem to be important in whatever age you happen to live in, especially in critical junctures of time.

Lynn: When you talk about the original face, that is what our retreat is all about. It is all about going back and finding that original face, that beautiful being you started out to be, before all the environmental cloaks were wrapped around you. That's a gift. We always think about that as a problem, such as our conditioning as children. Well, I don't look at it that way. I think it was a gift that you asked for. If you were an abused child, and certainly I was, it was a gift, in the sense that it gave me a path on which I could work. And I worked on that, and walked down that path and learned so many things. Anything that happens to you is a mirror that you actually create. It doesn't just happen to you. I believe you have to take responsibility for anything in your life. If you look at it that way, then all the problems that you have and difficulties that you have become gifts that you work with and solve.

When we do a retreat, let's say with this instrument of the shield, with my teachers, there are 44 of us, and all of the women are very elder women from all over the world from native cultures. They do not work with traditional native culture at all. They are memorizing a very ancient, powerful and positive lineage of consciousness that has been handed down through the centuries. That is what I have been taught. When I work with them I tell them I am going to be doing this big event, and we sit and we dream and we pray. I see what it is that I feel is needed for people at this time through this juncture of third dimensional consciousness. What I divine is what people need on the retreat. People need something very different this year from what they did last year, I feel. They need to learn to dig for gold within themselves--meaning, how to find that vein of truth, awareness and power that we all have.

The Share Guide: So that's the theme your meditations have brought you to as the focus for this year?

Lynn: Yes. For this particular year it is transforming "base metal," our emotions, our character into something that is far more powerful, spiritual, and aware.

The Share Guide: Let me ask you about the Sisterhood of the Shields. This is a group of all women from native cultures from around the world?

Lynn: Yes. They are native people, very elder. I hesitate to say how elder, but they have transformed through the processes of aging.

The Share Guide: Okay. So what exactly is your connection with the Sisterhood of the Shield?

Lynn: I wrote a book called Medicine Woman many years ago. In my twenties I was married, had a daughter, was living in Beverly Hills and was looking for my spiritual teacher. I met many, many wonderful masters who were incredibly skilled, powerful and full of heart and soul, but I wanted to learn from a woman. At that time, spirituality was not as easily spoken about as it is today. So I went in search of a teacher and the whole story of Medicine Woman unfolded, where it became part of my destiny to go to the north of Canada and work with Agnes Whistling Elk and Ruby Plenty Chiefs, who became my mentors and teachers forevermore.

The Share Guide: Are they still with us on the planet today?

Lynn: Oh yes! We work together to this day. They are part of a secret society called the Sisterhood of the Shield including women from all over the world. All of these women came together memorizing and knowing this sacred knowledge that came from the stars. They always would say to me, "We are made from the stars and to the stars we must one day return." I think this ancient knowledge is Pleiadian, but it doesn't matter--I don't get into things like that because I don't feel very comfortable with belief structures (you have to believe this or you have to believe that.) I think what is important is that you believe in yourself and your relationship to the Divine, whatever that is for you.

The Share Guide: It is true that many native cultures do feel a bond or even roots in the stars. The Pleiades come up repeatedly around the world in cultures that supposedly don't know about each other.

Lynn: I don't want to go into belief structures. When we are giving an event or a retreat, I want people to come and discover who they are. What is their special little flame inside that makes them the exquisite creator that we all are. We are all part of the Great Spirit. We are all reflections of the Great Spirit.

The Share Guide: So you want people to open up to their innerselves more than having a belief structure.

Lynn: Right. It is not just their innerselves, it is their own absolute magic. If you believe in magic, it happens in your life. I am a shaman. I am not a medicine woman. In other words, I have learned about energy. I have learned about how to heal the body with the power of thought, the power of spirit. I think as we are in spirit, we are in the physical body. So, I work a lot with healing the total self. However, a medicine person is affiliated with an ancient tradition, that they are usually born into and raised into--an ancient lineage. My situation is vastly different. I am not Indian. I was not raised in a lineage, and I am certainly not a medicine woman, which implies a very traditional ritualistic background.

The Share Guide: You are from our Western culture, but you are a student of the native people, right?

Lynn: I am a student of native women but they have not been teaching me traditional native culture. They have taught me a very different, highly evolved cosmological study.

The Share Guide: I am curious about that--would you say that the native cultures are with the earth, and you are really differentiating between them? I know you are talking about higher knowledge.

Lynn: We work with the earth. I happen to think that we chose to come here to learn certain things. The physical dimension of the relative world, the time-space continuum, is a very powerful teacher, because within this world we can create mirrors. In the process of becoming a writer, for example, you create a mirror that is an undeniable teacher for who you are. I saw in the process of writing my first book, Medicine Woman, that I had not organized myself the way I thought I had. It was one of the most painful things I ever did, because I had not prepared myself anywhere near what I thought I had. It took me a long time to get through that book and to write it because I also was afraid of being successful, afraid of being known. I was an abused child, and if you are an abused kid, you are afraid of putting your head above the ground because you think it will be knocked off. I wanted to be loved. And I thought as a woman, I didn't dare be successful because nobody would love me.

The Share Guide: Did you have trouble getting published at first or did it catch on very quickly?

Lynn: It caught on very quickly. I was lucky in that way. I think it was something that was meant to be, really.

The Share Guide: When you lived in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, you were an art dealer, correct?

Lynn: I was an art dealer, but mainly I was married. My ex-husband was in the film business, and ended up being one of the heads of Warner Brothers. We made films together for years. I was in a totally different world. In those days you didn't talk about your spiritual life. So I was very lonely there. I am not saying I didn't have wonderful friends, I had a fabulous life, but it wasn't the life I was supposed to be leading. I was supposed to have my daughter.

The Share Guide: You were looking for more spiritual outlets?

Lynn: Well, more than just spiritual. I could see energy forms around people: I knew when they were lying; I could see the red in them when they were angry; I could see where they needed to be healed--but I didn't know what to do with it. I knew it was a tremendous responsibility, but it also separated me from everybody and it was very difficult. I had to find out from somebody what was happening to me, and that is why I went in search of a teacher, really. I knew I had a destiny, but I didn't know what it was.

The Share Guide: Was Agnes Whistling Elk your first introduction to shamanism?

Lynn: Yes.

The Share Guide: So she got you started on that path. It sounds from your book as if your home even then was full of artifacts from tribal cultures around the world. You had a feel for that.

Lynn: Yes. I went towards power objects like they were my own children. I had such a sense for them and feel for them, but I didn't know at the time what they really meant.

The Share Guide: What did you mean when you said in your book that the purpose of medicine is power?

Lynn: These are old, old words of mine. Looking back on it, I would say something different now. The purpose of medicine is power of meaning--that you have power over your own dreams, that you can manifest in the world your true nature, and that takes personal power.

The Share Guide: Starting tomorrow, I am going on a 5-day Buddhist Meditation Retreat. I was wondering if you give people suggestions on how to prepare for retreats? And for your own retreats, do you like people to show up relaxed with nothing studied in advance, or with certain preparations done?

Lynn: It depends on the person, and what that person needs. Some people are very lazy and they need to prepare to get themselves together. Other people are so incredibly busy that they need to do a meditation to clear themselves. I think clearing yourself is a good idea. In other words, visualize a slate, a blackboard in your mind, with all of this stuff written on it. You see all of these formulas and words and people and things to be done, and then slowly wipe it away. See the slate all clean. Then as you sit there and meditate with it, it will suddenly get filled up again. Then you erase it again. That's peace. On retreat I think it is best to come in knowing what you want to achieve, or you may just want to be open to what happens and let it happen to you. The problem with all of us, Dennis, is that we go into something and we doubt it, we judge it. We think, "I don't like that person; I'd rather be roomed with somebody else; that person isn't paying enough attention to me," and so forth. We need to get rid of those personality things that come up.

The Share Guide: You mean we should be more accepting?

Lynn: Yes, but not only that. The only way the mind can control you is with thoughts, and it doesn't want to lose you to a higher endeavor so it will try and reel you back where the mind has control over you through the thinking of thoughts that structure you. The little simple things you think about all day long are always filled with judgments and opinions. Not that this is necessarily bad, but what I think you need to do is just let thoughts go through your mind and don't hang on to them. Just let them go through.

The Share Guide: That is very good advice, I'll take that to heart and mind for tomorrow. I have many other questions for you. How did your school, the Lynn Andrews Center for Sacred Arts and Training, come to be created? And why do you call it a "mystery school without walls?"

Lynn: After writing 12 or13 books, I realized that people need so very much. There's such a hunger for awareness, people needing to deepen themselves. At first I thought that the books were all people really needed from me. But as I lectured and worked, I realized that people needed much more. A lot of people that I work with are massage therapists or doctors or healers, and they need to understand certain things. So I thought, maybe I need to start a school. So I went to the Sisterhood. We sat and counseled for a long time. I told them what I thought was needed and they agreed with me. They helped me along with some wonderful people who worked for me. And they helped me design this process of teaching. We decided to make it a school without walls, a correspondence school, so that people from all over the world that couldn't get to me or to a campus, could still work with this information. We have trainings a couple of times a year and we have mentors to work with people, to help in different areas of study. It has become one of the finest things I have seen done. I am so proud of it because I pictured it from beginning to end. I wrote four years of training.

The Share Guide: Do people work toward a degree of some type?

Lynn: Yes. We have a Bachelors and a Masters degree which are affiliated with the University of Naturopathic Medicine at Santa Fe, New Mexico. We also issue a minister's license, which is very important; I don't give that just as a piece of paper. I really do stand behind that training because people often want to create a congregation of some kind. The minister's license enables you to do that. I wanted to have a continuing education program so people could be under an umbrella where everything is created, so that they could do mailing lists, exchange ideas, talk about different lodges that were involved and so forth. We meet once a year and have an absolutely magnificent time. The school has really flowered, I think, from what we have planted from seeds into this sacred soil.

The Share Guide: Is there information online?

Lynn: Yes. We have wonderful, magnificent website: www.lynnandrews.com. We have forums, we have shopping clubs, we are even putting classes online.

The Share Guide: Inspiring people is great.

Lynn: Inspiration is a wonderful thing. It is such a private thing that so many times people hold dear to them and close to their own heart. I think this particular gateway marks a difference. It's a time when you have these wonderful ideas of what to do. Well, now you need to share them. Say, this is what changed my life, this has brought me joy, I would like to share it with you, I would like you to see that your life is possible, your dreams are possible. You can absolutely create your own life in your own way.

The Share Guide: That is what I like about Buddhist teachings. They are talking about becoming more conscious for the sake of all beings, which includes yourself.

Lynn: For all beings on the earth, this is absolutely true. We are not separate from each other. We are all part of a great one-ness. Agnes Whistling Elk was the one that told me early on that we are like a smashed mirror in the earth, each of us are pieces of that smashed mirror, and each one of us reflects the light of the Great Spirit, and we pull that puzzle together--those pieces of smashed mirror into one great huge exquisite mirror and we are all part of it.

The Share Guide: How many retreats do you do in a year besides the large annual one at Joshua Tree?

Lynn: I do the continuing education retreats, and I do something called "Storm Eagle" which is the school gathering where we work exclusively with people that are enrolled in the school.

The Share Guide: Are people recommended to bring sacred items to the retreats?

Lynn: Yes. There is a whole list of things that people bring to Joshua Tree, because I do so much work on a retreat. A lot of people just stand on a stage and just talk. We do a real event, where we construct things and gateways and mirrors, and all kinds of things we set out so that people can have an experience.

The Share Guide: The tapes of the last Joshua retreat really show that. It seemed like there was quite a bit of music and entertainment to liven it up, more like a multimedia experience.

Lynn: Right. People always take something home. They are going to take something fabulous home from this next Joshua Tree event.

The Share Guide: I want people to know that it's much more than Lynn Andrews just droning away.

Lynn: Oh no, it isn't that! But isn't that the truth, people can't believe how involved it is. We have been working on Joshua Tree all year long. It is like putting on a Broadway play. We ought to be off Broadway at least!

The Share Guide: How do you feel about making your home as a sanctuary and treating your home as an inner retreat?

Lynn: Your home is a sanctuary. It is a very blessed, sacred space that you have created for what you need to do in this world. That is why I am very careful of who comes in or out of my home. I think everybody most likely feels that.

The Share Guide: I feel that if you put up spiritual objects all around the house, you are making your home more like a temple. We look forward to going away to events, but I also look forward to just quiet time at home. I just want to point out that going on a retreat is great, but setting up beautiful and spiritual home is also important.

Lynn: Yes. But a lot of people, alone, cannot get used to their own skin in their own home. They keep looking outside of themselves for enlightenment. You have a master inside of you, but you have to figure out how to get in touch with it.

The Share Guide: That brings up a good question: how can we more easily experience our own inner peace and feel the Great Spirit within us?

Lynn: That is what my school is about. How to get there, and all of the things that come up through your conscious mind that distract you from the truth of who you really are, and what you really are supposed to be in this life. Being is a very different word from doing. It is the beingness within which you find the master within.

The Share Guide: I have a question for you from Janice, my wife, who asks how to avoid drowning in spiritual materialism.

Lynn: Spiritual materialism is very dangerous simply because we are very serious about what we do. We feel that this is the only way, we are on a path and this is it. There is no other way. That sort of attitude is putting a sense around your consciousness, and that will absolutely keep out other endeavors but it will also keep out the truth. When we become spiritually material, we become dedicated to what we do. When you choose a path you need to stay on it for at least 7 years to really learn what is there for you, but it becomes material in the sense that people who are spiritual need to survive in the world. There is no way that I can give an event without charging for it. I couldn't afford to do it. I couldn't afford the advertising, or hiring the people that need to work, or finding a place that will house that many people and so forth. But I think true spiritual materialism is when you lose your perspective of God. Everything is made of light. You are God in a sense, you are the Great Spirit in the sense that you are a reflection of the light of the Great Spirit.

The Share Guide: What is your vision of the future, and how do you see things unfolding in the next century? What we can do in our lifetimes to make the world a better place?

Lynn: You can become conscious and aware, and as you become conscious and aware, you will enlighten those around you. It is about education, and education sometimes cannot be dealt with in a direct way. Why do people cut down the rainforest in Brazil? How in the holy world do we stop people from doing that? It is through their ignorance that they do such a thing. If they realized truly what they were doing, if they were educated enough about what they are doing, that wouldn't happen.

The Share Guide: So your vision is that we need to continue linking each other up and educating one another?

Lynn: I think we need to share our love, share our light, share what we know, without doubt or judgment. Share openly, knowing that you may know nothing. You know nothing and you can heal no one. But, you can love and give of your spirit, and you can enable people to find their own enlightenment.

For more information about Lynn Andrews and The Lynn Andrews Center for Sacred Arts and Training, please visit www.lynnandrews.com


FREE If you liked this interview, you'll love The Share Guide's
Holistic Health Newsletter. Subscribe for free!

Home Health Directory Articles Index Interviews Index

Shop Links About Share Guide Contact us

About Share Guide


Health Directory



Contact us

Free Media Kit

Get Newsletter

Avertising Info
Subscribe to magazine

Search this site

copyright 2002--The Share Guide--All rights reserved