How Rolling Thunder redefined shamanism

Today's Mindfunda wants to celebrate Rolling Thunder's birthday, September 19. Rolling Thunder, whose birth name was John Pope, was a self-proclaimed shaman. He had a huge following, with famous people like Bob Dylan and the Grateful Death among them. But most of all he was in touch with nature. He had a remarkable ability to tune into the energies of nature.

Shamanism and healing

The Voice of Rolling Thunder

On the cover of this book, written by Stanley Krippner and his son Sidian Morning Star Jones you see a bird in the hands of Rolling Thunder. Before the photo was taken that bird lay wounded on the ground. Rolling Thunder picked the bird up and nurtured it. Soon, the bird started to come alive again and at that moment this photo was taken.
Even though there is question whether Rolling Thunder indeed had an Indian heritage, fact is that he was in tune with nature. He seemed to have an ability to pick up on nature’s rhythm and align his own energy with it.

Shamanism and pop culture

Rolling Thunder was popular with artists. He inspired Bob Dylan who did a Rolling Thunder tour. It is not clear if Bob Dylan named the tour after the healer, but Rolling Thunder is said to have appeared in some of the concerts to perform ceremonies. It was completely in line with the time frame: pop musicians like the Beatles in the seventies took people into the modern times but wanted to dip into the ancient wisdom. The Beatles introduced meditation by hooking up with Maharishi Yogi. Bob Dylan, but also the Grateful Death twirled around the magic of Rolling Thunder. Mickey Hart devoted a whole album to Rolling Thunder.

The archetypical qualities every pop star must have to become popular, have a magical appeal to the public. Rolling Thunder aligned with that appeal. I think he was able to do that because he seemed to be able to pick up energies so well.

Shamanism and energy

Rolling Thunder seemed to have this illumed power to tune into energy. i know that sounds vague. It is like buying a tooth-brush because it has thirty percent more hair in its brush. It can not be the ultimate success factor of this shaman. Let’s listen to Rolling Thunder himself in his foreword for Song of the Siren:

What scientists call physic phenomena, American Indians would refer to as “other world”. These phenomena are very important. In fact, they are the most important aspects of our lives. They have to do with life and death and sickness. They even have to with the rise and fall of governments.
Everything in the universe rises and falls and travels in cycles. These cycles are energy patterns created in the universe itself, then in the bodies of everyone living and everything that has a life. I think as scientists go more into explorations in this area, they will find that these energy patterns explain a lot‘.

Now this is a romantic view of life. It is something we crave. We know we have lost this connection to the earth and we grieve its loss every day. Looking at pop music today, it seems to have lost this bridge function between the old and the new. The new stars do not seem to have mentors. Or have I just become older?

Shamanism and you

I think that whenever you take a quit moment and you align with the natural rhythms around you, you can become your own shaman.
I think that Rolling Thunder had this great appeal to people because he had this genuine desire to unveil the secrets of the earth. And I think that we all long for this. That is why we all are moved by the words of Chief Seattle, of the Suquamish Indians. In his letter he writes:

Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself“.

Like Rolling Thunder, he calls this alignment between the earth and the humans into being. And we live in a life that seems to have forgotten how much we are part of the earth. How we live, breath and are the earth itself. and how we will become part of her again after we leave this life.

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Psychology professor Stanley Krippner about dreams myths and visions

Stanley Krippner

Mindfunda had the honor of interviewing Stanley Krippner, professor in psychology on Saybrook University about his life. You can watch it on my YouTube channel. Don’t forget to sign up because I will be uploading lots of interesting interviews.

Stanley Krippner is a featured speaker on the conference of the International Study for the Association of dreams (IASD) where he will be talking about his work on ptsd – post traumatic stress disorder -. *)

It was a dream of mine that triggered me to sent him an invitation for an interview. I dreamed that I was performing a ritual with my hands. I had to move my hands in synch with Stanley Krippner in my dream. I knew exactly what to do, intuitively and I woke up very happy. With a new sense of trusting my inner self.

Stanley Krippner A life of dreams, myths and visions

If you purchase this book using this link, you will support the good work of Mindfunda

In this book Stanley Krippner, a life of dreams myths &  visions, a picture is painted of a psychology professor who combines a very analytical skill with tact and diplomacy. A rare combination. A lot of well-known scholars contributed a chapter to this book: Allan Leslie Combs, Jurgen Werner. Michael Winkerman, Charles Laughlin, Jean Millay & Suzanne Engelman, Deidre Barret, Daniel Deslaudiers, Faribah Bogzahran, David Feinstein and Deidre Barrett to name a few. This book is filled with wisdom.

Stanley Krippner has explored the field of psychology in all possible realms. He has a special interest in dreams. He has kept a dream journal from a relative young age. His article about how the magnetism of the earth influences dream content is just one of the ways he shows his love for the earth. Growing up in a farmer’s family he was involved in ecological agriculture at an early age. Slug the Bug! was his first ecological product that he sold himself at the local market. He always is very aware of his connection to the earth. His advice to students of psychology is: to stay grounded


This connection to the earth must get nurtured by a believe in magic. In the Mindfunda interview Stanley Krippner talks about how his good friend Rolling Thunder surprised him with some magic. One day a bird was brought to Rolling Thunder, a Cherokee medicine man. His wing was broken. Rolling thunder just took the bird in his hands and it flew away, healed.

Rolling thunder

If you buy this book using this link you will support the good work of Mindfunda 

In the Mindfunda interview you will hear Stanley Krippner talking about that event. The picture on the cover of the book was taken shortly after.


The interview with Stanley Krippner made perfectly clear that psychology needs grounded people who base their conclusions on observable facts. But that only observable facts are not enough. You have to be open-minded for the magic to do its work. Otherwise the earthly facts would be too dry to consume.

His knowledge about magic (he used to study and perform magic tricks) came into good use when he investigated several paranormal events. A haunted house got analyzed by Stanley who deducted that every time something happened the grandson of the couple that lived in this haunted house was present. It turned out that the grandson wanted a place of his own and creating a story about the house being haunted made people crazy enough to experience weird things.
Magic also played a role when he conducted his experiments with Montague Ullman and Alan Vaughan concerning dream telepathy. The laboratory where he investigated dreaming persons using electrodes to measure their brainwaves was checked by magicians. It are those kind of details that make this man stand out.

I know Stanley Krippner not only from the books he has written but also because I invited him to perform a workshop Personal Mythology in the Netherlands. In the Mindfunda interview Stanley says that finding out your Personal mythology is important. Getting to know yourself better is vital for liking yourself. Liking yourself creates inner peace. inner peace creates the ability to give back to the world. If you want to join the Facebook group Personal Mythology I initiated click here. In this group we talk about mythology, mythological themes that penetrate our lives, we talk about dreams and how we have evolved from old personal mythologies into new mythologies.

There is one thing I have not mentioned yet. Shamanism. Deidre Barrett, in her contribution to the book “Every Tribe’s Wise man” talks about how a supervisee, Amaro Laria found shamans in remote places who all asked him once they heard he was from America: “Do you know Stanley Krippner?”

Stanley talks in the Mindfunda interview about how he used Carlos Casteneda’s hand method to aquire the art of lucid dreaming (for more info about lucid dreaming see my interview with Robert Waggoner).
Like Ralph Metzner he researched and experienced natural means of expanding consciousness and has written several articles about it.

Stanley Krippner gives psychology a new two-sided face. On the one hand he is about facts: analyzing data, reading the latest research. On the other hand he always keeps an eye open for magic. “The one thing I wish that students would do is gather facts about precognitive dreams” he stated in one of the interviews I saw while preparing my Mindfunda interview. Facts, sprinkled with a little touch of magic.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

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