An Interview with Professor Irina H. Corten: UFOs and Shamanism
by: Brent Raynes
Irina H. Corten, Ph.D., has been a college professor in the Russian Department at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis. Though this interview was done back in 1999, it remains one of my favorite features covering the UFO/shamanic aspects.
Brent Raynes: Can you give me a general biographical sketch of yourself?
Prof. Corten: I was born in Moscow, Russia, of an American father and Russian mother. Grew up bilingual and bicultural. I spent my childhood and adolescence in Russia. During World War II my mother and I were evacuated to Siberia from our native Moscow. We froze and starved there. Less than a year old at the time, I almost died from double pneumonia and malaria, and later succumbed to scarlet fever and rheumatic heart fever. At one point, I underwent clinical death (my heart stopped). Later the doctor, who was something of a mystic and a student of Siberian shamanism, told my mother that I would have “a wounded soul.” Although I fully recovered from the effects of my physical ailments, it is possible that my soul became sensitized to the pain of living in this world and acquired a propensity for traveling in other dimensions. I also have a strong sense of having been a shaman in one of my past lives. Although I began to study shamanism as a discipline only five years ago, almost everything I learn about it feels like remembering prior knowledge. For me, the pursuit of shamanism has a distinct sense of coming Home.
Got my Ph.D. in Russian literature and culture at the University of California/Berkeley. Am a professor in the Russian Department at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis. Have been studying shamanism for several years; mostly through workshops offered by the Foundation for Shamanic Studies (Michael Harner’s organization). Have also studied with South American and Siberian shamans. Much of what I learn, while seemingly new, has the quality of rediscovering long-lost knowledge. I feel that I was a shaman in one of my former lives, probably in Siberia. But what I am learning and practicing now is called “core shamanism”—a system free of ethnicity and based on common elements in shamanic cultures worldwide. My healing techniques include soul retrieval, power animal retrieval, divination, and extraction. I work with clients both in person and over long distance. I also do healings for animals, plants, the land, and people’s homes.
Brent Raynes: Can you explain a little about the shamanic process? How you do it? Give the reader some working knowledge of how this works?
Prof. Corten: Visionary journeying is the centerpiece of shamanic work worldwide. Entering an expanded state of consciousness at will, the shaman taps into dimensions beyond the physical. These realms are usually referred to as non-ordinary reality. In it, the shaman interacts with spiritual forces of the universe that can take the form of animals, angels, or any other humanoid and non-humanoid entities. The purpose of shamanic journeys is to obtain knowledge, guidance, and healing power.
The shamanic state of consciousness is sometimes described as a trance, but the word is not completely accurate because it suggests a condition where one has little or no control, whereas in a shamanic journey the experiencer remains lucid and able to make decisions and exercise responsible judgement.
In some cultures, psychotropic drugs are used for shamanic journeying. In the majority of cases, however, a percussive instrument is employed instead—most typically a drum or a rattle. Its frequency and steady rhythm produce alpha or theta brain waves that facilitate one’s entry into non-ordinary reality.
Traditionally, shamans journey though a portal that leads into the Lower or the Upper World. These designations have nothing to do with the Judaeo-Christian concepts of heaven and hell. The Lower World is a spiritual realm contained beneath our planet Earth, and the Upper world is the spiritual dimension of the cosmos. Both are outside time and space, and both are inhabited by benevolent spirits.
The doorways into these domains are personal to each shaman. For example, the Lower World may be reached by visualizing a tunnel under a specific tree, a cave, a burrow or any other natural conduit into the earth. The Upper World may be accessed through jumping from a mountain, gliding up a rainbow, or being borne on a wind current or the wings of a bird. After passing through the portal, the shaman summons his or her Spirit Helper, poses the question, receives the teaching, and brings it back to ordinary reality. The information obtained in a shamanic journey may be literal or metaphoric, and may come in the form of visual images, sounds, feelings or telepathic transmissions. The final interpretation of it is up to the shaman or to the client for whose benefit the journey is undertaken.
I really love doing this work and journey almost every day on a wide variety of issues. Typically, a journey takes me 15-30 minutes of trance drumming.
Brent Raynes: Can you journey on this question? What are these UFOs? There are so many questions about UFOs.
(Prof. Corten had to get back with me later to respond to my request. This required her to engage in the journeying process.)
Prof. Corten: I have a number of different Spirits assisting me in shamanic journeys. I usually work with one at a time; the choice suggests itself intuitively, depending on the nature of the question. All of the shamanic Spirits represent the power of the universe, but each has individual qualities best suited for specific purposes. In this case, I felt it appropriate to go to the Upper World (spiritual realm beyond Earth) and consult the Spirit who usually helps me with questions about the meaning of life and the universe. She is a beautiful Extraterrestrial who looks like a giant golden-colored octopus. Her essence is knowledge, wisdom and love. Her name is El-ee-liul, but she allows me to call her El.
Before I go on any shamanic journey, I prepare myself in the following fashion. First, I smudge the room with sage. Then I light a candle and invite all my Helping Spirits to be present by rattling and chanting for a few minutes. When I begin to feel their presence and a shift in my consciousness, I pick up my drum and start beating it at a fast steady rhythm. I visualize a conduit into non-ordinary reality, pass through it, call the Spirit, and pose the question.
My usual starting point for Upper World journeys is a majestic old cotton tree that grows by the Mississippi River, not far from my home. I visualize jumping up from its top and flying toward the sky. I quickly pass through all the layers of the atmosphere and emerge into outer space, where EL hovers waiting for me. It always gives me great joy to see her. I fly straight into the embrace of her golden tentacles. She hears my question and replies by showing images and sending messages directly into my mind.
“Whatever is the nature of the UFOs seen by humans, and who are the ETs?” I asked EL. I could feel her smiling at my naivete. She said that this was far too big a question to be answered in the course of one journey, or even to be fathomed by one human mind, but she would try to explain some basic things to me as simply as possible. First, she showed me a vision of a huge honeycomb-like structure that filled the universe around us. It felt organic, warm and alive. Its intricate network looked like root systems of many trees and plants, interwoven into a harmonious life-sustaining whole. Energy pulses passed swiftly and continuously through this structure, emitting delicate music. All of the planets and star systems of our galaxy, including Earth, were embedded in this cosmic honeycomb. They looked like multicolored flowers. Wind was blowing their pollen about and cross-fertilizing them. A myriad of small insects of every conceivable shape and color, resembling sparks of light, flew about from flower to flower. It was a rich, dynamic and joyful picture.
I asked EL if she was demonstrating to me a symbolic picture of the unity of our universe, and she said yes. Then she began pouring so much information into my mind that I could hardly contain it and had to ask her to slow down. I will now attempt to convey the gist of it as concisely and accurately as I can.
Beings whom humans call ETs have been visiting Earth from time immemorial. There are many different species of them and they come for different specific purposes, but none of them malevolent. The violent invasive monsters that the human imagination has created do not correspond to reality. They merely reflect our own violent tendencies and fears of the unknown. The ETs who visit us are much more aware than we are of the unity of all life. Destroying life makes no sense to them, and colonizing Earth is unnecessary for them because they have the resources of the universe to sustain them. They are curious about our world and want to study it and interact with it. They are interested in all living beings on our planet, not only humans. In fact, they find that certain non-human species are more advanced than humans in spirituality and wisdom. Trees, cetaceans and elephants are among these.
The ET exist in dimensions beyond our 3-D physical world which, for them, is narrow and confining. They have to make a great effort to manifest themselves in our reality. They journey through the universe on energies that do not require physical spaceships, but in order to materialize in our reality they have to create a resemblance of such spacecraft. This is what we see as UFOs. In other words, UFOs are condensations of multidimensional energy to fit our physical world and our ordinary human perception. This is also true of the ETs’ physical bodies as we sometimes perceive them. The ETs would much prefer to communicate with us through less physical means, such as visions, dreams, clairvoyance, telepathy and other such means that modern humans are capable of but seldom use. Indigenous peoples of the world are much better at utilizing these facilities to develop modes of perception other than the linear, the rational, and the scientific. When that happens, contact between us will be much easier and more productive.
Brent Raynes: Since the ETs prefer communications through dreams, visions, telepathy, and so forth, do they want a shamanic branch of ufology, or how would “they” like to see this goal accomplished?
Prof.Corten: I would say they definitely want to see the development of a shamanic branch of ufology. Shamans have been the world’s earliest communicators with ET intelligence, as cave art and other archaeological evidence shows us. I’m not suggesting that one must become a shaman to interact with ETs. There are other ways we can make ourselves receptive to them, such as learning lucid dreaming, becoming adept at meditation and other expanded states of consciousness, and simply allowing ourselves to trust our right-brain perceptions more than we have been conditioned to do. I must add that I do not advocate the use of psychotropic drugs for this purpose. The loss of self-control and the health risks are too great. In shamanism, drugs are used only in about ten percent of indigenous cultures worldwide.
Brent Raynes: Do “they” have to “create a semblance of…spacecraft” to appear in our dimension, or is it because of us, our expectations, that this becomes necessary?
Prof. Corten: I think it’s a bit of both. They have to materialize in our reality when they want to be seen by us, and in order to do so they choose a type of vehicle that would be recognizable by us. My guess is that when they communicate with other sentient species, they choose forms, sounds, and smells that these creatures can recognize and relate to. The ETs who visit us are pretty good at shape-shifting, though it is difficult for them to remain in 3-D reality for very long.
Brent Raynes: I wonder if the honeycomb network that links earth and other planets and star systems could be what our modern physicists call “wormholes”?
Prof. Corten: I have done a lot of thinking and journeying on this subject, but haven’t discovered definitive answers so far. No, I don’t think the honeycomb structure is a wormhole. I think it has more to do with the energy network that permeates and animates our universe. In one of my shamanic journeys I was told that it is the “Brain of the Universe” or “Universal Consciousness.”
Brent Raynes: Some shamans describe a tunnel-like effect or doorway when they journey, or enter into non-ordinary reality or realms. Do you perceive things like this?
Prof. Corten: When I was a novice in shamanism, I was trained to visualize a tunnel as a focusing device for entering non-ordinary reality (NOR). But now I’m so used to journeying I often find myself reaching that realm almost as soon as I start drumming. Sometimes, however, tunnels and spiraling corridors do appear before me when I’m already in the journey, and I pass through them to reach deeper or different levels of NOR. It is possible that these tunnels correspond to “wormholes,” although shaman travel takes place outside of time and space as human science understands it. By the way, have you seen the movie “Contact”? The heroine’s journey to Vega is very shamanic, very much like an Upper World journey that I’ve experienced many times, only without all that physical shaking that Jodie Foster so dramatically enacts for us.
The alleged cruelty of the ETs who abduct humans to perform surgical procedures on them has always been difficult for me to believe. However, since a considerable number of people have reported such experiences, I did some shamanic journeying to find out what this was all about. Here is what my spirit helper EL told me.
There are indeed some races of ETs who are interested in studying human anatomy and the reproductive process. Because they are of a less corporeal nature than we are, they do not feel pain as we do, and they do not understand physical suffering. What’s even more important is this. Since they are much more aware than we are of the unity of all life, they do not have strong egos and feelings of individual separateness. Their deeply rooted sense of interconnectedness with all living beings makes it difficult for them to comprehend why we would possibly object to sharing our ova or sperm with them.
I was also told in the shamanic journey that the ET “doctors” actually do not use any invasive surgical instruments. Their medical knowledge is advanced far beyond such primitive methods. They perform something akin to psychic surgery known in some parts of our world. However, because many of the abductees are terrified of the aliens, their minds construct scenarios of painful surgery. This does not make their suffering any less real to them, but the aliens are not the cause of it.
EL reminded me that physical pain is closely related to what goes on in our minds and is greatly exacerbated by fear. “Think of your childbirth experience, Irina,” she said. Well, she was absolutely right on that score. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I underwent training in the Lamaze method of natural childbirth. During my labor and delivery, I went in and out of remembering to carry out what I had learned. When I succumbed to fear and confusion, forgetting to breath properly, relax my muscles and think positively, I felt strong pain. But when I did the exercises and reminded myself of the wonderful purpose of this activity, the pain virtually disappeared. EL told me that if abductees did not fear the aliens and agreed to cooperate with them, their experiences would feel completely different. They would have a sense of participating in a fascinating and creative experiment.
Brent Raynes: So the mind of the abductee remembers the psychic surgery procedure (or whatever it is) as surgical, and is this because of the abductee’s expectations? But what of the scars and places resembling biopsies on the bodies of abductees?
Prof. Corten: The imagery of the abduction experience has a lot to do with the abductee’s expectations and especially fears. The scars are very much like stigmata—bodily marks that appear as a result of intense emotional experiences. This is also true of ET implants. Unlike the objects we use for tracking and studying animals, they aren’t physical devices. But if the abductee isn’t comfortable with such an implant and is afraid of it, he or she will perceive it as a physical intrusion. It may even become a physical object for awhile, but it dematerializes pretty quickly. Which is why we don’t have any lasting evidence of such things, though witnesses claim to have seen them.