“Healing is nothing more than a complete acceptance and surrender to the way things are”
– Dancing Bear
Shamanism is experiencing a worldwide revival, thanks mostly to the work of Michael Harner PhD, an anthropologist who has devoted his life to the preservation of ancient shamanic knowledge and Sandra Ingerman who wrote Soul Retrieval, Mending the fragmented self. Michael Harner created a foundation, The Foundation for Shamanic Studies which teaches, worldwide, what Michael Harner calls Core Shamanism. Shamanism is an ancient healing art practiced in many native cultures all over the world. A shaman uses various methods to access spiritual power and healing information. One of the most widely used methods is called the shamanic journey whereby a shaman enters non-ordinary reality (The Hidden Universe) aided by drumming and other techniques. The shamanic state of consciousness is generated when a monotonous drumbeat is heard altering brainwaves, thus creating a deep state of relaxation or trance. In the trance state, shamans can obtain healing visions and access spiritual guidance and power often represented as animals and nature spirits.
The goal of shamanic healing is to restore power. Power loss is seen as the spiritual cause for illness, an unhappy life, addictions, accidents and poor luck. But how do we lose our power in the first place? In the shamanic view of life, traumatic events in our lives often cause us to lose our power, our soul. In order to alleviate pain during a traumatic event, our soul flees. In our modern culture we have forgotten the knowledge of the impact of traumas on our soul essence. Soul loss is a defence mechanism and is in itself a positive occurrence. However, in most cases, the soul does not return on its own. Other instances of soul loss are what we call soul stealing, when in relationship, we give away pieces of ourselves or they are simply taken from us. For example, a depressed parent can steal a child’s ‘light’ inadvertently in order to help themselves feel better.
After soul loss, many of us spend the rest of our lives trying to put ourselves back together so that we may feel whole again. And, from my own observation, I would say that the emotions that crystallize in our bodies during trauma create a magnet that keeps attracting similar events to our lives, creating a pattern. The impact of soul loss is significant since major soul loss often occurs before the age of three. Soul loss is often likely one of the root causes of addictive behaviours. Other symptoms can manifest as illness, chronic depression, panic attacks, eating disorders and so on. Deprived of our vital essence, we are more prone to becoming unwell, physically and mentally.
Many of us experience soul loss at an early age simply to cope with the conditions of our lives. For a child, soul loss can be caused by emotional abandonment from a parent, the birth of a sibling, abuse, surgery, an accident or a divorce. Soul loss is so common in our culture that most of us have forgotten what it feels like to be fully at home in our body. We hear ourselves say “He has not been himself since she passed away” or “I don’t feel like I am all here since the car accident”. After a break-up we will sometimes say: “This person stole my soul”. The soul parts we lose often contain our innate gifts and talents, our willpower and desire to do well, as well as our self-love, joy and laughter. After soul loss, we may give up a much enjoyed hobby, an art form or activities that nurture our soul.
The ceremony performed by a shamanic practitioner in the case of soul loss is called Soul Retrieval. A trained practitioner can track the person’s lost essence and bring it back to the person’s body. The practitioner will often bring back a story as to why the soul left in the first place. Another practice to restore power is a Power Animal retrieval. The practitioner journeys to seek out a spirit protector for the client to help them in their daily lives. Other shamanic practices include divination, extraction and psychopomp. Divination is a journey the practitioner does to his helping spirits on behalf of the client to obtain relevant information for the client’s question. Extraction is a shamanic healing method to remove spiritual intrusions from a person’s being. In psychopomp, the practitioner journeys to passed-on relations of the client, to obtain information or, with their permission, to perform healing on them, or to help them transition.
Other shamanic healings can be performed on homes, on land or bodies of water. For example, my father developed a property for condominiums in my hometown. It had been many years of struggle for him when it occurred to me to offer to help. I asked permission to the Spirit of the land and asked for its blessing for the project to go through. I performed an extraction of what appeared to be misplaced energy and I did an offering ceremony on the land. Finally, I did a power animal retrieval for the protection of the people who would eventually live there and to protect the workers during construction. After the ceremony, it felt like the land was healed and harmonious. Within a short time, a long-standing litigation with the town board settled amicably and after six months, the project was well on its way and completely sold out shortly after that.
In conclusion, Soul Retrieval and a Power Animal retrieval are 2 ways a shamanic practitioner uses to restore power to a client. The effects of a Soul Retrieval can be far reaching and can bring peace and power to a person seeking healing. For more information on this wonderful method, please read the book authored by my teacher Sandra Ingerman Soul Retrieval, Mending the fragmented self, Harper, San Francisco.
Daniel does not hold plant medicine ceremonies. Daniel teaches Shamanic Healing using the Shamanic Journey, Drumming, Rattling Etc.