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Shamanism and soul retrieval have been around for better than 40,000 years. Both have been practiced by healers of most every indigenous culture on the planet. These ancient peoples understood what our modern culture has forgotten. There is more to healing and health than just the physical. There are, in fact, four levels of our being that must be addressed in order for us to enjoy balanced and healthy lives.

Our modern medical practices focus on the physical, our culture is obsessed with the mental, and psychotherapy addresses the emotional, but the fourth of these aspects, the spiritual, is mostly ignored if not invalidated all together.

We are not discussing religion here. Shamanism has been practiced by the cultures of most of the religions of the world.

When people are exposed to trauma or extreme stress, parts of them may leave. A clear example of this is war veterans and "post traumatic shock syndrome". Any time you hear "he has not been the same since..." you are probably hearing about someone who has suffered soul loss. There are innumerable things that can cause soul loss, the death of a loved one, an accident, physical, emotional or sexual abuse, and abandonment to name just a few.

The symptoms are as varied as the causes. Some symptoms of soul loss are: depression, feeling spaced out, having recurring abusive patterns show up in our relationships, not remembering parts of our past, disconnected from our feelings, not feeling present in our bodies, ill health, poor boundaries, feeling depleted, alienated and so on.

If you have any of these symptoms and have addressed them with traditional medical and emotional therapies, if you have changed your diet and take supplements and herbs yet you still feel you are not really well, you may be suffering from soul loss.

A shaman is a person who deals with spiritual illness. A trained shaman can perform a soul retrieval and actually bring back lost parts of a person's soul. This is a gentle, noninvasive technique that can be profound and life changing.

In our day of medical miracles, it is a shame that so many of us suffer needlessly for lack of the most ancient of healing modalities. Fortunately for us all, this ancient form is being rediscovered and competent trained practitioners are becoming increasingly available.

Our Protective Fields

We come into the world surrounded by a semi-permeable membrane. It's like a cell wall, but it's actually the energetic field around us known as our aura.

How our energy field works is through simple electromagnetic charges, which is much like a magnet works, with positive and negative poles that attract and repel. The negative and positive are not good and bad, they just repel same and attract different. Through the electromagnetic charge, our field draws into us the things that we need, and repels the things that would be harmful to us or that we don't need.

To use a simplified model, imagine that you are born with an energetic field all around you that carries a positive charge. If your energy field carries a positive charge, then it will draw only negative charges (the things we need) and repel other positive charges.

Power Animals

Shamans would say that we are also born with at least two or three "power animals", who are there to protect us. Energetically, power animals could be considered to provide particular energy frequencies to us, which help keep our energy field protected and help us operate optimally. Because we each come into life with certain gifts, personality characteristics, and tasks to accomplish, we each have a different combination of animals. At various times during our lives, a new power animal may join us to help with what we are dealing with at the time.

Individual power animals are said to carry the energy signature of the faculties and gifts most portrayed by the species they belong to. So, for instance, an armadillo is known for its protective shell and would be good protection. An elk has great strength and stamina that it could bring to us. A goat offers us surefootedness, actually or metaphorically.

Animals may come and go during our life, depending on what we most need at the time. But if an animal leaves, and is not replaced by another one, we may suffer power loss and be vulnerable energetically. So we begin life with this intact energetic field around us, protected by the energy signature of our various power animals.

Soul Loss

From the moment of birth, and probably before, we are vulnerable to the energies all around us in the world, which can impinge on our energy field.

We are also subjected to all sorts of physical and emotional traumas and shocks, and may actually lose access to parts of our original energy field. This is what shamans called soul loss, and what happens is that an aspect of us disconnects from the whole in an effort to avoid the pain of the trauma.

Soul loss can be envisioned as the taking away of a piece of your energy field, thus causing it to be inaccessible. Once a "soul part" leaves, an electromagnetic charge reversal occurs, or that area of your field converts to a negative charge. Then, instead of drawing in what you need, you repel what you need and attract what you don't.

Note that this reversal in your energy field only pertains to that area of your life in which the soul loss occurred. For instance, if the trauma was related to being sexually abused, then your energy field would tend to attract other sexually abusive situations.

Soul Sharing or Stealing

Our personal energy or essence can also be given away, consciously or unconsciously, and even taken away by another, especially when we are not well protected or have sustained a lot of soul loss. For instance, we offer others some of our essence when our heart goes out to them or we reach out and offer them a hand. When we offer our support, we are literally fueling another's life with our energy. If this is done briefly, and just long enough for the other person to gather his or her own energy to use, it is appropriate.

But if you move into pity or a codependent role, or forget that you have opened an energy channel to another, you can become drained. Your personal energy is now being used other than for your own personal being.

Little Johnny

I have an oft-told story that helps explain the process of soul loss. This is the story of Little Johnny:

One day, Johnny is sitting on the floor, playing with his ball, when he loses his grip on it so that it rolls in front of the door just as his father comes in from the bar drunk. His father trips over the ball, feels like a fool, gets mad, and hits Johnny.

This is unfortunate, but it goes on a lot in our society. At the age of two, Johnny can't communicate to his father that he doesn't have a right to take out his bad day out on a child. Aside from being unable to communicate at that level, doing so might also bring on more abuse from his father, so Johnny assumes responsibility for the incident.

He's not big enough to defend himself, and he also depends on his father to be right. If his father is not right, Johnny believes he won't be cared for, fed, provided for, or safe. He is totally at the mercy of his father. So Johnny does what all children do in such a circumstance. In this one little area of his life, he makes himself wrong in order to make his father right, and thus preserves his security.

While he used to think of himself as a good boy who deserved to be protected and provided for, and deserved not to be taken to task for someone else's issues, he now believes he's a bad boy and takes fault for the incident. He disconnects from his right not to be taken to task for other people's issues. This is soul loss. The term soul loss makes it sound a lot more mysterious than it is, but it is the term used in many indigenous cultures on the planet.

What used to be a positive charge in Johnny's energy field is now, in this one area, a negative charge. Therefore, in this area of his life, he is now drawing in the things that are harmful, and repelling the very things that he needs. If this goes uncorrected, Johnny will be the guy at work who will take responsibility for the copier breaking, even though he was in the bathroom four doors away when it happened. He will even tell you it was his fault with some seemingly logical explanation.

This soul loss causes the frequency of his spiritual level to drop, which sets up an energetic disharmony among the four levels of his being. If he were a four cylinder car with a fouled spark plug, he'd run rough with a lower output until the spark plug was replaced. However, he's an organism, not a machine, so all the other levels of his being are going to drop their frequency to compensate, thereby reestablishing harmony and homeostasis. Now he will function, but at a slightly lower overall output.

Pretty soon Johnny gets really sick of all this stuff coming at him again and again, so he starts to put up a labyrinth of defenses and protection. He runs screaming and hiding any time he sees a ball, he won't go close to the front door, and he hides under the bed when he expects his father to come home.

In a two-year-old that might seem a little quirky, but at twenty-five this could cause serious problems. By the time Johnny is twenty-five, he just thinks this is who he is. His defenses have been there so long, that now he believes he is just not a ball-playing kind of guy. He has most likely forgotten the initial incident that caused the problem in the first place.

That is the way it is with soul loss. We just know we don't do certain things, although we usually don't remember why. Yet at some level our mind knows why because it perceives that it once almost cost us our life by doing those things.

Johnny might eventually end up seeking psychotherapy. He may be able to make some behavioral changes such as watching hockey games instead of baseball, or use a relaxation technique to quell his desire to hide when he fears his father or some authority figure like him comes around. He may also come to understand that his fears and self-blame were a result of his father's alcoholic behavior, and he may be able to rebuild some of his self-esteem and grieve his losses. This, of course, oversimplifies what is going on in psychotherapy.

These changes may help to relieve some of his emotional distress, and rearrange his defense mechanisms so he is less crippled, but the problem still remains. This is because his energy field is still damaged. So Johnny can still be re-injured because he continues to draw in the things that are harmful to him.

Soul loss can cause the same things to keep happening over and over again in our lives. The faces may change, but the situations are similar. It's like the person who grows up with an alcoholic ends up marrying one. But, what this does is give us more than one chance to face the memory and heal the damage.

Miracles Do Happen

Unfortunately, many of us are of the mindset that once we become ill or are traumatized, we never really recover. Our whole culture has a belief system that supports this. However, spiritual healing methods like soul retrieval can actually reverse this, and in some cases can even help people recover from chronic, life-threatening illnesses. A series of soul retrievals can sometimes cause people to look ten years younger. This is because the body responds to the re-enlivened spirit inside of it. Moving spirit through our physical bodies changes them. The unhealable is suddenly healed. The only thing that limits this is our belief that it cannot be done.

In indigenous cultures, soul retrieval was done within three days of any traumatic event because it was accepted that soul loss would be a consequence. In our society, we have soul loss from birth, but we don't have a provision for spiritual healing, so it is left unaddressed. The disharmony of our society undoubtedly reflects the amount of soul loss we all have.

What Are You Going to Do to Me?

When one goes to the doctor or dentist, one pretty well knows what to expect. They may not be looking forward to the prospect but the procedure is familiar and accepted. In our culture, shaman is not a household word by any means and often conjures up images of a wild person shaking bones over a hapless, terrified client and vomiting worms into a bowl.

During the early years of my practice, I was the last stop for the desperate. You could trust that they had tried everything first and were still suffering greatly or they never would have darkened my doorstep. They had been subjected to all sorts of tests and treatment that became increasingly unpleasant as they failed to respond. What trust and faith they had was gone and now they must have lost their mind as well for here they were talking to, of all things, a shaman.

One time during a first visit interview, a client burst out, "but you seem so normal" "Give me a while" I responded, picking up my rattle. I have found that humor is the best thing out there to break up intense anxiety.

My job, as a shamanic practitioner, is to go into non-ordinary reality by means of the journey trance. What is that? Simply put, a journey trance is a form of meditation using repetitive sound (drumming or rattling) to help the practitioner enter an altered state of consciousness where by he or she can access the unconscious of another. This information comes through in the form of an interactive dream complete with metaphors.

This access allows us to find where a person had disconnected from himself or his power and by drawing attention and understanding to it enables him to reconnect.

As an urban shaman, working out of a medical doctor's office, I use a drumming CD and headset rather than a drumming ensemble. It tends to cause much less disruption.

I narrate the dream/journey to my client and tape it for further reflection. When I come back from my trance, we discuss the journey and what it meant to my client. Often I have related incidents to him from his childhood I had no way of knowing or understanding but in discussion we both are able to make sense of it and affect a healing in form of reconnection and integration.

I then ask the client to listen to the tape between our sessions and journal their process of integration in order to support and accelerate their healing.

This information and healing comes from deep in the subconscious like a dream and tends to slip back there if we do not take measures to hold it into our reality.

In indigenous cultures the entire tribe understood and honored the reality of spiritual healing there by holding a person's soul retrieval present through their agreement.

Until it is more accepted and understood in our culture, we have to have a provision to hold it ourselves. It is not likely we are going to discuss it with Aunt Martha and process it with our family. I have found journaling to be a powerful and useful substitute.

After a soul retrieval and integration you can expect to see your life change. Simply put, you become unstuck and move forward in your life with more power and substance.

This is a beautiful form of healing and empowerment preserved for us by our indigenous peoples all over the world. I am grateful to them for their vigilance and sacrifice to hold and now share that, which would otherwise have been desecrated and lost.

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