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Soul Retrieval – Healing and Shamanism


Soul Retrieval – Shamanism and Healing.

Soul Retrieval - Healing and Shamanism

The recapitulation of life force is the body of work, which restores or recapitulates lost life force. Soul Retrieval is one of the most well-known and effective practices to this end.

To understand how recapitulation practices work, we need to look at the multidimensional nature of reality and move away from a linear sequential perspective. From this expanded perspective, ‘anything which has ever happened to anybody, anywhere; it is still happening somewhere’. If a traumatic event occurred for a person ten, twenty and so on years ago, for that person it is still happening, and I would venture to state that it is also in some way still influencing the person’s life.

Shamanism does not dwell on past events; there is only this vast awesome ever-moving great moment of now where there is no separate past, present, or future. It is possible for a practitioner to journey and move outside of linear time to go to the place where that energetic event is still occurring for that individual, find and bring back that person’s life force which is held in that energetic event, and when this has been carried out, then the therapeutic healing of the event and it’s consequences can truly begin.

The loss of life-force is known as soul-loss, and this can take place when we suffer a trauma, have an accident, experience strong emotional exchanges with a loved one, separation from a partner, death of a loved one, go through a pervasive period of difficult circumstances. When we undergo a severe trauma typically a part of our vital nature goes away, so that we can survive what ever is happening to us. It is a way for the body and consciousness to survive severe trauma. Problems develop when the soul part or fragment does not return. It may not want to come back, or may not be able to return due to the nature of the trauma

Joseph Campbell writes in his classic work The Masks of God ‘…sickness according to shamanic theory, can be caused either by the entrance of an alien element into the body, or by the departure of the soul from the body and its imprisonment in one of the spirit regions: above, below, or beyond the rim of the world. The Shaman’s clairvoyant vision must discover its lurking place. Then riding “on the sound of his drum”, he must sail away on the wings of trance to whatever spiritual realm may harbour the soul in question, and work swiftly his deed of rescue.’

The concept of Soul-loss , and the ceremonial retrieval of souls is found in many cultures. For example in the Tibetan Bon Shamanistic tradition, One of the most important practices performed by Tibetan shamans of the Sichen path is Soul Retrieval – Lalu (literally redeeming, or buying back the soul), and chilu, (redeeming the life-energy). These practices are widespread in the Bon tradition and also in all Tibetan Buddhist schools.

Although the terminology is different, the concept of soul-loss is a phenomenon well known to psychology. Jung recounts in his memoirs a fantasy in which his soul flew away from him, that is, the libido withdrew into the unconscious and was carrying on a secret life there. The libido representing the life-force, and the unconscious typically representing ‘the land of the dead’ .

There are a number of symptoms of soul-loss, for example, when people feel that they are observing life as an outsider, rather than engaging and being fully involved. Other common symptoms are when people feel that they are being ‘spaced’ out a lot of the time, not really here. Other symptoms that indicate possible soul loss are life-themes such as a pervasive fear, inability to trust people. I have also found that a severe depression can also be a symptom of soul loss. Chronic illness may also be a symptom of soul loss. This directly relates to Power. In the shamanic worldview, power and maintaining health go hand in hand, if the body is power-full, there is no room for illness or disease, which are often regarded as an invasive force.

In my practice I have worked with many people who had done considerable work on the original trauma, but still were stuck in this. One of the differences between Soul Retrieval and some modern Western psychological systems is that Soul Retrieval focuses on the return and integration of the lost life-force, rather than focus on the original trauma itself. In my view Soul Retrieval and therapy work very well together, the best combination being first the recapitulation of the lost life-force, followed by a therapeutic approach to support the person through the process of working with released feelings and emotional energy which can be uncomfortable and even raw for the individual. This release and subsequent experiencing of the emotions is a fundamental part of the whole healing process, and I cannot stress this enough.

This healing process leads to what I call the union of the life force, when the person can then move forward in their life without being anchored to the past, and live a life of creativity and productivity.

<b>Life After Soul Retrieval</b>

When the soul-fragments are returned, the memories and emotions associated with the departure of the soul fragment may also return. Although this may not always be a comfortable experience, it is a sign that healing is taking place. The experiencing of the emotions and feelings although they may have not been felt prior to the Soul Retrieval , the effects are still working, but at a deeply unconscious level i.e. a place of the not known. The person may have been experiencing a chronic and pervasive depression, yet not able to come to grips with this. Soul Retrieval works very well with other therapies. A therapist can only work with the parts of the person which are there, it is an encouraging development that people are now coming to Soul Retrieval sessions accompanied by their therapist.

The most common immediate response after a Soul Retrieval , is that the recipient feels that they are more ‘full’, that there is more of them. They may even experience the density of the body to have changed.

It is important to recognise, that each person is different and everybody will react differently after a Soul Retrieval. Some may feel heavier, bigger, happier, angry, sad, laughing, or perhaps nothing for a few weeks. My observation is that most people will experience a change within a two week period, two weeks seems to be the magic number when the person really feels the effect. It is important to trust the persons psyche completely.

The only role that the recipient has is to receive the healing. It is important that they keep open, and concentrate on staying open to receive this energy – that is their only task.

After Soul Retrieval , recipients should allow themselves space to be with the returned life-force. For some it may be quiet reflection, others may want to be in nature, in the countryside , in the parks. Nature is a wonderful healer, being in nature, enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, of the Earth, will help the soul-parts to integrate with the recipient.

Howard G. Charing, is an accomplished international workshop leader on shamanism. He has worked some of the most respected and extraordinary shamans & healers in the Andes, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Philippines. He organises specialist retreats to the Amazon Rainforest at the dedicated centre located in the Mishana nature reserve. He is the author of the best selling book, Plant Spirit Shamanism (Destiny Books USA).

Visit our website for workshops and training in Soul Retrieval

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Death as an Ally – The Shaman’s Perception of Death


In our society and culture, death is something dark, mysterious, and fearful. Ancient cultures did not regard death as an enemy, but dared to make it an ally. It is ultimately about daring to live fearlessly from the centre of one’s truth, to challenge and defeat the tendency to inertia, fear of life and premature old age. To quote one of the great teachers, the Peruvian shaman Don Eduardo Calderon: ‘a shaman is someone who is already dead and thus has no fear of death or life’. Sometimes a life threatening crisis is what calls a person to the way of the shaDeath as an Ally - The Shaman’s Perception of Deathman.

In traditional wisdom and knowledge, life is a continuum that does not end at the moment of death. One of the most important traditional tasks of the seer, shaman, medicine man or woman is to assist people who are either dying or the spirits of those who have died to make the transition into great domain of consciousness. This body of practices is known as Psychopomp, from the Greek word psychopompos which literally means ‘conductor of souls’. In Greek mythology, the god Hermes served as the escort for the dead into the afterlife. This concept of a guide or intermediary between the living and the dead is a collective theme found in most religions and mythologies.

Death and Dying

In shamanism death and birth are closely related to each other. One of the roles of the shaman is as a midwife of dying, to help, guide, or usher the soul or essence of the dying person into the unity of the afterlife. This is the work of the Psychopomp, conductor of souls.

There are many ‘cosmographies’ of where souls go when they die, each dependent on the culture and society they originated in. Shamanism is not a system of belief or faith, it is a system of knowledge, and is directly experienced first hand by the senses. The world that Shamans work in is not a consensus reality, i.e. what we have agreed is reality. The Shaman sees i.e. experiences with all the senses, and is the mediator between the everyday physical world and an alternate reality. The roots of shamanism pre-date recorded history. The earliest findings date back over 40,000 years. Shamanism is the ancestral mother of the human spiritual experience.

In the great panorama of creation, many cultures have structured and formed a navigable cosmography. The shaman navigates and journeys in a cosmos experienced as three great realms revolving around a great axis, known as the great tree, or axis mundi. They are known as the, Upper World, Lower World, and Middle Worlds. Central to all these realms is the Axis Mundi, which is the central axis which connects these three realms.

These realms have been structured and implemented in ways relevant to our culture and the world we live in. These three worlds have been renamed but are still present; The Upper World, the realm of our ancestors, religious or spiritual leaders, the gods, the spirit guides, is known as Heaven. The Middle World has been simply moulded into meaning our physical world or Earth, and the Lower World, the traditional place of sustenance and nourishment, the home where the spiritual power of the natural world, the plants, animals resides, has become demonised, and renamed as Hell.

The problem here is that the Lower World has become demonised, and turned into a travesty of it’s original meaning and embodiment of the living force of the natural world, and has become a very ‘bad’ place where all the wicked (disobedient) people go to suffer eternal damnation, hellfire, and other such terrible punishments. From a shamanic and a psychological perspective this has created the major problem of separation. By demonising the Lower World, the place which holds the feminine qualities of nurturing, and sustenance, we have as a society managed to disconnect ourselves from these very attributes. The story of the Garden of Eden fundamentally underlies this separation. If we consider the unifying principle of ‘so above, so below’, we are also looking at the cosmography of the human soul.

We have also lost along the expressway to modern civilisation this concept of the transition of the human soul from the physical world into the great realms of existence. People who die in sudden death , accident , confused , unhappy, drugged , people who lack power, murdered, killed in war, often disappear in the Middle World, and may be unable to make their transition , or not have an awareness of where and who they are. The work of the conductor of souls is to help these deceased individuals make that journey.

The shaman would embark on a spirit journey, to find the person who had died in unfortunate circumstances such as an accidental death. They would start from the place that the person died, and in their trance vision of expanded awareness spiral outwards in concentric circles to find them. Once located, it is then the work of the shaman to help them make that transition to another place, and be welcomed and re-united with loved ones.

This is Psychopomp work, helping the deceased to another world. There is an enormous fear of death in our society, and a renewed interest in this kind of work could provide re-assurance to those who are dying, and their loved ones.

Click to visit website www.shamanism.co.uk

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