Yesterday I hosted a shamanic journeying workshop based on the shamanic practice of Soul Retrieval. Sandra Ingerman, modern shamanic practitioner, talks about Soul Retrieval in ancient and modern context here. At her website she writes “It is believed that whenever we suffer an emotional or physical trauma a part of our soul flees the body in order to survive the experience. The definition of soul that I am using is soul is our essence, life force, the part of our vitality that keeps us alive and thriving.”
Something told me it was time to present a Soul Retrieval workshop again, as I hadn’t offered a class on this subject in over a year. I scheduled the workshop a week in advance, and nine people showed up to “Soul Retrieval/Soul Calling”. When I set it up, I had no idea what the following week would bring. I couldn’t have timed it better for myself. I too was in need of some Soul Doctoring.
The week ended up being one of the most difficult weeks I have had in such a long time. I was asked to consult with a woman who was returning to her hometown to retrieve parts of her soul from devastating trauma she experienced in her youth. She had attended an event I hosted a few years before called “Legends for the Land” where I shared video stories that had come to me (I felt that the land itself was telling me stories) while traveling through public lands around the western United States, and she felt that the land itself was calling her back, so she thought of me. I said “yes” and asked her to write a synopsis of her issue before we spoke on the phone. Once I opened her email with her ‘summary’, as she put it, I had opened something I could not fully close again. My Spirits answered the call, and I transmitted information as best I could that might be helpful to her. As I write this, she is traveling ‘home’ to do what she needs to do.
As a shamanic practitioner, I have learned many things this week. Things I will now never forget.
-Once I hear a story, it remains in my mind forever
-To listen to one’s story means that I am accepting the call to be drawn in to their story, in one way or another
-I now understand my father a little better (a two time combat veteran of the Vietnam war- more info at www.acceptingtheashes.net ). He never spoke of his war experiences as I grew up. As I found myself wanting to protect others from having to experience what I was feeling, I thought of him and how he wanted to protect me from his stories.
– I have a better understanding how some people need to compartmentalize their painful emotions. Some pain, some trauma, is not fixed by touching it over and over. Sometimes it is best to wrap an emotional wound in a bandage and let it be for a while.
All humans experience trauma. It is part of the human experience. Even in the most loving families around the planet and throughout time, trauma occurs. People die. Love is lost. People are flawed. Shamanic practices, including traveling to the “Spirit World” with a drum, and the art of Soul Retrieval, have been a part of the human experience for 40,000- 100,000 years in some form or another, because there has been a need for it. In today’s time and our modern culture, we have a unique need for Soul Retrieval.
Multi-generational Soul Wounds is something now spoken of by Native Nations about the trauma they have experienced, and still do today. Aspects of MGSW also applies to all who are playing out their ancestor’s trauma, generation after generation. In Intergenerational Trauma: Convergence of Multiple Processes among First Nations peoples in Canada by Amy Bombay, MSc, Kim Matheson, PhD, and Hymie Anisman, PhD, it is said “Traumatic events exact an enormous psychological and physical toll on survivors, and often have ramifications that must be endured for decades. This includes emotional scars, and in many cases standards of living are diminished, often never recovering to levels that existed prior to the trauma. These traumas can occur at a personal level (e.g., car accident, or rape) or at a collective level (war, natural disasters, or genocide), and the responses to such events are not identical. In the latter instance, there is now considerable evidence that the effects of trauma experiences are often transmitted across generations, affecting the children and grandchildren of those that were initially victimized.”
Every person, every seeker, has multigenerational Soul Wounds due to experiencing, and perpetrating, traumatic acts. All people, at one point, have had to hide themselves and protect their loved ones from “the mean people”, whoever they may have been at the time. At one point in the past all families have experienced some form of trauma, including rape, aggression, famine, slavery/held against their will, incest. All are wars against the human Soul. I have come to believe that commiting acts of aggression hurts the human Soul as well. All horrific experiences people endure wound one’s essence, and this Soul Loss is passed down through the generations, adding to the previous generation’s horror/hiding/shame. To dominate/colonize/convert a people, an aggressor must ‘break’ them. So many people’s Soul has been broken, but they are not beyond repair.
Physician and humanitarian, Dr. Albert Schweitzer once said “The witch doctor (shamanic practitioner/healer) succeeds for the same reason all the rest of us (medical doctors) succeed. Each patient carries his own doctor inside himself. They come to us not knowing that truth. We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.” We can heal our past traumas. We can soothe our own Soul, and the Souls of our ancestors now living in the Spirit World. When we listen to the drum, hold our intention in our hearts, and trust that we are worthy to be healed, the magical world of our Dreaming opens up and all things are possible. Healing is possible.
While drumming for the group, I had my own vision. I had handed out quartz crystals for people to use in their journeys as needed. My crystal was activated as I felt my Soul howl from the collective pain that it was feeling across generations, now activated by my interaction with the woman’s significant Soul pain. As the pulse of my crystal called out, I began to see many little Souls dive into its facets. As I looked closer, I could see that they were all the women, children, and some men, that I had loved in previous lives, and loved ones of my ancestors, who were killed to get to me/them. This has been a fear that has plagued me as a Shamanic Practitioner, if I speak up, say what I know, go against the grain, “They” will come and not only take me away in the night, but ultimately torture and kill those I love the most. In my Soul I feel that this has happened more times than I can count. In this life it has caused me to be very careful about loving people, as I have learned the Warrior’s lesson that loved ones are “liabilities”. With the drumbeat, these Souls of past loves saw the window of opportunity I was offering them, and they wanted the heck out of wherever they were. They wanted to be back with me. I wanted them back. Tears streamed down my face as I tried to keep a steady beat. A voice said “From here, no one can touch you. You have Love with you. There is no more need to be afraid”
The inner war can come to a peace. The seeker can find. Wounds can be soothed, if not completely healed. Our own human drama of trauma is acting itself out in our families, communities, nations and planet. We are the generations that can be brave enough to at least acknowledge the festering Soul Wounds that were handed down to us. We have shamanic tools that were the tools of our ancient ancestors, that can help us heal our personal wounds so we can come full circle and give back wholeness to the world. This is our task, and our gift. Thank you for listening. Good healing to you.
To try the shamanic journey for yourself, and resources to soothe your Soul, go to ‘downloads’.