For 40,000 years or more the fundamental belief in the shamanic world has been and still is the soul or part of that soul may leave the body because of disease, being stolen, or even given away. The departure of the soul from the body causes the body to be ill and ultimately die. The idea here is a simple one, yet seldom voiced. The soul has a body in which it temporarily lives. It is fluid, and it is this fluidity that creates problems for the shaman. If the soul or its parts are missing; it is up to the shaman to locate and begin a retrieval of the soul.
To do this, the shaman must travel to the Spirit World; there seeks out the soul or its missing part(s). He takes with him his Spirit Animal or Spirit Guide who knows where the soul or its parts are located. Negotiating for the soul or its parts is an endeavor fought with danger for both the patient and the shaman. As a cautionary measure, the shaman does not use his own powers to retrieve the soul. Any such attempt could result in suffering, a serious depletion of his powers, skills, energy, and even his death.
A patient is surrounded with healing herbs, crystals, stones, and smudged with healing herbal smoke. The shaman may begin to chant, have a drum beat, or dance around the patient. During this stage of the procedure, the shaman alters his state of consciousness.
Altering his state of consciousness is necessary to journey to the Spirit World. The shaman may sit down in a trance state or may remain standing in a suspended state of movement. Once the shaman is in the Spirit World his Guide will lead him to where the soul or its part is located. There, whatever entity has it must be confronted.
If he is successful in retrieving the soul, the shaman returns to the present world and then literally blows the soul back into his patient's body. Is this procedure always successful? No, success is not guaranteed. Sometimes, the patient is so ill or broken hearted that any shamanic effort fails.
Today, much is being written about shamanic soul retrieval as psychological counseling. The shift from real shamanic soul retrieval to considerations for psychological disassociation, depression, anxiety, sadness, low self-esteem, and or anger is a disservice. Caution needs to be the operative in such cases. A shaman is so much more than an early psychologist and to name modern psychological practices as shamanic are wrong. A psychologist does not treat his patient with herbs and or herbals, he does not uses sound to change the body's vibrational patterns, nor does he travel to the spiritual world for help in healing his patient. And all of that does not lessen the value of what a psychologist does; mainly guiding his or her patient through their issues to find the answers for themselves.
Dr. Wilson was introduced to his first shaman at the age of seven. For him, visiting The First People of Canada, actually seeing real "Indians" was a little boy's dream come true. After all, the only Indians he had seen were in the Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, and the Lone Ranger movies. That delight and interest in shamanic ways resulted in a life-time pursuit. He brings his knowledge and understanding of shamanic ways together in Shamanism What It's All About in which he answers the questions of what a shaman is, what a shaman does, and what a shaman believes.
©Norman W Wilson, PhD