Issue 2                Shamanic  Healing  Techniques: A Review               November 2006

Home  Newsletter Archives

Editor-in Chief:
Bekki Shining Bearheart

Chief Cook and Bottle-washer:
Crow Swimsaway

What's New at CEH
Reviews of Healing     
   Shamanic Extraction

Book Review:
     Soul Retrieval
Your Feedback
Bekki's Art:
   Wanda's Turtle Shell
Activists' Corner:
    Buckeye Forest Council

Submission Guidelines

What's New at CEH

Lots happening in our lives, as usual! So I am sandwiching in the November issue between out-of-town travels.

We now have a list of topics for upcoming issues. We are looking for submissions.
December: Sustainability and Earth Stewardship  deadline to submit: 12/1/2006
January: As Above, So Below: Heaven and Earth, Divine Mirrors deadline: 12/21
February: Shamanic Views on Relationship
deadline to submit: 1/15/2007
March: Shamanism and the Elements deadline to submit: 2/15/2007
April: Healing Techniques, Take 2 deadline to submit: 3/15/2007
May: Plant Spirits and the Green World deadline to submit: 4/15/2007
June and beyond- Make a suggestion!

Here are some upcoming workshops we'll be teaching soon :
Fundamentals of Shamanism in Athens, Dec 9 & 10 limited enrollment
Air Elementals in Shamanic Practice Dec 16 & 17 Quakertown PA area
Fundamentals of Shamanism for the new Holistic Healing program at Hocking College January 5, 6 & 7 2007
Fundamentals of Shamanism in Beavercreek OH Jan 27 & 28 2007
Circle of the Ancestors in Beavercreek OH Mar 24-25 2007
For more info on these workshops and how to register see our Schedule
. We'll be available for healing work at most out of town locations.
Bekki and Crow

We are approaching the topic of this issue in an unconventional manner, via book reviews, the Forward to Crow's book on Extraction, and other written material.  we encourage folks to share their thoughts and experiences with these techniques in the December issue. Appologies to all that the topic for this month wasn't published in the December issue. I am still fine-tuning this process.

Review: Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self
Sandra Ingerman, Harper San Francisco 1991.
by Crow (reproduced from Bear Walks, Crow Talks)

Soul retrieval is one of the most important  healing techniques to be introduced to contemporary society.  A core component of the shamanic repertory of healing world-wide, it is ancient and archetypal.

Sandra Ingerman, a member of the International Faculty of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, and a shamanic practitioner in Santa Fe, NM, is to be deeply thanked for all the work of spirit, mind and body which she put into making soul retrieval accessible to our world at a time when it is needed so much.

Soul retrieval is based on the widespread indigenous understanding that there is a portion of one's self (soul, spirit or whatever) which may leave the physical body due to trauma. Shamanically speaking, total loss of soul results in death. However,
physical, emotional and psychological traumas may cause portions of the soul to depart for their own preservation. Once gone, the soul-parts cannot find their way back without the help of the shaman. In western culture it is not uncommon for multiple soul energies to be lost.

After soul loss one continues to live but may feel somehow incomplete and often unwell, sometimes in a vague, uncertain way, sometimes with specific dis-eases of mind or body. There is an excellent check-list on page 22 of Soul Retrieval which mentions chronic depression, immune system problems and  other symptoms  specific to soul loss. 

Soul retrieval requires a journey in which the shaman, with the help of her power spirits, visits shamanic realities where soul parts may be found. These may include Upper, Middle and Lower worlds, as well as specific locations in these realms.  (Soul retrieval is not a self-help technique since the journeying itself may be quite dangerous. It is usually undertaken by practitioners only after considerable preparation, training and experience.) Once the soul is located, the shaman  must  convince  it to return to the client, do healing work with it and then return it to the client.

The chapter on "Soul Theft" does include one area in which we can help ourselves.  I often hear clients who know nothing about shamanism say, 'My father stole my soul.' or 'My uncle stole my soul.'  Similarly, people who have been caught in abusive relationships frequently claim, 'My lover stole my soul.'" Retrieval of these soul parts requires professional help. The self-help comes when you learn through journeying or other insights that you have stolen a soul. (Soul theft happens pretty frequently because it is both unrecognized and socially acceptable to do this in our culture.) Ingerman describes how to release the soul part - which you may have inadvertently taken - and help it return to its rightful place.  The relief that eliminating this inappropriate connection brings is quite amazing: one simply feels lighter and happier.

Ingerman presents
clear definitions and descriptions of technique along with case studies from tribal experience and her own practice material on the importance of community to the success of soul retrieval. The section  "Welcome Home: Healing Through Wholeness" covers the after-effects of soul retrieval.  It is reassuring to discover what one may expect from this healing method.

Soul Retrieval is always popular with our students, and is available in some libraries and many book stores.  I recommend that you read it for the insights it offers, and to explore its potential for your own healing journey.

(Bekki has edited this review for length.)
A reprint of the Forward to Spirit Knife, Soul Bone:The Ancient Shamanic Art of Extracting Negative Energies
by Crow Swimsaway PhD

FOREWORD by Dr Chris Forester
MA (Oxon.) D Phil EmFHS EmFcps FRGS FRSH

I was first diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis in around 1990.  I was in constant back pain and, at best, very inflexible in the spine.  At worst, I was bed-ridden and in agony for several days a month.  My prognosis was poor: according to my doctor, my spine was to fuse by the age of 30.

After extraction work from Crow, I noticed an immediate overnight improvement in my condition.  I subsequently stopped having anything but occasional stiffness in the back.  I am 36 now at the time of writing - there has been no progression in the disease.  My doctors now tell me it has burnt itself out.

I first encountered Crow Swimsaway in the early 1990's, at a time when I had been looking for a deeper connection with spiritual and healing practice.  I was immediately drawn to shamanic journeywork, and he guided me through my first experiences.

I was always curious abut the many shamanic healing methods from different tribal cultures.  Most of us are familiar with energy healing in its many different forms.  Soul retrieval is now widely known and practiced and has greatly appealed to westerners, partly because of its many parallels with psychological models.

Shamanic extraction - the sometimes dramatic removal of intruding energies (sometimes with physical manifestations) - has been too often overlooked.   Yet its widespread use in traditional shamanic cultures cries out to be explored and its time to be added to the "modern" shamanic practices has come.  As more people turn to shamanic practices for spiritual meaning, and for healing, the art of shamanic extraction has never been more sorely needed.  Many popular books touch on  it - but here you will find, I believe, the first really comprehensive treatment by an expert practitioner of the art.  Any shamanic practitioner or student of shamanism should read this book.

Oxford Valedictorian Dr Chris Forester is a well-known English psychotherapist and Principal of the UK's largest independent therapy training organization.  He holds numerous professional awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health.

Announcement of Spirit Knife Reprint

We are pleased to announce, at last, the availability of the correctly printed version of Spirit Knife, Soul Bone.  This is how it is supposed to be.
It is available by mail and at our workshops for $17. (Add shipping as appropriate.)

Also now available on CD in fully illustrated and complete versions in pdf format are both Spirit Knife, Soul Bone and  Seeded in the Heart, Rooted in the Soul (Seeded is our earlier book on shamanic plant spirit work, newly edited and designed by Mary Pat Mann PhD.)  You may have either one for $10 or both on the same CD for $15. (Plus shipping as needed.)

Now in process is a voice recording of Spirit Knife, Soul Bone on CD for those who prefer to listen rather than read.  This should be ready by the end of the year.  We will announce its completion.

Your Feedback

On the Newsletter
I love your new newsletter,
and I've forwarded it to a shamanic friend already. I'm so happy about your recent equipment upgrades at the house, congratulations on the new freezer and hot water heater!!!!

I like the first issue. Very easy to negotiate.
Love to the dragon!

On the Soul Retrieval experience
"... I was taking antidepressants for 2 years and had been off them for one year at the time of the soul retrieval.  The return of the soul parts completed the healing.  I now feel whole.  I am no longer encased in the rock, but am in a cocoon, I'm still healing."
Client in Virginia

To anyone out there who is buying a new lap top for Christmas, the Church is in the market for a donation! In addition to all the other reasons for converting from our ancient mammoth, we just found out that laptops are much more energy efficient!!!, (DUH) and we are always looking for ways to lessen our impact on the environment. A new one would be great (sigh) but in the meantime your cast- off would be truly appreciated, and a tax deduction...

Shaman as Psychopomp

Until recently, one of the lesser-known roles of the shaman in contemporary society has been that of Psychopomp. The term "psychopomp" translates as "soul guide", and there are many representatives of this function in world mythology, and religion. The soul guide functions, like Anubis for the ancient Egyptians or Hermes for the Greeks, as one who can help the soul to cross the boundary between this world and the afterlife at death.

Throughout the Christian era, particularly in Victorian times and sporadically since then, interest in contact with the dead and in what happens to  folks after they "pass on" has surfaced in modern culture. Books about near-death experiences and books by psychics who commune with the dead have always been popular reading. Much has been made, in popular culture , of death and  the dead, sometimes in fearful and macabre ways.  Recently , in the wake of catastrophes like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the like, the concept of soul-guiding has come to the forefront of modern consciousness in  mainstream and in Pagan/shamanic/New Age circles.

In our shamanic practice and teaching we have been very aware of the importance of this work for many years. We regularly act as psychopomps for our clients. The main areas this work is called for are 1) resolving the death of a loved one or acquaintance who has not passed to the afterlife; 2) exorcism of a discarnate spirit, known or not known to the client, who is "haunting" a location; and 3) deposession,  the removal of a haunting spirit from a client . In addtion we do psychopomp work by ourselves or with our local circle when calamities occur, and at the end of hunting season, for the animals killed during that season. If healing is called for prior to help the soul(s) over, then we do that first.

In most shamanic cultures  it is considered necessary to do psychopomp work after every death, traumatic or not, and often this is done through particular and proscribed rituals. The rituals may be different for those who died a peaceful or timely death from those who died very young or in an unpleasant way. A beautiful ceremony we have had the opportunity to participate in a number of times is the Peace Tree Ceremony of the Buryat. We were able to be present a number of times when Sarangerel performed it, and she describes it in her book Riding Windhorses. The ceremony is performed particularly where large numbers of people have died in a violent way, and the intent is to propitiate those spirits and bring them peace. It is acknowledged by indigenous clutures world-wide that those who die violently continue to be present in this world and their spirits affect the living with their grief, anger or pain.

It's important to remember that there are risks in doing this sort of work. Proper preparation and protection and assistance from the allies is very important. Even trained shamans have been known to get ill if something  goes wrong. A number of our students have found the work so compelling however that most of their practice is dedicated to psychopomp work.

Activists' Corner

This month we highlight an Ohio organization which has  a very active local chapter in the Athens area.

Their work is especially important to us, since they have done much to preserve the woodlands in Athens County and Southeast Ohio, as well as the rest of the state.

Buckeye Forest Council

The Buckeye Forest Council (BFC) is a membership-based, grassroots organization dedicated to protecting Ohio’s native forests and their inhabitants. The BFC uses education, advocacy and organizing to address the need for forest preservation and low-impact recreation over logging and resource extraction.  We seek to instill in Ohioans a sense of personal connection to and responsibility for Ohio's native forests and to challenge the exploitation of land, wildlife and people.

Founded in 1992 by the Student Environmental Action Coalition at Ohio State University, the BFC was incorporated in 1993.
The Buckeye Forest Council’s primary projects are focused on the protection of Ohio's twenty State Forests, the Wayne National Forest, and Dysart Woods, one of Ohio's last remnants of old-growth forest. 


Bekki's Art
 A couple of years ago my friend Wanda found a deer antler  and an intact turtle shell on her land, as well as a spider which had died. She entombed the spider in resin, and I beaded all three together to make this rattle. It took endless hours, but gave me so much pleasure in the making! I actually had to bead the turtle shell closed once the quartz pebbles were inside, before attaching it to the antler. I love the spider-webbed beading the spider now "lives" in.



Church of Earth Healing Newsletter Guidelines for Authors

Our newsletter is a monthly publication which  includes articles, book reviews, workshop profiles and reviews, news of current and upcoming events and stuff that is really hot that we feel you need to know about. We focus on alternative healing and other work of the church and ourselves, though we cast our net widely.

We love to write and have lots of good material to share.  We also value your outlook, talents, and opinions so we welcome contributions.  These may include specific material we request from you, our readers. We welcome all kinds of material, preferably on our monthly topic. If you are submitting something on the topic, we must receive it before the deadline. If it is of general interest we will fit it in as soon as we can. Articles on topic receive first priority.

We work in Microsoft Word; that is the most convenient electronic form to receive material in.  If you need to use another form please ask first. Format is quite open.  Please place the title, author (in exactly the form you want your name to appear - including degrees, professional designations, etc.) and a very brief bio at the beginning of your offering. Please keep it fairly short and snappy, since we have limited space. We will read everything we receive before publishing it.  We would prefer not to have to edit for intelligibility or length.

                 All Contents Copyright Church of Earth Healing 2006