The nature and wisdom of triggers in the shamanic narrative, and guidance on how to release them.
Dear Kelley, I am writing with great anxiety, pain, and desperation because of a deep sense of loss and sadness and affection, of which I cannot make sense. I have found myself feeling very attached to a man I met briefly a few months ago, and with whom I have kept in contact online. Since meeting him I have felt so powerfully drawn, and deep pain in my heart in ways I have not felt ever before. We live in opposite sides of the world, different lives, etc. Part of me wants to somehow break ‘free’ from this, yet I feel as though I am being punished. Any advice, guidance would be deeply appreciated. Many thanks in advance, Liz.
Thanks for your note, Liz. When I ask to see the dynamic between yourself and this man, I’m taken to a familiar place. I tend to see how people organize their lives as sand drawings along a coastal shoreline. When I examine yours, it loops and scrawls spiraling back on themselves in a jumble, and this man is a dark tower in the distance. No trail in the sand leads to the tower. The proxy of you who stands with me on the shore is experiencing a great deal of anxiety and stress around finding a straight line in the sand, yet she just keeps doubling back to where she starts.
My sense of that image is the unfulfillment of this relationship is connected to a perceived pattern of wanting things you can’t have. It isn’t at all about whether the relationship will work, if there’s a connection, or how the two of you are connected. It’s about an internalized dynamic for you, that says, “Anything I really want is clearly out of my reach. Anything that feels good to me must be unobtainable.” The obstacles you perceive in distance and life are real. However, the angst around them is being exacerbated by these beliefs, which came long before this man was in your life. They feel like unconscious patterns that have been with you for a long time, and to varying degrees, manifest a sense of not getting what you want in other life areas, as well.
Focusing on the romantic desires will derail you from releasing these beliefs. Clarify if you really want to work on the source of these feelings. If so, I suggest doing some releasing work around them, and possibly soul retrieval to locate and learn more about your personal power in discerning what you want at a deep level, and learning to create life around having it. If you are comfortable doing distance work, I’m available for that, and if you want to find someone close to you to work with, I may know someone who can do just that.
My best to you, Liz.
If you have a life challenge that you’d like insight on, or questions about everyday shamanism, contact Kelley.
In shamanic work is the concept of soul loss, or when an aspect of the soul has become distanced (I describe it as “shelved”) and can’t re-engage with the earthly consciousness. Souls are infinite, made up of limitless soul parts that travel in and out of our awareness. This soul traveling is the natural progress of growth, widening our awareness, expanding our consciousness. In times of trauma, when a soul part leaves and can’t return to the earthly consciousness, that’s when problems arise: chronic illness, feelings of depression, lack of motivation, feelings of not being completely present. Such is the path of soul loss in an individual. When considering collective soul loss, these factors plus another comes into play, making mass soul wounding more challenging to heal.
Horrific, heart-wrenching tragedies, such as the killings at Sandy Hook, in Nigeria, China, Portland, Colorado, at Virginia Tech, Columbine, 9/11, cause collective soul loss. Natural disasters such as Katrina, Sandy, the 2004 tsunami, the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, result in mass soul wounding. As a population watching tragedy from afar, once we can process beyond our instinctive reflex to assess self and realize we are physically unaffected by the disaster, our hearts go out to those who were. We grieve for those lost. We mourn for those who lost loved ones and survived. We devote compassionate support to the affected community, through donations, prayer, providing manpower. We watch through the haze of the media circus, judicial process, and/or legislative attempt to prevent future disasters, seeking release, perhaps even hope, vindication.
Somewhere along that road we begin to realize that we are more affected by the tragedy than we realized, and we feel guilty for that fact. We feel that because our lives were not directly impacted by the disaster, we shouldn’t be disrupted in the daily honoring of life. We shouldn’t be stunted or disconnected from our joy. We shouldn’t feel it as much as we do. We feel selfish for thinking that we need healing, and for turning that heart focus to ourselves, rather than those in the immediate community.
Guilt and ego are the key inhibitors to healing collective soul loss. To devote healing to the whole dynamic, to treat the wound of collective soul loss, we have to include ourselves in honoring what happened, how it left us feeling, and in the healing offered. We must grieve the dead, even if we didn’t know a single one of them. Have compassion for the survivors, and all of the dark days ahead of them as they put their lives back together. Support them and their community in the way that we best can without depleting our own resources. Then repeat that whole process for ourselves.
Animism teaches us that we are all connected in the web of all things. As trauma in our personal lives creates perceived fragmentation of our souls, so collective trauma results in the perceived tear in that web. Only by remembering that we are all connected do we heal. Nothing heals in isolation, but through the combined efforts of us all. We must do what we can to express support for the immediate community, then our healing efforts must turn to our own wounds, knowing that what we heal in ourselves generates healing for others. This is the shamanic narrative. Through the creation of our own healing stories and sharing them, we inspire others to speak their stories. We create a bond focused on collective healing, assuring wellbeing for all.
Take time to reflect on your healing story. Write it down, if it helps, or draw it, paint it. Express all of the feelings wrapped into your experience of the healing process, and know that in doing so, we all heal. We all move closer to wellness.
Originally published on The Huffington Post.
Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma
Available on Amazon.
In the 8th year of its journey, bestseller Gift of the Dreamtime is now available in its second edition, in several ebook formats. With a foreward by shaman and founder of The Last Mask Center, Christina Pratt, the second edition of this fantastical memoir chronicles a modern shamanic journey from pain, to healing and accepting a calling to work as a soul healer of others. Groundbreaking at the time of its first publication in 2004, still no other modern shamanic work shares an experience of soul healing told from within the shamanic narrative, bringing relatable and credible insight to contemporary shamanic healing. Through that rare glimpse into her experiences traversing the spirit world, Harrell’s story becomes the reader’s adventure.
Not always easy to read, there are unflinching passages examining hurtful childhood memories, confrontations with overzealous spirit guides, and challenging personal obstacles she must overcome in order to heal. The book combines Harrell’s personal journey with instructions for creating similar soul journeys to help the injured child in all of us look at the hurt, understand it in a spiritual context, and forgive both ourselves and others.
Gift of the Dreamtime has remained a bestseller in modern shamanism since its publication, and has stayed in the Top 100 New Age Bestsellers at Tower Books since its publication 2004. Enjoy Gift of the Dreamtime in ebook for of various formats, print from Amazon, or order it from your local bookshop.
I learned about Dawn when I read about the December release of her book, “Healer of Souls.” Based in St Albans Hertfordshire, she has a thriving shamanic practice as both a healer and teacher.
How does one become a Healer of souls?
Much time has passed since I received a vision of the Inca while at Machu Picchu, Peru, who told me in no uncertain terms that I was to follow the path of the shaman – and that they would help me. And now I see that they have kept their word, as for many years now I have run a thriving shamanic practice, assisting thousands of people from all over the world. These people have come from all walks of life and from all religions; the youngest has been seven months, the oldest 87. Some have been following a spiritual and personal development path of some sort, others have been desperate mothers, stressed out business professionals or even people from other healing professions who have never even really heard of shamanic healing, they just know they need help.
Over those years my work has developed, with the assistance of my spirit guides and sometimes through sheer need. As is common to all in the healing professions, the more I have worked on my personal and spiritual development, the more my work has transformed and improved, for it is widely recognised that the healing received by the client is only as good as the levels of development and vibrational resonance the healer has attained, and I take this very matter very seriously.
A spiritual business is not like any other kind of business, for it is not run by spirit. They decide which clients to send, who I can help the most, with my blend of shamanic healing, general spiritual teaching and personal development methods. I found very early on that I could do a thousand soul retrievals and a person would still stay stuck in their old patterns, with their limiting beliefs and in their comfort zones, even though those zones may be very uncomfortable places indeed. In order for a person to truly heal and transform, change needs to occur on a massive level, ultimately, even down to the way a person thinks about themselves, their lives, and the world.
Although I am and will always remain a general practitioner, I specialise in healing sexual abuse, – which is currently a hot topic in the UK at the moment following the Jimmy Saville allegations – and I have seen wonderful results occur for both men and women. It is important to remember that when trauma occurs to a human being it occurs to them on all levels of their being, not just the mental level i.e. in my view, merely talking about something is not sufficient for full healing to occur. The great benefit of shamanic healing is that it works on all of the levels of a person.- not only the mental, physical, emotional, energetic, spiritual and soul levels, but also the conscious, the subconscious, the unconscious and the superconscious levels, as well as with the inner child.
In working with people suffering from sexual abuse ( I do not like to use the word victim), I recognised that they were often crippled with guilt and shame, which made me wonder why? Through my work I came to realise that during the abuse act, the abuser would offload his (or her) guilt, shame and hatred onto the person being abused. This person would carry this energetic burden around, thinking mistakenly that it was their own. I had one client, in her mid forties who completely hated herself, because she had not had the strength to fight off her abuser, and escape from a locked room in order to avoid the abuse. This was an intelligent, professional woman, who had not once questioned how she, at only four years of age, could have possibly escaped from such a situation. Once she realised the hatred was not even her own, a miraculous transformation occurred and she was able to free herself from a lifetime of neglect and self sabotage.
On the spiritual teaching front, I have found many spiritual seekers tie themselves up in knots over judging what is “spiritual” and what is “not spiritual.” Many will say, “Oh, I wanted to be a comedian, but that is not spiritual so now I guess I will have to be a healer.” There is nothing in this world that is not spiritual. We are spirit encased in matter. Even cleaning the toilet is a spiritual act, because a spirit is doing it. Being perfect is not being spiritual either, first of all it is impossible, and secondly, it requires us to disown and discard vast portions of ourselves. So not only do most people have a problem with the effects of soul loss, but they have a greater problem with what I call power loss, because often the aspects of Self that we disown hold our power, valuable aspects of our personality, and most importantly, our energy. Hence I found the need to develop a method called power retrieval, to bring these aspects of self out of shadows and the lower realms of consciousness and back to the Self.
We are living in very important times. Many people are picking up on that intuitively. They may have been carrying emotional burdens, depression or anxiety around with them for years, but now they are arriving on my sofa, saying they have to clear it, now. And they should feel so proud of themselves, because it takes a lot of courage to face our “stuff,” and make necessary changes in our lives, but it is important to know that our pasts need not define our future, we can heal our past and move forward, lightly and freely, and greet our new, happy and fulfilling lives with open arms.
When I began my shamanic practice almost 15 years ago, I found very different cultural perceptions of modern soul healing than those I run into now. I’ve written about contemporary approaches to shamanism, and how we have remade our perceptions of soul healing. Many people now know what a shaman is, what a shaman does. They know concepts that a mere decade ago were shrouded in mystery: soul retrieval, soul loss, soul wound.
In the more recent years of my shamanic practice, I find a pervasive belief that soul healing should in and of itself be enough. There is an expectation that it’s a quick fix, a miracle cure for everything. Along with this travels the belief that we shouldn’t need medication, surgery, therapy, a balanced diet. Many people now believe that the singular trip to the local shaman should make us well and sustain us through our days. This hope is neither new nor culturally centric. Ancient and indigenous shamans informed us that soul healing, indeed, cured wounds and instilled miraculous wellbeing.
Modern reality shows us something different, however as this in-depth review tries to point out. Many seekers invite soul healing into their lives, then experience an initial phase of euphoria and wellbeing, only to eventually take on symptoms of dis-ease or imbalance again. It becomes curious then to explore why, when we are better informed and eager for healing, did soul healing work so thoroughly for the ancients when it doesn’t seem to for us. If belief in miraculous soul healing isn’t new, why are contemporary enthusiasts not receiving miracles? What function of modern life makes soul healing different?
The short answer to that question is mindfulness. Foremost, in ancient shamanic cultures, the soul healer was the doctor, the dietitian, the pharmacist, the therapist. Moreover, these mundane acts of healing were done with the intention of their spiritual significance alongside their physical and emotional properties. In ancient healing, the mindfulness of these important approaches to healing was inseparable from their spiritual counterparts. For the majority of contemporary wellness enthusiasts, body-mind-spirit are three vastly different territories that don’t overlap. Why would the difference in how we look at healing modalities and aspects of ourselves affect how we heal?
What our forefathers knew that we have forgotten is the significance of an animistic worldview. Animism extends far beyond seeing Nature as soulfully imbued or respecting the energetic validity of manmade objects. Animists realize that all things have souls, are connected, and interact within that bond. In other words, they all have agency. This life view formed the basis not only of spirituality for the ancients, it was the social construct that made tribal life thrive. It reinforced that all approaches to healing are of the soul, and that we are accountable for each other. The healing of one is the wellbeing of all.
Further, it made the concept of tribe much bigger than just consisting of humans. It honored that the space humans occupy is a living breathing part of community, and everything that dwells in that space is, as well. Significant to this concept is that shamans are active participants in this greater tribe, which not only benefits all involved, it provides much unseen support for the shaman to do her job.
Tribal support was a vital component of any mode of healing. Just as caregivers fed and tended the wounds of the healing patient, they also witnessed the healing story (shamanic narrative), provided accountability to stay on track, and could empathize with the healing path. In this way, the positive effects of a singular healing spread throughout the tribe.
In the West, we are not an animistic culture. Instead, we revere individuality. We don’t have a strong sense of collective responsibility, support, or giving, particularly as related to spirituality. Given that, often imbalance returns because we have no one in our everyday to talk to about our new balance. When we have no one with which to share our euphoria, we have no one to help us sustain its momentum. As a result, we don’t spawn healing in others from our healing stories. Our core beliefs don’t incorporate that the sickness of one indicates the dis-ease of all; thus, they can’t create healing for many from the balance of one.
Likewise, because we don’t have a sense of tribal connectivity, we don’t create healing constructs to support staying well past the initial euphoria. We don’t see other modalities of healing that would help with our recovery process as having spiritual power. We internalize a lack of connection to tribe as a separation of the aspects of ourselves: mind-body-soul. When we approach soul healing as “only healing that which is soulful or pertaining to the soul,” we miss vital opportunities for renewal and wellbeing on all levels. The isolated way in which we view soul healing modalities and community affects our ability to heal and stay well. When we focus only on what we perceive as the soul, we stop supporting the other layers of ourselves, we stop empowering ourselves to stay healed.
Spiritual healing isn’t a replacement for life skills. In the New Age we have been taught that we should only focus on the soul. As humans, separating concepts into compartments helps us work with them, understand them. As animists, we know that all things are soul — even these other layers of Self. When we devalue the physical and emotional components of ourselves, the message then becomes “If you heal the soul, the rest will follow,” perpetuating the myth that these levels of our being are separate to start with.
To create and sustain soul healing we must bring some sort of awareness into everything that we do. When we decide that we want to heal, we must become active participants in that process. This truth is the core of animistic perspective. In the West, often we don’t know how to be active participants, and soul healing, itself, doesn’t teach us. However, only part of soul work is spiritual. The rest is just plain work. If we don’t already have some way of holding mindfulness through the mundane parts of our day, we’re not going to suddenly have it when we approach soul healing.
Mindfulness is learned from meditation. Through meditation we learn to be in our bodies. We become present with purpose, without judgment. As we master these skills, we align with the layers of ourselves, which directly affects our ability to connect with others. As we connect with tribe, we maintain healing. With the ability to bring this open, interwoven world view into our spiritual practice and healing, the more likely that healing will root into our lives, and sustain.
It isn’t that our approaches to soul healing aren’t working. Rather, it’s that our way of holding our awareness doesn’t support our soul healing. Imagine how great it would feel to have a community that helped us hold our awareness toward wellbeing! That singular aid alone would vastly improve our balance. Perhaps the message from our animistic elders isn’t that we forsake other modalities of care in favor of soul healing, but that we begin to see them all as having value. When we can see the value of the many good things we do to maintain balance in ourselves, the more we will see evidence around us of balance supporting us.
More on the Huffington Post.
Hi Kelley my name is Lucy. When I was around 14 I went to church on a regular basis. One night after saying a prayer I got in bed and I started feeling a weird sort of electricity running up my legs, then suddenly I couldn’t move, scream, or think. A really disturbing voice next to my ear whispered bunch of random numbers. At church they’d said demons sometimes attack and told me to pray, “In God’s name I repel you.” Since I couldn’t scream or talk I said it in my mind until this thing finally let go of me. It was horrible. I was terrified at being paralyzed, though the voice scared me.
I’m 24 now and I can’t get over that event, or all that happened after. I still sleep with a light on, and when alone I feel someone is watching me. I cannot walk alone in the dark because I feel I’m gonna see something I even have panic attacks. I really need help I don’t want to be afraid anymore.Thanks for your note, Lucy. My feeling about what you went through and how it has affected you is one that is common for many intuitives: spiritual emergency. A spiritual emergency or crisis occurs when we have an experience outside our belief system, or when we experience spiritual growth in a way that we can’t emotionally process. In short, it is PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) of the soul. On an unconscious level, a switch gets flipped, that compounded by fear, doesn’t just unflip on demand. The result of this heightened state of consciousness is that you feel is if you never left the moment the voice spoke to you. Part of you feels like you are still there, creating a state in which everything feels frightening and predatorial. Some symptoms of spiritual emergency range from irrational fear, changes in personality, feeling attacked by atmospheric forces, depression, hypervigilance.
Often a trauma induces this reaction, though it can also occur after intense wonderful brushes with the supernatural. Some refer to such an experience as the classic “shamanic death” or “initiatory shamanic wound.” Regardless of the nature of the catalyzing event, when you have a spiritual experience that alters your ability to enjoy your life, you have experienced and are in spiritual crisis. Having established that, the question then becomes, “What do you do about it?”
You are a very sensitive person, who demonstrates an ability to connect with the unseen. Whether that is something you want to pursue under your control is for you to decide. What is important at present is that you find a way to reclaim your power and release the pattern of PTSD from this experience.
When I look at the moment that you heard the voice, I see that you experienced soul loss. This is a naturally occurring result of trauma, in which an aspect of the soul leaves and can’t return. A soul retrieval with a shaman can bring the soul part back, or help it return to All Things. What is peculiar about this particular moment is that your fear doesn’t center around the voice, or even the experience. The ongoing PTSD is about your fear that if you return this fourteen-year-old soul part, that it will happen again. The thing is, this soul part is highly intuitive, and she has information for you about how to use this ability, control it, set boundaries for it. In fact, by not returning her–thus your personal power–a self-fulfilled prophecy is being sustained. Without the wisdom of this soul part, the experience of the voice–the fear–is repeating, constantly. By bringing back this soul part, it can finally stop, you can set some limits on how you engage your intuition, and you can feel in control of your life again.
I recommend that you find someone who can stop the spiritual emergency with a soul retrieval. There are other approaches; this is the one I am most familiar with. I can help you with that remotely, or I can possibly recommend someone near you, to help you do it, in-person. However you move forward, I understand that you are asking for help. This means that you are ready. In order to move beyond that experience at fourteen and feel whole in your life now, you will have to face the fear. In doing so, you won’t have it anymore. You will finally step out of that frightening moment, and have your life back. The anxiety and the hpyervigilance will end.
My best to you, Lucy.
Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma. Revised second edition now available, with a foreward by shaman, Christina Pratt.
Along with it, look for Gift of the Dreamtime Reader’s Companion
Recently released is Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World, my collection of true paranormal experiences as a lifelong intuitive.