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Shamanism/Indigenous Peoples
Record Type: Review   ID: 275

Soul Retrieval

Ingerman, Sandra

 Ingerman is a counseling psychologist who studied shamanism with Michael Harner at the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. Eventually she began giving workshops on shamanism under the auspices of the Foundation. Her specialty is soul retrieval, and she has been a pioneer in finding ways to restore people to health who are suffering from childhood abuse. The basic idea is that any experience of trauma can result in loss of soul. Parts of oneself become dissociated, and in the shamanic view, they literally leave the person. In order to restore wholeness one or more parts must be retrieved and reintegrated. This process is called soul retrieval. The shaman or shamanic therapist goes on a shamanic journey to find the missing parts, bring them back, and breathe them into the client. This book is an introduction to soul retrieval. It is especially valuable from the viewpoint of exceptional human experience because she presents from what she has learned from having her own soul retrieval with Harner, and how she learned to perform soul retrieval on behalf of others. Throughout the book she illustrates what she is teaching with vignettes from her own experience and those of her clients. Shamanism may seem very far out to people raised in 20th century America (Ingerman grew up in Brooklyn), but here is how she views it: "After eleven years of working with the shamanic journey I know nonordinary reality is real. But I don’t intend to convince you of that. For me, the big questions are these: Does the information that comes from a shamanic journey work? Does this information make positive changes in a person’s life? If so, who cares if we are making it up?" (p. 3). She has noticed one phenomenon associated with soul retrieval that is indicative, at the very least, of ESP. When she retrieves a lost part, which may be a little girl of five, she must convince her to come back with her. In doing so, she makes the missing "person" tell her why she or he left, describing the trauma. She found that when the missing soul part has been breathed back into the client, the information Ingerman had learned "coincided exactly with memories" from the client’s life (p. 65). She also notes that shamanism makes sense to her clients, so they are not "confused about how it all works" (p. 66). A third of the book is devoted to lessons in how clients can welcome and integrate the parts of themselves that have come back. Some of these suggestions could be followed by EHEers who need to integrate what they experienced in nonordinary reality with their identity, lives, and worldview.
Publisher Information:San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1991. xii + 221p. Appendix A: Illness from a Shamanic perspective 199-203; Appendix B: Shamanic training workshops 215; Chapnotes: 207-209; 10 illus; Ind: 213-221; 2 photos; 22 refs
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