Articles/Testimonials

Testimonials

With the soul retrieval, it was as though the floodgates opened and I could connect with my inner world. I've tried other practices such as meditation, Reiki, etc. but could not get very far with them. This shamanic healing is the first spiritual practice I've done that has had such immediate results.  One of the best results of the session is that I used to guess what happened in my past, but now I feel that I know what happened, and it has put my mind at rest. I am filled with gratitude and consider it a blessing to have been led to you.  The soul retrieval is definitely pushing me forward and causing me to rethink many aspects of my life. Marie Aguirre, Chicago, 2015

In general I have a feeling of being more whole.The "brother" that was tangled in my root chakra is someone I deal with on a daily basis, and his emotional swings do not affect me like they previously did.  Now his emotions feel more like his emotions instead of them being both our emotions (if that makes sense)...I have been more at peace with my surroundings and I'm feeling like things are more the way they are suppose to be;  it is a very pleasant feeling.  I'm finding that I have been assertive in interactions with people socially and professionally which has been nice.  Definitely a change for the better. R. L. Chicago, 2015

I had the soul retrieval due to problems I was having with my boyfriend. I hadn't communicated with him for weeks. After the session, something shifted for me and I was able to sit down and write him an honest letter and mail it off. We were able to dialogue about our differences and come to a better closure.
This session got me back to myself and my center. I feel grounded. It opened me up! Things shifted and continue to shift due to the session. This is wonderful and valuable work.

I never realized how tense I was till after my soul retrieval! Now I feel a profound sense of peace, and that I trust people once again.

I had insomnia for eight years. The day after my soul retrieval, I finally got a good night's rest. I had broken up with my boyfriend several months before the soul retrieval, but couldn't get him off my mind. Since the soul retrieval, I've stopped obsessing about him.


I feel genuinely happy, like a little girl again. My parents, the doctor I worked for and several friends all said, "Gee,     you look different than two weeks ago. You look happier. You're glowing." Another friend, Diane, said, "A veil of darkness is gone from your eyes. Your eyes have a crystal in them." In a recurring dream I had seen a four sided crystal and I walked into it. During Reiki treatments in the past, Diane felt that I had a light which was trying to come through but it couldn't come through the darkness, and now it seems to have emerged.

Since the soul retrieval, I find it easier to make decisions. I'm more decisive and not as worried. I feel more mellow. I did the soul retrieval because I felt a need to start afresh in my life, and it's helping me do this. It was great being able to express myself to Joan, I felt I could talk to her about things I'm not able to with a lot of people.

I had some kind of lumps/cysts all over my body under my skin. After the soul retrieval, in which Joan extracted what looked to her like bone spurs, the lumps were gone. I feel great joy and happiness that I haven't for years. Ever since I gave my baby son up for adoption thirty years ago, I have felt a deep sadness. Now this sadness is gone. It's nice to feel joy again. I also stopped eating junk food. I feel whole. The day I had the soul retrieval, I got the urge to start cleaning my whole house. I haven't cleaned my refrigerator for years, but now it's sparkling! I started singing while washing dishes, and felt that there was the spirit of a Native American girl outside. There's color in my cheeks for the first time in years. The night of the soul retrieval I slept well for the first time in years. When I sang, it was a little lullaby comforting and welcoming the returned soul parts. I could never get excited about anything. Now I do!

I am divorced and my children, now teenagers, do not live with me. For years I have always become depressed on their birthdays. This is the first year I have not had this reaction! I feel there has been a closure to this conflict.

 

I've had more get-up-and-go energy, not wanting to just sit around after meals and make small talk. In journaling, I got a message of "live for today," which was good.

 

I can feel the energetic changes. The day after the soul retrieval I was able to finish some legal work that I had been avoiding. I'm taking fewer tranquilizers. I was able to let go of my obsession with my old house. I'm much more patient, which is a huge accomplishment!

 

Day of soul retrieval: I feel very weepy. A happy, grateful weepy. I am an actress, and 8 years ago I had bronchitis and my voice changed, it became very shallow. I couldn't reach depths. Right now, after the soul retrieval, my voice is deeper. My voice has remained deep. I can tell it's different than before. Two days after soul retrieval: My power animal has brought me a sense of freedom, of being comfortable with allowing circumstances to be as they are without having to control them.

Two days after the soul retrieval, my husband and I got in an argument, and I felt like the frightened little girl I used be to when my grandmother would yell at me: that I would rather have someone hit me than being mean to me. I haven't been in touch with these feelings in years. Over the years I've become callous to abuse, but suddenly I'm sensitive again. So this little girl soul part is definitely back! I also have had happy feelings. I find myself humming - I haven't hummed in a long time. These changes may seem little, but they're big to me. I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. But after the soul retrieval, I felt energetic, went to work and cleaned the garage, and I want to paint the house.

The grasp my ex-husband has on my life is still there, but diminishing. Whatever reason, past life, abusive relationship cycle, letting go – this man had a terrible and very abusive hold on my consciousness. Your session made me aware. I learned new aspects of my behavior with others. I am still learning to cope, like an alcoholic, as to the meaning of this.

I had fibromyalgia for ten years, and during that time I would miss work at least five days out of every month. After my soul retrieval, I immediately felt much less pain! Before, I used to miss at least five days of work a month. Now it's down to one day a month. I can even exercise more.

 

I went home after my soul retrieval and opened my closet. I said to myself, "Why am I dressing like Barbara Bush [conservative, matronly]?" I've changed to a more youthful, stylish wardrobe and I feel like myself again. Also, I had fibromyalgia, and now the pain is much less. I don't miss work as often.


This session got me back to myself and my center. I feel grounded. It opened me up! Things shifted and continue to shift due to the session. This is wonderful and valuable work.

 

I had insomnia for eight years. The day after my soul retrieval, I finally got a good night's rest. I had broken up with my boyfriend several months before the soul retrieval, but couldn't get him off my mind. Since the soul retrieval, I've stopped obsessing about him.


Two days after soul retrieval: I've had good memories of my father for the first time in years, things I had forgotten. My father came to me in a dream for the first time in ten years.


My whole emotional state is great! I feel joyous. Better than since I've been a child. My cravings for alcohol have gone away, and I've had a drinking and substance abuse problem for ten years. I feel like I got over a huge hump in healing from my alcohol addiction.


I was going to take a semester off school due to feeling too stressed, but now I don't feel I need to. Each day seems to get better.


Two days after soul retrieval: My power animal has brought me a sense of freedom, of being comfortable with allowing circumstances to be as they are without having to control them.


You saw the spirit guide I see often, a beautiful lady with a peacock colored gown.

I'm feeling more peaceful. Especially in traffic! My power animal gave me peace, inner strength and confidence.

For the first few days after soul retrieval, I was very depressed due to the memories coming back from my childhood. I also had an episode of feeling and acting like an infant, drooling and rolling on the floor.

2 days after soul retrieval: I know there's a difference I can sense it. I feel lighter. My thinking seems like it will be different. I have a tremendous heaviness in my shoulders, but my lungs feel clearer (I've had asthma for years.)

4 days after soul retrieval: I did remember something that happened in high school when people laughed at me and didn't trust me, just like you described. The heaviness in my shoulders is gone, the energy readjusted. I feel these energy shifts will continue for a while.

People tell me I seem lighter in spirit. I haven't been crying about my ex-boyfriend the way I did before. I notice subtle changes. I'm visiting my family and friends for the holidays and I'm interested to see if they notice any changes in me since the soul retrieval.

The first two days after the soul retrieval, I felt very tired and wanted to sleep. Now I have more energy than I've had in ten years. Everything around me seems more vibrant. Even my dreams are more vivid, and I had a lucid dream where I was conscious that I was dreaming. Also, my sister had received a soul part back. The day after the soul retrieval I saw her and she had a big smile and said hi in a friendlier way than she has in a long time.

I feel more confident. I speak more easily without stammering. I don't have as many depressed thoughts. My mind used to dwell on thoughts of bad things that happened in my past; suddenly, this "replaying" has stopped. I feel more whole. I notice things around me more, the five year old soul part is very observant.

I feel less fear and more calmness in my life, especially about sexual relationships, which have been an issue with me for many years.

It used to bother me if people criticized me or tried to tell me what to do. Now I think for myself and make my own decisions. I don't worry what other people think. Ever since I broke up with my boyfriend six months ago, I used to have this morbid scene running through my mind that a gun was in my mouth and I pulled the trigger. Not only does this scene not happen spontaneously, I can't even get myself to think of it when I try. The need is gone. I've gone to psychologists in the past, and they helped me feel better during the actual session, but I didn't feel any long-term transformation. This work is true transformation!

 


I feel more grounded and centered. It sounds like a cliche, but I feel more whole. One of my soul parts that came back had been with my father. When I came home from the soul retrieval, I took down a picture of my Dad I had on my wall for a long time. This is to remind myself to focus on myself. I feel less frantic about a relationship that I've been trying to develop with a male friend of mine. I'm not worrying about trying to get his attention. I feel more at peace. I'm slowing my life down to a more reasonable, relaxed pace.

I feel fuller and more complete, more collectively "together". I feel brighter. Before the soul retrieval, happiness manifested for me in a kind of angelic, ungrounded sense. Now, I can feel happy and grounded at the same time. I've been able to get focused about my next step in life.

I feel calmer and more productive. I had finished all the course work for my doctorate in political philosophy, but every time I started to write my dissertation I was overcome by negative messages in my mind saying my ideas were stupid and I shouldn't bother to write them. The day after the soul retrieval, I finally began writing my dissertation! I'm enjoying writing, my "inner critic" is gone.


I feel light. I don't have as much fear. I had also been feeling uncontrolled, chaotic anger about something in my life when I came for the soul retrieval. For days I had been physically shaking and throwing things around my house because of this anger. Since the soul retrieval, the anger feels contained and manageable. I was also having tremendous pain in my neck and shoulders, which is where I hold my tension. Now it's almost gone.

 

I had been obsessing about my boyfriend, who I had broken up with. Now I'm not as devastated. I was actually able to tell my boyfriend I was angry with him; I could finally be candid about my feelings. Before, I was feeling that I had to run away from him and couldn't talk to him.

Also, my mother told me she wanted to come and see the theater production I'm presenting. This is the first time she's been so supportive! She's willing to make the plane trip from Chicago to Florida to see it. [Note: we had retrieved a soul part for Denise's mother.]

I feel wonderful! I feel calm and relaxed, I'm not anxious the way I was. I've been sleeping well at night.

I feel lighter. My power animal gives me the feeling of a light "buzz", like things aren't so heavy anymore. It's as though a bag full of water has been emptied, the pressure has been relieved. I feel more at ease and at peace.

I'm feeling lighter, clearer and more directed. I'm not obsessing the way I was before. I'm stronger and handling stress in my life better. I've also noticed increased psychic ability. I'm more in tune with my body and my instincts. My relationships with my boss has improved, and I've been meeting interesting people. I'm glad I met you, you've really encouraged me!

I'm feeling better. I feel more complete. I can remember my dreams better, and they're giving me insights. I began confirming several things that you saw.

I feel more calm. The session was great! I had a headache when I came in to the session and it was gone by the end. I was very impressed by how clearly you saw a lot of incidents that have happened in my life - you have authentic psychic gifts.

I'm feeling more relaxed, which is a big change for me as I've been nervous and jumpy for a long time. I feel more "full", for want of a better word - more present.

I felt very emotional right after the soul retrieval. Some energy had definitely shifted. The next day, I felt more strong and stable energetically and emotionally than I had in a while.

I felt energized and balanced. There was a part of me that was healed.

The soul retrieval brought a new sense of focus and clear thinking. It definitely stimulated my mind. I've always been a creative person, but after the session my mind was exploding with creative ideas in a way I haven't experienced in a long time. The healing brought a grounded feeling to soul and body.

My physical energy has improved. There had been a disconnection of energy form my legs; now it has re-connected. I'm opening up to people more. I was able to resolve a major conflict that I had with someone.

 

I realized that I had been living in fear and anger. I'm able to let go of anger instead of holding on to it. I feel that I've been able to put things into a better perspective. A weight has been taken off me. I'm more aware of myself. After several surgeries, I became separated from my body. Now I feel greater body awareness, I feel my physical body more present. I especially connected to the muscles of my stomach. The things Joan said helped me confirm some things I had suspected but wasn't sure about, things I thought I had only imagined.

I have an overwhelming sense of peace. I’m in my own skin. I’m not nervous or anxious the way I was before. Everything is back inside of me.

I have hope now. I was asking the universe for help, and I feel it now. The little girl part feels immediate.

My memory is better. I had a passing thought of a childhood incident that I remembered. The power animals are fun! I have a sense of well-being that I haven’t had in a long time.

I’m feeling an urgency to communicate better. I remember little snatches of dreams; I’m sleeping and dreaming better.

I can’t remember when I’ve felt this good. I mean this seriously. I feel light. It hit me the day after the soul retrieval., this inexplicable joy. The day after that, I felt so energized and light it was overwhelming. I don’t know how else to put it. I could breathe and walk and move lightly – it was a feeling I remember having before, during a very good time in my life, as though a weight had been lifted off me….I really do believe you breathed some spirit into me.

I feel more grounded. I am also feeling more energized, too.

 

I do feel different as a result of the soul retrieval. I continue to integrate each day and feel a real difference in my relationship with others. I've also made some changes in my life as a result of the
session with you.

1. I decided to discontinue medication (with the knowledge
and support of my psychiatrist).

2. I have been better able to cope with the death of my
father...I don't feel as clingy to the memory.

Additionally, I recognize and have discovered a whole new
way of looking at healing

So much has opened up!

 

I feel more peaceful.

 

The healing helped me to center myself and get in touch with a lot of my inner "workings". It also helped me get grounded in my own healing work.

The experience was very specifically beneficial; still processing results. Look forward to working with practitioner at some later date to learn more about process.

I was having very serious mental health issues at the time of my soul retrieval, and the retrieval stirred them up for me even more. This may have been a good thing, but I’m still feeling too raw to make that assessment. I did feel that the soul retrieval showed me pieces of myself that I need to integrate, but I don’t feel I have integrated them yet.

I have a sense of empowerment.

 

I feel resistance about doing the 28-day cycle (a full lunar cycle) [of integration]. However I am doing it. It is an interesting and valuable process. The raven will help me see what I have to do and help me remember.

 

I think you do wonderful work. I will be back for further sessions.

 

I enjoyed the opportunity to work with you and I am excited for our upcoming session.   I have been running around, but I have taken some time to ground and meditate on the messages I received.  I seem to be experiencing waves of emotions and thoughts, which are a part of the process.  I look forward for the opportunity to learn more tools for exploring my soul parts and totem animals for a deeper understanding. Take care and I hope you have an incredible week...I'm sure that it will be filled with many emotions.

 


I had had some prior soul-retrieval done by another pair of shamans in Florida, and while much of what they said felt accurate, I felt they were over-zealous in their efforts, and actually 'cut' a little TOO much - sort of like cutting a rose bush off at the ground, rather than 'pruning' it.

However, I did feel that they were correct when they stated that I had lost more than "a few" soul-fragments (approximately 12, in fact...) during a near-death experience in 1994, as well as picking UP some fragments of a dear friend/lover who had died a few years later, and that it would require a second effort to retrieve the remaining missing fragments - there was too much to accomplish in one journey. I also knew that I did NOT want that process to be completed by them, as they seemed 'heavy handed.'

My experiences with you, Joan, were delightful, and brought a definite sense of closure - I felt 'restored', but without the traumatic sense of upheaval the other process had caused.

 

 

There were several areas worked on. Some of the results were a dramatic elimination of the conflict, problem and in some instances pain. And some of the aspects like the power animal brought some immediate results and some longer term.  Also the healings actually revealed the source and/or cause of conflict that I was actually not self aware enough of to resolve. Once revealed by the soul retrieval work I remembered and knew occurrences that were parts of conflict causing unease and restriction.  I was particularly surprised by the past life soul retrieval that has since given me a whole new way of dealing with my birth and relation to family and events. Very empowering, invigorating, and the healings have brought on greater ease in life. Thank You. Over all great results.

 

I thought the experience was wonderful! I felt so invigorated and confident. I have tried conventional therapy but find that this experience, along with some past life regression I have done and other "energy" work, have made the most difference in my life. I have been able to reclaim parts of me that were lost, renew them and move forward through what had become a cloud of emotion, attachment and illness. I wish more people in our society would give themselves the opportunity to have this kind of experience. I especially wish criminals and the severely mentally ill would have access. Given all the traditional religious consultation that is offered especially in jails and so consistently fails to truly help people - it’s unfortunate, this option isn't offered.

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I feel lots of good energy and clarity.

 

172

My stomach was in knots for two years. When you pulled out the energy of the woman, the knots were gone! I’m talking to my soul parts and getting information.

 

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In Navajo, usually two members of the tribe participate in the cure of a sick person, a singer or medicine man and a diviner. In Navajo, there is no general word for diviner, but generally it means “that which he knows”. Divining, common to most cultures, is the skill of gaining inner knowledge or wisdom beyond the five senses. Those who have this ability are regarded as practitioners of prophecy: shamanic soul retrieval is a lot like this.

 

I requested a soul retrieval because I had a “knowing” that I had some energy blockages but didn’t know what caused them or why. I needed the help of soul retrieval to locate and release them. Soon after my soul retrieval I noticed people at work responding to me more positively, as if some sort of invisible shield or bubble was removed. In time I have been able to live more fully and in the present. The burdens of my past are lighter. I feel more at the cause of my life, rather than at the effect of what happens to me. It’s obvious to me that I did have an energy blockage and it was released. I still had to do the spiritual, emotional and mental work of reflection to heal, but I needed the energy work of soul retrieval to provide the catalyst toward my journey toward “wholeness.”

I feel that your work for me helped to trigger other events and experiences that helped to facilitate my forward movement, along with other ways I was working.

I felt excellent! The singing voice inside me changed for a while (better). I was able to relate to Lion Power Animal!

I have had several sessions with Joan. Some have provided me with new information; some have given me insight into past experiences that I didn’t know affected me to such an extent; some confirmed experiences with an uncanny accuracy.

I got some good insights from the journey. I feel motivated psychologically to integrate the soul parts. I had had pain in my shoulder for a long time, and you mentioned incidents of past trauma that had caused this pain. Since the soul retrieval, my shoulder has been physically unlocking, and also the emotions from those incidents have been releasing.

I felt more solid following my soul retrieval. Another way to describe the sense of it was that I felt there was more of me and I felt more grounded.



 

Creating A Modern Medicine Wheel

By Joan Forest Mage

 

Introduction

In 1985, after fourteen years of study and professional performing experience as a modern dancer, I set out to create my own unique artistic expression. In 2002, after seventeen years of study, experimentation and creation, I realized that the system I had synthesized (which is called “Creative Community”) follows the ancient form of the Native American Medicine Wheel.

Throughout the years of work, it was obvious that I was creating something much larger than a form of dance in the usual Western concept of art, which is entertainment. I found that, generally speaking, the average Western audience member does not go to the theater for a healing or spiritual experience. At least, this motivation is not at a conscious level for the audience member. The theatrical experience is not viewed as a ritual in which they participate to create a shift in energy and consciousness. Rather, the audience member expects to be “entertained”, to have an aesthetically pleasing experience.

In contrast, in indigenous cultures, music and dance have never lost their purpose as healing ritual. Because I was mining dance and music for their profound meaning, I was led to discover deep psychological and spiritual aspects of dance and music, and how these fit into a larger pattern of understanding all aspects of life.

In Western thought, the tradition is to compartmentalize each aspect of life. Medical doctors heal the body, psychologists heal the mind, artists do art, elementary school teachers teach children, business people run their businesses, etc. Each is an expert in their particular field. While there is somewhat of a tradition to think and act in a cross-disciplinary way, thinking and acting in a holistic way is quite a foreign concept. By cross-disciplinary, I mean that a person would use the concepts and methods of one field to inform decisions in another field. Actual examples are: a firefighter uses his carpentry knowledge to create a firefighting tool; a theoretical mathematician who enjoys studying insects sees a computer model of the sixth dimension, and realizes that it’s the model of a bee dance that has been observed for centuries but never explained.

Holistic thinking is to see the broader picture of a whole issue, including its physical, psychological, emotional, social, spiritual, environmental, etc. aspects. A medicine wheel is a holistic model of reality that encompasses and interrelates all these various aspects of life.

Through examining the concept of the medicine wheel, I will clarify my theoretical system, and be better able to explain to my performers and students how they can gain the greatest advantage from this model.

Medicine Wheel: Art, Healing, Teaching, Community Building

What is a medicine wheel? Loomis (1991) says

 

 

In the Native American tradition, the source of all creation is the Sacred Mystery, the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit is not the patriarchal God of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition but a creative-conceptive force combining feminine and masculine potentials in harmonious balance. This Sacred Mystery reveals itself as the Powers of the Four Directions and these four powers provide the organizing principle for everything that exists in our world.

 

To gain self-awareness and enlightenment, one has to be in harmony with the Powers of the Four Directions and the source of all life. The medicine wheel, symbolized by a cross within a circle, provides a tool for achieving this balance and harmony. The medicine wheel is a ceremonial tool but it also provides the basis for all teaching wheels…

 

 

 

All medicine wheels are tools for understanding our humanity. Some are teaching wheels, explaining where human beings fit into the grand scheme of the universe. Others are working wheels, pointing out what it means to be human…Being human means being conscious and being responsible for one’s self-growth.

 

The medicine wheel comes from societies where there is not a vast separation of the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual aspects of life. A medicine wheel is

1. an educational tool, especially for spiritual, psychological and wellness teaching.

2. a spiritual tool, used in ceremonies to cultivate relationships with divine, within the human community, and with the connection of humans to the larger environment of animals, plants and land.

3. a tool for psychological and spiritual healing and wellness.

4. an expression of art, and the spiritual connection art opens for the human being. This artistic expression may take the form of a large installation such as Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, or it may be a small depiction through stones or crystals that an individual can carry; or it might even be a drawn or painted representation.

Loomis, Underwood (1998), May and Rodberg (1996) and others explain that, in addition to the central wheel and directions, there can be numerous adjunct wheels, spokes and points in the model. Some wheels are diagnostic wheels, which analyze where misalignments are occurring. Some wheels are developmental wheels, which depict the process towards wholeness (Loomis, 1991).

May and Rodberg explain:

Each position on the wheel is a symbol for certain influences, spiritual laws or experiences in life. By moving to different positions on the wheel and reflecting upon the attributes of that position, you can recreate and transform the way you see yourself and your life experiences…

Many cultures have used the wheel, and each has adopted their own symbols for the positions of the wheel. The symbols are often animals, minerals, colors, plants, people or objects having a special meaning for them…

Connected to each symbol is something not easily explained or named. You know it because you feel it. It is not your imagination. When you open yourself to it, you will realize that it is an energy or law that can help you because it is a part of you and everything that is.

 

In other words, the medicine wheel is not simply symbolic in the Western sense of metaphor. The medicine wheel is a guide to accessing actual spiritual energies which can heal, educate and uplift the person using it.

In the medicine wheel, metaphor is utilized as the gateway to the spirit realm. This is grounded in human physiology. Markova (1996) explains that different ways of speaking create different brain waves. Markova found that listening to a speaker using literal terms encourages beta brainwaves, or alert consciousness, in the listener. When the speaker gave examples instead of literal explanations, the listeners moved into alpha brainwaves, which is relaxation. Finally, when the listeners heard metaphors, they moved into theta brainwaves, which creates visionary consciousness. Theta brainwaves are indicative of the deep meditative state associated with shamanic journeys, acknowledged since ancient times as a way of connecting to the spirit realm (Arrien, 1993).

Lane (2001) describes the work of the poet in leading us to spiritual heights through his or her art, especially in connecting us to the land as sacred:

If you are asking about the “gathered meanings” of the land through which you move…the gifts of the poet are most particularly appropriate, even imperative, in the task of defining and describing “sacred” terrain…The poet knows that the human experience of the sacred is awash in the particularity of things, the sensuous surfaces and ambient array of details that make possible any sense of dwelling in the presence of mystery…the poet, therefore, helps us overcome the problem of the isolated, abstract interpreter, the one who remains cut off from his or her own richly embodied experience of place.

In Western culture, many models of understanding and organizing reality have been developed in various fields from education to psychology to economics. Indeed, Western culture delights in finding models which tend to abstract and reduce reality.

A medicine wheel is more than just the Western concept of an organizational model. The medicine wheel adds to reality, by inviting in the spiritual dimension of life. The person working with the medicine wheel has spiritual purpose, a connection to the numinous. Words become prayers, focused intent. In modern Western thought, the word “ritual” often has the connotation of meaningless action. In contrast, the person working with the medicine wheel will often use poetic words filled with deep intent to shift energy, to change reality. Listen to these words of Lynn Andrews (1990) from the opening meditation on her medicine wheel:

Powers of the North, place of storms of wisdom, mountains of knowledge, home of the Buffalo, come in. Come in, Buffalo, to my circle now. Teach me how to give away, to share what I have learned, to nourish others with the bounty of my beings. Teach me to face the cold, to stand alone when I must, to take care of others like a tribe, like a true circle. Buffalo, Sacred Provider, provide me with wisdom, with knowledge, and with the ability to share what I learn. Powers of the North, come into my circle now!

Medicine Wheels: Ancient and Cross Cultural

A cross surrounded by a circle is the basic design of the medicine wheel. These two abstract designs, the circle and the cross have symbolic meaning in almost every culture. May and Rodberg (1996) explain:

The Hindu Wheel of Existence, the Chinese yin-yang symbol, Tibetan sand mandalas, and England’s Stonehenge are familiar examples...The round shape [of the circle] symbolizes wholeness, centeredness, completeness and unification. The cycle of life: birth, growth, death and rebirth, is represented by the circle…The circle symbolizes the web of life, that is to say, the integration and unity of all living things in one all-encompassing circle….What happens to one part of the circle affects the whole circle. We are all part of this whole, everything that lives on this earth and everything in the universe. Animals, plants, stones, the planets, the moon and stars are alive and can teach us. All physical beings can be viewed metaphorically in order to learn a spiritual lesson through the attributes they represent. This is the key to understanding the medicine wheel….

 

Each position on the wheel offers an opportunity for change, growth, new experiences, new relationships, new ideas, and new ways of viewing life…By working with the medicine wheel, exploring it, and traveling through it, you will see yourself as a multidimensional being. You will see how you can recreate your own life, and take responsibility for who and what you are. It is a great challenge and also a great opportunity to ride the medicine wheel.

 

The circle divided into four parts is a representation of the seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Part of the purpose of the medicine wheel is the connection it makes to the seasons. Sites such as Stonehenge, the Egyptian pyramids, and Big Horn Mountain in Wyoming are giant astronomical calendars (Lane, 2001). The Celtic cross, with its cross surrounded by a circle, is the shape of a medicine wheel. Its use probably pre-dates Christianity, and is related to ancient Celtic and Druidic knowledge and ceremonies of the seasons.

How old is the concept of the medicine wheel? Lynn Andrews says that her

tradition of the Sisterhood of the Shields dates back as far as 300,000 years (Andrews, 1990). Recent archeological findings corroborate how ancient the medicine wheel teachings may be. Many of the teachings Andrews writes about are related to the Australian Aboriginal people, who migrated to Australia in boats at least 50,000 years ago (Kilian, 2000). In America, archaeologists have found an ancient settlement in what is now Virginia, which dates to 20,000 years ago. This completely changes the previous theory of human migration into America, which said that the migration took place over the Bering Strait near Alaska about 13,000 years ago. The artifacts that were found at the Virginia site are comparable to those of the Solutrean culture of northern Spain, which dates to the same time period of 20,000 B.C.E. Asian and Arctic objects of the same era are distinctly different. In other words, people probably migrated to America both from Asia over the Bering Strait, as well as in ancient boats or along a glacier bridge from Europe. And all of this happened much earlier than was previously thought. So, it’s possible that the cultural teachings of the medicine wheel - the seasons, the directions and their psycho-spiritual connotations – may have come from an extremely ancient, common source in human history prior to 50,000 B.C.E., before such far-flung migration occurred.

Kenneth Johnson (1998) gives insight into the Eastern European version of the medicine wheel concept. Archaeological evidence finds depictions of the cross within the circle on the most ancient Neolithic pottery, dating from about 5000 B.C.E., and unearthed in what is now the Ukraine and Moldavia. In the classic Siberian and European forms of shamanism, the center of the cosmos is the World Tree, with its roots in the Lowerworld, its highest branches in the Upperworld and its trunk in the Middleworld, or the Earth upon which we live. The World Tree is also the point of origin for the four cardinal directions, and is aligned with the sun which rises in the east, reaches its zenith at noon, sets in the west and reaches its nadir at night.

This is reflected in many of the myths from these Eastern European peoples. They believed that, in order to remain in balance with the cosmos, the life of the community had to move in harmony with the cycle of the seasons. Thus, we see rituals held at the seasons which balance male and female, old and young. Spring is embodied by Lada, youthful goddess of fertility; Summer as the young male god Kupalo; Autumn as the mother goddess Mokosh; and “Old Man Winter” is the male god Volos. Thus, these gods were the archetypes or spirit guides of the four directions and seasons.

Johnson also explains how the religious icons of Russian art follow the form of the medicine wheel. His Russian spiritual teachers taught him:

[let your eyes work around] the entire icon in a circle, treating it as a meditation wheel ultimately resolving into the center of the circle, the face of the saint….many, if not most, of the portraits that occupy the center of icons are laid out according to a precise geometry. A vertical line runs down the center of each face, usually defined by the part in the hair, the nose, and perhaps the cleft of the chin. This vertical axis is intersected by a horizontal one, typically the line of the eyes. Thus the saint’s face itself forms a cross of the four directions.

As we have seen, a directional or seasonal cross of this nature should (symbolically speaking) be contained within a circle, the circle of life or of the year. Again, in many if not most cases, the cross of the directions is encircled by the saint’s halo, which is typically a perfect circle. This quartered circle, if focused upon in meditation, will lead your consciousness to its center, which is the ajna chakra, or “third eye center” of the saint. The center is where the magic happens, for each saint bestows a particular gift or quality upon us, be it health, success, or love – gifts or qualities appropriate to those archetypes we call the gods.

 

Many cultures have psycho-spritiual tools in the shape of a circle which are akin to the medicine wheel. For example, labyrinths and other spiral walks are found in ancient Greece and Rome, in the Celtic lands, France and many other places. They have been used since ancient times as meditative tools. By walking or tracing the labyrinth, the person was able to reflect on the journey of his or her life.

Another example of a psycho-spiritual tool similar to a medicine wheel is the Native American medicine shield, which is a ceremonial art piece. This is a shield decorated with painted images which represented the character of the person to whom the shield belonged. The medicine shield was a special depiction of the essence of the person. Each woman would make her own shield - while a man’s shield would be made by his friends! (Sams, 1990).

In many traditions, particularly in the Sami tribe of Northern Europe, a shaman would decorate the drum that he or she would use for shamanic journey meditation. The decorations would often reflect the circle of the World Tree or other medicine wheel themes.

The classic and most identifiable medicine wheels, however, are in the form of a circle divided into four quarters. Different traditions layer concepts associated with the four seasons and the four directions around this basic form. For example, most traditions assign animal spirits to each of the four directions, and will have a traditional place (North, South, East or West) as a starting point in the progression around the Wheel. But different cultures will have different animals in the directions, and start the progression from different points. Two examples are from the Incan tradition, as described by Warnimont (1994) and one of the Iroquois traditions, described by Underwood (1998):

 

 

Tradition

Starting Point

South Animal

West

Animal

North

Animal

East

Animal

Incan

South

Serpent

Jaguar

Hummingbird

Condor

Metaphoric/energetic meaning:

Releasing the past

Let go of old ways being

Confront fear of death & future

Find essential nature of self

Seeing possibilities; free to make choices

Iroquois (Underwood)

North

Mouse

Bear

Elk

Eagle

Metaphoric/energetic meaning

Wisdom;

present knowledge

Growth;

helping others

Introspection;

attention to detail

Wisdom;

providing for self

Inspiration; seeing big picture

 

 

What inspires the choice of a certain animal, plant or other more-than-human guide for a certain position on the wheel? It’s obvious that the choice, or determination, of animal spirit helpers in the example above was influenced by the type of animals found in the locale in which the tribe lived. But the reason goes deeper than that. All life forms are seen as respectworthy and intelligent. A holy place is not defined by some transcendent being’s blessing; nor is it holy because of historical human events enacted there. Rather, each place is holy because of its own being. Lane (2001) gives insight into discovering the sacred dimension of place, and the human relation to Nature:

A sacred place is not simply a unique site magically “possessed” by chthonic forces, nor is it a topographical wax nose able to be culturally twisted into anything one makes of it. A difficulty with both approaches is that the perceiver largely ignores the actual peculiarities of the place itself. It becomes a “blank slate” on which divine or human meanings are arbitrarily inscribed – by means of luminous revelation on the one hand or cultural construction on the other…

Discerning the full significance of a site necessarily involves attending to the place’s own contribution to its meaning…the world beyond us is also deeply before us. We speak “for,” “to, and “with” it in a way that demands the total investment of ourselves…

The sacred site speaks, then, with its own voice…meaning emerges as a co-construction of human and more-than-human sensibilities…to weave a narrative that embraces the energies of land and sky in suggesting common meanings only discovered together.

 

Unlike the modern Western idea that meaning and metaphor arise from human consciousness, the medicine wheel lives in a universe of reciprocal meaning with all-that-is. We do not so much “choose” spirit guardians for the various positions on the wheel, as it is they who tell us where they belong. This is the mind of the medicine wheel.

 

Different Ways of Knowing

To understand the medicine wheel, it helps to understand how knowledge is passed on in various cultures. Modern Western culture relies on verbal explanation as a major part of teaching methodology. In contrast, other cultures such as Native American and African utilize visual and kinesthetic training, with an almost complete absence of verbal explanation. The learner is expected to gain the information through observation and experience. In the West, training is literal, logical and cognitive. In other cultures, the approach is often intuitive and creative, with the student allowed to figure things out on their own. This is consistent with the fact that it is often not just a concept or intellectual knowledge that is the focus of the learning. Rather, the teacher guides the student into developing the student’s own unique relationship with the material. The purpose of the learning is for the student to developing actual, on-going relationships with the energies of places, spiritual beings or sacred traditions. Underwood (1998) gives her experience of learning the medicine wheel:

 

The circle my Father had drawn on the beaten earth floor of our garage stared at me, showing me a great gap in my understanding.

I sat there and gazed at this circle for a long time, with no wiser understanding than, “It is a circle.” Finally my Father drew a little mark out from the edge of the circle. I already knew not to ask what it was. He From Whom I Was Learning would only deflect the question back to me! But I began to think about it.

Earlier, when I was only three, my Father had helped me learn how to recognize North. He took me out on our front lawn and told me to close my eyes. He spun me around in a circle, many circles until I was very dizzy – and then he said, “Find North!”

“What?” I answered him, devoid of understanding.

“Find North!” he instructed again.

And so I continued my dizzy spin, turning around and around until all of a sudden I felt a nudge of energy – something that felt different from the rest – and I realized, “There’s North!”…At the other end of this dizzying experience, I had a real sense of where North is – and a beginning understanding of the nature of Earth Energy. – Therefore I realized now that the mark my Father had just added to this new and puzzling circle on our beaten earth floor..was North…This process took over nine months, puzzling over each step day by day. At the end of this time, this Circle Dance of Life was embedded in my blood and bone. I had created it within myself.

 

And as Chicago drummer John Yost describes traditional African drum training:

At a certain age, their parents saw that they had a gift, and gave them to the master drummer. And he showed them through doing it, not through teaching [explanation]. The first thing is that you carried the drums, and you watched and you watched and you watched. Some day they throw a drum at you and tell you to play. You play it right, you get to keep playing. You play it wrong, you get hit in the head with a djiembe [drum] and you have to keep carrying the drums for a while longer. (J. Yost, personal communication, 1/24/02).

 

The Creative Community model that I have developed also has a large nonverbal component. Through vocalizing, body movement, meditation, observation and interacting with each other, students gain information directly from their own experience and from various levels of consciousness.

 

Medicine Wheels for a ModernWorld

Many contemporary people have put forth their own versions of the medicine wheel. In this, they are following the long tradition of medicine people and spiritual teachers, who have adapted these ancient teachings to the needs of each generation. Among these modern teachers are Lynn Andrews, Vicki May and Cindy Rodberg, Mary E. Loomis and Paula Underwood.

May and Rodberg’s Wheel (Fig. 1) elaborates on each of twenty-five positions, assigning a spirit guide and meaning to each. It is intended to awaken the awareness of contemporary people to the spirit realm, “to regain a conscious knowledge of our true selves,” and the interconnection and oneness of all life forms: stars, sun, moon, plants and animals. Hence, the emphasis on the spirit guides.

Loomis’ orientation is in the field of psychology. She puts forth two wheels influenced by modern psychological theories. One is the traditional Star Maiden Circle (Fig. 2), which represents the psychological realities operating in our lives today, just as they did in the lives of our ancestors (Loomis, 1991). The other wheel, which Loomis created in conjunction with June Singer, is based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types (Fig. 3).

Underwood’s medicine wheel is based on her heritage from the Iroquois tribe (Fig. 4). It has the broadest concepts, which apply to all aspects of life. As Underwood states:

The Circle we now draw together represents any Whole, any Whole at all.

It can be one cell in your Body, your Heart, your Full Self, your Community, State, Nation. It can represent any group, any organization, any school or corporation. It can represent the League of Women Voters, Xerox, or the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. It can represent the United Nations. It can – and often does – represent Universe as a Whole.

Thus this Circle, this Great Hoop of Life is never assumed to be limited to personal use only. It can be used by any organization or group…for any organization or group.

Let us remember it is so.

 

Underwood’s wheel shows the natural progression or pull of life. We start with Wisdom, our current state of knowledge. Then we feel a pull or Sensitivity, that there is more to know. Next we have a Perception of what that new learning or experience might be. From Inspiration arises Understanding of the new knowledge that awakens in us, after which we communicate it to others. Then we begin the Growth process of the new (concept, experience). This is experienced both in the Community as a whole, and within each Individual in the community. From the experiences of the new in the community, Conflict and then Peace within the community will arise. Finally, we have circled back to Wisdom, at a new level of awareness.

Creative Community

My own modern medicine wheel, Creative Community (Fig. 5), has many parallels to Underwood’s. The basis of this wheel was my observation of people doing dance improvisation together. I found that there were four different stages: dancing by oneself; imitating and leading; dancing together; and following a common energy or pattern. From this grounding in physical reality, developed a system of training people in mind, body and spirit to understand how to form vital, living (sentient) communities. Each one of us is a community in ourselves, and then we interact with other people, other living beings, the Earth herself, the spirit realm and on and on into the cosmos. It behooves us to understand how to be an individual, and how to form community.

There are four stages of arriving at Creative Community. First is Communicating, which means knowing what you think and feel. Second is Relating, or expressing yourself, and knowing how to really listen to others as they express themselves. Third is Creating, interacting with what each person thinks or feels to make something new, or to create change. Last is Supporting, working together as a group to carry out the plan or change.

Through the years that I have led workshops based on Creative community, students have been amazed at the power of this teaching to get to the source of many personal and interpersonal issues that they have, and to illuminate a path for their future growth.

A complete discussion of Creative Community will be found in future papers.

Bibliography

Andrews, L. (1990). Teachings Around the Sacred Wheel. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco.

 

Arrien, A. (1993). The Four-Fold Way. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco.

Johnson, K. (1998). Slavic Sorcery. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn.

Kilian, M. (2000, April 6). Europeans Possibly 1st Americans. The Chicago Tribune., p. 1

Lane, B. (2001). Giving Voice to place: three models for understanding American sacred space. Religion and American Culture, 11 (1), 53-81.

Loomis, M. (1991). Dancing the Wheel of Psychological Types. Wilmette, IL: Chiron.

Markova, D. (1996). The Open Mind. Berkeley, CA: Conari Press.

May, V. and Rodberg, C. (1996). Medicine Wheel Ceremonies: ancient philosophies for use in modern daily life. Happy Camp, CA: Naturegraph Publishers.

Sams, J. (1990). Animal Medicine Cards. San Francisco: Harper Collins.

Underwood, P.(1998). The Great Hoop of Life. Los Angeles, CA. Tribe of Two Press.

Warnimont, W. (1994). Ancient Earth Wisdom. [Brochure]. Chicago: Author.

 

 

Life Force Wheel

The Life Force Wheel

by Joan Forest Mage

Introduction

 

The Life Force Wheel (LFW) is a spiritual teaching based in ancient, universal wisdom, that I received through inspiration. The model as a whole took almost thirty years to develop, from 1985 – 2013, although the core concept, the 4 Skills, has remained consistent. The Life Force Wheel is based on the principle that nurturing the unique gifts of each individual creates healthy, well-functioning community. Life Force Wheel training is carried out through exercises in the arts, personal growth, shamanic journeying and healing ritual.

In 1985, after fourteen years of study and professional performing experience as a modern dancer, I set out to create my own unique artistic expression. Throughout the next two decades of study, experimentation and creation with the concepts that I was “downloaded by the Universe” with, it was obvious that I was creating something much larger than a form of dance in the usual Western concept of art. It was finally in 2002, that I fully realized that the system I had synthesized which is called the Life Force Wheel is similar to the ancient indigenous teachings that many cultures call the medicine wheel.

 

 

Although in a sense this system originated from one person, it is based in universal principles. It is an honor and a privilege to contribute to manifesting these perennial teachings in this world at this time.

 

 

LFW is a model of health rather than pathology, based on principles drawn from both ancient and modern sources, including shamanism, an ancient form of spiritual healing found in virtually every culture. The Wheel guides participants from personal healing through spiritual wellness and finally to live an empowered and contributive life. Through knowing and practicing the principles of the Wheel, people’s lives can be healed and empowered.

 

LFW is not based in a particular ethnic culture or religious belief. Rather, it is a contemporary combination of both psychological and spiritual practice in a non-denominational approach to greater wholeness. We work with core principles of cross-cultural shamanism, which focus on the direct experience of the intuitive/spiritual realm. LFW seeks to connect people to the spiritual side of life in a way that individuals of various beliefs and life experiences can embrace in their own way, discovering their own truth.

 

History

I discovered the Life Force Wheel through practicing dance and theater arts, which I have been involved with since I was a child. The arts are one of the few places in the Western world that never lost the connection to, and the techniques of working with, spirit and energy. Creating ritual and talking to spirits through performance happened to me spontaneously, within the context of very modern, Western approach to dance and performance. I did not seek to do ritual, I discovered that ritual is who I am and what I do.

 

As I developed as an artist, I found that audiences and students had very powerful reactions to my work. People would run screaming from my performances and classes, or be very upset and angry by them. I came to realize that this was because my work was based in energy and spirit, and that it was catalyzing powerful changes in the observers and participants.

I felt that I had an ethical decision to make. I could continue on as an dance artist and dance teacher, with the attitude that I was not responsible for the reaction of the audiences and students. As an artist and teacher, my role would be to simply pass on to the participants what I experienced and what I knew.

 

But this did not feel right to me. My work had a powerful effect on people, and if I was going to unleash its power, I needed to take responsibility for it. I needed to find out what part of the audience’s reactions might be me doing something “wrong,” i.e., me infecting the audience with the negative energy released by doing therapy for myself on stage, in the guise of a performance. Could I be doing something even more sinister, such as drawing “evil” spirits to me, and inflicting them on my audience?

 

Or, was I drawing forth a catharsis of the audience’s own issues? In that case, shouldn’t I become a therapist, and do the work in the context of therapy?

 

As I explored over the years, I found answers to these questions. The way I answered these questions is not the only way possible. But I feel that these answers have led to a system of ritual art that contains the transformative and cathartic energy that many people, including me, naturally produce, in a way that is safe, effective and beneficial. That system is the Life Force Wheel. Hundreds of students over the last thirty years have had profound insights through learning these principles.

 

Components of the Life Force Wheel

There are three main components to the Life Force Wheel:

  • 4 Skills
  • 4 Communities
  • 10 Archetypes

 

The 4 Skills

The core concept of the Life Force Wheel is the 4 Skills. They are what I discovered originally: four different ways that people relate to each other when they improvise with dance, music or theater. These are core life skills that are necessary to be a of life itself; four core modes of being in the world The 4 Skills are:

 

1. Perception - moving by yourself; knowing what you think and feel

2. Empowerment - leading & following; acting on and standing up for what you think and feel; listening to others with respect

3. Process - interacting creatively

4. Partnership - moving with a common form and energy; being a community

 

 

 

Perception is being aware of one's own energy field and what you are experiencing. In perception, you focus on your own energy, your own thoughts and feelings; you observe what is happening within you and around you. It is not about your relationship with other people, places or things; Perception is a precursor to understanding relationship. Perception is knowing what you think and feel as you experience both your inner and outer world. Perception is the Skill of the Witness and Artist Archetypes.

 

 

Empowerment is about standing up for what you think and feel. This step comes after Perception, which is simply knowing what you think and feel. It is characterized by knowing how to lead and how to follow. It’s about self-identity: identifying yourself by what you’re dedicated to. To be empowered means you know your own strength, understand the impact that you make, and have the power to accomplish your goals. If you are empowered, you are comfortable with your identity and with the work you do. You are at ease wit being yourself, and allowing others to be themselves. You are comfortable with both leading, which involves allowing others to see you, know you, and adapt their energy flow to yours to learn from you; and following, which involves adapting your energy to the leader’s energy flow in order to learn about him/her.

Process is about creating together through interaction. Process is about creativity. To engage in Process, the participants must move beyond simply standing up for what they think, feel and love, which depends on self-identity. Process requires the participants to "park their egos at the door" and commit to creating something new together, something larger than any of them could create separately. Healing, which is one form of creativity, provides a good example of the two phases of creativity: you have to let go of the energy you no longer need, and take in the new energy that you do need. In other words, creativity is about transforming into something new. There is always a mystery about Process; one has to allow inspiration to enter that is beyond what is currently known. This requires a sense of trust, which is based on feeling love for oneself, others and the universe. Within this sacred space of trust, you feel confident to release the old and discover a new unity, a new identity. You find a new form and direction for your life and heart.

Partnership is moving with a common form, energy and sense of purpose: it is being a community. A new organism/organization has arisen from the Skill of Process. This new organism may be a reintegration of an individual, a group of people, or any type of community. This new organism has a spirit or energy all its own, and the component parts of the organism know how to follow that common spirit. The members of this Partnership (community) are aware of the structures and systems that make up the organism. They also appreciate useful patterns, structures and systems that have been established to carry forth the purpose of the organism. In other words, the community members appreciate both the spirit and the letter of the laws that unite them as a community.

 

The 4 Skills are essential to a well-functioning community. The 4 Skills are divided into the first two Skills of Perception and Empowerment, which are the Skills of Youth, and are primarily concerned with the Self and Human Society; and the third and fourth skills, Process and Partnership, the Skills of Maturity, which are primarily concerned with Nature and the Spirit Realm.

 

 

The Life Force Wheel can be depicted as two concentric circles with eight spokes radiating outward, like a pie cut into eight pieces. One of the best ways of understanding the Wheel is to physically walk this pattern. Doing so is one of the best ways of encountering the spirit guides of each Archetype. An energetic exchange takes place with the Archetype. It is far beyond just an intellectual shift in the participants, and it is even beyond a shift in the emotions or sub-personalities of the individual person. It is an encounter with the transpersonal.

To work energetically in this way with the Life Force Wheel, we begin by creating a sacred space for ritual, with such methods as smudging, singing, drumming etc. Next, through body movement we practice the 4 Skills: Perception, Empowerment, Process and Partnership. These Skills enable us to relate energetically to each other in four basic ways:

1. Being by ourselves, within our own energy field. This teaches Perception: the Skill of the Witness and Artist Archetypes.

2. Imitating the movement of other people and allowing the to imitate us. This teaches Empowerment: the Skill of the Companion and Warrior Archetypes.

3. Interacting with each other in movement. This teaches of Process: the Skill of the Phoenix and Healer Archetypes.

4. Moving with a common form and common energy.  This teaches Partnership: the Skill of the Tribe and Sovereign Archetypes.

Through this practice, the participants are able to understand how to relate to each other in the different ways needed in a healthy society.

 

Students of the 4 Skills discover themselves as sentient, or conscious, beings. Living, conscious beings live and move authentically. They have the freedom of fearlessness to move the true feelings passing through themselves. Through teaching and observing improvisation with hundreds of students, I came to the conclusion that only when individuals feel safe and respected within a group will they truly express themselves. To create such a safe and sacred space became the core of the work.

The 4 Skills are levels of consciousness regarding relationship. The 4 Skills define the type and level of communication in a relationship as it impacts both task and social-emotional issues.

 

The 4 Communities

The 4 Communities that share our planet are the Individual, Human Society, Nature and the Spirit Realm.

 

The principles of the Life Force Wheel are a guide to achieving greater harmony within yourself, with your fellow humans, with Nature and the Spirit realm.

When they hear this, some people may ask, “I can understand why it would be important to have a good relationship within myself – to have high self-esteem and self-confidence, to appreciate my own talents and abilities, and to want the best for myself. I can also understand why it would be important to have good relations with my family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Both those things will make my life smoother and more pleasant.

“Yes, it would be nice to spend more time in nature – I enjoy a sunny day, and the sound of waves on the beach! But I don’t understand why it would be important to have a relationship with nature. What does that even mean? And as far as relationship with the spirit realm – I’m not sure what you mean by spirit realm, let alone what it means to have a relationship with it. I was raised a Presbyterian, if you mean what religion I am……”

 

One answer to that question is that by developing good relationship with Nature and the spirit realm, we can solve global problems that threaten our very existence, such as global warming, pollution, war.

The Community of Nature

Western culture is based on saying that some things are sentient – alive, feeling and conscious, while others are insentient – not alive, incapable of feeling and therefore lesser beings. A human is sentient, a table is insentient; a cat is sentient while a rock is insentient. A hierarchy came into the concept, with humans as the universally recognized sentient beings. Animals ere considered a lower class of sentient being, but still “on the radar” of feeling creatures. Most philosophers considered plants insentient, incapable of feeling, and almost all Western thinkers would agree beings (“things”) such as bodies of water, rocks, rain, metal, plastic, cloth, etc. are insentient.

When one begins accepting such a hierarchy, it is not a long step to saying that some groups of people (women, people of color, “the enemy”) are lesser beings, not as sentient. This attitude has caused untold misery on our planet.

But not all peoples have thought this way. In fact, most cultures throughout history have not. Ancient peoples did not think of humans as the only sentient beings. Most peoples, especially indigenous cultures, speak of the Web of Life in which everything is included.

 

Animals, plants, oceans and people are all equal parts of this Web. The plants, the mountains, rivers, lakes, caves, the very spirit of the land, were viewed as living, sentient partners in the life of the human community. The healers and elders of the tribe would communicate with the spirits of place to negotiate harmonious living arrangements.

Through reviving this sensibility and priority, we as modern people will be able to live in cooperation with nature in a clean, safe, abundant and harmonious environment.

The Spirit Realm: The Energy Plane

Michael Harner says, “A spirit is anything you see with your eyes closed.” Our definition of spirit realm is not a set of religious beliefs, but rather the actual experience that people have when they go into altered states of consciousness. People throughout all cultures and history have described experiencing the help of spiritual beings such as angels, ancestors, totem animals, gods, goddesses, fairies, elves, plant people, crystal people. These entities can be thought of as being part of the creation or Creator, just as we humans in physical bodies are. They are not over us, ruling our lives, but are part of us and help us do important work in daily life. Just as we can gather to ourselves helpers and friends in physical form, so the user-friendly universe provides us spiritual helpers.

Why should we be concerned with the spirit realm? Here is one example. Gary Starnes and Karen Hutchins found out when they started a shamanic retreat program for military personnel and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What they discovered is that many of the participants had what are called “spiritual entities” attached to them which needed to be released. In other words, the energy or soul parts of the people the participants had killed was still with them. After releasing this energy, the participants showed amazing recovery from PTSD, even after many years of suffering with this condition.

This is an example of how the spirit realm can affect us, and why we should be concerned with it.

"Nature and Madness" by Paul Shepard

In his brilliant essay "Nature and Madness" (http://www.primitivism.com/nature-madness.htm) Paul Shepard asks the question, "Why are people destroying the planet?" The answer he gives is that the planet is currently being run by children and adolescents; modern culture does not value true maturity. To explain: children and adolescents are concerned with their own interests as humans. Children look for parental figures for protection, and adolescents want to do whatever they wish and don't believe there will be any consequences. In other words, the focus in childhood and adolescence are learning about themselves as individuals, and about getting along with other humans.

Shepard says that in indigenous cultures, the sign of maturity is when the person is concerned with guiding the human community in harmonious relationship with nature and the spirit realm. In other words, the primary task of the mature human is to take care of nature and the spirit realm. Take a moment to imagine how peaceful and prosperous would be a world where the expectation was that adult humans would spend their time helping nature and the spirit realm.

That is why the first two Skills, Perception and Empowerment, are the Skills of Youth. Perception is knowing what you think and feel, and Empowerment is standing up for what you think and feel. The third and fourth Skills, Process and Partnership, are the Skills of Maturity. Process is about creating together, and Partnership is about moving with a common form and energy.

 

The Ten Archetypes of the Life Force Wheel

There are ten Archetypes on the Life Force Wheel. Eight of them are on the Outer Wheel; two of them are on the Inner Wheel.

 

The Outer Wheel Archetypes are the Witness, Artist, Companion, Warrior, Phoenix, Healer, Tribe and Sovereign.

 

The Inner Wheel Archetypes are the Teacher and True Self.

 

Regarding the Inner Wheel: Many people have a circle of Teachers on the Inner Wheel, usually four: one Teacher for each of the 4 Skills. There will be a Teacher of Perception, a Teacher of Empowerment, a Teacher of Process and a Teacher of Partnership. The True Self also may appear as more than one persona. One may see a Child True Self, a Young Man or Woman True Self, and other manifestations of one's True Self. In terms of position on the Wheel, the Sovereign, Teacher and True Self are closely related. The reason is that the Teacher guides the True Self, the core essence of a person, to relate to the world as different roles (the Archetypes). With the help of the Teacher, the person stays connected to his or her spark of soul, the True Self. The Teacher instructs the person in what he or she most needs to learn, bringing forth his or her essence and talents to develop fully into the Sovereign, the mature leader, who both serves and is honored by the community.

 

 

The Life Force Wheel aligns with the Wheel of the Year

The Life Force Wheel  aligns nicely with the eight Wheel of the Year festivals. The Wheel of the Year is a series of eight holidays, one festival every six weeks throughout the year. These holidays mark the change of seasons in the temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere. They are especially celebrated in the Celtic tradition and throughout Europe.

Four of the Wheel of the Year festivals are at the beginning of each solar season: the Solstices mark the start of Winter and Summer, and the Equinoxes mark the start of Fall and Spring.

In addition, the Wheel of the Year celebrates the midpoint of each season, six weeks into the twelve weeks that comprise Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.

The eight Wheel of the Year festivals are:

  1. Imbolc, Lunar New Year, Groundhog's Day (February 2)
  2. Spring Equinox, Easter (March 20)
  3. Beltane (May 1)
  4. Midsummer, Summer Solstice (June 23)
  5. Lammas (August 2)
  6. Autumn Equinox (September 23)
  7. Samhain, Halloween (October 31)
  8. Midwinte, Winter Solstice (December 21)

Interesting note: the Cross Quarters are the "earth" seasons, while the Solstices and Equinoxes are the solar (sun) seasons. The Cross Quarters are the half way mark of the seasons of Winter, Spring , Summer and Fall. They mark the changes in the season on Earth, rather than by the sun.

Imbolc (February 2) is the start of the Sprouting season, when seeds begin to open underground, culminating in the first shoots coming up. It is the "earth season" spring.

Beltane (May 1) is the start of the Planting season, when seeds can be sown into the ground to grow crops. It is the "earth season" summer.

Lammas (August 1) is the start of the Harvest season, when the grains and other crops are gathered in. It is the "earth season" fall.

Samhain (October 31) is the start of the fallow season, when nothing grows. It is the "earth season" of winter.

In the Life Force Wheel, each Skill and Archetype is aligned with a season:

 


  1. NE – Witness (Feb 2 – Imbolc)
  2. E – Artist (March 20 – Spring Equinox)
  3. SE – Companion (May 1 – Beltane)
  4. S – Warrior (June 20 – Summer Solstice)
  5. SW – Phoenix (Aug 2 – Lammas)
  6. W – Healer (Sep 23 – Autumn Equinox)
  7. NW – Tribe (Oct 31 –Samhain)
  8. N – Sovereign, Teacher & True Self (Dec 21 – Winter Solstice)

 

Practicing the Wheel

Here is a way to experience the Archetypes of the Life Force Wheel. First, we mentally mark out the eight directions within the room we are in, the ritual space in which we are working. The eight directions are Northeast, East, Southeast, South, Southwest, West, Northwest, North. Each direction is associated with one of the Archetypes as follows:

  • NE – Witness
  • E – Artist
  • SE – Companion
  • S – Warrior
  • SW – Phoenix
  • W – Healer
  • NW – Tribe
  • N – Sovereign, Teacher & True Self

Starting with the Witness in the Northeast, the participants stand in each direction in the room to connect to the spirit of that Archetype. The participants will use various ways of channeling this spiritual energy and information, including chanting, drumming, singing, meditating, dancing, visual art, automatic writing, etc.

We go to each Archetype by standing in their section of the room and doing the ritual work (drumming, singing, etc.). Participants attest to the fact that while doing this Wheel practice, each place in the room has a different energy, and teaches them different spiritual lessons!

Also, sometimes even though one starts out in one section, there is an impulse to move around the room. It is not so much the actual place in the room, as the spiritual energy we are invoking, that is creating the transformation. For example, I might start out facing East for the Artist, but have the inspiration to move across the room to the place of the Healer, where I will be taught something about the connection of Artist and Healer.

We move in a clockwise direction to each Archetype, as shown in the list above. You can start with various positions, depending on your purpose. One way is to start with the core, with the Inner Wheel of the Teacher and True Self; or, you can start with the Witness, to work with  Perception, the most basic of the 4 Skills. Alternately, you can start with the Archetype related to the season. For example, if it is Summer Solstice, you would start with the Warrior, which is the Archetype of that time of year.

 

After completing the circle, we take time to record in writing or drawing our insights.

What types of insights and healing occur while doing such a Wheel? Here are some notes I made about what I experienced at one Life Force Wheel Ceremony:

 

Journey 2/2/07

At the Life Force Wheel: Witness Ceremony.

The Witness Archetype showed me its connection to the sacral chakra of sensuality. The grounding of the aesthetic sense in the senses.

Phoenix did a great healing on me. Bear was there, as well as Snake: animals that go into the ground. I felt a great weight or attachment removed from me.

Warrior was both female and male voices, like the male speaking to his feminine side.

The music the participants made together was beautiful. I realized that, in addition to being a healing modality, doing this Wheel ritual is a unique artistic form for me as an artist. It feels like coming home!

As you can see, the Outer Wheel year begins with February 2, the Lunar New Year.

Because of this seasonal correlation, we have Wheel Ceremonies for each Archetype at time of year stated above. The ceremony is the same, going to each Archetype, but asking each Archetype what it has to tell us about the qualities of the Archetype we are celebrating.

 

Teacher

The Teacher Archetype is the Wise Man or Wise Woman who guides people, especially youth, to fulfill their mission. The Teacher imparts lessons of life skills ranging from basic knowledge to emotional intelligence, problem solving and common sense to magical workings. The Teacher guides the True Self through the Wheel, teaching the True Self that all the Archetypes of the outer Wheel are just roles that the True Self can play, rather than something to be attached to as an identity. Specifically, the Teacher instructs the True Self in the Four Skills of Perception, Empowerment, Process and Partnership, which are the Skills related to the pairs of Archetypes. The Teacher mentors in an unselfish way, helping the person stay connected to his or her spark of soul, the True Self. The Teacher instructs the person in what they most need to learn, bringing forth their essence and talents to develop fully into the Sovereign, the mature leader, who both serves and is honored by the community.

The Witness & The Artist - The 1st Skill: Perception

The Witness & The Artist are the first of the four Archetype Dyads on the Life Force Wheel. Both the Witness and the Artist work with the Skill of Perception, the first of the 4 Skills of the Life Force Wheel. The Skill of Perception involves knowing what one thinks and feels: being alive, feeling, conscious, sentient. It is about sensing what one is experiencing in both one's inner and outer worlds. This is the most basic skill; one cannot do the other three Skills of the Life Force Wheel without mastering Perception.

Witness (Imbolc: February 2 - March 19) "Awakening"

The Witness is about observing from one's own perspective. It is the place where one is fully in touch with and experiencing one's own thoughts and feelings, not shutting them out. It is the place of "beginner's mind", of being open to experience moment-by-moment.

Wheel of the Year correlation: the Witness is aligned with the holidays around February 2: Imbolc, Lunar New Year, Groundhog's Day, Candlemas. These are about the first stirrings of consciousness, coming out of the dead of winter into spring. The Witness is about this same sense of awakening, of being alive and feeling. The Witness participates in the core meaning of the word "aesthetic" which is "to feel". The opposite of aesthetic is anesthetic: something that blocks feeling. The Witness is the audience or receiving end of art. Keyword for the Witness: Awakening.

Artist (Spring Equinox: March 20 - April 29) "Expressing"

The Artist is the person who expresses what s/he thinks and feels. The Artist has the craft or skill of formulating what s/he is experiencing into a statement in words, dance, music, visuals, etc. The Artist apprehends energy from the Otherworld and fabricates it into an expression in this world.

Wheel of the Year correlation: the Artist is aligned with Spring Equinox, the sprouting energy that pushes the first hardy plants out of the earth, coming fully formed out of the ground. This is the energy of creating and manifesting. Keyword for the Artist: Expressting.

 

The Companion & The Warrior - The 2nd Skill: Empowerment

The Companion & The Warrior are the second of the four Archetype Dyads on the Life Force Wheel. Both the Companion & The Warrior work with the Skill of Empowerment, the second of the 4 Skills of the Life Force Wheel.

 

 

Companion (Beltane: May 1 - June 19) "Supporting"

The Companion is the follower and supporter of the Warrior. The Companion believes in the same causes and goals as the Warrior. The Companion "has the Warrior's back," protecting him/her. The Companion "seconds the motion" that the Warrior makes; through this action, the Companion adds the need momentum that ensures the goals of the Warrior are carried through.  The Companion needs to be a Warrior him/herself in order to follow and to support; s/he has to understand his/her own power in order to support. The Companion follows willingly, understanding the important role that a supporter lends to achieving a goal.

Wheel of the Year correlation: the Companion is aligned with Beltane, the flowering time of spring, the time of first planting where crops take root in the ground, supported by the earth.

Warrior (Midsummer: June 20 - July 31) "Striving"

The Warrior stands up for what she believes in. What she loves is what she fights for; her heart and solar plexus chakras are united. The Warrior understands his own power, impact and boundaries and takes responsibility for his actions; he or she does not use reckless violence. The Warrior knows how to fight and how to win.  This is embodying the positive meaning of fight: to defend oneself, to take action to protect others, and to accomplish a worthy goal. The Warrior allows followers (Companions) to follow her. She is comfortable with seeing and being seen: she has confidence in the actions she is taking, and therefore is happy to lead people and have them model themselves after her, because it will help achieve their mutual goal. The Warrior inspires others, and that is part of why they are willing to follow and support him or her in fighting for a common cause.

Wheel of the Year correlation: the Warrior is aligned with Midsummer, the time of greatest vitality of Nature, when plants and animals are at their peak strength. The sun is in its greatest power, yet there's a sense of "battle" between the light and dark halves of the year as the daylight begins to grow shorter.

The Phoenix & The Healer - The 3rd Skill: Process

 

Phoenix

The Phoenix is the name for a person going through a process of transformation or healing. This word is used instead of "patient" or "client". The Phoenix was a legendary bird that immolated itself every five hundred years and then rises from its own ashes, completely renewed. The Phoenix knows that this cycle of death and regeneration is necessary. Being a Phoenix means the person understands and accepts the process of change, rather than resisting it.

Healer

The Healer is the one who guides the process of transformation that the Phoenix is going through. The Healer holds the sacred space and time for the transformation to occur. The Healer is an expert in all aspects of process and healing. The essence of healing is to become a new self, and the healing process is about letting go of what you no longer need and taking in what you do need to become that new self. Neither the Phoenix nor the Healer knows what the new self is going to be, thus, mystery is the core of healing. That is why the Healer is an expert at asking the questions that guide the transformation while allowing it to unfold in its own way.

 

The Tribe & The Sovereign - The 4th Skill: Partnership

 

Tribe

The Tribe is a community. The Skill associated with the Tribe is Partnership: moving with a common form and energy. A Tribe forms out of a creative process. The group of individuals that forms the Tribe has gone through some type of process in order to form the group/Tribe. In other words, they utilized the 3rd Skill, Process, which is the province of the Phoenix-Healer, as a step to arrive at having a common form and energy. The Tribe is made of different individuals who each contribute their respective talents to do the work of the group. Each individual in the Tribe is valued for his or her contribution, and is respected as an indispensable part of the group. A Tribe values and integrates the talents of each of its members. The work of the Tribe is to sustain the Tribe, its identity and the work it produces, rather than to work for a cause, which is the province of the Companion-Warrior. Each member of the Tribe is a Sovereign in the sense that he/she has the autonomy to make decisions about his/her own participation in the Tribe and its work.

Sovereign

The Sovereign serves the Tribe as its leader. The Sovereign creates peace and prosperity among the individuals of the Tribe, as well as between the Tribe and Nature and the Spirit Realm. Each person in the Tribe is a Sovereign. The Sovereign is the repository of the wisdom of why the Tribe is structured the way it is. For example, how it developed the identity it has, and why the structure (roles, work, etc.) of the Tribe are configured the way they are. The Sovereign is intimately aware of the needs both the people and the land, and feels the people and the land as extensions of his/her energy body. The Sovereign is given the wealth of the land and community to distribute to create the greatest prosperity for the people and the land. The Sovereign does not defend him/herself as the Warrior does. The Sovereign is defended by his/her Warriors. Therefore, the Sovereign never wears armor.

True Self

True Self is the core or essence of the individual person. In some ways you can say it is the soul. The True Self is the spark of energy that is unique to the person, the individuality and originality of the person. It contains the qualities that allow the person to carry out his or her mission in life: mission meaning what the person brings to share with the community to create a better world. There is an innocent, childlike quality to the True Self, and yet all wisdom is contained with it. It is the person before she or he was pressured by others to be someone she or he isn't. The True Self often appears as a child or young person.

 

Client Survey on Soul Retrieval & Extraction 1995 - 2002

Introduction to Client Survey

This Client Survey on Soul Retrieval & Extraction, 1995 - 2002 is a survey I conducted from the beginning of my shamanic healing practice. I was well aware that I did not have access to the usual ways of evaluating and showing proof of my expertise as a shamanic practitioner. Shamanic work is not licensed in any state, so I could not become licensed by a state. Nor do I come from an indigenous background in which my expertise in shamanic healing might be attested to by traditional initiation. I did not attend a modern certificate program for soul retrieval, such as the Foundation for Shamanic Studies offers.

So I decided to assess and document my success or lack thereof by asking the people it most impacted: the clients. Another motivation for doing this survey is that, to the best of my knowledge, this type of survey has never been conducted. There are many narrative accounts in various books and articles that describe the positive effect of soul retrieval and extraction, but no complete, quantitative survey of one practitioner’s clients over a period of years. I wanted to contribute to the field by doing this.

In addition to the quantitative survey, I also gathered narrative accounts of my client’s experiences of the soul retrieval session. These accounts are included at the end of this report. I collected these as testimonials to be used in the brochure describing my healing sessions for individuals. To ensure client anonymity, I assigned a number to each client based on the date of the session: client # 1 is the first person for whom I performed a soul retrieval, client # 63 is the 63rd person for whom I performed a soul retrieval, etc.

 

Soul Retrieval and Extraction

 

Shamanic healing is an ancient form of spiritual or energetic healing which has been practiced by virtually every culture in the world for all of human history. In shamanic work, the practitioner, called the shaman, goes into a trance state of non-ordinary reality. This is the spirit realm of angels, ancestors, totem animals and other helpful spiritual beings. There, the shaman communes with these spirit guides for healing or information. This healing can be for the shaman himself, for a client, or for a community of humans and/or nature.

Soul retrieval and extraction is one technique or process within shamanic healing. Soul retrieval and extraction is based in the concept that everyone has a certain amount of vital energy, or soul, that they are born with and should retain throughout life. However, because of traumatic events such as illness, accidents, violence, loss of a loved one, etc., a person can lose parts of this vital energy. The soul can fragment, and parts will get lost or shut down. This is called soul loss.

When this happens, the shaman can go into a trance state and travel in the spirit realm to find the lost soul parts. She can then return these soul parts to the client through energy work. This is called a soul retrieval. The “flip side” of soul retrieval is extraction. This occurs when negative energy attaches to a client. Sometimes the energy is just a general negativity; sometimes it’s an actual soul part of another person, which has attached itself to the client. In this case, the shaman removes the negative energy.

 

 

Survey Method

 

The survey has only one question: for the client to rate his or her experience among four choices. I designed the wording of the survey based on the most common reactions of clients. The same survey was given to every client. I began the survey from the beginning of my practice, starting in 1995 and going through 2002.

Almost all of the clients received a regular ninety-minute session. A few clients received thirty-minute “mini-sessions.” I did not include most of the mini-sessions because I often do not keep in touch with the people who receive mini-session as closely as I do with clients who receive full sessions.

This survey is only for my soul retrieval and extraction sessions. I did not survey clients for whom I have conducted other types of sessions, such as healing story, body movement repatterning or self-expressive arts. Some clients I have seen for more than one soul retrieval and extraction session, but I only had each client answer the survey once. Almost always, clients that had more than one session answered the survey based on their first session.

A total of 175 clients (N=175) were asked to complete the survey. There were 119 responses, or 68% of those asked. I estimate that, if all the sessions I’ve done from

1995 – 2002 were counted, including all the mini-session and repeat clients, I have performed at least 350 soul retrieval and extraction sessions. So, this survey represents approximately 50% of the total number of these sessions I have performed.

The clients are all adults, ranging from 21 to 85 years of age. Most clients are between 30 – 60 years old. Of the175 clients, 78 % are women and 22 % are men.

 

A variety of methods were used to gather the results. Most often, I conducted the survey by interviewing the clients myself by phone. I would read them the choices and they would tell me which rating number they felt best described their experience. For clients from 2001 – 2002, I sent out an email survey to those clients with email, and also sent the survey by postal mail to those clients who only have postal mail. From these two groups, I received answers by email or postal mail.

So that the survey results I am sharing would be anonymous, I removed the names of the clients from the enclosed tabulation, and identified them only by the dates of the sessions.

The five Anonymous responses were from the postal mail, since I did not ask that respondents give their names. This means that five of the clients listed as having “no response” in the dated list did respond anonymously.

The time period between receiving the healing session and answering the survey varied widely. Some clients I interviewed as soon as two days after the session. With other clients, there were many months in between the session and answering the survey.

 

Findings

The results of the survey are as follows:

 

15% of clients reported dramatic results: the problem they came to solve was resolved overnight.

75% reported good results: they saw some beneficial results such as feeling more energized or more calm, less depressed, better able to make decisions or having some helpful insight.

8% reported that they couldn’t tell if there was an effect; they were using several modalities to change their situation, and can’t tell which one created the change.

2% reported seeing no effect from the session.

 

In this survey, 90% of the clients report dramatic or good results from their soul retrieval and extraction session, while 8% are unsure of the results, and only 2% feel the session was ineffective. This favorable response given by the great majority of clients supports the hypothesis that I am successful as a practitioner of soul retrieval and extraction healing.

Here it is important to note that because many of the responses were given in personal interviews with me, the practitioner, the results may be more favorable than if the entire survey was conducted anonymously. However, even taking this fact into consideration and possibly lowering the percentage in the “dramatic” or “good” categories, it can be safely assumed that the majority of clients would still be in these categories.

 

We can extrapolate this from the five responses that came in anonymously. Out of these five, one was in the “dramatic” category, three were in the “good” category and one was in the “not sure” category. So the results of the anonymous responses are:

20% of clients reported dramatic results: the problem they came to solve was resolved overnight.

60% reported good results: they saw some beneficial results such as feeling more energized or more calm, less depressed, better able to make decisions or having some helpful insight.

20% reported that they couldn’t tell if there was an effect; they were using several modalities to change their situation, and can’t tell which one created the change.

0% reported seeing no effect from the session.

Thus in the small sample of anonymous responses, 80% (a vast majority) report excellent or good results, while 20% are unsure of the results, and no respondent felt the session was ineffective.

 

Future Inquiry

The data in the Client Survey can be further analyzed for several factors. Were there certain time periods during which clients report better results? For example, did more clients in 2002 report dramatic results compared to clients in 1996? Another factor is gender: are there differences in the ratings men and women gave the sessions?

In addition to the quantitative portion of the survey, I collected narrative accounts of results from clients. These comments were collected in the same variety of ways as the Client Survey: through phone interviews I conducted with the clients, email and postal mail. Data from these narratives can be analyzed in the future as well.

 

 

CLIENT SURVEY

Please indicate the number of the phrase that best describes the results of your shamanic healing session with Joan Forest Mage. (Your session may have included soul retrieval, power animal retrieval or extraction.)

Note: the wording of this survey is based on typical reactions from clients. Please feel free to comment if you feel your experience was different.

1 = Dramatic results; the problem I came to heal was solved overnight.

 

2 = Good results; saw beneficial results I attribute to the journey such as feeling more peaceful, more energized, having a greater sense of well-being, more able to take action, got some helpful insight from the journey, etc.

 

3 = Can’t tell if there were results specifically from the shamanic healing; I was using several modalities to change my problem and can’t tell how much the journey contributed to the improvement I have experienced.

 

4 = Felt no effect.

 

 

 

 

My experience can best be described as number _______.

Other (please comment):

 

 

 

 

Client Comments

14

I had fibromyalgia for ten years, and during that time I would miss work at least five days out of every month. After my soul retrieval, I immediately felt much less pain! Before, I used to miss at least five days of work a month. Now it's down to one day a month. I can even exercise more.

16

I went home after my soul retrieval and opened my closet. I said to myself, "Why am I dressing like Barbara Bush [conservative, matronly]?" I've changed to a more youthful, stylish wardrobe and I feel like myself again.

Also, I had fibromyalgia, and now the pain is much less. I don't miss work as often.

29

This session got me back to myself and my center. I feel grounded. It opened me up! Things shifted and continue to shift due to the session. This is wonderful and valuable work.

19

I had the soul retrieval due to problems I was having with my boyfriend. I hadn't communicated with him for weeks. After the session, something shifted for me and I was able to sit down and write him an honest letter and mail it off. We were able to dialogue about our differences and come to a better closure.

9

I had insomnia for eight years. The day after my soul retrieval, I finally got a good night's rest. I had broken up with my boyfriend several months before the soul retrieval, but couldn't get him off my mind. Since the soul retrieval, I've stopped obsessing about him.

28

I never realized how tense I was till after my soul retrieval! Now I feel a profound sense of peace, and that I trust people once again.

44

Two days after soul retrieval: I've had good memories of my father for the first time in years, things I had forgotten. My father came to me in a dream for the first time in ten years.

 

52

Since the soul retrieval, I find it easier to make decisions. I'm more decisive and not as worried. I feel more mellow. I did the soul retrieval because I felt a need to start afresh in my life, and it's helping me do this. It was great being able to express myself to Joan, I felt I could talk to her about things I'm not able to with a lot of people.

56

I feel genuinely happy, like a little girl again. My parents, the doctor I worked for and several friends all said, "Gee, you look different than two weeks ago. You look happier. You're glowing." Another friend, Diane, said, "A veil of darkness is gone from your eyes. Your eyes have a crystal in them." In a recurring dream I had seen a four sided crystal and I walked into it. During Reiki treatments in the past, Diane felt that I had a light which was trying to come through but it couldn't come through the darkness, and now it seems to have emerged.

My whole emotional state is great! I feel joyous. Better than since I've been a child. My cravings for alcohol have gone away, and I've had a drinking and substance abuse problem for ten years. I feel like I got over a huge hump in healing from my alcohol addiction.

I was going to take a semester off school due to feeling too stressed, but now I don't feel I need to. Each day seems to get better.

60

I had some kind of lumps/cysts all over my body under my skin. After the soul retrieval, in which Joan extracted what looked to her like bone spurs, the lumps were gone. I feel great joy and happiness that I haven't for years. Ever since I gave my baby son up for adoption thirty years ago, I have felt a deep sadness. Now this sadness is gone. It's nice to feel joy again. I also stopped eating junk food. I feel whole.

The day I had the soul retrieval, I got the urge to start cleaning my whole house. I haven't cleaned my refrigerator for years, but now it's sparkling! I started singing while washing dishes, and felt that there was the spirit of a Native American girl outside. There's color in my cheeks for the first time in years. The night of the soul retrieval I slept well for the first time in years. When I sang, it was a little lullaby comforting and welcoming the returned soul parts. I could never get excited about anything. Now I do!

59

I am divorced and my children, now teenagers, do not live with me. For years I have always become depressed on their birthdays. This is the first year I have not had this reaction! I feel there has been a closure to this conflict.

61

I've had more get-up-and-go energy, not wanting to just sit around after meals and make small talk. In journaling, I got a message of "live for today," which was good.

57

I can feel the energetic changes. The day after the soul retrieval I was able to finish some legal work that I had been avoiding. I'm taking fewer tranquilizers. I was able to let go of my obsession with my old house. I'm much more patient, which is a huge accomplishment!

64

Day of soul retrieval: I feel very weepy. A happy, grateful weepy. I am an actress, and 8 years ago I had bronchitis and my voice changed, it became very shallow. I couldn't reach depths. Right now, after the soul retrieval, my voice is deeper.

Two days after soul retrieval: My power animal has brought me a sense of freedom, of being comfortable with allowing circumstances to be as they are without having to control them.

My voice has remained deep. I can tell it's different than before.

63

Two days after the soul retrieval, my husband and I got in an argument, and I felt like the frightened little girl I used be to when my grandmother would yell at me: that I would rather have someone hit me than being mean to me. I haven't been in touch with these feelings in years. Over the years I've become callous to abuse, but suddenly I'm sensitive again. So this little girl soul part is definitely back!

I also have had happy feelings. I find myself humming - I haven't hummed in a long time. These changes may seem little, but they're big to me. I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. But after the soul retrieval, I felt energetic, went to work and cleaned the garage, and I want to paint the house.

66

You saw the spirit guide I see often, a beautiful lady with a peacock colored gown.

62

I'm feeling more peaceful. Especially in traffic! My power animal gave me peace, inner strength and confidence.

65

For the first few days after soul retrieval, I was very depressed due to the memories coming back from my childhood. I also had an episode of feeling and acting like an infant, drooling and rolling on the floor.

68

2 days after soul retrieval: I know there's a difference I can sense it. I feel lighter. My thinking seems like it will be different. I have a tremendous heaviness in my shoulders, but my lungs feel clearer (I've had asthma for years.)

4 days after soul retrieval: I did remember something that happened in high school when people laughed at me and didn't trust me, just like you described. The heaviness in my shoulders is gone, the energy readjusted. I feel these energy shifts will continue for a while.

67

People tell me I seem lighter in spirit. I haven't been crying about my ex-boyfriend the way I did before. I notice subtle changes. I'm visiting my family and friends for the holidays and I'm interested to see if they notice any changes in me since the soul retrieval.

74

The first two days after the soul retrieval, I felt very tired and wanted to sleep. Now I have more energy than I've had in ten years. Everything around me seems more vibrant. Even my dreams are more vivid, and I had a lucid dream where I was conscious that I was dreaming. Also, my sister had received a soul part back. The day after the soul retrieval I saw her and she had a big smile and said hi in a friendlier way than she has in a long time.

75

I feel more confident. I speak more easily without stammering. I don't have as many depressed thoughts. My mind used to dwell on thoughts of bad things that happened in my past; suddenly, this "replaying" has stopped. I feel more whole. I notice things around me more, the five year old soul part is very observant.

77

I feel less fear and more calmness in my life, especially about sexual relationships, which have been an issue with me for many years.

78

It used to bother me if people criticized me or tried to tell me what to do. Now I think for myself and make my own decisions. I don't worry what other people think. Ever since I broke up with my boyfriend six months ago, I used to have this morbid scene running through my mind that a gun was in my mouth and I pulled the trigger. Not only does this scene not happen spontaneously, I can't even get myself to think of it when I try. The need is gone. I've gone to psychologists in the past, and they helped me feel better during the actual session, but I didn't feel any long-term transformation. This work is true transformation!

82

I feel more grounded and centered. It sounds like a cliche, but I feel more whole. One of my soul parts that came back had been with my father. When I came home from the soul retrieval, I took down a picture of my Dad I had on my wall for a long time. This is to remind myself to focus on myself. I feel less frantic about a relationship that I've been trying to develop with a male friend of mine. I'm not worrying about trying to get his attention. I feel more at peace. I'm slowing my life down to a more reasonable, relaxed pace.

79

I feel fuller and more complete, more collectively "together". I feel brighter. Before the soul retrieval, happiness manifested for me in a kind of angelic, ungrounded sense. Now, I can feel happy and grounded at the same time. I've been able to get focused about my next step in life.

83

I feel calmer and more productive. I had finished all the course work for my doctorate in political philosophy, but every time I started to write my dissertation I was overcome by negative messages in my mind saying my ideas were stupid and I shouldn't bother to write them. The day after the soul retrieval, I finally began writing my dissertation! I'm enjoying writing, my "inner critic" is gone.

16 (2nd session)

I feel light. I don't have as much fear. I had also been feeling uncontrolled, chaotic anger about something in my life when I came for the soul retrieval. For days I had been physically shaking and throwing things around my house because of this anger. Since the soul retrieval, the anger feels contained and manageable. I was also having tremendous pain in my neck and shoulders, which is where I hold my tension. Now it's almost gone.

I had been obsessing about my boyfriend, who I had broken up with. Now I'm not as devastated. I was actually able to tell my boyfriend I was angry with him; I could finally be candid about my feelings. Before, I was feeling that I had to run away from him and couldn't talk to him.

Also, my mother told me she wanted to come and see the theater production I'm presenting. This is the first time she's been so supportive! She's willing to make the plane trip from Chicago to Florida to see it. [Note: we had retrieved a soul part for Denise's mother.]

84

I feel wonderful! I feel calm and relaxed, I'm not anxious the way I was. I've been sleeping well at night.

85

I feel lighter. My power animal gives me the feeling of a light "buzz", like things aren't so heavy anymore. It's as though a bag full of water has been emptied, the pressure has been relieved. I feel more at ease and at peace.

88

I'm feeling lighter, clearer and more directed. I'm not obsessing the way I was before. I'm stronger and handling stress in my life better. I've also noticed increased psychic ability. I'm more in tune with my body and my instincts. My relationships with my boss has improved, and I've been meeting interesting people. I'm glad I met you, you've really encouraged me!

92

I'm feeling better. I feel more complete. I can remember my dreams better, and they're giving me insights. I began confirming several things that you saw.

94

I feel more calm. The session was great! I had a headache when I came in to the session and it was gone by the end. I was very impressed by how clearly you saw a lot of incidents that have happened in my life - you have authentic psychic gifts.

96

I'm feeling more relaxed, which is a big change for me as I've been nervous and jumpy for a long time. I feel more "full", for want of a better word - more present.

97

I felt very emotional right after the soul retrieval. Some energy had definitely shifted. The next day, I felt more strong and stable energetically and emotionally than I had in a while.

95

I felt energized and balanced. There was a part of me that was healed.

99

The soul retrieval brought a new sense of focus and clear thinking. It definitely stimulated my mind. I've always been a creative person, but after the session my mind was exploding with creative ideas in a way I haven't experienced in a long time. The healing brought a grounded feeling to soul and body.

104

My physical energy has improved. There had been a disconnection of energy form my legs; now it has re-connected. I'm opening up to people more. I was able to resolve a major conflict that I had with someone.

106 I realized that I had been living in fear and anger. I'm able to let go of anger instead of holding on to it. I feel that I've been able to put things into a better perspective. A weight has been taken off me. I'm more aware of myself. After several surgeries, I became separated from my body. Now I feel greater body awareness, I feel my physical body more present. I especially connected to the muscles of my stomach. The things Joan said helped me confirm some things I had suspected but wasn't sure about, things I thought I had only imagined.

157

I have an overwhelming sense of peace. I’m in my own skin. I’m not nervous or anxious the way I was before. Everything is back inside of me.

145

I have hope now. I was asking the universe for help, and I feel it now. The little girl part feels immediate.

My memory is better. I had a passing thought of a childhood incident that I remembered. The power animals are fun! I have a sense of well-being that I haven’t had in a long time.

I’m feeling an urgency to communicate better. I remember little snatches of dreams; I’m sleeping and dreaming better.

156

I can’t remember when I’ve felt this good. I mean this seriously. I feel light. It hit me the day after the soul retrieval., this inexplicable joy. The day after that, I felt so energized and light it was overwhelming. I don’t know how else to put it. I could breathe and walk and move lightly – it was a feeling I remember having before, during a very good time in my life, as though a weight had been lifted off me….I really do believe you breathed some spirit into me.

161

I feel more grounded. I am also feeling more energized, too.

 

158

I do feel different as a result of the soul retrieval. I continue to integrate each day and feel a real difference in my relationship with others. I've also made some changes in my life as a result of the
session with you.

1. I decided to discontinue medication (with the knowledge
and support of my psychiatrist).

2. I have been better able to cope with the death of my
father...I don't feel as clingy to the memory.

Additionally, I recognize and have discovered a whole new
way of looking at healing

163

So much has opened up!

 

152

I feel more peaceful.

 

117

The healing helped me to center myself and get in touch with a lot of my inner "workings". It also helped me get grounded in my own healing work.


168

The experience was very specifically beneficial; still processing results. Look forward to working with practitioner at some later date to learn more about process.

135

I was having very serious mental health issues at the time of my soul retrieval, and the retrieval stirred them up for me even more. This may have been a good thing, but I’m still feeling too raw to make that assessment. I did feel that the soul retrieval showed me pieces of myself that I need to integrate, but I don’t feel I have integrated them yet.

 

 

 

170

I have a sense of empowerment.

I feel resistance about doing the 28-day cycle (a full lunar cycle) [of integration]. However I am doing it. It is an interesting and valuable process. The raven will help me see what I have to do and help me remember.

164

 

I think you do wonderful work. I will be back for further sessions.

 

 

 

171

 

I enjoyed the opportunity to work with you and I am excited for our upcoming session.   I have been running around, but I have taken some time to ground and meditate on the messages I received.  I seem to be experiencing waves of emotions and thoughts, which are a part of the process.  I look forward for the opportunity to learn more tools for exploring my soul parts and totem animals for a deeper understanding. Take care and I hope you have an incredible week...I'm sure that it will be filled with many emotions.

 

119
I had had some prior soul-retrieval done by another pair of shamans in Florida, and while much of what they said felt accurate, I felt they were over-zealous in their efforts, and actually 'cut' a little TOO much - sort of like cutting a rose bush off at the ground, rather than 'pruning' it.

However, I did feel that they were correct when they stated that I had lost more than "a few" soul-fragments (approximately 12, in fact...) during a near-death experience in 1994, as well as picking UP some fragments of a dear friend/lover who had died a few years later, and that it would require a second effort to retrieve the remaining missing fragments - there was too much to accomplish in one journey. I also knew that I did NOT want that process to be completed by them, as they seemed 'heavy handed.'

My experiences with you, Joan, were delightful, and brought a definite sense of closure - I felt 'restored', but without the traumatic sense of upheaval the other process had caused.

 

 

 

104 (2nd session)

There were several areas worked on. Some of the results were a dramatic elimination of the conflict, problem and in some instances pain. And some of the aspects like the power animal brought some immediate results and some longer term.  Also the healings actually revealed the source and/or cause of conflict that I was actually not self aware enough of to resolve. Once revealed by the soul retrieval work I remembered and knew occurrences that were parts of conflict causing unease and restriction.  I was particularly surprised by the past life soul retrieval that has since given me a whole new way of dealing with my birth and relation to family and events. Very empowering, invigorating, and the healings have brought on greater ease in life. Thank You. Over all great results.

 

173

I thought the experience was wonderful! I felt so invigorated and confident. I have tried conventional therapy but find that this experience, along with some past life regression I have done and other "energy" work, have made the most difference in my life. I have been able to reclaim parts of me that were lost, renew them and move forward through what had become a cloud of emotion, attachment and illness. I wish more people in our society would give themselves the opportunity to have this kind of experience. I especially wish criminals and the severely mentally ill would have access. Given all the traditional religious consultation that is offered especially in jails and so consistently fails to truly help people - it’s unfortunate, this option isn't offered.

174

I feel lots of good energy and clarity.

 

172

My stomach was in knots for two years. When you pulled out the energy of the woman, the knots were gone! I’m talking to my soul parts and getting information.

 

144

In Navajo, usually two members of the tribe participate in the cure of a sick person, a singer or medicine man and a diviner. In Navajo, there is no general word for diviner, but generally it means “that which he knows”. Divining, common to most cultures, is the skill of gaining inner knowledge or wisdom beyond the five senses. Those who have this ability are regarded as practitioners of prophecy: shamanic soul retrieval is a lot like this.

 

I requested a soul retrieval because I had a “knowing” that I had some energy blockages but didn’t know what caused them or why. I needed the help of soul retrieval to locate and release them. Soon after my soul retrieval I noticed people at work responding to me more positively, as if some sort of invisible shield or bubble was removed. In time I have been able to live more fully and in the present. The burdens of my past are lighter. I feel more at the cause of my life, rather than at the effect of what happens to me. It’s obvious to me that I did have an energy blockage and it was released. I still had to do the spiritual, emotional and mental work of reflection to heal, but I needed the energy work of soul retrieval to provide the catalyst toward my journey toward “wholeness.”

 

127

I feel that your work for me helped to trigger other events and experiences that helped to facilitate my forward movement, along with other ways I was working.

 

148

I felt excellent! The singing voice inside me changed for a while (better). I was able to relate to Lion Power Animal!

 

 

94 (2nd session)

I have had several sessions with Joan. Some have provided me with new information; some have given me insight into past experiences that I didn’t know affected me to such an extent; some confirmed experiences with an uncanny accuracy.

 

160

I got some good insights from the journey. I feel motivated psychologically to integrate the soul parts. I had had pain in my shoulder for a long time, and you mentioned incidents of past trauma that had caused this pain. Since the soul retrieval, my shoulder has been physically unlocking, and also the emotions from those incidents have been releasing.

 

Anonymous 2

I felt more solid following my soul retrieval. Another way to describe the sense of it was that I felt there was more of me and I felt more grounded.

 

Anonymous 3

The session did not heal me. The grasp my ex-husband has on my life is still there, but diminishing. Whatever reason, past life, abusive relationship cycle, letting go – this man had a terrible and very abusive hold on my consciousness. Your session made me aware. I learned new aspects of my behavior with others. I am still learning to cope, like an alcoholic, as to the meaning of this.

118

I have always experienced very good if not dramatic results from my shamanic healing sessions with you.  The only reason I did not select #1 is because the extent of my spiritual problems with soul loss and recovery are so complex and of such great magnitude that there is no way that I could claim the problem was solved overnight.  It has been two years since I embarked on this dimension of my healing journey and, despite significant progress, I still see many more years of work ahead of me.

However, I want to add for your readers that the practice of soul retrieval and extraction are real.  I feel it is unfortunate that I have to make this statement on behalf of your work, because by doing so I am testifying to the narrow perception of the Self in the modern world.  People do not understand that we exist on many levels and on many planes, and have done so in many times and spaces.  Therefore, we can lose various parts of ourselves not only in this life, but may have also lost parts of ourselves due to trauma in other lives.

My own conception of the Self was somewhat like this until my own spiritual crises began.  I was lulled by the thinking that the traumas our souls face in life are made "all better" in some perfect heaven after death.  Death, I thought, restored wholeness to us.  While I've understood that our karma follows us from past lives, I had no idea that the fragmentation and shattering of our own souls follows us beyond the graves.  I did not understand this until other parts of my Soul -- different personalities from past lives -- returned to me of their own accord and began physically and psychically integrating themselves into my present reality.  (The primary personalities who have come back are that of an extraordinarily angry Afro-Cuban slave woman named Omo who was beaten and raped her entire life who split off due to the trauma of her experience; and a gay man named Tom who was brutally molested as a child and who lived a life of great pain, confusion and sexual perversion [and who, I believe, lived contemporaneous to my own life.  I think this is the case because when I see in meditation the scenes of his trauma, they appear very modern.  I think this soul part was able to live simultaneously to my life because, after all, he was from a part that was already split off from my own soul]).  Finally, behind these traumatized and sexually abused soul parts is an ancient soul who grievously (and I mean grievously) harmed and abused many other beings.  It is because of the awful seeds this ancient personality sowed that my subsequent lives reaped such soul-searing suffering.

While at first I was frightened (and often still am) with the magnitude of what I have to face up to and heal, I have come to accept that it is a blessing, in this life, to be able to engage in the work of healing and redeeming my own soul.  You have been an enormous help to me in this process.  Your journeys have brought back many more parts of myself than I ever knew were missing, and your insights have helped to fill in many blanks regarding those past times and places that I could not remember.  I was particularly pleased when, during our last mini-session, you and your guides were able to not only retrieve a part of myself which I knew to be trapped in a temple in Egypt, but you were also able to free the other soul parts that were trapped there as well.  That made my heart exceedingly glad!

On a larger note, I think your work is truly needed at this time in the world.  I think there is a great healing going on with our Mother Earth, and she is throwing off a lot of the old, dark and heavy energy her children anchored here over many thousands of years.  We each individually are working through that process of getting rid of that stuff through healing our own souls.   I think that this is in preparation for a great "harvest" that it is to come -- be it the ascension of many souls, or the return of the Christ, the changing of the ages, the ending of larger cosmic cycles, etc.  We cannot do this work without the shamans who can help restore us to our wholeness, and extract from us the unhelpful energies which are holding back the evolution of our souls and our planet.  I count it a great blessing to be able to work with you at this time, and thank you for having giving yourself over to such important but as yet little understood work.

 

169 (a series of emails)

August 31, 2002

Here is a follow up to you question for DePaul University and did you do good.  Yes, you did.   Some of the stuff had some impact about two days after that were a bit anxiety producing.   Nothing bad nor unexpected but I knew that if you did your work there would probably be some time to integrate what happened.

 

Of the various aspect that you brought back, two were easiest to communicate with.  The Boy with Treasure and Man with Girlfriend.

 

There is like a retelling of the story of my life here.   The Boy with Treasure for a long time I thought it was the art and creativity.  It is that in part but something more going on there in what mom and dad accomplished.  It was a place where I lost a lot of direction to life.  That is where my teenage depression started.   There has been a lot of dialogue with him about mom and dad.

 

Man with Girlfriend is a lot to deal with in the package.  (Don't tell him that.)  He is very cynical and very wounded.  I'm kind of wondering why he came back.  The dialogues with him have told me he was in and out of my life for short stop overs.  There was a place where I went to counseling and it was at the time when I was with the woman Beverly of seven years ago.   This is an interesting piece of dialogue that popped up:

Man with Girl Friend: Yes... I'm 23 but a very old 23 three.   I understand you can update my patterning.

 

Me: It is not like you are a pattern.  You are a part of a whole soul part.  You are piece of me and my spirit.  So yes, I can do that but I need just a bit of time to sort out all this stuff with you. [I thought about how he might have been the one who attracted me to Beverly.]

 

Man with Girl Friend:  No, I wasn't one who "came up" [surfaced] as you call it with regard to Chris and Beverly.   They were both in so much pain and I didn't want to be around them.   When Carla [the NLP councilor] summoned me in about your motives (in regard) to Beverly [whether I was acting out my stuff with Marianne the girl from high school with her] that is when I showed up.  I showed up to say good-bye to your father when he was dying.  (IMAGE OF ME CRYING.)  I loved that man.

 

Me: So you haven't been around?

 

Man with Girl Friend:  At different times but not really.

 

Me: Like when.

 

Man with Girl Friend: When your mom in and you wrote the poem in Clifton the night of her heart attack...  Your mother was scared [about life] however, for the most part.   She was (also) a scary bitch.

 

Me: Is this what the problem with Jamie [my sister] is about?

 

Man with Girl Friend: Yes, lots of emotions. You need to pray.

 

Me: I will.

 

But in my understanding of him is that he was a wounded romantic but I don't know if I have much wisdom to impart to him about that.   Part of the BIG depression that occurred about 19 or 20 involved Marianne.  I realized that I gave up on relationships in general because I didn't understand them.   Over the years, I've made a joke of it with the idea that the computer chip for relationships was missing.  What I understood or dreamed about in relationship is or was very much missing.

 

He is a tough character though.  Integration will take a bit of time.

 

The other ones have been a bit harder to talk to.  One is communicating with me pretty nonverbal.  I see wind blowing through trees almost in astonishment that life and the world is full of movement.   The rain drops might be one of the others.  I don't know.   I was at the restaurant I got on Thursday, there was a moment of astonishment or sense of not knowing that place.

 

So things are moving along.   There seems to be a retelling of my history.  I was surprised that the Bev stuff was one of the pieces should have showed up but then it hit me that a lot of work and time went into integration of that.

 

PS. Could my eagle be a redtail hawk?  (Just got a very soft NO!)  LOL

 

 

Sept 7 2002


Not a lot to report this week which maybe a lot to report. Things are starting to get back to normal on a number of levels. However, I noticed that we're using the pronoun "we" instead of "I" at the moment.

There seems to be more energy now and more confidence in my movement. That is very nice. The only problem I had was one of them was a bit effeminate and when I started humming Judy Garland tunes in my car, I was thinking boy am I in trouble... not that there is anything wrong with Judy Garland tunes. My lesbian friend Bobbye said, "Don't worry, you're fine. One can just like Judy Garland."

Little pictures and images come up from time to time. I don't know if you precog stuff, but I did manage to have have bike accident and manage to get a road rash on my "right" leg - kind of like you described. I told that part there were other ways to get attention.

I'm starting to feel a lot better. Thank you. I worked with my energy worker and she is helping me clear some of the heaviness in regard to my mom and dad and my missing treasure you returned. That is a shift in that direction. I'm very pleased.

 

Sept 16

I can do math in my head now. So well that I get the answer without thinking that I do it on paper to discover that it was right. Also,when people spell thing out aloud to me, I can generate the word now in my head. Could do that before. The strangest is this ability to wake up in the morning early now. At 5:30 or 6:00 I can get up wide awake
without a lot of transition. It gives me an hour to read, write or create in the morning.

Thanks. :-)

Now if I could find the part to handle my missing suffixes and noun-verb agreement.

 

Sept 28

One of the pieces you brought back was called boy with an accident.   That one was strange.  I had no recall of what you were talking about and seemed pretty out there.  However, yesterday after work I had to get X-Rays for the bike injury.  I flashed into a time when I was taken to the hospitals to have X-Rays and I think they were for my head.  It was clear in the image of the nurse, the dark room, and the light (window) with the crosshairs.  Things haven't changed that much in forty years for X-Rays.

 

I'm not sure what happened but it was pretty significant to have to take me to the hospital.   Either that kid hit me pretty bad or it was the door business.  Wish dear old mom was here to fill in the blanks. So you got that one on the nose.

 

Oct 18

 

I'm doing VERY well, thank you. The changes have been coming gradually

in a workable way. I compare prior to seeing you and after, there is a marked difference in confidence and well being. I don't feel fragmented or if something is missing but I didn't know what it is.

The Boy with Treasure seems to be an important piece. I thought it was the art and creativity (and it is in part) but it seems to be something like a clearness or unfettered vision (from the heart) and a more masculine strength to me. (Being comfortable with the masculine?) Some of the feelings I don't have words for or know what they are about but

they generally positive. People tell me my energy is more together and grounded.

Thanks for everything. I will see you again I'm sure to do more work.

October 20

I am so much happier since doing the work with you. People are telling me that my energy is better, I'm more grounded and more "masculine" though you are aware of some of the confusion there a few weeks after.

 

One of my big concerns was whether some of the aspects of a former relationship was still haunting me in someway.  I found out that a lot of those issues were cleared.  I also found out that there were other "parts" that has been missing from other places that I suspected but could not affirm otherwise.  There were things that were there that were taken out.  That gave me some new perspective and lifted some of the anxiety I had had about those situation.  Also, while not everything was solved overnight - some things just aren't - but it has set events in motion toward further healing and reconsideration.

 

There has been a change in the way that I am carrying myself.  There seems to be more strength of character in difficult situations... well... in a lot of different situations.  I'm in the process of "redoing" the relationships with my siblings that has been a bit difficult but necessary.  There is a much reconsideration in regard to what relationships meant and should mean.  That was a stuck place that seems to be loosening up.  Fear anxiety and need to be the one to take care of people or situations has dropped off pretty quickly.  I'm passing over responsibility to others cleanly without a lot of guilt, shame or anxiety.  That's pretty neat because I always felt that I needed to "save" others or the situation, etc.  That is no longer the case.  I don't know how that fits in with the work exactly but it started shifting at that time.

 

 

 

Developing Confidence in One's Visions - Personal Stories

How do we develop confidence that the visions we have from the spirit realm are “real”?

When I first started doing intuitive work, I doubted myself. I was sure that I was just making it up, and that I was telling the same story to each person for whom I did a reading. But then I realized that I was getting very different information for each person, and it was information that I had no way of knowing except through intuitive means.

There were several incidents which were turning points in solidifying the confidence I had in my own abilities. The first was the time I was doing a session for woman (I’ll call her “Emily”.) I told her that she had a picture on a dresser at her home. In my mind’s eye, when I looked at the image on the picture, I saw my own wedding picture with my husband. So I said to her, “Here’s how I interpret this image that I’m seeing. This picture is on your dresser, so I would say it’s not a picture of my husband and myself, but of some married couple that you know, that you would have on your dresser.”

Emily said that the picture was of her father only, not of a couple. Somehow, I was not swayed by her statement. I had confidence in what I had seen: I was adamant that it was a couple. I told her I was sure I was seeing a man and a woman in the picture.

The next day Emily called me. She said, “You know, I looked at the picture, and it’s a double exposure. My mother is in the background as part of the double exposure!”

This was the first time I felt that sense of certainty about an intuitive perception, to the point that I will state to a client that I’m absolutely sure of what I saw. (Or rather 99% sure; one always has to acknowledge a certain percentage of fallibility in anything one does.)

The second incident of challenge and confirmation of my visions happened when I was doing a soul retrieval healing for a client (I’ll call him “Paul”.) A soul retrieval is a classic shamanic healing process in which the practitioner does a meditation, called a “journey”, to find energy (“soul parts”) which the client has lost do to traumatic events in his or her life. In the journey, the soul parts will look like the client at the age that the traumatic event occurred.

In this soul retrieval for Paul, I saw what looked like a hut in the Amazon. Inside, were shrunken heads, and one of these was the shrunken head of Paul! This was a soul part of Paul’s. It looked like Paul was in his twenties at the time the soul part left.

Then I saw a man in a business suit. The name came into my head, “James.” From the quality of this vision, I knew that this James was an actual person who actually knew Paul. The hut in the Amazon was a metaphor, but James was a real personage. One way I could tell that was because James was in a business suit – not part of the metaphor of the Amazonian setting.

James tried to stop me from taking Paul’s soul part, the shrunken head, but with the help of my spirit guides I was able to retrieve the soul part and bring it back to my client.

After I actually do the journey, I usually describe to the client what I saw. I told Paul about this incident with “James,” and asked, “Paul, when you were in your twenties, were you a professional of some kind? Did you go to a ‘headhunter,’ an employment agent, named James, to find work? Did this person do something bad to you – cheat you in some way - that would cause you to lose a soul part?” Paul said nothing like that had ever happened to him.

However, I was convinced, based on what I saw on the journey, that some incident like this had in fact occurred. I said to Paul, “Go home and think about it. I’m sure this happened. You might be able to remember it later.”

Sure enough, Paul called me the next day. He said, “Joan, you were right! When I was twenty-seven, I went to a psychiatrist named James.” I said, “So he wasn’t a headhunter, he was your headshrinker!” We both laughed.

Paul continued. “James involuntarily committed me to a mental institution, and it took me three weeks to get out.” I said, “Well, that’s certainly a traumatic event that would cause soul loss.”

Paul said, “Ever since then, I’ve had a distrust of people. But now that I have the soul part back, I have changed. I can trust people again.”

Hearing about a successful outcome such as this warms my heart. It is always an honor and a privilege to do this work for people, and I have come to trust that whatever healing comes through in a session is exactly what needs to happen, whether it’s apparent at the time or not. But my own humanness enjoys an obvious success.

Not only was this client helped, but in soul retrievals for almost 20 years for numerous other clients, I have been led back to the same “hut in the Amazon”. Invariably, in this place I find soul parts that the client has lost due to a bad experience with a mental health professional: psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, etc. It’s specifically about mental health; it’s not even as general as other types of health care.

These are just two examples of many instances in which I have learned to trust my intuitive perceptions. Since then, I have learned degrees of how to interpret a particular perception as being literal or metaphorical, based on the quality of the vision.

Joan Forest Mage has been practicing shamanic healing since 1995, and teaches a year-long Shamanic Training Program. She is the founder and director of Life Force Arts Center.

 

 

Intuitive Education and the 6 Patterns of Natural Intelligence

Some people think of intuition as a natural understanding with which certain individuals are simply "gifted" or not. Actually, intuition, or accessing information from the deep consciousness, is a type of perception that can be learned. We all have the capacity for intuitive learning, just as all of us can develop good study habits for learning with our conscious mind.

A key component of the Shamanic Training Program I teach is the  theory of the 6 Patterns of Natural Intelligence created by educational psychologist Dawna Markova. In her book, The Open Mind, Markova reveals a simple principle that encompasses how people learn in both conscious and subconscious ways, and provides an educational theory for teaching intuitive arts. She takes working with intuition out of "woowoo" and shows its relation to conscious learning.

Most people are familiar with the concept that there are three basic modes of perception: auditory (hearing), visual (seeing), and kinesthetic (feeling or movement). These are ways we take in information about what is happening around us.

They are also ways we learn: some people learn by hearing, others by seeing, and still other by doing. For example, when you are going to learn something new, do you prefer to hear an explanation of it? Or, would you rather watch a demonstration? Or, just plunge in and start doing it? If hearing an explanation is your best way of learning, you are an auditory learner. If you'd rather see charts and pictures, or read text to understand how something is done, you are a visual learner. If you prefer to physically do the action to learn, you are a kinesthetic (physical movement and touch) learner.

Many people already know which type of learner they are. What they don't consider is that are usually aware of their conscious mind's way of learning. The fantastic thing Markova discovered is the relationship of learning with both the conscious and unconscious mind.

Here is what she says. There are three modes of perception: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. There are also three speeds of brainwaves that are associated with learning: beta, alpha, and theta. (There are actually more than three speeds of brainwaves, but just understanding what happens with the three speeds can transform one's life!)

Beta brainwaves are the fastest of the three. When your brain is going at beta speed, it is in what we call conscious mode: paying attention to the world around you, taking action in a conscious way. This is the brainwave speed you want to be in to drive a car or do other activities that require outward focus and precision. Markova calls this consciousness, I call it alertness.

Alpha brainwaves are slower than beta brainwaves. When your brain is going at alpha speed, it is daydreamy. This is the brainwave speed you want to be in to relax and "chill." Markova calls this subconsciousness, I call it relaxation.

Theta brainwaves are the slowest of the three. When your brain is going at theta speed, you are focused inward on your mind's eye, having visions and receiving intuitive information. For example, when you dream when you are asleep, your brain is in theta brainwave rhythm. Markova calls this unconsciousness, I call it intuitive.

But knowing about the brainwaves and their relation to levels of consciousness is not news, either. The startling thing that Dawna Markova discovered is that the three modes of perception trigger different brainwave patterns in different people. For example, for one person, visual stimuli triggers their beta brainwaves (conscious, alert) while sound triggers their alpha brainwaves (subconscious, relaxation) and touch or movement triggers their theta brainwaves (unconscious, intuitive).

Another person will have a completely different pattern: touch or movement makes her more alert (triggers her beta brainwave), while seeing pictures or colors makes her relax (triggers her alpha brainwaves), and hearing sounds makes her go into a trance-like state (triggers her theta brainwaves) in which she accesses intuitive information.

There are 6 Patterns of the mode of perception that triggers each type of brainwave (state of consciousness):

auditory beta; kinesthetic alpha; visual theta (AKV)
auditory beta; visual alpha; kinesthetic theta (AVK)
kinesthetic beta; visual alpha; auditory theta (KVA)
kinesthetic beta; auditory alpha; visual theta (KAV)
visual beta; auditory alpha; kinesthetic theta (VAK)
visual beta; kinesthetic alpha; auditory theta (VKA)

By understanding which pattern you follow, you will know not only how you learn consciously, but also how you learn (or perceive) intuitively!

You will notice that the preferred mode of conscious learning will always be different than the preferred or natural mode of intuitive learning. For example, if you learn best in your alert state (beta) by listening to someone talk, you can bet that your intuitive mind (theta) will communicate to you visually through pictures, or kinesthetically through "gut feelings."

Understanding which perceptual mode triggers your alpha state (relaxation) is also important, because the alpha state is the bridge between the unconscious, intuitive information and the conscious mind. Use your alpha mode of perception to bring up ideas from the intuitive state into consciousness.

For example, if you are an AKV pattern (such as I am) you will receive intuitive information by closing your eyes and sitting still to see pictures or images in your mind's eye. It may be difficult to articulate these visions by putting them into words (auditory), but by using your alpha mode of perception (which would be moving your body, such as making gestures with your hands) you will be able to articulate what you saw in the vision.

I invite you to read Dawna Markova's book, The Open Mind, to see all the implications that this work has!


Joan Forest Mage has been practicing shamanic healing since 1995, and teaches a year-long Shamanic Training Program. She is the founder and director of Life Force Arts Center.



 

The Art of Interpreting Intuitive Information

 

Being an intuitive is like being a detective: you must be able to hold many possibilities in mind at once, searching for the interconnections.  Both the detective and the intuitive try to get to the bottom of an incident.  Both are investigators. A dream will give some information, a shamanic journey may add to it, then a past life regression seems to be somewhat of a dead end.  But like the detective, the intuitive rejects none of the information, for in that very dead end might be the clue that leads to the solving of the puzzle.

Gathering intuitive information can often be polychronic: different parts appear at different times, sometimes overlapping.  The information may appear over a long period of time: months, years.  An intuitive’s mind must work holistically, as a musician’s mind works when listening to the various instrument lines weaving and blending, starting and stopping in a symphony. 

The devil is in the details.  In this type of investigative work, rarely does the answer jump out at you.  Rather, it’s about looking for themes that are revealed bit by bit in successive episodes of working with the same question.  It is like being shown many close-up shots of a large picture, and then finally seeing the picture as a whole.

To gather all the evidence before making a judgment is the heart of both logic and intuition. It requires an understanding of the theme and variation structure, which is so basic to artistic work. To bring the theme back in a new light is the heart of the theme and variation structure. Similarly, sometimes the way to wisdom is to come back to an idea or theme later.  To wait to see what something means until it has time to ripen breeds wisdom.  This is part of the contemplative mind that is second nature to me – observing, then accommodating.  The skill of a healer, and of the artist, is the dialogue between possibility and process.


Joan Forest Mage has been practicing shamanic healing since 1995, and teaches a year-long Shamanic Training Program. She is the founder and director of Life Force Arts Center.

 



 

The Ten Attributes of Shamanism

 


As a contemporary shaman living in the urban setting of Chicago, people often ask me, “What is shamanism?” and “How is shamanism different from other forms of meditation and energy work such as Reiki, chi gung, prayer or creative visualization?”

 

Shamanism is an ancient form of spiritual healing that has been practiced by virtually every culture in the world throughout all of human history. Some people think of it as the origin of all other forms of spiritual expression and energy work. Your image of shamanism may be of indigenous peoples drumming, singing and dancing in rituals to create healing. There are cave paintings in Europe created 40,000 years ago which depict shamanic-style healing rituals, and it’s likely that shamanic practices are even older than that.

 

Many people think shamanism is exclusively a Native American tradition, but it is actually found all over the world. In fact, the word shaman comes from the Tungus tribe of Siberia. Shamanic practices are well known in India, Korea, Africa, Britain, and Austaralia, among many other places. Both men and women throughout the ages have been shamans.

 

Shamanic healing works on the principle of restoring the vital energy, or soul. The classic example is when an individual has lost parts of his or her soul due to traumatic events in life such as accidents, major illness, physical, sexual or emotional abuse or the loss of a loved one. To remedy this, the shamanic practitioner performs a soul retrieval healing, by doing a shamanic “journey” meditation to find and return lost parts of the client’s energy (“soul parts”).

 

However, shamanic healing is not limited to soul retrieval, or only to the healing of the individual person. It also includes mending the broken ties of community on every level: within human society, with nature and with the spirit realm. This may mean restoring the connection an individual has to her body; encouraging a dialogue among the various soul parts within an individual; introducing a person to his spirit guides; connecting a client to the more-than-human matrix of Nature; or helping a person find her expressive “voice” through singing and dancing.

Shamanism shares many traits with other forms of prayer and energy work, but we can identify ten characteristic ways of working in shamanism. Not every shaman works with all of them, but the more of the ten you see in a practitioner’s work, the more that practitioner is shamanic in his or her approach.

  1. Works with spirit realm and spirit guides – Shamanism deals with going into altered states of consciousness to find healing and wisdom. In this altered state, we perceive all existence as being a big energetic field. The world is filled with spiritual beings and energies: angels, ancestors, totem, animals, gods, goddesses, nature spirits. These helpful spirits guide us to healing and wisdom.

  2. Heals through shifting energy – As contemporary shaman Bradford Keeney says, “Shamanism has nothing to do with how many beads someone has on a costume. The goal of the shamanic practitioner is to shift energy.” Healing is accomplished through returning energy that has been lost or unblocking the flow of energy, which may happen through direct energetic healing or through gaining information.

  3. Solves problems in daily life - shamanic work is not about simply having visions of the spirit realm, but to help self and others gain healing and wisdom in our daily lives. We work in concert with the spirits to improve the whole Web of Life.

  4. Travel out of body to the 3 Worlds– shamanic work involves “journeying” out of body into the spirit realm to work with the spirit guides for healing and guidance. Journeying is done to three different Worlds or planes of existence: the Upperworld, Middleworld and Lowerworld. The typical vision is to go through a tunnel, come into a place of nature (Journey Center) where you meet your team of spirit guides to ask for healing or information.

  5. Empowers the soul – shamanism heals and empowers the soul, which is the vital essence or unique individual Self. Through healing and restoring this spiritual power, many physical, mental and emotional issues are resolved. Soul is in between ego and spirit. Ego is the surface and limited sense of self, while spirit is the Great Cosmic “Soup” of all energy that encompasses all that is. Soul is what you came to this lifetime to accomplish: all the talents and the mission you were born with to contribute to the world.

  6. Heals the Web of Life – shamanic healing is not only about healing the individual, but equally includes healing human society, the spirit realm and nature: the whole Cosmic Web of Life. Some shamans work almost exclusively healing nature, or with the spirit realm.

  7. Grounded in nature – the shamanic practitioner gratefully utilizes the powers of nature for healing, transformation and restoration of energy and to stay grounded in the physical plane.

  8. Grounded in the body– shamanic work is not just about having mental visions nor does it try to transcend the body. It addresses feelings and intuitions from within the body and heals what psychologists would call psychosomatic issues.

  9. Grounded in expressive arts – shamans throughout the ages have used singing, dancing, drumming, storytelling and visual art as ways of shifting energy, expressing their visions and creating healing. The healing that shamans perform encompasses the work done in such modern healing modalities as movement therapy, sound healing, psychodrama and color therapy.

  10. Face shadow side – shamanic healing often confronts the “shadow side”, drawing out the full range of energies and emotions including anger, sadness and fear to create cathartic healing.



 

 

Mother Dolphin and the Ocean of Tears

 

In terrible emotional pain, I went to my spirit guides, the Council of Elderwomen. I was sobbing. The Elderwomen said kindly, “There is pain in life, sometimes. It's unavoidable.”

“I cannot stand this,” I said, “and I cannot believe that whoever or whatever created life and the world could want me or anyone to be in such pain.”

“There are cycles in life. Now you are in pain, but someday you will feel better. It will not always be like this,” said the Council.

“You don’t understand,” I sobbed, “this pain is immense and endless. In some ways, I have always felt like this, even though I was putting on a cheery face and focusing on the bright side of things. I cannot stand it anymore!” I realized that this pain is what Buddhism calls the fundamental darkness, the negativity of the universe that stands in the way of one’s happiness.

I called out for any guide who could help me. Mother Dolphin appeared. She is my kindest guide, always loving. She looked at me with deep compassion and acceptance.

Mother Dolphin took me swimming in the ocean. The pain only seemed to increase.

“Drown me,” I begged. “I cannot stand this pain any longer.” I began to weep even more. I said, “Can’t you see this pain is endless? My tears can fill this whole ocean.”

“Please show me!” said Mother Dolphin. My tears filled the ocean and I had plenty left over. “My tears could fill the sky.”

“Go ahead, fill the sky,” said Mother Dolphin. My tears filled the sky and created all the rain.

The Council of Elderwomen was there. “You are so creative! Your tears are creating all the waters of the world – the seas, the rivers, the lakes, the rain!”

This made me feel worse and cry more. “But I don’t want to create that way! Once in a while creating from pain is okay, but not this much!”

My tears would not stop flowing. “My tears could fill all the earths and skies and all the space where water needs to go in every part of the universe.”

“Please do so!” said Mother Dolphin. My tears filled every part of the universe where water needs to go.

Finally, it felt as though I had cried enough. Somehow I had tapped into the universal source of pain, much greater than my personal pain. I know that by realizing how enormous the pain was and going to the end of it, I had completed a cycle, not only for myself but as a balance of energy in the universe for all the places that needed the energy I had been holding in the tears. It was far beyond me as a human having emotions, but about energy. Some places could use the energy inherent in the tears; they needed them as a medicine as they had been poison to me.  Like oxygen and carbon dioxide: humans breathe oxygen and give off carbon dioxide and plants do the opposite, so we are all in balance. It was important that the enormous energy I had in the tears be fully recognized and recycled back into the universe.

I felt calmer, and the pain was gone finally.


Joan Forest Mage is honored to serve as a shamanic artist, teacher and healer in her hometown of Chicago, where she is founder and Executive Director of Life Force Arts Center.