Medicine for the Soul: Shamanism, Soul Retrieval, and Healing

Contact for Individual Shamanic Healing Sessions:

Tel: 07905 139935

Skype: HGC999


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What is Shamanic Healing & Soul Retrieval?

Shamanic Drumming - Howard G Charing

Howard playing an exquisite Sami drum.

Shamanic Healing consists of a varied body of practices performed by the shaman or practitioner to help or heal another person. This is a fundamental principle of shamanism wherever it is practiced.

The methods, tools, ‘symbology’, and medicines will vary from culture to culture and region to region but primarily the healing is a three-way connection between the client, shaman and the universe or spirit.

Soul Retrieval: A Personal Perspective

The recapitulation of life force is the body of work, which restores or recapitulates lost life force. Soul Retrieval is one of the most well-known and effective practices to this end.

To understand how recapitulation practices work, we need to look at the multidimensional nature of reality and move away from a linear sequential perspective. From this expanded perspective, ‘anything which has ever happened to anybody, anywhere; it is still happening somewhere’. If a traumatic event occurred for a person ten, twenty and so on years ago, for that person it is still happening, and I would venture to state that it is also in some way still influencing the person’s life.

Shamanism - Soul Retrieval - Healing


Shamanism does not dwell on past events; there is only this vast awesome ever-moving great moment of now where there is no separate past, present, or future. It is possible for a practitioner to journey and move outside of linear time to go to the place where that energetic event is still occurring for that individual, find and bring back that person’s life force which is held in that energetic event, and when this has been carried out, then the therapeutic healing of the event and its consequences can truly begin.

The loss of life-force is known as soul-loss , and this can take place when we suffer a trauma, have an accident, experience strong emotional exchanges with a loved one, separation from a partner, death of a loved one, go through a pervasive period of difficult circumstances. When we undergo a severe trauma typically a part of our vital nature goes away, so that we can survive whatever is happening to us. It is a way for the body and consciousness to survive severe trauma. Problems develop when the soul part or fragment does not return. It may not want to come back, or may not be able to return due to the nature of the trauma

Joseph Campbell writes in his classic work The Masks of God ‘…sickness according to shamanic theory, can be caused either by the entrance of an alien element into the body, or by the departure of the soul from the body and its imprisonment in one of the spirit regions: above, below, or beyond the rim of the world. The Shaman’s clairvoyant vision must discover its lurking place. Then riding “on the sound of his drum”, he must sail away on the wings of trance to whatever spiritual realm may harbour the soul in question, and work swiftly his deed of rescue.’ 

Soul retrieval

Soul retrieval painting by Howard

The concept of Soul-loss and the ceremonial retrieval of souls are found in many cultures. For example in the Tibetan Bon Shamanistic tradition, One of the most important practices performed by Tibetan shamans of the Sichen path is Soul Retrieval – Lalu (literally redeeming, or buying back the soul), and chilu, (redeeming the life-energy). These practices are widespread in the Bon tradition and also in all Tibetan Buddhist schools*.

*Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. From an article first published in TANTRA magazine Issue 8, and subsequently published in Sacred Hoop magazine Issue 7.

Soul Loss
Although the terminology is different, the concept of soul-loss is a phenomenon well known to psychology. Jung ( C.G Jung, Mysterium coniunctionis),  recounts in his memoirs a fantasy in which his soul flew away from him, that is, the libido withdrew into the unconscious and was carrying on a secret life there. The libido representing the life-force, and the unconscious typically representing ‘the land of the dead’

There are a number of symptoms of soul-loss , for example, when people feel that they are observing life as an outsider, rather than engaging and being fully involved. Other common symptoms are when people feel that they are being ‘spaced’ out a lot of the time, not really here. Other symptoms that indicate possible soul loss are life-themes such as a pervasive fear, inability to trust people. I have also found that a severe depression can also be a symptom of soul loss. Chronic illness may also be a symptom of soul loss. This directly relates to Power. In the shamanic worldview, power and maintaining health go hand in hand, if the body is power-full, there is no room for illness or disease, which are often regarded as an invasive force.

Healing Circle by Howard G CharingIn my practice I have worked with many people who had done considerable work on the original trauma, but in many ways were still experiencing or ‘stuck’ in it. One of the differences between Soul Retrieval and some modern Western psychological systems is that Soul Retrieval focuses on the return and integration of the lost life-force, rather than focus on the original trauma itself. In my view Soul Retrieval and therapy work very well together, the best combination being first the recapitulation of the lost life-force, followed by a therapeutic approach to support the person through the process of working with released feelings and emotional energy which can be uncomfortable and even raw for the individual. This release and subsequent experiencing of the emotions is a fundamental part of the whole healing process, and I cannot stress this enough.

This healing process leads to what I call the union of the life force, when the person can then move forward in their life without being anchored to the past, and live a life of creativity and productivity.

Soul Healing painting by Howard G Charing

Soul Healing painting by Howard

When the soul-fragments are returned, the memories and emotions associated with the departure of the soul fragment may also return. Although this may not always be a comfortable experience, it is a sign that healing is taking place. The experiencing of the emotions and feelings although they may have not been felt prior to the Soul Retrieval, the effects are still working, but at a deeply unconscious level i.e. a place of the not known. The person may have been experiencing a chronic and pervasive depression, yet not able to come to grips with this. Soul Retrieval works very well with other therapies. A therapist can only work with the parts of the person which are there, it is an encouraging development that people are now coming to Soul Retrieval sessions accompanied by their therapist.

The most common immediate response after a Soul Retrieval is that the recipient feels that they are more ‘full’, that there is more of them. They may even experience the density of the body to have changed.

It is important to recognise, that each person is different and everybody will react differently after a Soul Retrieval. Some may feel heavier, bigger, happier, angry, sad, laughing or perhaps nothing for a few weeks. My observation is that most people will experience a change within a two week period, two weeks seems to be the magic number when the person really feels the effect. It is important to trust the persons psyche completely.

The only role that the recipient has is to receive the healing. It is important that they keep open, and concentrate on staying open to receive this energy – that is their only task.

After Soul Retrieval, recipients should allow themselves space to be with the returned life-force. For some it may be quiet reflection, others may want to be in nature, in the countryside, in the parks. Music is also important, beautiful sounds  help to restore our dissonant energy fields.  Nature is a wonderful healer, being in nature, enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, of the Earth, will help the soul-parts to integrate with the recipient.


Soul Medicine
by Howard

Soul Retrieval is one way to restore and maintain our life force and power. This is an act where we receive our own life-force. Another way to maintain our life-force is not to hold on to anybody else. In our lives, we take and sometimes hold onto the energy of others. This is known as Soul Theft, which I know for many may be an emotive word and concept, but this is something we all do. It is common and should be looked at in a non-judgmental way. In some respects, it is the other side of Soul Retrieval.

Soul-theft can be a learned generational behavior and often occurs in relationships and within families. It is an unconscious act. In fact, if the person knew what they were doing, they may well be very upset.

We steal or take people’s life force in many ways, as these examples illustrate:

– When we are jealous of another person’s power or status

– When someone has a power/energy that another wants

– When another wants a person’s identity or feels I want to be like him/her! This also occurs when we hero worship or idolize someone.

– A very common way to take another person’s power is to judge them.

– When we over care for someone, causing them to become too dependent on us. This can result in the person losing their own strength and will to support themselves.

There are a number of problems that soul-theft causes:

– The person whose life-force has been taken is diminished in some way.

– Relationships can be hung onto, causing difficult, ragged, and unsatisfactory completions.

– The person who has taken another persons life-force can not use it in any way whatsoever, so it becomes a burden. To illustrate this, participants on workshops who do the Soul-release exercise have expressed it in a number of ways. One said, The taken soul parts felt like I had ‘barnacles on the hull of a ship’ which were holding me back, weighing me down. Another said, It felt like I was covered in clinging seeds and leaves.

– Sometimes we may even take on another persons  ‘shadow’, eg. their anger, and negativity , and then we find ourselves working with their feelings, which may be an uncomfortable experience.

Mirror: Painting by Howard G Charing

Painting by Howard

There are many benefits to all parties and to all-that-there-is when we return another person’s life-force to them. This act can be most profound and healing and work on many levels. I get a lot of feedback from people who do this work, and many times I am told of relationships between partners, parents and children changing and improving. As a simple analogy, I see this as a tug-of war where both parties are pulling on the rope. When one person returns the others life-force, they effectively let go of the rope. Then when the other person responds, there is no more rope to pull or exert pressure on.

Participants in workshops and clients often tell me that as soon as they did this work, they went home and cleared all the clutter and junk from their home. To me this is a way of making an immediate physical manifestation and grounding of the act of release. They are making space available for new things to come into their lives, which is exactly what happens in our own soul bodies: we make more space for our own life-force, more space for our own power.

Even though we may know this and would like to reflect and where possible return the other person’s life-force, it may be difficult to recall or remember people’s names or their faces because the act was carried out on an unconscious basis. This is the clear problem.

Working with the tools, methods and techniques of shamanism can be very supportive to us in this act of releasing. It is because the unconscious memories are difficult to access that contact with the Spirit people, Spirit animals, and teachers can be helpful. The Spirit teachers and animals know us perfectly: they know our personal history, our strengths, our qualities, our foibles, the symbols we work with, and they can help us in this.

A Ceremony to Release Soul Parts We Are Holding Onto

Healing Vision
by Howard

To do this, we can embark on the shamanic journey with the specific objective and intention of asking the spirits, to tell me the names or show me the faces or let me know in any way I can understand the people whose soul parts I have taken and am still holding onto. This journey can be carried out in either the Upper or Lower worlds.

I recommend you allow yourself about twenty minutes for this journey, where you may be told what you need to know, taken by your Spirit teachers / Power animal in the other reality to a place where people whose soul-parts are gathered together, or you may simply become aware. All are valid; there is no right or wrong way to do this.

When you have returned from the journey, it is a good idea to write the names down on paper while the memories of the journey are still fresh in your mind. Please keep in your mind that you should not judge yourself for this; it is something that we all do. The difference now is that you have an opportunity to restore the balance.

Now you know what you need to release and return. This can be best achieved by a ritual or ceremony. Rituals and ceremonies have great power in this reality; it is a way of combining the heart, mind, spirit and body in a single physical action and intention. Religions from all over the world have long recognized the importance of ritual and ceremony. Ritual is a means of communication between the Spirits and ourselves; it is a way that the Spirits can cross over from their world into ours. In Western society, we have forgotten that the ordinary and other reality belong together; they are two halves of one whole.

An example of a ritual would be a Fire Ceremony. To gain power, it helps if this ritual is witnessed by friends or those who would like to participate and support you. The participants can support you by using a rattle, gently drumming or chanting. To start the ceremony, you need a location that is preferably outdoors in a place that can safely contain a fire.

mandala: painting by Howard G Charing

Mandala by Howard

Call in the Spirits, ask for their assistance, and state your intention very clearly. I am returning the soul parts I am still holding onto. Then while still maintaining a ceremonial space, tear the paper into strips, one name to a strip, and then proceed to burn each strip of paper. As each strip of paper burns, visualize, imagine, feel, sense, intuit the soul part of that person being released from you and returning to that person. After each name has burned, you may want to make an offering to the Spirits to thank them. You may want to add a pinch of cedar or sage to the fire. The act of returning soul parts often brings with it a sense of completion and a general feeling of satisfaction. As a metaphor, it is like the completion of an open chapter.

Even when you have completed the ceremony, over a period of time it is very much possible that you may well recall additional names, faces, incidents and so on. This is normal. What you have done is to open the door to these submerged memories. The Fire Ceremony can be repeated at any time.

Individual Shamanic Healing Sessions – Soul Retrieval and Healing for Wholeness, and Wellbeing

Following a major accident (an elevator crash) – I’ve been healing since the late 1980’s, and work internationally, and I was holding the first Shamanic Healing Practitioner Training courses in the UK. The services I offer are;

Shamanic Healing

Soul Retrieval

Shamanic Divination

Divination is not ‘fortune telling’, it is a pathway to a deeper understanding of events and influences surrounding a situation or person. Divination is as old as humanity, but unfortunately in mainstream Western society it has been regarded as something primitive, irrational, and pandering to superstition. Divination is simply a way of revealing the truth. The diviner reveals or uncovers to their client hidden truths about themselves or the circumstances surrounding them. In societies outside the West, divining continues to play an important role revealing that which is hidden, easing anxiety, and helping in coming to terms with challenging circumstances that may demand the implementation of difficult decisions.

In divination, the role of the shaman is to act as a neutral mediator. The practitioner, by exploring and providing the initial reading and interpretation, allows the seeker of this information to avoid projecting personal wants, desires, and wishes if the question or situation is emotionally charged.

Remote Healing & Divination

I also carry out distant healing & Divination by arrangement. For this I would require a photograph or personal object of the client, however these days I tend to work interactively with the client via Skype on a worldwide basis.

Power Objects / Talismans

Power Object by Howard G Charing

Power Object

Another part of my work is to pull or ‘draw in’ benign and supportive energies for the client and imbue a natural object, typically a rock with this quality. I then paint a unique design on the rock specially for the client as both an act of ‘attention’ to focus the specific healing qualities that the client needs and to ‘seal’ the energetic quality in the rock which holds this. This can be done by proxy for another person who the client would like to maybe give as a present to them. The costs for this vary depending on the work involved.

I feel greatly privileged to do this work. I am fortunate to be able to encounter, work with, and bring groups to meet some extraordinary shamans & healers in the Andes, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Philippines. It gives me enormous pleasure to witness people become more empowered and engaging in life with more creativity, energy, and happiness through the shamanic body of practices. I do this work with one hundred percent effort and passion. So much has happened since my ‘entry’ into the world of shamanism over twenty years ago following a serious accident (an elevator crash) which resulted in severe injuries and a near-death experience. Since the 1990’s I have organised journeys to the Amazon Rainforest and the Andes learning from the shamans and participating in Ayahuasca, San Pedro and sacred plant ceremonies. I was baptised into their tribe by the Shipibo Indians in the Amazon.

Contact me for Individual Shamanic Healing Sessions (including Remote session);


Skype: HGC999

Tel: 07905 139935