“What is the Soul, Christine asks?”
We sit together in the abnormally warm October sun. Some of us tuck away into pockets of shade, bolstered up by the driftwood that lines Camp Fircom’s beach. For three nights, a group of 15 of us have gathered for the second annual Shamanic Yoga Community Retreat in the name of play, connection, and healing.
“The part that never dies,” someone answers. “The all of you.”
“I think it holds your wholeness. It isn’t bound to the storylines of trauma,” says another.
We have been taught that the cornerstone of all shamanic practice is soul retrieval and this work has been alive and active throughout our time together. “The basic premise is that whenever we experience trauma, a part of our vital essence separates from us in order to survive the experience by escaping the full impact of the pain. What constitutes trauma varies from one individual to another. Soul loss can be caused by whatever a person experiences as traumatic, even if another person would not experience it as such” (Sandra Ingerman). We stand on the threshold of the ocean, calling back, calling in, calling home these parts that lay dormant.
The mallet strikes against her red drum. Christine asks us to expand what is alive, to magnify the pieces that we–our family, our communities, perhaps even our culture–did not accept or allow us to grow to capacity. We open to Pakareqtambo, the dawning place of tomorrow, where light comes back; the place of fulfillment, beckoning the awakening of these pieces that have gone into hiding to protect us.
The journey begins in the waters. We traverse the terrain with Muki as our guide: the organizing principle that knows the way through the domains of the soul. It is time to cut ties with the affinities of dullness, hatred and grasping that stalk us. Muki leads us first to the chamber of wounds: the place of history and original trauma, through the chamber of contracts: the realm of passion and fire and vitality, through the chamber of treasures: the place of riches and remembering, and finally to the chamber of grace. As the drumming subsides the journey dissolves into the fire of awareness.
Christine’s voice realigns us, “upon attaining one’s strength, one can absorb anything into oneself; [in this way,] one makes the whole universe one’s own.” (Pratyabhijna Hridayam, Sutra 15).
We welcome home these pieces of power and radiance. As wayfinders of the Soul, these are our new coordinates.