Very recently, a friend of mine stopped through the DFW area – and the two of us spent some time at a local coffee shop up on the main square here in Denton. It was a chance to sit and talk – catch up on the past eight years (the last time we had seen one another), and bathe in the memories of Germany (we were both in the Air Force at Sembach, but in different squadrons). When I was in Germany, I had decided to be completely open about my Pagan beliefs. Anyone who knew me, knew about what I believed – including some of the folks in charge of security clearances. I saw more of them than anyone else during my time at Sembach, but that’s another tangent. So, my friend comments about my Pagan beliefs – and we start down the road to a protracted conversation.
Interestingly enough, our conversation did not follow the typical paths that other conversations I have had with friends who were not Pagan. E (I am not going to use his full name here) asked a lot of questions on Shamanic aspects of belief and how each corresponded to my understanding of the Gods. We talked about trances, smudging (a practice I do not delve into), dreams, visions, and a whole host of other areas. Around the back end of the conversation, he tossed out one topic I had never heard of, but had just read about in Loren Cruden‘s excellent survey of Shamanic practitioner’s – “Coyote’s Council Fire“. Soul Retrieval is a relatively new term for me. It is mentioned numerous times in Cruden’s book, including a specific question set to the practitioners she queried for the book.
The Wikipedia entry for Soul Retrieval describes it as: “…forms of shamanic practice that aim to reintegrate various interpretations of the soul that might have become disconnected, trapped or lost through trauma.” To be completely honest, I am not sure I can reconcile this with my own understanding of reincarnation and past lives. The definition related here seems to express a point that all aspects of a person’s past life should be readily available to them at any moment. My own personal experience is quite the opposite. My previous incarnations are connected to me – each is, after all, a part of who I am – but the memories and experiences of that are not available to me in my current incarnation. If those experiences were available to me, I would not have a need to learn particular life lessons. I would merely have to reach back into my past incarnations, and draw that experience to me. In my opinion, access to those memories and experiences would have allowed me to be a fully formed, conscious adult with the memories of previous adult experience – at the moment of my birth.
For me, there is a reason for the disconnected aspect of my incarnation from my previous ones. What is the reason? I honestly have no idea. I am sure there is one there – but I do not really believe that it is something I need to be overly concerned with. John Beckett has an excellent blog post about individual purpose entitled “Purpose and Will“. I agree that every person has a purpose for being here in this incarnation, just as there is a purpose why it is such a difficult process to access information and experience about previous incarnations. Every individual will eventually face those questions in their life…and every person will approach their understanding of the answers from very different perspectives. It would be way out of line for me to make any statement that every individual will/should feel “x”….on this I can only speak for myself.
I am extremely skeptical of the concept of Soul Retrieval – simply because I do not feel that there is any aspect of who we are that is trapped or lost…and that the disconnected aspect between this incarnation and previous ones is a necessary function for learning and experience in this lifetime. I know there are people who will disagree with me on that point – and that is perfectly fine. Each individual has the capability and capacity to determine information for themselves, according to their own experiences and understanding. However, I see the process of Soul Retrieval as one filled with potential pitfalls, and unknown dangers. It is simply not for me.