What Systemic Constellations Are Teaching Me About Soul Retrieval
Shamanic Healing Constellations
On Saturday I offered a Family Constellation Workshop. As I often do, I mix shamanism and shamanic healing with my constellations. Previous to the workshop, one of my clients had requested a Soul Retrieval. From the moment she first mentioned Soul Retrieval, it kept coming to me to do this as a constellation in the workshop. On Saturday we performed our first Soul Retrieval Chaos constellation. Chaos Constellations are the creation of Sneh Victoria Schnabel, who taught them to my teacher, Francesca Mason Boring, from whom I learned them.
Without divulging client details, I report here on the mechanics of this constellation and what it taught us about Soul Retrieval in general.
In Soul Loss, a part of our vital energy, our essence, becomes unavailable. It is tied up in some way and not available to us as a whole. This reminds me of the way that Trauma experts speak about body energies that are tied up in trauma. It is as if a part of us is experiencing the trauma as if it were still happening now. Soul Retrieval is about making that energy available to the whole of us again.
In a chaos constellation, representatives are not chosen by the facilitator but by the Field itself. As the facilitator, I said to the group, "This constellation is a Soul Retrieval for [client]. It is a Chaos Constellation. If you feel that you already represent a part of this constellation, please stand and state what you represent."
The Soul Retrieval Constellation
- First to stand up was the body ("I feel like organs. I can feel the blood flowing through me.")
- Next, the Spirit
- Then the Heart,
- Last, the soul part itself, age 3-ish
Once all representatives had named themselves, I asked them to find their place in the working area.
The Soul Part immediately lay on the floor, unable to move. The Spirit moved far away. The Heart was tentative, not knowing what to do. The Body was concerned.
When I asked what was happening with the Soul Part, it said (I paraphrase), "I was invincible before. When the event happened I lost all of my power. I gave up. I can't go forward. I have to stay here. I don't know what to do. I used to be powerful and now I am powerless. I have to stay here."
On hearing this, the Body felt compelled to touch the lost Soul Part, which was lying on the floor.
The Soul Part said that that was comforting.
The Heart said that it felt like there was a "lead shield" over it.
The Spirit said that it was keenly aware of what was going on, even though it was far away. It could not come closer.
We tried some things to help the Soul Part reconnect. The only connection that could happen in the moment was with the Body. The Soul Part kept insisting that the event "shouldn't have happened. I want to stay in the Before-time, before this thing happened that took away my power." The Heart said his head began to hurt. The Spirit said he knew all about this. The Body was still concerned but didn't know what to do.
After trying several Healing Statements, the Soul Part began to realize that the event had happened, no matter what it wanted to believe about that. The Body became afraid and wanted to move away.
We did a test: I asked the Body to drop contact and move to where it felt comfortable. The Soul Part did not like that; it said it felt it could just 'float away' and might never get any better. Although the Body felt a little better, she felt 'tingly.' When I asked the Body to come back into contact with the Soul Part, both felt much better. The Soul Part said, "now I think I can do something."
The Soul Part kept repeating that it wanted to be in the time/place before the event had happened: it did not want that event to have happened at all, and that by denying it, thought that it could force it to never have happened. "It shouldn't have happened" it kept repeating.
When I introduced the Soul Part to the client, now 74 years old, there was a glimmer of recognition and hope in her eyes for the first time. I said, "you belong to her." The Soul Part said, "why should I go over there?" The client said, "because I need you back now." It took a bit of explaining to the Soul Part that she had just been a small child when the event had happened and that even though she felt invincible, none of us are, least of all a three-year-old child.
The energy of the constellation began to shift as the Soul Part realized that the event could not have been prevented. The Spirit had stayed very, very far away for most of the constellation, until the Soul Part began to realize that it could not have prevented the event, even as an adult.
Things now began to move in the constellation. Despite feeling invulnerable before (at the age of 3!) and then being shattered by the realization of being utterly vulnerable to outside forces bigger than itself no matter the self-image, the Soul part began to verbally express the dawning understanding that no amount of wishing differently could undo the event, no matter how stubborn she was. The Soul Part began to see on her own that Life must be faced and move on, no matter what. When the Soul part began to voice this new idea, both the Heart and the Spirit began to move closer to the Body/Soul-Part pair.
The Heart said, "I feel my energy expanding upward like a funnel" and made an upward gesture with his arms.
I asked the Soul Part what strengths and abilities that it was holding and that it would return to the client. The Soul Part said, "Strength. Power. The ability to move forward even in the face of bad things happening that I don't understand."
When the Soul Part said this, the Soul Part sat up. The Heart said, "I feel my energy expanding and moving down to connect with my belly now." The Spirit came all the way across the room and knelt down to touch the Soul Part and the client.
Now Heart, Spirit, Soul Part, Body, and client were united. Spirit was the connecting bridge between client and Soul Part, who was being touched by Body and Heart.
We made a few more healing statements along the lines of "Life decided." The Soul Part said, "I think I'm ready to move now" and I asked if this meant that she was ready to be reunited with the client. Soul Part said, "yes."
With all of the representatives touching, and Spirit as the connecting bridge to the client, I explained that in traditional Soul Retrieval "shaman breath" is used to blow the Soul part back into the client. I walked around them and blew just like I would in a traditional Soul Retrieval. In the middle of doing this, Heart and Body reported that they had "moved through" and were no longer representing anything. Soon the Soul Part also reported this, as did the Spirit.
The client wanted them all close, all touching, so they made a huddle with a pile of hands in front of her. I brought my rattle over and rattled to seal the Soul Part into the client in the traditional way. At the end, the client was radiant.
The Surprising Gifts
In all of my training, no teacher has indicated that the Body played such an important part in Soul Retrieval. My only training about the Body during Soul Retrieval was that it should remain "calm and receptive." Clearly the Body has a more prominent role than we have previously imagined. For that matter, no teacher has indicated that the Heart plays a role, either.
"Spirit" representative felt like the Aumakua, the Higher Self to me during this constellation. It was beautiful to see and hear that the Spirit knows all about what has happened. It is interesting to see that it is powerless to reunite with a lost Soul Part on its own; the Soul Part has to grow before this can happen.
It was also a bit of a surprise to hear what the Soul Part had to say about why it couldn't rejoin the client. I knew intellectually that this stuckness was part of the process, but not that the stuckness was the central issue. The event itself which had created the stuckness didn't seem to matter as much. The inability to reconcile the idea of powerlessness was the reason for the stasis. Helping the Soul Part understand this was the key to resolving the stuckness and returning this Soul Part.