The practitioner of shamanism enters an altered state using dance and drumming in order to bring information and healing to their client. They are a bridge between this reality and what the anthropologist and shamanic practitioner Carlos Castaneda termed ‘non-ordinary reality’. In ancient times, cultures across the world saw the shaman as doctor, counsellor and provider for the people in their community. The purpose was to both feed the people and heal illness. Quite simply, if the shaman did not achieve results the people would die and it is precisely because shamanism does produce results that it has survived tens of thousands of years. It pre-dates and coexists with all religions of the world.

Power retrievals and information retrievals

Power loss is something we have all experienced at one time or another. A fight with a partner, a reprimand at work, receiving unexpected bank charges… Most of the time, we bounce back pretty quickly. Occasionally, and often if we experience a persistent loss of power we can begin to feel unhappy, unbalanced, low in energy and ‘stuck’ in our situation.

This power is not permanently lost and the role of the shamanic practitioner is to retrieve and restore this lost power to the client. During the journey to retrieve lost power, guidance can also obtained which will help the client to integrate the restored power.

The client will usually notice positive changes in their lives over the coming weeks and months following the retrieval. There may be other therapies or changes that can help the healing process.

Information retrievals are often carried out for a client who is at a turning point in their lives and struggling to make a decision. Fear can cloud our judgement and leave us not being able to ‘see the woods for the trees’. It is in these moments a shamanic practitioner can journey for information that will bring clarity and guidance to the client.

Soul retrieval

Soul loss can have a larger impact on our day-to-day life than power loss and often occurs following physical or emotional trauma, sustained abuse or the loss of a loved one. Part of our essence or soul may leave the body to protect itself from the full impact of the trauma. As with power loss, in many cases this will return over time but sometimes this doesn’t happen and can lead to deep depression, negative/challenging behaviours, difficulty maintaining healthy relationships and/or physical illness. The shamanic practitioner will enter non-ordinary reality and track down the missing soul part, which is usually ready to return but does not yet realise it is safe to do so. When this soul part is returned there can be huge positive transformation in the client’s life and a feeling of wholeness.


When a soul part is missing or we have a void of some kind in our life, destructive behaviour patterns such as addiction or abusive relationships can develop in an attempt to fill this void. These can prevent a soul part from returning and it is the work of a shamanic practitioner to remove these ‘intrusions’ and allow balance to be restored. In many cases, extraction work will precede soul retrieval work.


During the journey, the shamanic practitioner may receive additional guidance for the client which will help them to integrate the returned power or soul part. This can often take the form of an activity that the client is to carry out and encourages them to participate in their healing process. This allows the integration to be as smooth as possible.

Useful Links

  • Carlos Castaneda books can be downloaded for free here in pdf format or purchased here. “The Teachings of Don Juan” is the first book in the series.

Other excellent books on shamanism include:

  • The Way of the Shaman, by Michael Harner
  • An Introduction to Shamanic Journeying, by Sandra Ingerman
  • Soul Retrieval, by Sandra Ingerman
  • Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, by Mircea Eliade

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