A few months ago, I contacted Myron Eschowsky, the Shaman who facilitated a workshop I attended in 2000 on Shamanism. This was a two-day workshop I went to outside Chicago with two other improvisers I was performing with at the time. The experience I had there was amazing and thought provoking. I kept in touch, occasionally with Myron over the next couple of years. I inquired about Soul Retrieval, which was something I was informed that Myron could perform. He wrote back and told me that not only would he do it, but he graciously offered to do it free of charge considering that I was not working consistently. This offer was very much in the tradition of community that is the entire basis of spirituality and Shamanism.
For those of you not familiar with soul retrieval, I‘ll try to explain as briefly as I can. In most indigenous Shamanic traditions throughout the world, it is believed that a person’s soul can fragment and certain parts can leave during periods of great stress or trauma, especially during childhood. If the soul is fragmented, it leaves a void which can sometimes be intruded upon by a disembodied spirit, which although not “evil”, can cause harm simply by existing in the wrong place. In the retrieval process, intrusions are removed, and soul fragments are coaxed back to the subject by the Shaman. Soul fragmentation and intrusion can be the cause of a variety of ailments and mental and emotional disorders. This is a VERY loose explanation. There is much, much more to be understood about it. But for the purpose of this story, it’ll be enough for now.
I was scheduled to meet with the Shaman on Monday morning at 11:15 in Madison, Wisconsin. This required me to get a Greyhound that left Chicago at 7:00am. This, in turn, required me to get up at 5:00 in the morning so that I could get the El down to the bus station on time. The night before, I had trouble sleeping. I was a little nervous about what would happen the next day, and I’d slept a little too late Sunday morning. This combination left me with a very restless night, and I didn’t fall asleep till sometime after 2:00am. So three hours sleep, and I was off on my journey.
The Greyhound station in Chicago was much more crowded and unorganized than I had envisioned. What I was thinking, I’ll never understand. The semi-helpful, semi-informed staff did their best to maintain the façade of competence so vital in the facilitation of bus transportation coordination. I tried my best to pretend I couldn’t see the true reality, which was a bleary-eyed collection of gray and green uniformed South Chicagoans with their heads firmly inserted up their collective ass. I stood in line for one of the three potential gates the “departures” monitor indicated was for Madison for about 10 minutes. Then I took the monumental risk of abandoning my place in line to retreat to the information booth to make sure I was in the right place. Stop laughing. We all make mistakes. I eventually ended up on a bus. This was enough of an accomplishment for me at the time. By the grace of God, and the hand of fate, it was headed for Madison.
I realized shortly after I boarded that I had procured the absolute last available seat on the bus. At first, my situation seemed less than unpleasant, as a fairly attractive, young girl was occupying the seat next to me. This was before I realized this same young lady not only had the widest hips east of the Mississippi, she also found it necessary to sleep, perched sideways in her seat. I eventually had to wake her up and point out the fact that I was being slowly forced into the aisle by her enormous buttocks. Oh, how I would have loved to have expressed my dilemma in those exact words!
I didn’t realize, when I was looking online for bus tickets, just how many stops the bus to Madison makes. There were a total of six between here and thar. The first few didn’t bother me all that much. They stations were fairly close to the highway, and the stops didn’t last all that long. I have to admit, I was amused more than a little bit by a large building in Beloit, Wisconsin, which bore a sign, in bright red and green neon, touting the fact that they carried both CHEESE and FIREWORKS. It wasn’t until the last stop before Madison that I began to worry. It was already 10:30, and we were headed into a town in Wisconsin known as Janesville. I imagine it was named after someone named Jane. Just a guess. Anyway, this was no “off the exit and around the corner” stop. It seemed to me that we must have covered several thousand miles of cornfields before we reached the bustling metropolis of Janesville Central. One guy got on in Janesville. (One short of the bus ridin’ limit accordin’ to town ordinance)
It was 11:10am as we pulled off route 90 onto the exit for Madison. Five minutes! I was in a panic. I was mapping out procedures in my head for getting off the bus before anyone else. We eventually pulled into the station at 11:17am. Two minutes late already, and I was only at the damn station! I weaved my way through luggage-pullers, slow-movers and bus fatties, and hit the Madison ground running, literally.
The WellAware Center turned out to be only three short, suburban blocks from where the bus deposited me. It was your typical, modest, two-floor, brick office building. I glanced briefly at the directory to make sure I was in the right place, then dashed up the stairs to room 206. Myron Eschowsky, a small, darkly bearded man, with an infectious smile was sitting patiently behind the reception desk. “Sorry I’m late” I panted between gasps for air. He smiled and looked at his watch. “You’re not late”. I was put at ease immediately. After a much needed bathroom break, we began.
The first thing we did was to sit in the reception area and talk about what it was that I was looking for in a soul retrieval. Specifically, he asked what type of healing I thought I needed. I replied by explaining my “conflict scenario situation”. What happens is that I imagine a situation where someone offends me or initiates a minor conflict. I take the imaginary situation through a back-and-forth progression until it can only be concluded by some extreme act of aggression or violence. I did this often without consciously facilitating it or sometimes even realizing it was happening. As soon as I’d become aware of it, I’d realize that my whole body had tensed up and I was becoming extremely agitated for no reason at all. These episodes disturbed me greatly. Not only were the scenarios wildly unrealistic, but the end result was always me hurting someone in a way I’d never want to, or would ever do, in reality. There were a few other general questions about my present situation, and any other ill effects I may have been experiencing. Beyond the conflict thing, I explained that in general, I was feeling empty inside a lot, without purpose, and not like myself sometimes.
We talked briefly about the workshop I’d been to. Although he required a little refresher on who was with me at the time and what our relationship was, he surprising remembered specifically what t-shirt I was wearing at the time. It was my Salem Fire Department shirt, which actually becomes a fairly significant detail in this story.
In the adjoining room was a very peaceful setting. Basically, it was a doctor’s office, but with soft lighting. Everything was covered in gently decorated sheets, and the walls were adorned with plants and pictures of natural settings. There was a cushioned table in the center of the room. This is where I was to lie down. A gently circulating mobile of tiny seagulls swayed above my head. The Shaman’s drum was resting against the wall in the corner. It was a very relaxing atmosphere. Best of all, there was no fat girl bumping me off the table with her enormous ass. I thanked the spirits for this.
I don’t want to go too much into the actual specific procedures of the soul retrieval. Generally, there was drumming, there were rituals that involved singing, rattling, breathing and journeying on the part of the Shaman. I can tell you that I felt as though I was going in pretty deep myself, and at times I had brief, yet extremely vivid visions. Some of these visions coincided, unbeknownst to me, with what the Shaman was exploring at the time. Synchronicity always fascinates me. It points up that connection that we all too often ignore. Overall, I felt relaxed and strangely safe. Another connection, possibly coincidence, possibly not, was that right as Myron began the procedure, crows began to caw loudly outside the window, and they stopped once the soul retrieval was complete. Crow is one of my allies, or spirit guides. The sound made me so happy I almost started laughing.
The post-soul retrieval consultation was what this whole thing was all about. It was just amazing.
The first thing I was told was that although before the procedure it seemed to Myron that I did not have any kind of intrusion or disembodied “spirit” (for lack of a better term), once he began, it became apparent that I did have one. He claimed that it was of an “angry female spirit”. He told me that he “sent it along on its way”. Without going into detail, I can honestly say that I understand completely what and who this spirit was and how it had been affecting me for so many years. He went on to tell me that he had been able to convince three different soul fragments to return to me. They were described as the 8, 11 and 14 year-old Ed. The times Myron sad that these soul parts fragmented coincided exactly with certain very difficult periods in my childhood. This was important for the ever-skeptical percentage of my brain that never seems to let up.
Beyond these two events, here are the things I was told about what was going on inside me, as told to my Shaman by Spirit:
I apparently have a “very, very sensitive soul”. This is hard to describe, but I have a tendency to be extremely empathetic towards other people. I do this to the point where I actually absorb things about them as I observe or interact with them. The upside is that this makes me closer to people I care about since I have a way of taking their experiences and emotions into myself. The downside is that along with the good, I also absorb the negativity, which after accumulating over a long period of time, becomes harmful to me. It also causes my soul to contract, creating the illusion of emptiness. After many years of taking in so much and discharging nothing, I’ve become tense, fearful and apprehensive of people I encounter in my everyday life. My true nature is empathy, caring and assistance. My outer shell had become about self-protection and aggression. He gave me a great procedure for discharging, on a daily basis, the influence of others I absorb inadvertently.
I was also told that I have “too much fire”. We are all made up of the elements, Earth, Fire, Water and Air. I need to balance myself out because I have an overabundance of fire. Those reading this, who know me fairly well, know exactly what this means and how accurate it is. I debate, argue, drink and generally interact with a little more intensity than is usually needed. Spirit gave Myron a ritual to pass along to me that I am to perform to pay tribute to the Earth, and also a few practical suggestions for balancing out. One of them was to bring plants, water and rocks into my living environment. It was pointed out that the place I currently live is not conducive to achieving that balance.
I was also given a new animal ally. This is the Otter. Spirit told Myron that this was the helper I needed right now to promote a better sense of play. Here’s the weird connection on that: On my first ever, formal attempt at journeying for a spirit guide, the first animal I encountered was an otter. I asked it, as I was instructed to, if it was my power animal. The otter seemed a bit annoyed, and said “NO!”, but then morphed into a dolphin, which then became my power animal. Later on, about a year ago, I had a journey in which I came upon Otter again. Without being asked any question, Otter told me “Not yet”. These are the only times I have ever seen animals in journeys that have rejected me as allies. I did not tell Myron about either of these two occurrences.
Myron also perceived the fact that I was surrounded by only females in my childhood. I grew up with my mother, my three sisters, my grandmother and my great aunt. I hadn’t told him anything about that either.
As I left the office, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. It seemed as though I were moving in slow motion, and it felt great. I had been hoping for some sort of discernable after-effects, but this was beyond anything I’d imagined. Nothing could faze me. I realized what I’d meant before about not feeling like myself, because at this moment, I felt fully and absolutely complete in a way that goes beyond my ability to express in words. At one point, I caught myself being absolutely fascinated by a dump truck and bulldozer working on a construction site. I’d stopped what I was doing and became absorbed in them completely. I slowly realized this was 8 year-old Ed reacting inside me. I started laughing out loud at the thought of it. I began to think more and more about the soul fragments that had come back to me. I could feel them like pieces of a puzzle, which now formed a coherent picture.
In the three hours I had to wait for the bus back to Chicago, I ate lunch at a local bar, and then walked to a park and sat by the water. I was moving more slowly than I could ever rationally give myself the patience to. Every thought entered my mind deliberately, and without doubt. I felt the confidence of being Ed, and loving every part of who I was. Something was lifted from me. Something else filled me. Everything was going to be all right, no matter what happened. I could see the fear and anger in some of the other people as I passed them in the street, but for the first time, it didn’t stick to me. It felt like I’d come home again, and I wondered why I’d stayed away so long.
On my return bus trip, which seemed to go on forever, I lucked out and sat without a seat partner all the way to Rockford, Illinois. It was at this stop that I was accompanied by tank-top-wearing, shaved-head, incoherent, swaying drunk guy. After a few brief attempts at conversation, Drunky became enamored with something in the back of the bus, lucky for me. I was exhausted. I slept part of the way, and stared out the window, dazed, the rest of the trip. We pulled into Chicago a little after 8:30pm.
I’ve gained so much from this experience, although it took only about 90 minutes to perform. As I write this, three days after the fact, I feel strongly the profound effects this experience has had upon me. Skeptics will scoff and others will try to explain it away with scientific logic. But the open mind will realize that the work of our ancestors was not that of less intelligent or less enlightened persons than ourselves. As a matter of fact, exactly the opposite. The practice of soul healing by the Shaman or Medicine Man or whatever you label him or her has been going on since the dawn of humanity, and has only become obscured exclusively by those cultures that have become immersed in the technology of convenience. All I know is that if all people in our culture could experience what I did on July 14th, this would be an entirely more rational and peaceful landscape upon which we exist.
Hopefully, someone reading this will think “That sounds cool’, and look into it for themselves. I will gladly offer and knowledge or assistance I can to anyone.
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