Reclaiming my Shamanic Roots

Author’s Note: Names and places have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved, as well as the sacred space Hogsback where this event took place. This incident is the true story of how I experienced my first soul retrieval under the most incredible circumstances.

The pain in my neck and shoulder was excruciating.  The nearer we got to Hogsback, the worse it became. I sat huddled in the car, with my friend, Lucille at the wheel.  We journeyed through the richness of the Amatola Mountains, and blinded by pain, I was oblivious to the beauty of the lush indigenous forests, rivers and waterfalls of the Eastern Cape. I was still trying to cope with the terrible grief of the fifth, unexpected, and unnatural death in the immediate family within a short space of time.

For days now, an inner voice had been urging me to leave the workshop I had been conducting in Port Elizabeth and to travel to Hogsback. “Why?” I kept on asking myself.  Hogsback was never part of my itinerary. I simply did not have the time, or money, to visit “World’s End” Spiritual Retreat Centre, perched on the side of the mountain, overlooking a valley of cascading waterfalls and pools of multi-coloured flowers.

Not referred to at all in western medical books, soul loss is regarded as the gravest diagnosis in the shamanic culture, because for shamans the world over, illness has always been a spiritual problem; resulting
in a loss of essential life force. They believe that when an event is too painful to handle, we become so deeply wounded that an aspect of our soul goes into hiding, and that, when this happens, the aura (human energy field) loses some of its lustre.  Soul Loss can happen as the result of any kind of trauma e.g. the loss of a loved one, divorce, being hi-jacked, raped, being attacked, retrenched etc. Shamans believe that if the soul detaches from the patient completely, the patient will die, but if the soul parts can be retrieved, the individual can be restored to harmony and well-being.

In my case, each time I lost a loved one, another wounded aspect of my soul had detached and gone into hiding. The pain in my shoulder was a physical manifestation of the emotional pain inside, and all the lost soul parts were now demanding attention.

When we arrived at World’s End Guest House, our hostess, Dawn, dressed in a pair of comfortable blue slacks and white casual shirt came to meet us.  “Welcome to Hogsback”, she said, reaching out one sun tanned, healthy looking hand to greet us, her kind features creasing into a welcoming smile. This was the first time we had met, and although I noticed the lovely blue colour of her eyes, and her petite slim build, I did not remember her spiritually.

Before commencing with our meal that evening, Sheena, Lucille, Dawn and I joined hands around the well-scrubbed, wooden table.  A fire danced merrily in the fireplace, enhancing the cosy atmosphere of the room.   Dawn had cooked a delicious rice and lentil stew which we ate while we chatted. 

Then it happened!  As I put the last spoon of food into my mouth, it felt as though I had been struck by lightning!  A shaft of blinding, white light lanced out of the heavens and hit me.   An incredible heat pulsed through my body, I felt as though I was burning up.   Then, suddenly I began to shiver, and the room began to spin.  “I am going to pass out”, I thought.  I felt giddy and nauseous.  The pain in my shoulder intensified.  “What on earth is happening”, I thought. An unseen presence filled the room and telepathically, I was told, “This is spiritual, not physical.” 
I excused myself and stumbled from the dining room embarrassed, blinded by pain and completed disorientated, I went to my room and fell onto my bed with the room still spinning around me.    I lay there wondering what was going on.  I could still hear a discarnate voice whispering, “This is spiritual, not physical.”

The others finished their meal and I heard Sheena leave.  “I may as well go to bed”, I thought, perhaps I am ill?  I try to get undressed but cannot lift my right arm above my head.

Very concerned, Lucille entered the room to find out what was happening. “Lucille, please come and help me undress”, I asked in agony and confusion.  She helped me to change into my pyjamas. Dawn came into the room and began to rub my aching shoulder with healing oils.   As she gently massaged the soreness, tears begin pour down my cheeks.

“You are carrying a lot of pain. Let it go, let it go”, said Dawn.
I began to cry uncontrollably, “I am so sorry, I am so sorry”, I sobbed.
“You are using the pain to atone.  “This is karma”, Dawn explains in a gentle tone of voice.
“What did I do?” I asked through floods of tears.  “What did I do?” 
“I will have to ask the Village Chief”, Dawn replied.
“Ask the Chief?”  I thought mystified, “am I going crazy?”

Apart from Lucille and myself, there was one else in the room. 

Then, Dawn looked across the room, at the huge, fat, grey cat lying on the bed next to me.
“Oh, no”, now I am really going insane”, the thought flashes through my mind. “Smokey, the Cat, is the Village Chief?  It can’t be.”
I gazed entranced, as they exchanged telepathic thoughts, their auras flickering in unison.  They were talking to one another.  The Village Chief had reincarnated as Dawn’s cat!

Suddenly, the room vanished, and we all flipped back about three hundred years, to an Indian Village, somewhere in North America.  Dawn shape shifts into an Indian Medicine Man, named “Grey Wolf.”  I became “Running Dear” his apprentice and Smokey, the cat, the Tribal Chief.

“What did I do?” I ask again.

Smokey, originally the Tribal Chief telepathically communicates a message across to Grey Wolf, who is now a Native American Indian Medicine Man dressed in skins, wearing the pelt of a small grey wolf on the top of his head.

“You committed adultery.”
“I see you, my brother.”  I don’t recognise the sound of my voice.  My body had changed into that of a Native American young Indian woman, with long, thick, black hair parted in the middle and plaited down each side.

“I beg of you, please forgive me, and please forgive me, my teacher.  Tell me what happened”, I pleaded with Grey Wolf.

“Your birth was predicted three years before the event, and although I was getting on in years, I waited patiently for your arrival.  I spent years in preparation, saving and recording secrets, growing and drying the herbs you would need. The land was arid. Deep chasms and gorges gouged their way through the earth.  We survived by cultivating small garden plots of corn, squash and beans.    The tribe was experiencing great hardship because of the drought and diminishing buffalo herds, and I was concerned that I would die before my knowledge was passed on.  The day of your birth, there were great celebrations in the tribe, because the stars had revealed that a very old soul had been born, who would bring great wisdom and healing to the tribe.  You were destined to be a great master of ecstasy. As soon as you could walk, I took you into my tepee and began to teach you the ways of the shaman.”

As he spoke, I remembered how, before my birth into that tribe, I had prepared for many lifetimes to do this work.  I had brought with me gifts of prophesy, lucid dreaming, healing, divination, the ability to enter a trance state at will and strong links with the Spirit World. To be singled out as Grey Wolf’s apprentice, was the greatest honour the Tribe could bestow on me. I respected my teacher and worshipped the ground that he walked on.

While all this was happening, my friend, Lucille, who sat watching, had also changed into a young Indian maiden, named “Running Water.”  She was my older sister, and her job was to commune with the nature spirits and gather water for the people. We were people of peace and abhorred violence.

As the memories flooded back, I also recalled having and younger sister, Little Dove, and a brother, named Rising Sun, in that incarnation. Rising Sun and I were very close.  He had a white wolf as a pet and was very much a free spirit, roaming the countryside and never staying in one place very long.

Only a few years separated Little Dove and myself, and she was always jealous because, I was the “Chosen One.”  She had to do all the cooking and cleaning and menial work while I could study with Grey Wolf.   She was filled with jealousy and resentment because I got all the attention and that I was forever away on long trips.

All the time this scene was being re-enacted, in the present time, I was experiencing incredible surges of power. It was as though lightning constantly pulsed through my body which struggling to cope with all the knowledge being reactivated at a cellular level.

The story of Running Deer continued to play itself out. As the day of my final initiation drew nearer, tribes gathered from all over the continent, they came from near and far.  This was the day I had waited for, for so many incarnations.
Everyone loved and respected me.  I was a woman of great power, great knowledge, and great love, who could foretell the future and climate changes from the stars.  No animal feared me, and I communicated with nature with the greatest of ease.

I had passed all my initiations and my final initiation was to resist sexual temptation before being allowed to qualify. Grey Wolf had warned me that should I ever lie with a man, my powers would be diminished, my psychic abilities stunted, and my healing abilities affected.

In the same village, lived a very attractive man called ‘Great Steer’.  Tall, bronzed, well built, with finely chiselled features, and piercing black eyes, he was betrothed to another. Great Steer was one of the best hunters in the village. He was forever watching me and in very subtle ways, which flattered me.    Only 17, I was naïve and impressionable.  I had a great spiritual love for Grey Wolf, and he warned me that, soon Great Steer would begin to give me gifts and make me promises. 

The going was tough because the last initiations were the worst.  My skin was pierced with hooks, I had to fast and take many journeys to the lower world.  I had to be the strongest and the path was very lonely.  Although very vulnerable at the time, I managed to resist Great Steer’s advances.  My calling was stronger than my desire!  The more I resisted him, the more determined he became to win my favour, until finally weakened and exhausted by my initiations, I relented, and we became lovers.

I confided in Little Dove about Great Steer and told her we had become lovers.  Jealousy prevailed and with great relish, she recounted my story to my father and the village elders. 

A tribal council was called, and I was summoned to attend.  Many witnesses were called to testify but could not find fault with me.  They all described how Great Steer constantly harassed me with sexual advances and how time and time again I demanded that he leave me alone.  As one after the other, the people testified my innocence and the people became more and more enraged towards Great Steer.  He was taken out and whipped and because I had broken my vow of celibacy, and my powers contaminated, I was cast into exile. Someone else took over the duties as medicine woman to the tribe, but it was not the same. Shortly thereafter Grey Wolf died of a broken heart. All these events resulted in great soul loss for me in that incarnation, and because those soul parts had never been reclaimed, a time loop had formed between that life and this, when history repeated itself, in an almost identical sequence of events.

By now I was exhausted from all the crying, but the pain in my shoulder had vanished. Dawn and Lucille put me to bed and left the room, but the enchantment continued all night. As I fell asleep and began to dream, slowly the room filled with light. One by one, Running Water, my sister, brings me my family; Little Dove my younger sister, and Rising Sun my brother.  I also embraced two younger brothers.  Somehow, I felt like a very old medicine woman.  Holograms of Running Water and Grey Wolf remained in my room all night. They showed me how to reactivate my shamanic knowledge; reminded me about the importance of ritual, and of healing the soul.  Running Water opens her hands and a golden butterfly appears, as it flies away, it dissolves into gold dust power.  My room remained filled with people from my village all night. We sat in a tepee, smoked a peace pipe, talked and danced.  Forgiven, my final initiation was granted to me.

I woke up the next morning, feeling calm, and refreshed knowing that all the facets of my soul, lost through grief in that incarnation, had been returned. I was now whole and complete.  

This experience, re-kindled and I began conducting workshops on Shamanism. I blended them with African traditions, drumming, dancing, ritual and ceremony. I was constantly amazed how people who had never touched a drum in their lives, were quickly able to enthusiastically beat out a pulse, and rhythmically dance away their inhibitions. It did not matter to which culture they belonged; the memories of Shamanism still ran richly in their blood; just waiting to be reawakened. People delighted in performing rituals and ceremonies, as though their souls hungered for something ancient and spiritual. Something that the West could not provide; something that had been lost in intellectual and professional circles; the rituals and ceremonies took away their feelings of isolation, gave them back their power, and enriched their personal lives.

Shamanism in all its forms has profound truths. It is possible that we have been brought together at this time because we have profound truths to share and a crucial role to play in saving the planet.

Toward that end, I offer the wisdom of the African ancestors; all the wisdom I have brought forward from previous incarnations, everything I have learnt in this life, and the richness of the encounters I have had with the indigenous people of Africa.

Epilogue: I have also reconnected with Rising Son my brother, and Little Dove my sister, in this incarnation. That however, is another story yet to be told.

©Katharine Lee Kruger – Extract from ‘Activate Your Inner Shaman’, on-line course on