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I'll Shut Up - Right After This

Recovering lost pieces of the soul

The rain kept coming, and the sound of it flying sideways onto the windows all night went well with the mixture of black and mint tea and reading to each other in bed. We thought it would be great to get a head-to-toe rain suit and hike in it, then sit and let it hit your full body, but we were too chicken and it was fun enough to drive the kids up and down the creek, standing on the banks, inches from the plunging whitewater, speculating if we could walk across the creek without getting swept away, which we assured the kids &

you couldn&

t and don&

t even think of trying.

— — — John Darling

And here it was New Year&

s Eve again, recalling the flood on this night eight years ago, when we were celebrating in the old Primavera Restaurant and looked down and noticed our feet were in an inch of water &

soon to gut the Plaza and have us all using portapotties in front of Safeway and showers in semi trucks by the college.

Friends complain about the day-after-day rain, one saying he might have to resort to drink and I think, imagine if a storm like this &

as Longfellow said of spring &

came once a century, &

what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change!&

It is a slight cruelty that Monday should come the day after New Year&

s and it inspires us to take off to the Collins Tea House in Jacksonville for some newly-baked Danish goodies and to play hooky for the day, impulsively buying each other rings in the Sacred World store, presenting them to each other with much flair and tenderness in front of the J&

ville tavern &

and spending the hours over tea talking about &

soul retrieval,&

apropos the lecture of Annie Fuller the night before at Metaphysical Library.


s something shamans do. They&

ve got soul and they find yours. They get a power animal and, to the accompaniment of drums and rattles, go on a shamanic journey with this creature, who is a friend or ally in the spirit world, a being who helps you heal ailments in self or other, find answers to important questions or obtain a vision necessary for a good life.

The Metaphysical Library is packed and by a show of hands, most of them had done shamanic journeying and soul retrieval. How did it feel, Annie asks, getting a missing piece of your soul back? Wonderful, they say, whole, like a huge stress or depression is lifted off you. Like something missing is found.

She tells stories of &

soul loss,&

usually traumas like car wrecks, breakups, death of a loved one, rape, war &

times when, in an act of self-preservation, some part of you says, &

OK, folks, I don&

t want to be here, so maybe I&

ll catch you later and maybe not.&

Once, she says, a person got in a bad collision and after recovering from burns and injuries, was never the same. Nagging fear, sadness, not really trusting in life. Our term for it is post-traumatic stress. Theirs is soul loss.

So Annie journeys with her and the power animal guides her to the spot of the accident and finds part of the soul of this person in a bunch of rocks off the side of the road and brings it back and the shaman blows it into her &

and &

that missing something&

is no longer missing.

But of course, we say over our tea, it only makes sense. It&

s a bit childlike, kind of something out of the Lion King or Narnia, but then, that&

s the charm, isn&

t it? It&

s so innocent, this act of having an invisible playmate, an animal who is always there for/with you, who takes you for magic healings of woundings inflicted in the harsh world of adult humans.


s like that Thomas Moore Book, &

The Reenchantment of Everyday Life.&

I think reading that title was worth the price of the book. And everyone here at this lecture wants that &

that, as Buffy St. Marie once sang, Goddess is alive, magic is afoot.

Someone asks what about drugs, do they help? She and many others say, no, it just confuses things and brings in too much we can&

t handle. Magic is already here. It&

s part of life already and all the indigenous peoples &

including us civilized folk &

knew that in tribal times and worked with it and respected it and were loved and cared for by our &

imaginary playmate&

animals, of whom the teddy bear, taken to bed and loved through the years, is a faint echo.

We play a game over our tea: OK, name five times when you could have had soul loss. It&

s easy to name them. Most aren&

t accidents, but rather, relationships stuff &

loss, pain, betrayal, misunderstanding &

with those we loved, including the act of our births, which we knew was done in hospitals, with forceps pulling on our heads, with mom bonked on drugs.

So, how would an animal, let alone a &

spirit animal,&

know or care about us and want to help heal us? Well, it&

s the idea that not only all people are connected, but all life is connected or, as this random quote, from Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, just now appearing in my e-mail, notes, &

The Bible reminds us that when one part of a body is in pain, the whole person feels it. If anyone is living less than a proper human life, we&

re all poorer for it.&

In short (Donne), no man is an island.

I guess that&

s why my helpful spirit giraffe has done so much for me, for so long. He feels it, too, and like the teddy bear I had as an often hurting little kid, he wants to make it all better.

Contact John Darling, M.S., an Ashland writer and counselor, at jdarling@jeffnet.org.