by Dr. Alberto Villoldo: In the last blog you journeyed to the mythical Eden, back to the Mother that we were separated from when we adopted the belief that we were cast from the garden…
In the next few journeys you will take the same journey down to meet the gatekeeper of the four domains of the soul.
This is an imaginal being who guards the entryway to the unconscious, an archetype known by many names in many different cultures. In the Inka traditions, this gatekeeper is known as Huascar. The gatekeep can appear as male or female, or both.
When you journey to the Lower World, you will call out to Huascar, asking for permission to enter and for guidance from the Lord of Life and Death, the keeper of the seasons, a luminous archetype that will escort you and provide you counsel.
To mend your past, you must first journey to the Chamber of Wounds and discover the story of your original wounding. This chamber contains information about the root of your harmful emotional or health patterns—how it happened, who the perpetrators were, when it occurred, and how the story continues to live within you. Traveling to this chamber won’t heal you—that will happen later. This is just the first step toward healing.
In the Chamber of Wounds, you’ll find a sort of play or drama going on that shows the stories that live within you and that choreograph your world. Remember that the unconscious speaks in the language of dreams and fairy tales—in other words, what you find in the Chamber of Wounds may not be what actually happened, but it’s how you remember it, and this memory defines the plot of your life. The details of the story are only significant in that they reveal the underlying patterns created by the original wound—the story by itself is of no value (as you’ll later come to realize, you’re not your stories or your history). But you will be able to engage in dialogue with the figures you find there in order to understand the themes that live in the deep structures of your psyche.
People who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder relive painful events as emotional memories throughout their lives, even though the emotional or physical experience occurred long ago. This is because time and clocks don’t exist for the limbic brain—so a difficult situation at work can trigger an entire sequence of stress memories, which play themselves out in the synaptic highways of the brain.
When we journey to the Chamber of Wounds—we want to observe the event, not reengage it. Reliving a traumatic incident is often more destructive than the incident itself, because by doing so we’re forced to repeat painful emotions with no context.
In soul retrieval, we can change the way we perceived the original event that wounded us, thereby changing all of our future emotional and physiological responses to it—we can actually reroute neural pathways in the brain to elicit joy instead of pain. Thus, when we engage in soul retrieval, we want the benefits to be received at the levels of the spirit, soul, mind, and body. We don’t just want to bring back an insight that would only be understood intellectually, we want the core transformation of our beliefs, our behaviors, and even our neurophysiology.
You’re almost ready to journey to the Chamber of Wounds. Know that this happens in a place of peace and stillness—the more you can find in your own life, the more clarity you’ll bring to the journey.
The original wound you discover in your journey will come to you in the form of a story. When you enter the chamber, you may see a complicated scene taking place in front of you, for example: people shouting at each other, someone having his hand put into a fire, somebody screaming in the background, an old woman knitting, and so on. The beauty of it is that you can go to any of these people and ask, “What’s happening here? What’s going on? What’s the story?” and they’ll reveal the way your original wound lives within you, although they may not accurately represent the way it factually happened.
The events you find may also seem unfamiliar because you might encounter soul parts that are so alienated and exiled that it’s too painful to recognize them as your own. These are the shadow parts of yourself that you shut out, which you often project onto other people. These projections cause you to lash out at others because you see in them the qualities you don’t like in yourself. So when you encounter your shadow self in the Lower World (along with the wounds it suffered), you may not recognize it as part of you.
We can also project the positive parts of ourselves onto someone else, or our shadow can be those attributes we wish we had: a shinier, more beautiful, smarter, and more powerful version of ourselves. In the soul-retrieval journey, we’ll learn to shine light on our shadow selves so that we can reclaim our disowned selves. As we embark upon this journey, I encourage you to trust the process, and remember that we’re leaving the ordered realm of reason and logic and are entering into the realm of magic and intuition.