Soul Retrieval by Sandra Ingerman – August BBBR

Soul Retrievel: Mending the Fragmented Self
Sandra Ingerman
HarperCollins, 1991
224 pages

This month’s Bargain Bin Book Review was of interest to me both as a shamanic practitioner and as a future therapist. The author has a Master’s in counseling psychology, the same degree I’m working toward, and I was curious to see where her psychological background would come into play in this integral part of shamanic practice.

Ingerman does a very thorough job of describing the soul retrieval process, though she cautions the reader that the book should not be one’s only source, and that in-person training is suggested. I’m not sure how much I agree with that, particularly given that the author and her cohorts with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies do, or have in the past, offer such workshops. However, do be aware that this is not beginner-level materal, and shamanic practitioners should have a good bit of journeying under their belt, as well as good relationships with spiritual allies before embarking on this work. This is a great resource to have, though, if you are ready to try soul retrieval, either on yourself or others.

It also includes a really nice selection of anecdotes, more than many books. This serves to illustrate more fully the process of soul retrieval as well as the effects it has. The many testimonies from her clients say quite a bit not only about her experience but also her effectiveness. It’s well-balanced between how-to and anecdotal information.

She does come from a core shamanic background, but I was pleased to see that she acknowledged that journeying isn’t necessarily a safe thing, nor did she conflate journeying with guided meditations. Her main concerns with dangers in journeying, including during soul retrieval, were with the integrity of the shaman’s soul, as well as parasitic spirits “hanging on” on the way back out of the journey. And there was some discussion of what to do when the soul of the client doesn’t want to come back, or is stuck.

While there are occasional things I personally disagree with, overall I think this is a great text. Once I’m ready to do soul retrieval in practice, this will be an invaluable guide.

Five pawprints out of five.

Want to buy this book?



  1. Kelley said,

    August 9, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    She really has her head on straight, I think. She is one of the Harnerites who has gone out and started her own affiliate group (SSP) that is very much based celebrating indigenous cultures of shamanism. I think she is still connected with FSS but she’s clearly put herself out there as not a company girl. Unless there is an updated edition of this book, when I read it years ago it was greatly lacking in integrative work, which I found surprising given her credentials. Doing integration and possibly behaviour modification is in some ways more significant than soul retrieval, itself. At the end of the day it’s not that hard to bring them back (or send them on, as the case may be–and I don’t recall her addressing that facet of retrieval either), but how to process it and move forward is not intuitive to most people. They really need a footprint in psychology or some form of counseling for followup.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. syncreticmystic said,

    August 17, 2009 at 6:20 am

    Lupa, if you ever find it, definitely get Ingerman’s Welcome Home, which is something of a “sequal” to Soul Retrieval and covers the integration aspects of healing as well as life after healing.
    Given its potential to go badly (or just get scary or weird), I think this is something that should be taught by someone who knows well what they’re doing. There are people who are not FSS, though, who will teach it. That’s how I learned many years ago. Also doing it with someone nearby to have your back is just a good thing to me.

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