I have now been doing spirit release as well as psychopomp work for quite a while.
I can tell you when I received “official” training it (I think my first course was in 2005?) through physical teachers, but I have interacted with spirits and beings, as well as have had strange dreams “working” with spirits since I was a child… before I really was conscious of what I was fully doing, and before I realized that my “imaginary” friends as a child were perhaps not-so-imaginary.
I also teach psychopomp and spirit work to people. I do so to people who are ready to work with my approach– which is essentially non-adversarial and non-fear based. Basically, I work in concert with the spirit realms. I do not consider myself to have dominion over them, and I do not consider them to be psychologically based. This approach is quite different than a lot of people currently who do “spiritual work” and teach “shamanic” work.
Due to my background, I don’t have anything really against most spirits and beings. They can, in fact, be easier to get along with than living humans. I don’t mean to suggest the perception that discernment is not necessary, or that they are all “love and light”, but in general a fair amount of my life I have been much more comfortable interacting with spirits and beings than with a fair amount of living humans.
I talk about it quite a bit, but the mainstream “shamanic” theory is now that spirits are psychological, that they are disassociated aspects of the personality, or shadow, or whatever the trendy pop-psychology terms are at the moment. This is really unfortunate, for quite a few reasons. I could go on a large rant about this (and I have previously) but basically the spiritual has been distilled down to a sort of mental exercise, visualizations, techniques to learn, and has joined forces with the self-help movement.
I used to have a fair amount of anger about this, but I have let it go with the realization that people find the correct understandings in their own time. There is a reason why all of these mainstream “be your own shaman” and “you are special because you are a (shaman, starseed, empath, indigo, insert trendy word here)” type movements are so popular, and as they become increasingly divorced from actual spiritual work… and become more and more mental /visual exercises, and more and more focused on techniques… they continue to lose their essence. When something loses its essence it loses its power, basically. But most people are afraid of power, and most “spiritual practitioners” would likely run screaming in the other direction if an actual spirit showed up,so this isn’t a big deal for a lot of people, because it really isn’t what they are looking for out of “shamanism”.
I do think that most people, if they are really and truly looking for the “truth” or a teacher or practitioner who does more than the psychological or self-help type shamanic approach, they will find it when they are ready to.
But I digress…
The difficulty in doing spirit release work 99 percent of the time the living human.
I realize that sounds strange, but living humans are strange. Their approach to the spiritual realms is strange.
This is shown in our pop culture, where anything that might even resemble a spirit has to be “feared and cleared”– basically forced out of the house or area that they are noticed in. The funny thing about this is that the spirit may not be doing any harm. It may just be there. You may simply be somewhere they have been for hundreds of years. There are so many spirits in this world and most people simply don’t notice them.
I will say that this pattern is different for when a spirit is attached to someone. This is rightfully a matter of some concern– although we are a sort of grouping of energies from different sources, different roots… really the only person, the only consciousness in our body is intended to be, well… us.
The interesting thing about doing spirit release is that the difficult is rarely the spirit. Even if the spirit or being is angry, bent on destruction, full-on demonic (you catch my drift) generally they are more reasonable than the living human client. The spirit or being often needs to be negotiated with, they need to be reminded of certain things, and things might be somewhat difficult (or simple, or quite difficult) in that process for the spiritual worker.
But the real hang-ups have to do with the living client. This doesn’t happen all the time, of course, but sometimes people get really hooked into the drama of having something spiritual happen to them. They create loops of fear– and will often feel as if devastating forces are destroying their lives, and they will list chaos after fear after drama about their story and journey due to this.
I have also worked with many living humans who have created stories of spirits and energies, or who inwardly have so much emotion– fear, anger, anxiety, grief– that their thoughts and emotions are actually creating spiritual activity (commonly known as “pk”) or a conscious being (such as a “poltergeist”). Until this living client deals with their emotions, learns how to take responsibility for them and process them appropriately, no amount of clearing or psychopomp work will be of assistance.
There are also living humans who have created “spirits”, “demons” and so forth out of their own psyches. They have had trauma occur (over-simplifying here) and it was too overwhelming to consider that it came from a parent, or mentor, or teacher, and so this mental fracturing has created a “demon” (or ET, spirit, etc) that is invading them because the consideration that someone in human form has done something atrocious to them is too much to bear.
This is not 100 percent of scenarios, however, so careful differentiation must be made about what is actually happening in every scenario, with appropriate referrals all in the interest in the client receiving the help that they need to get well, whatever that might be.
Living humans are complex, with resistance and trauma and many subconscious and nonconscious forces guiding them to come to the decisions and realizations that they do in their lives. Although spirits can be complex, they do not tend to have the resistance that living humans do. They do not have as much need for story, typically. And they often do not have as much need for drama or chaos. They also tend to negotiate more readily than living humans do.
I fully recognize here that I am someone who has been interacting with spirits their whole life, and that to someone who has not, having an experience with even one spirit, attached or not, might create a lot of fear and outright panic. I am actually really compassionate towards that fact. I am compassionate towards people who have the luxury of believing that all of this stuff is psychological. I am increasingly compassionate towards even the pop-psychology new-age shamanism movement (this is still a work-in-progress at times)
When you are doing actual spiritual work, you have to determine which clients are self-creating and disassociating aspects of themselves, and which are experiencing something that has attached from the outside in. This is not terribly difficult, however, if you know how to look for it, as they manifest differently. Some aspects of disassociation/self-creation can really be helped by spiritual work, by the way, it just depends on the individual situation.
The most difficult thing is to determine what clients, and by that I mean living humans, are willing to heal from this type of experience if they do have a spirit or being attached to them. Some living humans will get so hooked into their story, so hooked into the spirit or being, that they do not want to let them go. I realize that this sounds odd, but it is often the living human that stops whatever is attached from them from releasing.
Also, having a spirit attachment can create difficulty. Real physical, emotional, and spiritual difficulty. In some cases it can create a lot of difficulty. But the spirit is never responsible for 100 percent of the difficulty. There is always personal trauma, energetic imbalances, and other issues that are underlying most (not all) spirit attachments. Even if it is only 1 percent something going on with the client, the spirit not only needs to be released but that 1 percent needs to be worked on as well.
Unlike is believed in the current “shamanic” movement, I do not believe that it is the fault of the client for the attachment (even if they were doing some weird magic that backfired, or were voluntarily possessed… I still have compassion because it is not like they wanted things to turn out that way). I do not think it was weakness, or they caused something so it happened. Sometimes it is just being in a bad place at a bad time. Sometimes it is about the person being sensitive and attracting more spirits to them naturally and not having the skills to handle it. Sometimes it is because of energetic openings, but even then, we cannot do something about our past energetic openings in our field. It is our choice to work to work with anything underlying so it doesn’t happen again, though.
Some clients do not want to hear this. They want to believe that all of their problems were because of the spirit attachment. Hearing that they may have “homework” to do, or that they need to focus on healing patterns of trauma (especially in complex attachment situations) or that all of their difficulties in life were not as a result of this experience is something that some do not wish to reconcile.
Until someone is willing to work with underlying patterns, especially in complex cases of spirit attachment, the experience is likely to simply repeat itself.
There is also a lot of fear with experiences like this. If I could tell you the amount of clients who have written to me telling me that they have some sort of dangerous situation going on and I need to protect myself because of x, y, and z… (well, I guess I just did). I do not wish to be cavalier about this subject at all– good protection and good spiritual working relationships that can protect you are really essential in this work… but most of this fear is really self-perpetuating. By that I mean that if you are in a situation that is “spiritual” you may define it as the worst, darkest, most dangerous thing ever… not realizing that it may not be as negative or difficult as you are making it out to be.
Often some of this fear comes from the spirit itself. It may be afraid of moving on. That is fairly common, in fact. But emotions create. They color and create our world along with our thoughts. And what typically happens is that it is just a former human that it is a bit upset or scared that is attached to them, and it is a relatively simple fix… as long as the client is willing to release them.
Sometimes there is something difficult going on. Another difficulty of the shamanic psychotherapeutic movement is that those type of practitioners often do not have relationships with any outer spirits or guardians to protect them. If you believe everything is psychological, you do not cultivate spiritual relationships, especially ones that have any power, or can protect you. So sometimes people will relate how their last practitioner got attacked or sick or something like that in a really fearful way, and often it is because the practitioner simply didn’t know what they were doing, or didn’t have the appropriate amount of experience (spirit release is a specialized field of sorts). In spiritual work if you are operating on your own “juice” and you come up against something that isn’t just a mental something or other, it can make you not feel well, and the spirit will know it. Some of the time in these situations the practitioner knew they were over their head and freaked out, rather than something attacking them… but in many cases it has to do with them not knowing how to cultivate relationships with spirits who can protect them against anything that isn’t psychologically-based.
I have had some people contact me I have said I will not work with because I know I cannot be of service to them. This is often someone who has a “spirit” that they have been to twenty or more practitioners to get released and nothing has happened. I am the first person to call out crappy practitioners, but if you have gone to twenty spiritual workers, chances are that one of them is going to have an idea of how to help you.
This person feels the need for this situation in their lives.. usually a complex psychological reason. And until they are willing to let this spirit go, it will remain. Interestingly enough, the spirit or being may be more than ready to go (it may, in fact, be begging to be let go) and the living person will hesitate.
I will also say that for spiritual work to be effective you really need to be in a place of enough clarity and wherewithal to have change occur in your life. And some people are not ready for change. Changing any sort of dynamics of our existence is a big deal, no matter how mentally/physically/emotionally healthy we may be, and nobody outer can force us to change if we are not ready to do so, even if that outer person has a lot of power, ability, etc.
But one of the biggest ramifications of merging psychology and spiritual work is that there is no longer a clear differentiation between them. While many people could use spiritual work, and are receiving psychotherapeutic-style work instead, there are also many people who need psychological help, and are not receiving it. Until someone is mentally healthy enough, and balanced enough, to accept changes in their lives, spiritual work does not have as large of an impact as it could, and can lead to someone spending a lot of money (and time) seeking out shamans when a counselor down the street might have helped them to get to the point where they felt ready for significant, life-changing spiritual work.