On Shamans, Soul Retrievals and Past-Life Experiences
By Robert Ross



Eager to view a past life, I visited Shamanic Counselor and Past-Life Therapist, Kathleen Downey. I wasn’t looking for anything dramatic in my past lives... nor was I expecting to find out that I was Joan of Arc or Julius Caesar. I just wanted a glimpse. What I ended up seeing though (of a past life), was beyond anything imaginable!

Kathleen began her journey as a Shaman and Past-Life Therapist the hard way. A series of near-death experiences and life-threatening illnesses put her on a road from successful singer and actress in New York, to Shaman and healer in Colorado and California. This road less traveled to becoming a healer, wound its way out of New York to New Hope, Pennsylvania, where Downey spent many years learning her craft. From Pennsylvania, Downey headed west to Boulder, CO and then on to Encinitas, California. Today, Downey currently maintains practices in both Colorado and California.

Shaman-ism, according to Downey’s promotional brochure, is “not a religion. It does not require worship nor does it follow any written scripture; it is an ancient spiritual tradition that has existed for forty thousand years, predating and forming the basis for many of the world’s greatest religions. The function of the tribal shaman is the same today as it was in the past, to heal the mind, body and spirit. The journey of the Shaman is a journey beyond time and death, into the realm of spirit; thus allowing the Shaman to become the link between matter and spirit, an instrument to tap into knowledge as old as humanity itself.”

My Journey
Nestled a mile or so east of the 5 freeway in Encinitas, California, one finds an upscale neighborhood. One would expect a neighborhood of doctors and lawyers rather than shamans and healers. As I wound my way up the tree-lined streets, I was somewhat apprehensive. After all, this was my first experience with a Shaman healer, and my first venture into exploring past lives.

Downey greeted me at the door and we proceeded upstairs to her office. After formalities were exchanged, I quizzed Downey on her journey to becoming a healer. She explained it was long, and wrought with health challenges that would eventually lead her to self healing, using shamanistic techniques. Now, after more than fifteen years of working with herbal remedies and many years of intensive study in the healing methods of the Shaman — with anthropologists, psychologists, historians and indigenous healers from North and South America, including the Q’ero considered to be the last Incan tribe — Downey has moved from self-healing to sharing her wisdom of ancient healing knowledge with others.

I kicked off my shoes and lay on a mattress in the corner of Downey’s office. She laid a small rectangular-shaped bean bag over my eyes. The bag blocked out all light and was quite comforting. I would be wearing head phones while listening to ancient drumming sounds. According to Downey, these were rhythms which were developed by shamans and used for the past forty thousand years. The drumming was at a low volume so that I could hear Downey as she guided me on my journey. There was a microphone attached to my shirt which recorded any observations on a cassette tape that I made during my journey. The tape would be given to me for future reference.

Downey had explained to me earlier that the knowledge of our past-life experiences serves as a healing in the present, releasing us from guilt, phobias, fears, and especially from the ultimate fear of death.

I lay on the mattress eagerly awaiting my adventure as she shook a rattle, performing a shamanistic ceremony. During my journey I was instructed to look for my power animal. Once found, this animal would play a key role in what I saw. My power animal turned out to be a majestic looking wolf, who would take me on an adventure, eventually showing me a past life that would be beneficial to my current circumstances.

My power animal showed me a host of images that Downey would interpret at the end of the session. When I asked my power animal to show me a past life that would have lessons for my current life, I was taken to the bottom of the sea and shown a beautiful purplish sea plant, that was flowing back and forth with the currents. I immediately saw the parallels... go with the flow, follow the currents.

My session with Downey was fascinating, but the best was yet to come. As we completed the two-hour session, Downey suggested a “Soul Retrieval.” A date was set for a few days later.

Soul Retrieval
Referring to Downey’s brochure, Soul Retrieval is described thus: “from the moment we are born we become exposed to trauma, illness and the unforeseen incidence of accident. With these experiences we can lose part of our essence, energy or soul. This part of us becomes numb, lost to the experience of trauma. Emotional, mental and physical trauma keeps a part of us numb so that we are unable to deal with life and call upon our given resources fully, as if we are not completely all there and fully aware. Receiving back the part of our essence that we lost in these times of wounding and trauma restores us to our lives and our full human potential.”

I arrived in the early afternoon. Downey greeted me at the door, and we proceeded up to her office. Shoes off, it was back on the mattress. The soul retrieval session seemed to last well over an hour. It involved me lying on my back, with the bean bag over my eyes. Downey performed a shamanistic ceremony and then apparently lay on the floor next to me so that my left forearm was touching her right forearm. I went into what could only be described as a profoundly relaxed state, with very few thoughts or images floating through my mind. Apparently, the arms touching had created a bridge so that she was able to capture images, thoughts or feelings from my conscious and subconscious mind.

After the session ended, Downey proceeded to discuss elements of my past that were uncannily accurate. She also was able to pick up on a past life which involved my mother. She asked me about my relationship with my mother and I indicated it had been fine, but distant. Downey said that in a past life, my mother was a nurse and I was her patient. My mother’s job as a nurse was to administer some type of shock therapy. To perform this job, my mother needed to remain emotionally distant, which apparently carried over into this life.

The sessions with Downey left much to reflect upon. Past lives... soul retrieval... integrating the information into the present... this all will take time and thought. Obviously, working with a Shaman isn’t for everyone. It’s for risk takers and adventurers. It’s for those who are willing to explore non-traditional avenues of personal growth and healing. For me, the experience was positive. Kathleen Downey is knowledgeable and meticulous in carrying out her responsibilities as a Shaman. My only regret in the whole experience was, well, I was secretly hoping that . . . perhaps Wyatt Earp or some historic figure would pop up as a key player in my string of past lives. He may have been part of my past, it’s just that my power animal chose to show me a past life with a lesson, a lesson for the here and now.

For further information, Kathleen Downey can be contacted at (858) 646-9808 or in Boulder, Colorado at (303) 449-1349 or you may visit her website at:   You may also e-mail Kathleen at: 

Robert Ross can be reached at:  

Copyright 2004 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved