The Magic Mirror Soul Recovery Technique
© 2005 Morris L. Berg


When a person suffers a trauma, he/she may have a feeling that he/she will “never be the same again”, or a profound feeling of something missing at a deep level. Psychologists would call this dissociation. Shamans call it “soul loss” – part of one’s energy, or essence (soul) is inaccessible. Traditionally, shamans will go into an altered state (called a journey) on behalf of the client, retrieve the lost soul part symbolically, and blow it back into the body of the client. This is called “soul retrieval”. When I learned past life regression and transpersonal hypnotherapy techniques from my teacher, the late Kiana Park, she taught us to hypnotise the client and guide the client through his/her own “soul retrieval” in trance, by going into a fantasy state to find the environment the lost part was in, and finding a way of symbolically or metaphorically of allowing it to come back into the here and now.

It is not only trauma that may cause “soul loss”, but also exposure to extremely enjoyable experiences that one can never go back to. For example, a child who is taken away from the countryside she enjoys and brought up in the city, may leave part of herself behind. A man who had a single blissful acid trip years ago might leave part of himself “there”.

When I attended workshops with David Grove on “Healing the Child Within”, David taught a complex process of helping the client to go inside without formal hypnosis, and entering a guided daydream-like state in which the client could be helped to find parts of the self lost in trauma, and bring them back. (David’s work has since been expanded into a field called “Symbolic Modelling” or “Symbolic NLP”). To me that process had parallels with the shamanic soul retrieval process and the work of Kiana Park. One of the features that Park’s and Grove’s work shared is that often a missing part would be seen by the client, in an alternate reality, hiding behind a shiny surface (the surface of lake, a mirror, a window pane, a metallic object, etc.) Metaphorically, light is a universal metaphor for soul or spirit, and thus it makes sense that in the unconscious mind, hidden parts of our essence are found behind light-permeable or light-reflective barriers. The shiny surface becomes the “magic mirror” in this new exercise.

In my clinical experience, having done many hypnotic “soul retrievals”, the energy that was retrieved was often spontaneously seen as a “ball of light” and experienced as a physical jolt of energy coming back into the body, that was followed by new and healthy thoughts and feelings. Now, we could say that such work is a form of energy medicine. The discovery of this energy retrieval process suggests that if we work with the concept of energy alone, we can avoid having to deal consciously with the whole story of the “soul loss”.

This new technique unites insights from Park, Grove, Ingerman, Hartmann and Gestalt dreamwork in a step-by-step NLP format. Like many new procedures, it appears complex but with experience, can be done quickly. People who have previous experience of working with imagination, guided visualization and therapeutic exercises will do best with this exercise. If the client has no such experience, other simpler techniques should be done first to build up familiarity with inner work.


This procedure is not advisable for clients who are psychotic, delusional, borderline, schizophrenic, suffer from dissociative identity disorder, are afraid of trance states or altered states, or are highly superstitious. Also, I have used such techniques for trauma and loss of various kinds but never for bereavement (e.g. death of spouse or child). I would therefore urge caution with use of this technique for bereavement as it may need to be altered or may not work as expected. Another problem for which I would urge caution is the sense of loss or trauma arising from unrequited love. This technique, in its present form, is to be used when the client feels that a part of the self (not another person) is missing, lost, shut down or inaccessible.

This procedure is for therapists who are experienced at guiding complex inner work and adapting to clients’ unexpected responses! Remember that the map of the technique is not the territory and unexpected things may happen! That is how discoveries are made.

The Magic Mirror Soul Recovery Technique

1. Ask the client when things changed. The client may know the exact date (the year will do) or may say something like “I don’t know.” Say that we will call the time x (where x is the year of change). If the client says “I don’t know when”, agree with the client to give the time a code name, such as “D-Day”.

2. Ask the client what is missing in his or her life since time x. Logical levels may be used to do this. Is the missing thing:

    Related to environment (a place from the past that can never be revisited, or a place that still exists but has changed beyond recognition)?
    A behaviour or capability (an activity, feeling or skill that the person can’t do or feel anymore or that he/she has lost heart in)?
    A belief that the client can no longer hold (such as that the world is a safe place, or that life has meaning)
    An alteration of identity (the person is not who he/she used to be)
    A difficulty with connectedness (the person no longer feels connected to his/her body, to family, to life, to the world, to community, to a higher power)

3. Let the client access a dissociated image of self from the past (before time x) with that missing attribute. Make it as real as possible (get submodalities) and anchor it. Get the client to put that image behind and slightly above as if the figure were floating above the ground. For convenience we’ll call this image the Previous Self (you can let client give it a name).

4. Explain to the client that the missing quality existed in the past in an accessible way until time x when it went somewhere. It doesn’t matter whether it went into a hidden part of the client’s mind or into a different reality. The job now is to sense where it went and get it back. In order to sense where it went, it will be necessary to think back to time x, but we will do this in a safe way.

5. Before going to time x, have the client establish and anchor a resource state for confidence, higher wisdom, assistance and guidance. Depending on belief systems, the client may get in touch with an inner strength, a higher power or deity, the Higher Self, a saint, a spirit guide or Master, an angel, a totem animal, a mythical or hero figure, an archetype, an energy, a symbol-activated system such as Reiki, or a role model figure. Do not be surprised if a resource state symbol comes from childhood: for example a comic superhero, a fairy tale character, etc. The resource itself may come from time x, through the eyes and beliefs of a child.

6. Let the client test the resource by (silently or aloud) asking it if it can help in finding and retrieving the lost soul quality. Let the client experience a sense of “Yes”, get the V-A-K-O-G for “yes”, and anchor it. If there is no sense of “Yes”, select another resource until a “Yes” is found. (Often the resource that first appeared can be asked to find the resource that will work.)

7. Now we explain to the client that we are going to the magic mirror. (This part can be done with client’s eyes open or closed as client prefers). Let the client imagine in front of him/her a two-way mirror from floor to ceiling. At the moment this mirror is hazy or foggy. What it is going to do in a few moments is let the client see into another time and space. The client will safely be on this side of the magic mirror at all times. However the surface of the mirror is touch-sensitive, like a computer screen, and this will enable the client, when you ask them, to reach into the mirror world safely to bring back any missing essence of self. Be sure to explain that the scene in the magic mirror may appear real (memory), or as a place from fantasy, imagination or a daydream. It does not matter which.

8. Get client’s agreement to “use the magic mirror now.”

9. Fire the Previous Self, Resource State and Yes anchors simultaneously (or stack them) and say, “Now, with the help of [name resource state], see in the magic mirror another time and another place where the lost part of you waits to be brought back.”

10. If client fails to see anything, see note 18 below.

11. Ask client to freeze-frame the scene and describe it briefly, and then say “What part or parts of that scene are you drawn to most?” [This part if necessary can be done “privately” with the client not describing the scene if it is too personal. Then the question would be “Find the part or parts of the scene that you are drawn to most and let me know when you have found them.”] A “part” can be a thing, or a being, or an appearance of person. If necessary, explain that everything in the scene can be regarded as an aspect of the client’s consciousness (as in Gestalt dream work). Thus if the person drawn to is someone “bad” from the past, it is only the representation of that person in the client’s mind. If the person is a child self or past self of the client, again it is a representation in the client’s mind.

12. Firing Resource State anchor again, ask client to query the Resource in turn about each part or parts of the scene that is significant: “Does this part contain some of my essence which can be brought back now?” Ask this question even if it seems illogical or nonsensical. Find the part(s) the client experiences a “Yes” response to.

13. For each significant part, ask the client to reach out and touch the magic mirror where the part is, and bring back the “essence of self” that has been “waiting” in that part. The client will usually have a sense of a force or energy coming back through the arm and going into the body. Sometimes this will be visualized as a golden ball or ball of light. [Even if the part is a child self or past self, the task is to bring back the essence, not to reintegrate the self as an image. If the parts are scattered all over (like dust or stars) get client to imagine their hand is like a magnet attracting all their essences back together.]

14. Ask client to ask Resource whether the task is finished for now or if there are more parts containing essence to retrieve. If there are more parts, repeat point 13. If there are no more parts, go to 15.

15. Instruct client to withdraw hand from Magic Mirror and to place it wherever he/she wants to on his/her body. Allow time for the experience of reintegration to settle. Tell client that the Magic Mirror has done its job and it will close now but the technique will be available if required again. Ask client to thank the Resource Parts for their help.

16. Ask client how he/she experiences self differently now (V-A-K). What has changed? What has been recovered? What can client feel or do now that was not possible before? What possibilities are now open?

17. Have client future-pace the changed self with positive feelings and behaviours.

18. [This is only for clients unable to visualize using the Magic Mirror or who cannot see anything in it. Ask if clients can use another modality to sense what areas of the Magic Mirror’s surface are hiding parts of self-essence that can be retrieved. The client may: sense an energy or force over certain areas of the Mirror; feel Braille-like protuberances or shapes; feel heat; see a light or a computer icon; or experience an auditory, tactile or proprioceptive sensation when the hand is over a particular region. Sometimes the entire mirror map may be unconscious but part of the “touch-screen” may glow or change colour. Or, for technical-minded people, the entire screen can be imagined as a giant array of LEDs, some of which will light up. Now go to point 11, adapting as necessary for inability to visualize.]

Suggested Readings

Hartmann, Silvia. Oceans of Energy. East Sussex, UK. Dragon Rising, 2003.

Ingerman, Sandra. Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self.HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.

Lawley, James and Tompkins, Penny. Metaphors in Mind: Transformation Through Symbolic Modelling. London, UK: the Developing Company Press, 2000.

Villoldo, Alberto. Mending the Past and Healing the Future with Soul Retrieval. Hay House, 2005.


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