by Dr. Alberto Villoldo: Soul contracts are agreements that we enter into in order to survive a crisis…
allowing us to cope with painful situations for which there are no apparent solutions. These contracts may take the form of promises we make to ourselves (“From that day on, I decided to make a lot of money so that everyone would respect me”) or to others (“I’ll always do everything perfectly so that Daddy will love me”).
More often than not, these pledges are made silently and honored without discussion—or even consciousness—for many, many years. And although they may have worked well at the time to create a sense of security in a world we deemed unsafe, they go on to become the source of limiting beliefs about abundance, intimacy, love, and success. In other words, a single soul contract can spawn dozens of limiting beliefs.
Although it’s often difficult to see the effects of our own soul agreements, we can readily see the effects of such contracts in those around us. The unhappy, driven young man dominated by a father who pushes him to excel in sports, for instance, is living out a promise to please a parent at the expense of his own calling.
Sometimes it is necessary to use the technique of “journeying” to visit the hidden world where soul promises remain in grace and innocence. Many of these will be terrible obligations that we agreed to before we were even born into this life. Most were entered into during a time of fear and stress, and were so badly worded they sentenced us to a life of repeated suffering.
One of my clients, Bonnie, received a call out of the blue from a daughter that she’d been estranged from for a number of years. Doctors had found a lump in her breast, and the young woman wanted her mother to be with her for the biopsy. Bonnie called me to say that she’d been crying uncontrollably since speaking with her daughter.
“It’s not sadness; I don’t know what it’s about,” she said. Since she had to accompany her daughter to her biopsy appointment on Monday and then follow that up with a grueling day of meetings at work, she feared she’d be unable to be much good in either situation. I met her late on the Saturday before the biopsy, and we journeyed together.
Bonnie found herself as a young mother living in a medieval cottage with her two babies. They were being terrorized by marauders, who had knocked down one of the support beams of the house. The mother and babies were trapped under the fallen timbers of the cottage. It was wintertime, the sun was setting, and she knew that they were all going to freeze to death. She was in terrible pain, but she kept reassuring her little ones, “It’s okay. Mommy’s here.”
She found herself asking God to take her children before she died so that they could hear her comforting them. This soul contract (“Let my children die before I do”) was centuries old, but it was still in force. It was a terribly worded contract with horrifying results—but in times of crisis, we do the best we can. Bonnie’s ancient soul contract was affecting her response to her daughter’s biopsy.
During our journey, Bonnie was able to renegotiate this agreement, changing its wording to: “Let my children know that their mother will always be there to comfort them.” As my client came to understand the events that were causing her grief, she was able to calm herself. She realized that she’d pushed her daughter away because she couldn’t bear the thought of losing her. Within days, the biopsy showed the lump in her daughter’s breast to be benign, and Bonnie’s relationship with her daughter began to mend.
When we change our soul contracts, many aspects of our life will change as well. In more ways than we might anticipate, rewriting our soul contracts is a powerful, life-changing experience—so we must let our children, spouses, bosses, and friends know who we’re becoming and how they can relate to and support this new, emerging person.
In the Light Body School Shamanic Energy Medicine certification, students learn the shaman’s art of journeying into the past and future, and how to renegotiate ancient soul contracts that are still operant in a person’s life. My book, Soul Journeying: Shamanic Tools for Finding Your Destiny and Recovering Your Spirit (previously released as Mending the Past & Healing the Future With Soul Retrieval) features meditations and exercises to retrieve, heal and reintegrate all aspects of the soul.