Here There be Soul-Eaters

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Introducing the book

In Here There be Soul-Eaters, a fascinating, deep dive into the interviews of eleven nurse healers from Australia and other countries, Dr. Martin Hemsley explores the “awesomeness, brokenness and ordinary joy” of their mysterious inner and outer journeys of becoming and living as healers. What is revealed is, “a spiritual path, over the edge of ordinary reality … living in multiple worlds, hard against the edge of madness”.

Read, in these first-hand accounts, as women and men come to be a healer or shaman how they drop their personal history and trust the gifted empowerment. For some it is connected to the ancient shamanism of the Earth, nature and spirits and the deep transformation booms and resonates down the inner chambers and corridors of their lives. Their role, too, is to accept the imperative to not only serve and treat with the powers and the gods, but to enter various worlds. Therein, they will command the ghosts and dream figures, spirit creatures, entities, diseases, thought forms and even demons who come forward to teach, challenge, bedevil, and to serve healers and shamans. All this is needed, in many cases, to participate in the healing process as healer, therapist or shaman.

About the author

Dr. Martin Hemsley is a Process Worker, therapist and mental health nurse and offers here his rigorous exploration of the topic with his extensive knowledge and direct experience.

Excerpt from Foreword


This, Jim, is what I see as the unknown terrain that psychotherapy must either explore or become meaningless. This is the white space on the map, Jim, where the ancient navigators wrote, “Here There Be Soul-Eaters” 

Around 1994, I underwent a time of great inner turmoil and upheaval which culminated in a period of wild and intense spiritual experiences. During this foment, I found myself to be, for a time, a healer. My life was completely changed in ways I could not have imagined or even wished for. Out of this period came a desire to explore this kind of experience, and the experiences of nurse healers especially, as I was, and still am, a nurse. Hence, in the early 2000s, I embarked on the exploration of the mysterious inner and outer lives of healers, specifically nurse healers. I wanted to contribute to my profession by increasing the knowledge understanding of nurse healers.

In this research, prompted by my own journey, I was particularly interested in the experience of coming to be a healer, and living as a healer. What transformations in the inner and outer worlds of a person would lead to someone being a healer? How does the journey to become a healer change one’s inner and outer lives? I wanted to know what is distinctive about the terrain these people traverse, know about their extraordinary experiences? It is evident that being a healer is not something we all identify in ourselves. Is this a talent, something learned or is something else going on in these people? This research — my PhD — forms the basis of this book you are now reading.

I found Process Work towards the end of writing the PhD thesis; seeing a process worker for therapy helped me get through it. Becoming a process worker myself has been largely about bringing the shamanic part of myself into relationship with the everyday part, to find some friendliness between these wild and gnarly branches of my life myth.

From his early writings, Arny Mindell, the founder of Process Work, has been influenced by shamanism, and there are many indications that he functions as a shaman. He certainly writes with great respect of his experiences with Australian Aboriginal and African shamans, whose perspectives on the world have come to influence how Process Work is practised, and how the world is viewed through the process-oriented lens.