As an 18-year-old nurse, Katharine Lee started "living it up, smoking and drinking and partying." She remembers her early life as that of a "naïve Christian girl who wanted to serve God with all her being." Now, the 67-year-old atheist looks back. "I had lived in a very sheltered environment."
"Suddenly, I was ejected into this harsh world of pain and suffering. I just could not reconcile a God of love with seeing little babies dying of cancer, innocent people mutilated in car accidents, and all the atrocities," she explained.
One night her parents held a séance in their home. "The lights went off and everybody started singing hymns and praying," Lee remembered. "I thought, 'This is great!'"
She felt transformed and transported.
"I felt this incredible power and love overshadow me. I had no control over my body. I felt my body get up out of the chair. Some force moved me across the room to where my mom was sitting. I did not know at the time that she had a bad migraine headache. I felt my hands being placed on her head and this strange energy pulsating through my body, this love, into my mother.
"She'd been plagued with very bad migraines all her life. And she said when my hands were laid on her head the power working through me had healed her instantly. And she never had a migraine after that."
For decades Lee worked as a spiritual healer, healing people by placing her hands on them. She was also clairvoyant, possessing the ability to "perceive" events before they happened.
Past life as North American Indian
On a visit to the city of Port Elizabeth about 15 years ago, Lee felt an inexplicable force pulling her to the mountain town of Hogsback in the Eastern Cape. So she and a friend by the name of Mary booked a room in a guesthouse where she took another big step in what she calls her "spiritual awakening."
"We were having supper and as I put the last spoon of food into my mouth, it was as though a bolt of lightning hit me, and the room began to spin. I was in great pain," Lee recalled.
As Dawn, the owner of the guesthouse, massaged her sore shoulder, Lee began to cry and ask the woman's forgiveness. "... I started to sob, and I kept telling her: 'I am so sorry; please forgive me.' But I'd never met her before."
Lee said all three of the women regressed into previous incarnations where they had lived together in a native American village in North America in ancient times.
"Dawn transformed into Grey Wolf - my teacher in a Native American incarnation - and she had the pelt of a grey wolf on her head. Mary changed into the tribe's water gatherer.
"I said to Dawn: 'What did I do; what did I do?' And she said to me: 'The chief says you broke your vow of celibacy.'"
Dawn told her she had been raised to become a medicine woman but during her long training and before her initiation, Lee had fallen in love and lost her virginity.
"Because of that, I was cast out of the village and never fulfilled my role to heal the people of the village."
Traumatic soul loss
Lee said on her regression into her past life she "relived" all the shamanic rituals she'd experienced as a North American Indian many centuries ago.
"All my different gifts were once again revitalized and came back to life and I was re-energized and my vibrations were heightened, and I suddenly recalled all the shamanic things I had been taught how to do."
Within a matter of minutes, Lee was a shaman again.
"A shaman has the ability to leave their body at will and (their soul) journeys into the upper, the middle or the lower worlds, in search of the lost aspect of a person's soul, to find it, to heal it, to retrieve it, to bring it back and to reintegrate it back into the person who's suffering from soul loss," she told VOA.
Many events can cause soul loss, she said: child abuse, a terrible crime, a suicide in the family that haunts parents ... Such people typically feel loss of identity, depression, insomnia and "strange symptoms for which there's no medical cure."
The only cure, Lee maintained, lies buried deep in a person's past - or even in a person's past life, as far back as many thousands of years ago.
The shamanic journey
To allow her or her client's soul to transcend the present physical world and to journey spiritually into the past, she sits alongside them and links with them "mentally and physically."
Lee emphasized: "If I pick up that they've suffered great trauma in the past, I journey on their behalf."
She plays a CD of music containing highly rhythmic drumming, and instruments such as rattles and didgeridoos.
"It helps to get you into a trance state, in order to journey for that person... or to help them achieve a different state of consciousness, an altered state of awareness... "
During this trance, Lee experiences "sensations" and "flashes" that allow her to see into a person's past, including into previous lives that the person's soul might have lived.
"When I move into an altered state of consciousness and my soul leaves my body, I move along that person's timeline in the past, searching for the person's past soul," she explained.
On a shamanic journey, several "compassionate allies" guide her to retrieve the damaged parts of people's souls.
"They can take the form of various spirit helpers, which come from God. So it could be guardian angels, it could be (deceased) loved ones in spirit who still care very much about the person you're dealing with. It could be that person's guardian angel who's been with them from birth. It could be legions of angels, depending on where that soul has landed up."
Lee continued that on particularly difficult journeys, with lots of trauma involved and with the possibility of her soul being confronted by evil forces, she invokes the "highest of the most high" and assorted "ascended masters" for protection.
"We're talking about Jesus, we're talking about Buddha, we're talking about Muhammad; we're talking about the Virgin Mary. We're talking about all the masters that the different religions know and serve... That's quite a strong force to have backing you," Lee stated, smiling.
She added that when she does this, her clients describe feeling hands on their bodies, "hands of healing, hands of love, as though they're just surrounded by this incredible love that holds them, that cradles them, that works on them throughout the session."
On one journey, Lee traveled with a man who was suffering severely from asthma.
"Our souls journeyed down into a cave, and we seemed to be walking forever along underground tunnels, trying to find the lost aspect of his soul. Eventually, I heard a faint voice calling: 'I'm here, I'm here.'
"It came out on that journey that in a previous life he as a child had fallen into a well and had died through drowning, and nobody had ever found him. And this person explained that in this life he always suffered from claustrophobia (and asthma), and had a terrible fear of water and would never go swimming."
After his soul retrieval, the man never again suffered from asthma or claustrophobia, and he began to swim.
Another client - a woman in her 50s - suffered from severe depression.
"When I started to journey for her, I saw what looked like a long rope" Lee said.
She followed the rope which turned into an umbilical cord that led her to a young lady holding a little baby and rocking it. "I recognized that this baby was the part of this woman's soul that was missing, so I reintegrated it back into her," Lee said.
Then she told her client what she'd seen on the journey.
"This particular lady was well into her 50s, and she said: 'Good grief.' (She told me that) early in her 20s she fell pregnant. She had very, very high blood pressure and in order to save her life, they had to terminate the pregnancy, and she never fell pregnant again. So she grieved for that baby all her life, without realizing that she was experiencing soul loss as a result of that."
Soul travels to heaven
Sometimes, said Lee, her soul travels to what she called the "Upper World."
"A child may have been severely abused. And during that time an aspect of soul may have decided they would far rather go and live in the Upper World. That's the world of angels, where everything is beautiful and perfect; some people call it heaven."
She continued: "It's more about feeling, than anything else. It really is a beautiful, special place where one feels this amazing peace, safety and serenity."
When her soul is in the Upper World, said Lee, the atmosphere in her "healing room" changes dramatically.
"It's almost a celestial feeling and (the clients') features change... It's just absolutely awesome," she commented.
Lee added that it's usually a "huge battle" to persuade the relevant part of the soul to return to the real and present world.
"A lot of them, understandably, don't want to come back from a place of perfection."
Lee stressed that soul retrieval is not a game played by "crackpot pseudo spiritualists."
"You have to know what you're doing when you do this work. Sometimes the work can be very dangerous, depending on where that soul has gone - because souls can be stolen."
She explained: "Unfortunately, I sometimes come across clients who have been involved in Satanism. I can see it and know it and feel it immediately, without them saying a word about it.
"Because if you're a clairvoyant, and a (spiritual) healer, the minute someone (who's a Satanist) walks through the door, it's like they're covered by a black cloud of (evil) energy, and you can feel the energy as they approach. If they phone you, you can hear it in their voice. And you know if you want to get involved (with them) or you don't."
The Satanists want Lee to retrieve and heal the parts of their souls that they've surrendered to Satan. For her, that involves a transcendental journey of her soul into the Lower World - otherwise known as hell.
"And you need to ask yourself if you're strong enough spiritually to do a soul retrieval for that person, because there's danger involved. There is physical danger in that your soul might get lost. Your soul might be taken (by Satan) in your attempt to retrieve that (corrupted aspect of) soul," she said.
But Lee emphasized that this is rare.
"If you know what you're doing, and you're an experienced soul retrieval practitioner, and you have the help of the ascended masters and the angels, you will usually overcome the darkness."
After Lee's successfully healed and retrieved a damaged, lost part of a client's soul, she said some client's feel "nothing."
"And then three months later they contact me and say: 'Wow! My whole life has turned around.' Other people feel an incredible sense of relief, some people feel comforted; some people feel a whole lot lighter. A lot of people tell me that all their guilt feelings are gone. I'd say 85 percent come back with a positive response, that in one way or another their lives have changed for the better," she maintained.
Lee describes herself as a "channel for God," and said she'll continue waging her war as a shaman against evil and soul loss for as long as she's able.