Sometimes things happen in our lives that we don't recover from, at least not right away. Heartbreak, abuse, loss of a loved one—these are all major traumas that we sometimes need to bury initially in order to make it through. But, as we all know, things that we bury rarely stay buried. They bubble up, often when it is least convenient for us.
As people who practice magic, we have the opportunity to work with energy and ritual to help ease the healing process. No simple spell is going to erase past trauma, but then again erasing is not the point. The point is to get through it and come out stronger on the other side. Magic and ritual can aid you in that endeavor.
If you have practiced magic before, you know that the subconscious is a symbolic creature. It responds to symbols, just as it speaks through symbols in our dreams and visions. This is the power of magic and spellwork—by using symbolic elements we can shift our subconscious, which eventually manifests on the conscious plane in our mindset, our actions and sometimes even external events.
There are two simple spells for emotional healing, one from Practical Magic for Beginners by Brandy Williams, which calls on the power of the waning moon, and the other from Everyday Sun Magic by Dorothy Morrison, which calls on the power of the evening sun. Morrison's spell is created specifically for sexual abuse, but it can be modified relatively easily (by changing a word or two) to fit any deep trauma that needs healing.
Spellwork is a good start, a catalyst for healing and change, but sometimes our pain runs so deep that we need more intense work done. In such cases, you might want to look into working with a shaman (perhaps in addition to psychological counseling). Shamans believe that when a traumatic event occurs, part of the soul breaks off and is lost. As Kristin Madden states in The Book of Shamanic Healing,
"this trauma need not be something as intense as physical abuse or a life-threatening injury. Fragmentation can occur through the loss of a relationship or a departed loved one. It can happen as the result of a perceived failure, an embarrassment or a frightening situation."
The idea of soul loss is similar to that of repression in modern psychology. Psychology sees such processes as burying pain or memory in order to better cope, while shamanism sees it as a literal breaking off of part of the soul, which then wanders about in the Otherworlds. Like repression, initially this is an act of self-preservation on the part of the soul fragment, but sometimes in our lives we come to a point when we need or want to reincorporate those lost parts of ourselves in order to fully move forward. The formal reincorporation process is referred to in shamanism as soul retrieval.
During a soul-retrieval session, the shaman will journey into the Otherworlds, try to find the missing fragment and reincorporate it into the fragmented person. Sometimes it comes willingly, and sometimes it needs coaxing or even trickery in order to be reincorporated. Sometimes it simply shouldn't be brought back, and it is important to find a qualified and competent shaman who knows the difference to help you in such an endeavor.
Soul retrieval is a big step, and if you are just beginning your healing journey, it might be wise to start with some of the simple spells from the books mentioned here. Use them as a way to mark your intention to heal, and seek out supportive friends or a professional therapist to talk with. Keep a dream journal, as the subconscious does a lot of sorting and working out in dreams, and it can help you in your conscious work as well. And most of all, remember that you are loved, and that the universe wants you to heal.