One of the shaman’s most important tools is soul retrieval. Shamans believe that part of the human soul is free to leave the body. The soul is the center of the shamanic healing arts. Shamans change their state of consciousness allowing their free soul to travel and retrieve ancient wisdom and lost power.
Because the soul is free to leave the body it will do so when dreaming. Or it will leave the body to protect itself from damaging situations either emotional or physical. If the soul doesn’t come back on its own, a shaman must intervene and return the soul essence.
It’s possible for the soul to become dis-integrated through any of a number of common traumas, circumstances or situations that might take place during a person’s normal course of living. When these occur, they may manifest in physical or emotional conditions that cannot be healed by traditional medicine or psychological counseling. Conventional therapies only treat the symptoms. Until the root cause is addressed, the underlying problem remains – leading to recurring, sometimes increasingly more severe effects. Soul retrieval focuses on locating, recovering and re-integrating lost parts of the soul.
What Causes Soul Loss?
The reasons for soul loss vary widely. The conditions under which a part of the soul will leave the body will differ from one person to another. Here are typical circumstances that are frequently the root cause of soul loss.
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse as a child. A person was in an abusive situation and the soul left to protect itself from the abuse.
- Death of a child, parent, or close friend. Someone close died and the soul left until the person is ready to deal with his or her grief.
- Loss of a husband, wife, or lover – through death, or involuntary divorce or separation
- Sudden and unexpected loss of a meaningful job or career
- A sudden accident resulting in severe physical trauma, or sudden onset of a debilitating disease. The soul might jump out of the body just prior to an accident to avoid the force of the accident
- Exposure to shocking or extremely stressful physical or psychological conditions or events – for example, witnessing a murder, serving in a war, undergoing chemical or radiation therapy
- Codependent relationships – where one has unconsciously given a part of one’s soul to another – say, in a parent/child or intimate relationship
There are various reasons for soul loss, all of which are healthy ways of protecting yourself. Most of these are healthy mechanisms of protection. In some cases, the soul part will return on its own. But if it does not realize how to return, or doesn’t know its safe to – the shaman may need to assist the return that missing piece.
One way to lose ones soul is to give it to someone.
It is important to know that no one can take your soul without your consent. If someone has stolen your soul, you have in some sense given it or allowed him or her to have it. It might have been normal in your family to borrow energy from each other. Or you might not have realized it was OK to say no. If for some reason you feel that someone is tugging at your soul, make a firm decision within yourself that they cannot have it and they will not be able to take it from you.
Symptoms of Soul Loss
There are many, many symptoms that are indicative of soul loss. In tribal cultures, it’s not common for someone to experience a soul loss for very long without someone in the tribe noticing. Members of the tribe are sensitive to other tribesmen’s energy and a conversation with the shaman will often lead to an interview with the affected person; followed by a journey to retrieve the soul.
However, contemporary culture does not support an awareness of the signs of soul loss – either by the affected individual, or those with whom he/she comes in regular contact. So, one may frequently suffer the consequences of soul loss for years, and try a number of therapies (unsuccessfully) before seeking help from a shaman. Soul loss is often accompanied by a feeling that something is missing from life.
Here are a few of the symptoms that are common to loss of a piece of the soul:
- Loss of vitality or passion about life
- Depression, listlessness, or a feeling that something is missing in life
- Difficulty with focusing attention on the task at hand
- An overly active mind – inability to control a continuous, random stream of thoughts – which often leads to insomnia or nightmares
- Addictions to drugs, alcohol, or tobacco as a means of escape
- Loss of memory about a period of your life
- Unhealthy or unnecessary compulsions – such as excessive use of media like the Internet, television, and pornography
- Recurring thoughts about dying, or suicidal fantasies
- A sense of multiple personalities showing up under different conditions
- Disconnection or disassociation leading to feelings like the world is passing by without you, or unusually selfish behavior, or a sense of wondering or not knowing why you’re alive
- Chronic feelings of shame, low self-esteem, or lack of self-confidence.
The Soul Retrieval Process
Traditional shamanic soul retrieval involves journeying to alternate worlds to locate and recover the soul. In the practices taught in the US and in many parts of the world, the shaman brings the soul pieces back with her from her journey. The healer would then blow each piece back into the body of the client, one at time, focusing so that the soul essence fills that person’s body. In this process, the subject is a passive participant. In most cases, you will need a healer to perform the soul retrieval for you. It’s not easy to do this for yourself. The shaman alone has the power and the ability to recover the soul. Also, an essential component of shamanic healing is the love that is felt when someone performs a healing for you. The act of receiving, a feeling that the universe is wanting the best for you.