In the Core Shamanic world view, there are three primary spiritual causes of illness that can be addressed with Shamanic healing methods: Power Loss, Soul Loss and Spiritual Intrusions. In a previous article I wrote about Power Animal Retrieval as a way to address Power Loss. Now I would like to talk about Soul Loss and Soul Retrieval.
If we think of the Soul as being like a flock of birds, we can see how the loss of parts of the whole can weaken the system, making it more vulnerable to intrusion, or further power loss. Each time there is Soul Loss, a part of our vital life force becomes detached from the ‘flock’ and is unavailable.
We may lose significant aspects of our nature, like the ability to sense when we are overextended, or whether it is safe to act on our instincts, or the understanding of how to navigate difficult relationship dynamics.
The strength of the original Soul Essence with which we were born is diminished further each time the soul is fragmented. Early childhood Soul Loss can lead to a lifetime of feeling incomplete and disempowered.
Sometimes Soul Loss occurs when there is an early instinctive knowledge that something in life is “just too much to bear”, like being born into a situation where there is a lack of nurture. Soul Loss both before and at the time of birth is also possible depending on the circumstances of the pregnancy, and because of the attitudes and procedures surrounding the birth.
Soul Loss can occur during emotional or physical trauma, such as an accident, abusive situation, sudden shock to the system, surgery, disaster, divorce, psychic attack, or death of a loved one. Not all trauma leads to Soul Loss, and sometimes the Soul Fragments will return on their own, but often this is not the case.
Soul Loss can result in post traumatic stress disorder, gaps in memory, or feelings of “being spaced out” and unable to focus or concentrate. It can manifest as chronic depression, dissociation, immune deficiency problems, addictions, prolonged and severe grief or — in extreme cases — as suicidal tendencies or coma. Many Shamans believe that if enough of the Soul is missing the result will be death.
Sometimes a Soul Part has been taken, or kidnapped, or unconsciously placed with someone for safekeeping. If there has been a circumstance where there has been repeated Soul Loss due to an ongoing situation, there may be many Soul fragments of a similar nature that have separated over time. I have had the experience in my practice of being able to gather up a number of soul fragments that, when reunited and brought back, amount to a significant amount of returned life force.
Soul Loss can make it very difficult to maintain healthy relationships, and may prevent us from living a fulfilled and satisfying life. If you feel like there is something essential missing in your life, or that you cannot access a particular state of being, or if you struggle with feelings of powerlessness or chronic depression, you may have experienced Soul Loss.
Soul Loss can weaken our system and leave us more vulnerable to illness and psychic attack (including the Spiritual Intrusions or thought forms, which we ‘install’ in ourselves through negative self projections).
Compensatory mechanisms and habits may be developed to make up for this loss of essential energy. These mechanisms can often cause distress, or lead to further loss. Addiction may be one way of trying to fill the void left by Soul Loss or Power Loss.
In order to return this essential life force to the client the Shamanic Practitioner performs a Soul Retrieval ceremony. During the ceremony the practitioner searches for and tracks down the Soul parts that have been lost, stolen or that have strayed. A Shamanic Journey is undertaken in an altered state of consciousness, in which the Shaman meets with her Power Animals and Guides, seeking their assistance in locating those lost or stolen soul parts which are ready and willing to return to help the client.
Each available piece of the Soul Essence is located, and communicated with, in order to ascertain how or why it left and the nature of the vital life force it represents. Each part is gathered and brought back through the “veil” between the worlds and gently reconnected (or “installed”) into the client’s being. Often the Soul Part is reintroduced through the Shaman blowing it into the body through the chest and crown of the head.
Once the Soul Retrieval is complete, a process of integration and support for the returned soul parts begins, as the client continues the healing process. Further journeys and ceremonies may be undertaken to assist in this process, such as ‘Soul Remembering’ and ‘Soul Release’ work, Extraction Healing, or Pattern Collapse.
Personal rituals and ceremonies may be revealed through the Spirit Guides, that will help to transform old habits and empower us to create lives filled with joy and love. If the client can learn to journey herself, she can contact and ‘converse’ with the returned Soul parts to learn from them, and to discover what changes they may wish her to make in her life to accommodate this returned life essence.
Modern Shamans may also follow through with spiritual counselling, or collaborate with psychotherapists, to support the client after Soul Retrieval. Some therapists find that issues that have not responded well to conventional therapies may be more easily addressed after Soul Retrieval. This may be because the Soul Part that needs healing has not been present to be healed until the Shaman has returned it to the client.
In my practice I have had some amazing and moving experiences with my clients, and the results are often miraculous, although for some it can take time to fully realize the benefits of Soul Retrieval. Often Soul Retrieval alone is not enough if there has been a long standing pattern of dysfunction or illness, and other shamanic techniques may be employed. I will discuss some of these in a later article.
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