Do you want to know what soul loss is?
Do you feel you are missing a vital part of your being?
Have you heard the words “soul retrieval,” but don’t know what it means?
Or do you think you need one?
If so, you have come to the right place to explore this very important topic in both human psychology and the soul.
Here are two scenarios which will help you understand the concept of soul loss:
When you were a child, did you get a message that some talent you had should not be explored and developed fully? Or was that talent ridiculed? For instance, perhaps you had a talent for painting, music or dance. But you were told that it is impossible to be an artist and make a living. You were told that it is “impractical” or even “dangerous” to give any thought or energy to these interests. Maybe you were punished when you were found doing anything connected to these activities?
As a child, who was dependent on and desired the love and approval of your parents, you may have thus stopped playing with paints or using sticks and logs to drum and, instead, developed those areas they wished you to focus on. Or you were literally forced by them to pursue other activities, whether you were good at them or not. You may have been left with a feeling of shame about your creativity.
In another scenario, let’s say you were in a terrible car accident. You survived, but your friend, who was in the passenger seat while you drove, died. In the days and weeks after that day, you felt almost as if you were not in your body, in your life. You felt like you were not yourself. You also felt deeply guilty, even if the accident was not your fault. You began to think obsessively about what could have been, what you could have done, what you thought you didn’t do. You may also have experienced flashbacks and even dreams of scenes of the accident. These symptoms did not improve over several months, but seemed to get even worse. The ruminations and dreams did not go away, even while you somehow continued to function in your day-to-day life. However, you sense of purpose, vitality and energy continued to be sapped.
In both of these cases, in the parlance of shamanic energy healing, I would say you had the symptoms of “soul loss.” Soul loss describes a condition wherein a part of you is either suppressed due to outer conditions and pressures, or due to some traumatic event which has remained unhealed and unintegrated. You might think of the soul as being the larger, integrated and fully expressed part of you which connects you to a sense of meaning, purpose, and completeness in your life. Soul loss can also be from another lifetime–a loss which has been carried through to this life and which your greater self–your soul–is still seeking resolution for into integration and wholeness.
Sometimes, you might not even be aware that something specific is missing. It may be that you just find yourself in situations over and over again which are not positive–stuck in unhealthy patterns in relationships, career or money. Or you may struggle with depression and chronic anxiety without any point of reference for the source.
Or maybe you know that you were abused as a child or were a victim of a crime and that the quality of your life has been and continues to be negatively impacted. When we experience abuse of any kind, there are positive qualities within ourselves which go underground, disappear, leave–such as our fundamental sense of trust in the world, in others, and so on.
Soul loss can also be called, more simply, a loss of an important part of self. Anytime you feel you must suppress or deny aspects of your humanity–anytime you give up on or are forced to relinquish the basic, authenticity you were born into as a human being–you have lost something essential to your whole self-expression and vitality.
Sometimes, you might need help recovering these qualities, gifts and talents. This is when soul retrieval comes in handy!
In order to understand soul retrieval, I want to give you a map, or picture, of the psyche. You can think of yourself at one level as being made up of your outer self and your inner self. Or the “seen” and the “unseen.” In psychological terms, these two dimensions would be called the conscious and the subconscious. When parts of self are lost or simply remain unmanifested in self-expression and action, they remain in the subconscious.
In the shamanic worldview, this is not symbolic. Just as your conscious self is deep, complex and multidimensional, so your subconscious is, as well. You might even think of the subconscious as the inverse of your conscious self: whole worlds, dreams and dimensions of who you are exist in this shadowland of the unseen. In this way, you are made up of many parts of self which, when you are balanced, make up a dynamic, complex and integrated whole. All the moving parts work seamlessly together to enable you to move through life with happiness and ease, or to deal as constructively as possible with the inevitable challenges of human life–illness, loss, death, etc.
In both domains, whether the seen or unseen, each part of self has its own identity, role and desire for expression and fulfillment. What this means is that if you were born with a musical gift, that aspect of your personality and creativity has a drive to exist within the greater make-up of who you are. When a soul part, such as the trusting child, is forced underground, deeply inward, by the harmful actions of a parent or authority figure upon which her life depends, this trust does not actually die or permanently leave. In truth, it simply goes into hiding in the darkness of the subconscious, the deep self. Like a rabbit who senses its natural predator nearby and takes cover under a shrub, so this trusting part of self is hiding and awaiting a time when conditions are safe to return again.
Creating these conditions is where shamanic energy medicine and soul retrieval comes in.
Most parts of self are lost or driven underground due to traumas or unresolved conflicts between personal self-expression and the demands of the outer world. Whether you lose some essential part of yourself due to the inner pressure to conform to the values and demands of the society and/or family in which you live, or whether due to childhood or domestic abuse, accident, illness, or loss of any kind, there is a need to first remove the imprint of the precipitating event or conditions which led to it.
This process is called “wound extraction.” Every experience in your life creates an imprint–much like a photograph or video–in the subconscious. If this experience is not cured or resolved either through the natural healing capacities of the body-soul complex (a topic for later), or through active engagement with some therapeutic action or modality, the source of the wounding will take deep root in the psyche. From there, it will continue to create disturbances in your overall field–such as repeating negative patterns, rumination on negative thoughts, and/or symptoms of depression, anxiety, etc.
In a shamanic healing session, I can travel into your subconscious, your inner self, to find and meet the wound. Once it presents itself to me–sometimes in a simple feeling or a scene or words heard–I can extract it. This is one of the most powerful tools of the trade. The capacity to literally remove a wound from deep within the psyche, just as you might remove a tumor from the body, can be profoundly curative.
Once the wound is removed, then the lost soul part will step forward to return and to fill up the negative space left by the extraction. This part of you is then brought up into the consciousness and into the surface of the Luminous and physical bodies and planted like a seed in the chakra where it can take root.
This is the essence of soul retrieval work. Now, there are many, many subtle permutations of wound extraction and soul retrieval specific to each individual. Your past history, your other lives, what present conditions are in your body, mind, heart, and outer life, will have an impact on whether a wound can be extracted wholly in one session, or whether it will need to go in stages. You may also be carrying the wounds of your ancestors, both personal and collective. This means that if you are African American, for example, you might be affected by the harm done to your predecessors by slavery. Or if you are white and your ancestors were slaveholders, you could be carrying the double binds created by their actions. Just as you are made up of a whole constellation of parts of self working in harmony with one another, so your wounds can be multifaceted, intersecting between this and other lives, between you and your ancestors, or between a wound of childhood and a traumatic event in adulthood.
Sometimes, a soul retrieval of a power animal or angelic being might precede wound removal in order to build up your inner resources and to prepare for the soul part that initially fled because it was not safe to stay.
The result of any soul retrieval will be a renewed sense of hope, energy and joy. You may find the motivation to finally go to the art store and buy those paints! Or you may simply feel like a deep burden–a shadow previously unnamed and unexplained–has been lifted.
No matter what trajectory of your healing may be, I know from personal experience that soul retrieval is a powerful and effective tool for bringing our lives back into harmony and balance.