Have you ever felt like a piece of you was missing? Perhaps you experienced a difficult situation or suffered from a breakup where you no longer felt like the real you. Among many native and tribal peoples, this concept was called “soul loss.” When people suffered from anything traumatic, parts of their soul or essence would leave the body and travel to other worlds or dimensions.
With the help of a shaman or medicine man, these soul parts could be retrieved and reunited with the sufferer. This process is called soul retrieval. No longer limited to native peoples, soul retrieval is practiced in many areas today. Anyone can experience soul retrieval and reclaim the true self.
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Losing soul parts might sound frightening, but it is quite common. While native peoples call it soul loss, psychologists use terms like disassociation, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Essentially it means that you are not your full and true self. Your life force is not running at full capacity and you are in need of healing. It is just part of the human condition and can be remedied.
In actuality, soul loss is a healthy thing. It serves as a defense mechanism. When faced with something frightening or upsetting, part of you withdraws or flees in order to avoid the full traumatic impact of the situation.
Think about soldiers in combat for example. Experiencing the battle in full spirit awareness could be too overwhelming. In order to cope, parts of the soul escape. Soul loss can occur over almost any stressful event or shock. It is also very subjective. What causes soul loss in one person may not cause it another person. Regardless of the experience, the human mind and spirit does what it can to survive.
Finding the Missing Pieces
Soul parts are never destroyed since they are eternal. While they may not always be connected to your body and consciousness, they still exist. The job of the shaman is to find the missing soul pieces and return them to you so you can live more fully and authentically.
So how is soul retrieval done? While various native cultures have their own unique practices, the modern shaman often uses techniques developed in conjunction with the teachings of Michael Harner and Sandra Ingerman. A ceremony is performed, including the shaman, a drummer, the client and any other supporters who wish to join.
The shaman or healer will go on a spiritual and mental journey to the spirit world with the help of guides and power animals in order to find the client’s soul parts and return them. The journey begins with rhythmic drumming.
A drummer keeps the beat on a Native American or similar hand drum while the shaman enters an alternate state of consciousness. While in this state, he or she searches for the soul parts and catches them, often using a crystal to hold them. Once the journey is over, the shaman returns and blows the soul parts contained in the crystal back into the client.
Celebrating the Return
Once the soul retrieval is complete, the first thing the shaman says to the client is “Welcome home.” This is to honor and recognize the reunion of all the soul parts. It is also serves as a welcome back into the world. When all aspects of the soul are healed and engaged, then the true self can be expressed.
That means a greater connection with everyone. And when one person is healed, the entire community is healed. That is truly a cause for celebration!