“It is believed that whenever we suffer an emotional or physical trauma a part of our soul flees the body in order to survive the experience.” Sandra Ingerman.
In many indigenous cultures, there are shared beliefs in regards to how both humans and non-humans react to traumatic life experiences. When trauma is serious enough, it can result in the fragmentation of a sense of belonging in the world. It ruptures vital soul essences resulting in a phenomenon generally known as ‘Soul Loss’.
Soul loss may occur in response to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; being ruthlessly teased and bullied; a bitter divorce, a shocking betrayal, a sexual assault, a serious surgery, or a terrible car accident, to name just a few.
Premises of Soul Loss
- Any event that causes shock could cause soul loss.
- What might cause soul loss in one person might not cause soul loss in another.
- Soul part that leave usually do not come back on their own.
- Soul part can get lost, stolen by another person, or don’t know the trauma has passed and it is safe to return.
- When an individual experiences illness, injury, or emotional trauma, the experience may be too difficult to bear, and a loss of soul essence can occur.
- Parts of the soul that split off from the body, may be unable to return on their own, leaving vital energies depleted. In some cases, this depletion can be extreme. Feelings of persistent bereavement, helplessness, incompleteness, isolation, fragmentation, or un-groundedness are can indicate that soul loss has occurred.
Often soul loss happens when we are very young and are without a frame of reference for the experience, and we are therefore unaware of the dissonance within our being and the unconscious disruptive patterns that repeat in our lives because of that early soul loss. In some way we are endeavoring to reclaim our lost life force by repeating and re-experiencing the emotional wound over and over again. This can be very painful to live through, but we need to know that our consciousness, in a consummate self-revealing function, is showing us that we need to restore our life force and heal.
Soul loss can also be the result of an experience that is so personal at the perceptual level that no one else would know that a trauma had occurred. This is often the case with early childhood soul loss in which there has not been an overt trauma, and so nobody picks up that the child has been severely traumatized. In such a case, it can affect the patterns of the person’s life from that time forward-creating inner distortions in which the person feels fragmented in their emotional and psychological realities.
Our nervous system is wired for a fight or flight response. When we experience trauma, if we choose flight over fight, our soul’s essence leaves our body unable to endure the experience. This is a natural and adaptive mechanism which allows us to survive terrible experiences. As the soul parts depart, they carry with them the intense emotional reaction, pain, shock, and memory of the trauma which may be simply too unbearable to hold on to.
In psychology, this process is known as disassociation which can be limiting because the theory does not involve a unique understanding of what has dissociated and where that part goes. From a shamanic perspective, we understand that parts of the soul leave the body and go into non-ordinary reality where they wait until someone facilitates their return.
Symptoms of profound and ongoing soul loss include:
- Frequently manifest as feelings of being fragmented, of not being all there
- Blocked memory or not being able to remember parts of one’s life
- a sudden onset of apathy or listlessness, or a lack of joy in life
- The inability to make decisions
- The inability to feel love for others or receive love from another, often resulting in the sense of being emotionally flat-lined.
- Feelings of despair, suicidal tendencies, addictions, or more often as depression.
Bringing Back the Soul Parts
In doing soul retrieval work, the shamanic practitioner teams up with the spirits in realms of non-ordinary reality who assist them in tracking lost soul parts. With the assistance of these helping spirits, they will work together to return the soul essence back to their original owner. Through this process, the person’s soul is restored to its former undistorted state.
I have found that soul parts can take refuge in the lower and middle worlds. In the lower world, a soul part may be found in the company of animal spirits who ensure its safety. Often, when this soul part is brought back, the animal spirit may return with it, resulting in what is called a power animal retrieval. In the middle world, a soul part may be found in the company of a healed ancestor who is caring for it, or an unhealed ancestor who is using it for its vital essence. It is quite possible that another living person may also be keeping someone else’s soul parts either knowingly through sorcery or unknowingly through transference.
Versed in Sandra Ingerman’s approach to Soul Retreival, session work unfolds in the following ways:
- The first step is to help the client come up with a metaphor that will help them to absorb the light of the returned essence. It is crucial that the client come up with the metaphor that will work for them. Some examples I share are a dry sponge that has been put in water and how it absorbs the water. A flower that has been in the rain too long and then the sun comes out and the flower soaks in the light and warmth of the sun. Or maybe the reverse where a flower is growing in an area suffering from drought. And on the day the rain comes the flower soaks in the water. Another example I give is of a darkened room and the curtains are opened flooding the room with light. These are just a few examples that I share and then let the client think about a metaphor they can relate to.
- The instruction I then give is for the client to focus on this metaphor as I blow the returned essence back into them. I ask clients to put their hands on their belly and breathe deeply as they experience themselves absorbing the light of their soul.
- I wait to share the story of what I saw in the journey. For to share the story right after blowing the soul into the body moves the client’s energy from his body into his head.
- I continue to ask the client to breathe and absorb the light of the soul into every cell of the body while I play a variety of instruments over the client. I use rattling, very light drumming, Tibetan bowls, bells, and singing for about 20 minutes while the client has the opportunity to absorb into every cell the light of his soul.
- Then I share my healing story focusing on the gifts and strengths that have been returned.
- I believe that once a person has his or her soul brought back the client now has to do some work. If the person has done a lot of personal work the soul retrieval might be the end of the work. If not the soul retrieval would be the beginning of the work.
With the recovery of the missing soul parts and the practice of compassionate self-care, a return of a sense of safety, trust and compassion towards self can result. A sense of personal power, self-determination, and purpose may also be renewed. I highly encourage anyone who is interested in Soul Retrieval Work to read Sandra Ingerman’s book Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self.
Soul retrieval can be done in person, and yet because it is ‘non-local’ work, it can also be done long distance. I have been able to be of service to folks both nationally and internationally as a ritual healing practitioner.
A Soul Retrieval session includes 3 components: initial diagnostic, the ritual work, and a follow-up session.
We will meet initially to discuss relevant information and then I will begin the diagnostic work. We will follow up with a brief check in, so that you know the work is beginning. I will email you to set up the final consultation with the work is complete. Depending on what is occurring the work may transpire over a 24-48 hour period or longer. I will check in with you to let you know how the work is proceeding.
The offering for the work is $200.00 and you can complete a 15 minute free consultation to see if we are a good fit to work in this way on your behalf.