Soul Loss, Soul Retrieval and Extraction
Soul retrieval is based on the concept that throughout the course of daily life pieces of our soul can be lost. This soul loss is usually a natural coping response to a trauma. When we are traumatized and it is too painful for us to be present and aware, a part of us may leave to wait in non-ordinary reality. This state of soul loss is often referred to medically as shock, or psychologically as dissociation.
When we have a soul loss we may feel something is missing. We may have an emptiness that we try to fill through addictions, compulsive behavior, taking energy from others, or we may simply feel depressed. We may look and act competent on the outside, but feel inadequate or disquieted on the inside.
Soul loss can occur in a number of ways: through serious illness or accidents, through depression or strong emotional events, and even through theft. Often "soul-thieves" do not know that they are stealing soul parts, and they may be people close to us: parents, grandparents, siblings, and lovers. Sometimes we experience soul loss because we have given a quality or essence to someone else or allowed them to take it. We often give away a quality of essence (patience, assertiveness, zest for life) to someone else because we want to help them or they may want this quality for themselves. No one can make use of our essence but us, so when it is with another person they are weighed down and we feel unnaturally connected to them - we may think about the other person more often and more intensely than is warranted.
Soul loss is identifiable through apathy, an absence of joy, an inability to feel love or receive it, suicidal thoughts, addictions, chronic despair and depression. Angeles Arrien states that symptoms of soul loss include "losing a desire dance, sing, enjoy silence, and enjoy storytelling." We may have done much personal growth work at the emotional and psychological level, which can be enhanced by this spiritual healing work.
Soul Retrieval Ceremony
The actual event of soul retrieval work occurs in a safe environment. The client invites allies to assist him or herself in the ceremony. These allies should be close and trusted friends, who are there to observe, support and accept the clients' healing process. They will be asked to focus on the intent of the work, maintain a safe psychic space and think positive thoughts.
The ceremony begins with prayers, energy cleansing through the use of sage smoke (smudging) and an interview by the practioner - looking to determine the client's intent in the healing. The client and the shamanic practioner lie on blankets on the floor; and the practioner enters the Shamanic State of Conciousness (SSC) through the use of a loud monotonous drumbeat.
While in the SSC, the shamanic practioner relies on the assistance of his or her Spirit guides and Power Animal allies. These are the avatars for the practioner in the shamanic realms, and it is these allies who perform the work which takes place. Often, the practioner will make the sounds of the ally they are working with. For example, a practioner who relies on Raven for healing work will caw and screech. Additionally, the practioner may make sudden movements, appear to be pulling or cutting, or make loud noises through clapping, shouting or singing.
Often during the process, the client may feel a wide range of emotions, from laughter or fear, to passion and hate. All of these feelings are related to the work and they should be acknowledged, thanked and released. It is completely acceptable to laugh, cry, yell, or do nothing at all during the ceremony and work. The client may also feel the urge to "assist" the practioner with her work - this is strongly discouraged. The client is best served by the remaining present in his or her physical body, and observing the emotions or thoughts that the work brings to the surface.
Upon completion of the journey, the practioner returns the missing soul parts by blowing them into the heart chakra, and into the the crown of the head. The practioner will then rattle around the client's body to seal in the returned soul parts, and welcome the returned parts home. After some quiet time to think and write, the practioner will share the ages of the soul parts returned, the nature of the loss event, and any allies who pesented themselves for the client. The practioner will then invite the client and the client's allies to share any experiences or emotions.
The ceremony ends with the closing of the sacred circle and the thanking of the allies present. It is proper for the client to bring giveaways (small gifts) for the practioner, the drummer, and for the client's allies who attended.
Modern shamanic healing arts are largely similar to the ancient techniques, with the important inclusion of therapy-based aftercare. It is highly recommended that the client attend several therapy sessions to assist in the process of "reintegration". Often soul parts have returned that were lost years prior, and the client must patiently explain to these soul parts how the client's life has changed in the intervening years. One client of soul retrieval compared the integration period to "leading a school field trip with earlier version" of himself. This client recounted tales of explaining the layout of his current city to his soul parts, explaining current events, and describing the nature of his current personal life.
Part of the integration process may include setting boundaries with newly returned soul parts. For example, a soul part returning from adolescence, before a client became a vegetarian, might crave meat. This client would have to explain the nature of his or her new diet to the soul part, and negotiate a proper bondary.
Most importantly, it is necessary to be tender with newly returned soul parts, and with yourself. These soul parts left due to some traumatic event. It is likely that feelings surrounding that event will surface, and that these should be dealt with in a responsible and respectful manner. One of the ways to do this is to build altars in your living space to the ages of the soul parts which returned, or to the Power Animals and allies who may have stepped forward during your healing work.
The healing work of soul retrievals and extraction work is based in a long tradition of shamanic medicine work, from many cultures around the globe. According to Hank Wesselman, a researcher into the nature of shamanic healing, "By using the shamanic method, each person is gifted with their freedom, their sovereignty, and their right to develop spirituality. In doing so, each of us becomes our own teacher, our own priestess or priest, our own prophet, enabling us to receive spiritual revelations directly from the highest sources - ourselves" (Wesserman 21).
- Wesselman, Hank, Ph.D. The Journey to the Sacred Garden: A Guide to Traveling in the Spiritual Realms. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2003