Among the indigenous peoples of the world, it is generally understood that traumatic life experiences, when they are serious enough, can result in the fragmentation of our inner, vital essence or soul. Often, these traumatized soul aspects dissociate, resulting in a phenomenon generally known as ‘Soul Loss’.
In tribal societies, it is understood that this loss is only meant to be temporary, assisting the sufferer in dealing with the psychological aftermath of a truly shocking experience. Problems arise, however, when the soul loss becomes ongoing, even permanent, and this is regarded as a primary cause of serious illness and possibly even premature death.
Soul loss may occur in response to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; a molestation experience during childhood or 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. The post-traumatic stress syndrome experienced by military veterans is a classic example of soul loss.
Or, when a child is born into this world and the first thing they perceive is that they are not wanted, or that everyone was expecting a boy and they came in as a girl, this can create a form of perinatal soul loss that can affect that person throughout their life.
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.
Soul loss is first and foremost an adaptive mechanism that usually serves by allowing us to cope, and in some situations survive a terrible experience, in which the dissociated soul parts depart, carrying the pain, the shock, the extreme emotion, or the memory of the trauma which may be simply unbearable to the sufferer at the time it occurs.
Symptoms of profound and ongoing soul loss 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. The loss of these parts of the self is often expressed as despair, as suicidal tendencies, as addictions, or most often-as depression.
Among the traditional peoples, those transpersonal healers who specialize in soul retrieval work are sometimes called ‘soul catchers’ and they are regarded as being in a league of their own as healers. They are aided and assisted by their spiritual allies, their helping spirits, and working as a team, they track the lost soul parts, find them, and return them to the person who has lost them, restoring the individual’s soul to its original, undistorted state.
In the process, the person’s vital essence returns to its original owner, an experience that they frequently experience as life-changing. This is ultimately accomplished with the willing participation of the client in creating a sincere call for this work, as well as the integrating of their soul parts back into their overall vital essence.
Soul retrieval can be done in person, the average session usually extending to two or three hours in length. Yet because it is ‘non-local’ work, it can also be done long distance, and I had been able to be of service to my clients both nationally and internationally.
The shamanic practice known as soul retrieval is perhaps the most important level of healing in spirit medicine because once the spiritual-energetic nature of an illness-causing intrusion has been addressed, the cause is still unresolved, namely the tears in the fabric of the sufferer’s soul cluster that allowed the intrusions to enter in the first place.
As long as these empty spaces remain unfilled, there is no guarantee that the intrusions will not re-invade given an opportunity to do so because those holes are like open invitations. But how does the process of soul retrieval actually work?
WORKING WITH A SPIRITUAL TEAM
All of us, in every culture everywhere, had ancestors who were hunters if we go back far enough. In doing soul retrieval work, the shamanic practitioner teams up with the spirits who assist them, then they go to work together, tracking the lost soul parts much like hunters.
And this is where spirit medicine has something important to offer the psychotherapeutic paradigm. Psychologists and psychiatrists know about dissociation, but where do the dissociated parts go? In doing soul retrieval, the shamanic healer and their spiritual assistants locate the lost soul parts in the Lower, Middle, or Upper Worlds of the Spirit World.
RETRIEVING SOUL PARTS
Then with the assistance of their helping spirits, the shamanic practitioner enters into relationship with them, convincing them to return and bringing them back to their original owner. In this process, the person’s soul cluster is restored, and their energetic matrix may return to its former undistorted state.
Interestingly, a soul part that has taken refuge in the Lower Worlds may often be found in the company of an animal spirit who is caring for it. When this soul part is brought back, the animal spirit may return with it, resulting in what is called a power animal retrieval.
A soul part located in the Middle World of dream may be found in the company of an ancestor, perhaps a revered grandparent who has already crossed over. A soul part in the Upper World may be seeking reconnection with its oversoul, a guardian angel, or even with its “soul family.”
As the soul cluster is restored, the shaman instructs the client in how to take an active role in reintegrating these lost self-aspects, assuring a successful reunion and ensuring that the extracted illness intrusions will not reoccur.
In traditional societies like those of the Pacific Northwest, soul retrieval specialists were often known as soul catchers. The traditionalists used to say that real soul catchers only come in every hundred years or so, implying that not all shamanic practitioners are proficient at soul retrieval.
I discovered that I am an intuitive soul catcher and the soul retrieval is very natural to me. And although I trained with several teachers accomplished in soul retrieval to acquire the advanced skills, the heart of my method was taught to me by my Spirit Guides, revealing quite clearly their pivotal role as teachers and guides in the practice of spirit medicine. I am now in private practice, specializing almost entirely in soul retrieval work, guided by my spirits who also facilitate power augmentation and divination work.
The primary causes of illness only become a threat when a person’s natural protective mantle develops a weakness. When the classic causes – disharmony, fear, and soul loss – manifest themselves as physical or psychological symptoms, they must be dealt with at the energetic and spiritual levels for true healing to occur.
HEALING THE SPIRITUAL AND ENERGETIC LEVELS
The perspective of spirit medicine is still quite foreign to most of our Western healthcare practitioners, doctors, nurses, and therapists alike. However, this worldview, so familiar to the indigenous peoples, is gaining wider acceptance… because it greatly assists in the healing process, and because it works.
The shaman’s talents, like those of the Western trained physician, lie in diagnosis–in the discovery of the identity and the nature of illness. But unlike our modern Western doctors, the shaman can also empower their client dramatically, divine their illnesses’ ultimate causes while in an expanded state of awareness, neutralize them at their spiritual and energetic levels, and prevent their re-occurrence by utilizing the assistance of compassionate forces poised to help us just beyond the borders of this physical world we all take so much for granted.