Have you ever felt as though part of you is missing, and you can't seem to get it back, no matter what you do? Or do you feel that you've "never been the same" since a certain difficult event in your life? Or perhaps you've felt there's a void or emptiness in your life?

From a shamanic perspective, that may well be true. Shamans believe that the soul has the ability to leave the physical body whenever it chooses. In a healthy situation, a soul might chose to travel outside of the body at night during sleep or during trance or meditation. In a traumatic situation, a soul might leave the body to protect itself, choosing to go elsewhere to survive the shock. However, a soul leaving a physical body entirely would result in death, so oftentimes souls will break off parts of themselves to escape a particularly painful (but not life-ending) experience. Soul loss is the way we survive difficult or emotionally overwhelming experiences. 

Life events that may be traumatic to a soul vary from person to person, but can be abuse, violence, accidents, physical pain, war, fights...or even times you've been untrue to yourself in some way.  

To return to you, these "soul parts" must be assured that the trauma has been healed.

Shamans believe that all illness — mental and physical — is due to soul loss.  Symptoms of soul loss can range from dissociation to depression, ongoing grief and self-hurting tendencies; to PTSD and anxiety disorders; to immunodeficiency and digestive issues; to addictions of all varieties, as well as feelings of emptiness / meaninglessness.

One of the services shamans provide is soul retrieval: working with guiding spirits to retrieve various pieces of your soul that have broken off in a prior trauma. To do so, a shaman will enter a trance and ask her/his spirit guides what assistance or healing is required for a given recipient. If a soul retrieval is necessary, the shaman's spirit guides will find the soul parts that have been lost to the individual, bring them to the shaman in the spirit realm, and the shaman will "blow" them into the crown and heart chakras of the recipient. As soul retrievals can be very intense, shamans tend not to "bring back" more than three at a time, so as not to overwhelm the emotions and physical body of the recipient.

The effects of having a soul retrieval vary, with some people feeling immediate physical sensations (energy, groundedness, ease of physical symptoms); some will feel intense emotions; and in some cases, people will remember lost memories, or experience feelings that had been repressed since the time of trauma. Sometimes, the benefits of a soul retrieval come gradually over an extended period of time, with very subtle changes to a person's outlook or physical self.

As with all types of healing, the recipient of a soul retrieval can improve upon their results by following a few steps after the healing has been performed.

First 24 Hours After a Soul Retrieval: 

  1. Find a quiet space where can reflect uninterrupted for 15+ minutes. 
  2. Welcome your soul parts back by calling them by the names you were given by the shaman who performed the soul retrieval. Thank them for returning to you.
  3. In your head, ask each one why it left, and how you can make it feel safe again. Write down whatever answers come to you over the next few days.

First Week After a Soul Retrieval:

  1. Be gentle with yourself. Depending on what soul parts returned to you, you may experience a wide range of emotions. Feel these emotions fully -- don't suppress them -- as they are a natural part of your body processing trauma in a healthy way.
  2. You may also experience physical sensations, so take it easy and get reaquainted with your body before doing anything too physically taxing.
  3. As soul retrievals are accompanied by a power animal retrieval, make sure to work with your power animal to fully integrate your soul parts back into yourself. More about this in my next post!