Soul Retrieval

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Soul Retrieval

The Free Soul | Reasons For the Soul's Departure | Symptoms of Soul Loss | The Soul Retrieval Process | The Soul's Return | More Information | Choosing a Practitioner| Releasing Soul Parts You Are Holding | How do I know if I need a Soul Retrieval?

The Free Soul

In shamanism it is believed that part of the human soul is free to leave the body.  The soul is the axis mundi, the center of the shamanic healing arts.  Shamans change their state of consciousness allowing their free soul to travel and retrieve ancient wisdom and lost power.

Because a portion of the soul is free to leave the body it will do so when dreaming, or it will leave the body to protect itself from potentially damaging situations be they emotional or physical.  In situations of trauma the soul piece may not return to the body on its own, and a shaman must intervene and return the soul essence.

Reasons For the Soul's Departure

There are various reasons for soul loss.  If a person was in an abusive situation part of one's soul may leave to protect itself from the abuse.  Sometimes as a child, fighting parents may prompt the soul part to hide because the child is scared.  If a traumatic accident is about to occur such as an impact or accident the soul would leave so that it wouldn't be effected by the force of the accident. If a loved one is lost, the soul part may go until the person is ready to deal with their grief. All of these are very healthy mechanisms of protection.  In some cases the soul part will return on its own.  But if it does not realize how to return, or if it does not know that it is safe to return - the shaman may need to assist the return of that missing piece. 

Another way to lose ones soul is to give it to someone.  When two people are in love, or when they are in a family, it is sometimes occurs that they will give portions of their soul to their loved ones.  A mother may give some to her child because she wishes to protect him or her.  This type of soul exchange may seem acceptable because of a person's desire to share themselves with another, but it is generally not a good idea.  An individual can't use another person's soul, because simply: it is not their soul.  The person must then deal with this unusable energy in addition to his or her own problems.  In addition, the persons who have given a piece of their soul away have disempowered themselves.  The giver's journey is made more difficult because they are not fully present to do the living of their life.  It is a lose lose situation. 

Because we are not taught about soul loss we do this soul sharing unconsciously.  As individuals becomes more conscious of this dynamic they can find more empowering ways of sharing love and affection in their close relationships.  You can see the language of soul loss in everyday speaking, people referring to how they "lost a piece of themselves" when they parted with a lover, or people saying "you stole my life from me."

Another reason for soul loss is called soul stealing, perhaps we should say borrowing.  As we said before, the average person today is unconscious of the soul dynamic.  So soul stealing can be innocent, you see someone with lots of energy and you want to borrow some of it.  You are afraid of losing someone, so you take a piece of that person with you so that you will always have him or her close by.  Soul stealing can also be a way to dominate another.  For instance soul stealing may be seen where an abusive spouse has taken his or her partner's soul.  When you take someone's soul you take some of that person's power.

It is important to know that no one can take your soul without your consent.  If someone has stolen your soul, you have in some sense given it to them or allowed them to have it.  If you feel for some reason that someone is tugging at your soul, make a firm decision within yourself that they cannot have it and they will not be able to take it from you.

Symptoms of Soul Loss

Soul loss would be comparable to the psychological concept of disassociation.  Some of the symptoms that would indicate soul loss to a shaman include: depression, a feeling of incompleteness, an inability to move forward on some issue, lost memories, feeling like your not in control your life, people who say I felt like part of me died when..., or people who say I feel like so and so stole my soul.  Soul loss is often accompanied by a feeling that something is missing from life. 

Once again the language of our society refers to soul loss, I lost something when I lost my job, I never felt the same after my accident... 

Coma is a situation of extreme soul loss, where more of the soul is out of the body then in.  As with the other protective feature of soul loss, this can be very appropriate.  If the body is in a great deal of pain, or if the soul needs time to consider its situation a coma provides needed time.  Shock is another symptom of soul loss, where the individual's soul hasn't returned yet or hasn't fully reentered the body.  For information on  "How do I know if I need a Soul Retrival", click here or go to the bottom of this page.

A person frequently wishes to return to his or her lost soul.  So if the soul part was lost to a person, or in a specific place, an individual may feel an urge to return to that place or person even when there seems to be no outward reason to do so.  Occasionally, a person having suicidal thoughts may be because of a desire to reunite with one's lost soul pieces.

The Soul Retrieval Process

If the shaman suspects soul loss she or he would then journey shamanically to determine if the return of a soul piece is needed at this time.  Once the appropriate healing action is determined, the shaman would then take another journey to retrieve any soul pieces that want to come back at this time.

In the practices taught in the US and in many parts of the world, the shaman brings the soul pieces back with them from his or her journey.  The healer would then blow each piece back into the body of the client, one at time, focusing so that the soul essence fills that person's body. 

It is not usually the case that an individual would do this for one's self.  For one thing, an essential component of shamanic healing is the love that is felt when someone performs a healing for you.  The act of receiving, a feeling that the universe is wanting the best for you.  Also, it is not always easy for the person to perform the soul retrieval process on themselves.  Some possible ways however, include asking for the souls return - putting the question to the universe, or asking your guardian spirits to return soul pieces to you.  It is certainly within the power of the individual to release any soul parts they may have because of soul sharing. See Below for more information about this.

Don't overlook the importance of having someone perform a soul retrieval for you because you feel you must do it on your own.  It is important to be active in one's own healing, but an active part is generally essential once the soul is returned to you.  The soul retrieval itself is very much about receiving, so whether you engage the assistance of a shamanic practitioner or not, don't forget this essential component. 

When performing a soul retrieval the shamanic practitioner will create a sacred space for you, one where you are held in a container or love, and one that protects you from interferences of the outside world.  If a client becomes vulnerable during the soul retrieval the shamanic practitioner protects that vulnerability.  It isn't easy to do this for oneself, -and- perform the soul retrieval, -and- drum, -and- be receiving...  you get the idea.

The Soul's Return

Celebrate the joyous return to yourself.

In indigenous cultures with active shamans, individuals would not be without their soul pieces for very long.  The return would often be accompanied by celebration, or a joyous welcome from family members.  In today's culture however, an entire lifetime can go by before certain pieces come home such that the soul retrieval is a bit like the return of the prodigal son.  Whatever the case, its important to celebrate the return of your vital essence back to where it belongs - in the same way we would celebrate the return of a long lost loved one. 

People's reactions after their soul retrieval are very varied.  Just as varied as the wide array of people there are in the world.  You are unique and so is your returning soul.  The return will mean different things to different people so its important not to have any preconceived notions about what you might feel.  Some people feel great joy, some people sadness, some people feel fuller, some people feel lighter, some people feel nothing... The list is endless.

Some of the benefits that have been experienced by people who have received a soul retrieval include; a greater ability to make decisions in their life, a sense of being more present in their life, the ability to move pass an issue that previously could not, the beginning of a new growth or healing process, an ability to begin dealing with grief...  Each person is unique and will experience different results from their soul retrieval.  Some soul retrieval practitioners will tell you what gifts are returning more fully to you with the return of a specific part of yourself.  For instance the return of your ability to hope, or confidence in yourself.  The practitioner cannot tell you in advance what will come from the soul retrieval.  It is possible that the soul retrieval will complete a healing process, but it is also possible that it will begin the work of new healing and new growing. 

With the soul's return you must be open, not only so that you can fully receive what is being returned, but also so that you can notice any indications of new needs in your life.  Perhaps you need to have more fun to meet the needs of the returned piece of your self, perhaps you need to go outside more, perhaps you need to give your self a period of introspection after the soul retrieval has occurred.  Possibly, the soul's return will begin a new healing process.  Perhaps the soul retrieval was just the last of a missing piece in your healing process.  If the soul retrieval is to be effective you must listen to yourself.  You must care for yourself as you would a new born, and give your self whatever you find is needed now that the gift of you has been received. 

Do you need any more information?

If you would like to know more about the soul retrieval process, I would recommend a book by Sandra Ingerman:

Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self Through Shamanic Practice, Sandra Ingerman

The book has been healing in itself for some people, and it will give you a full overview of Soul Retrieval.  Sandra Ingerman is a pioneer for the introduction of soul retrieval to the US and has taught thousands of students in the soul retrieval process during her 20 plus years as a shamanic practitioner.

If you would like to locate a shamanic healer for soul retrieval Sandra Ingerman has a list of practitioners at her shamanic practitioner website which you can check for a healer in your area:

Her teaching schedule can be found on her website:
And she also has a website for general information.

When you are looking for a person to perform your soul retrieval it is essential that you feel comfortable with your choice.  People who know how to trust themselves are not likely to have any problems finding the right practitioner, but if this is a concern of yours here is some information about choosing: Find someone who has the right fit with you.  If you don't feel comfortable with a practitioner it doesn't matter that their name came highly recommended by someone or if they are highly skilled.  Some clients fit better with certain practitioners then with others.

A good practitioner will be very accepting of you, judgmental language is a warning sign.  The most important quality of a shamanic practitioner, a lesson we as practitioners and are taught frequently, is to remember that as the healer you are only the vehicle for healing.  So that is the sense you should get from your shamanic practitioner, that they understand the principal of "the hollow bone" - "I am but the vehicle for the healing of the universe, and it is the love in my heart that makes the difference."


Returning Soul Parts that you are holding:

If you feel that you have soul pieces to return to others: 

In the language of the soul, the way you "get things done" is by making clear what your intent is.  The job is accomplished by doing something as simple as - going outside, getting a twig, and snapping it in half to indicate that you would like to release the souls you are holding.  You can take an object such as a quartz stone that represents the person's soul and give it to the person as a gift.  Speak a request that your guardian spirits return the soul pieces you are holding.  These and many other techniques work.  It is only necessary for you to send clear a message that you wish to release the soul pieces, so whatever method that seems appropriate for you will work. 

IF you are actually willing to release the soul piece, that is.  In some cases it is difficult to let go when someone is no longer in our life, such as a lover we have broken up with.  You may need to first do the work of being willing to release what you are holding of them.  Perhaps you are unwilling to let go of the control.  Don't judge yourself but instead try to get to the bottom of why you are holding on.  Remember that this part of their soul is needed for them to live their life fully, and that it makes your life more difficult when you try to hold on.

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How Do I know if I need a Soul Retrieval?

Many people know instinctively that they are missing something.  They hear about soul retrieval and it makes sense to them, or they have an "Ah ha." moment where they realize that it is something that applies to them.  But for those people who aren't so well connected with their intuition, they might not have that awareness.

As mentioned above symptoms/indicators of soul loss can include:
-Feelings of depression
-A feeling of being incomplete
-Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or PTSD like symptoms.
-Inability to move past an issue despite efforts to do so.
-Feeling like you've done everything you can do but are still stuck.
-Feeling disconnected from life, like you don't really feel anything, or you feel you can't connect to things.
-Memories or incident in your past when you can say, I feel that I lost something that I never got back.
-A sense that someone took a part of you, your heart, your soul, or that you were not the same once they left you or died.
-You keep wanting to return to a person, or a location that seems unhealthy or unlikely, even though there is no apparent reason for you to do so.
-Lost memories, like a part of your history is "missing"
-The feeling that soul retrieval may help you.

It isn't necessary for you to have an extreme symptom, to indicate soul loss.  It is certainly true that some people have experienced benefits even though they were not sure that they had soul loss or not.  If you feel this is something you might want to try, that is a good reason to contact a practitioner.  They can go on a diagnostic journey to find out if this would be best for you at this time.

If you feel that you aren't ready that is an emotion to honor.  Sometimes a soul retrieval will bring up issues that need to be healed.  If you aren't in a place where you are ready to do that, it may be good for you to wait. 

The following benefits are possible with soul retrieval, although there is no guarantee what will happen, all soul retrievals are different:
-You may find it easier to move forward on an issue that has been troubling you.
-You may feel a sense of being more fully present in your life.
-You may find it easier to make certain decisions or make certain changes.
-You may find that some characteristic you have struggled with such as hopefulness, confidence, anger.. may improve or go away after a soul retrieval.
-You may find that you can connect to things more easily.
-You may feel more fully present

Additionally it is possible for the following challenges to be brought up with a soul retrieval:
-You may have feelings of sadness or depression because of the time that went by missing this part of you.
-Issues that you have previously been unwilling to deal with can come to the surface.
-You may find that you can no longer stay in a situation which you have been living with - such that you find you must make changes in your life.
-You may find feelings that you previously did not wish to deal with assert themselves, such as grief or anger.
-You may begin a long healing process.

There is no knowing what may happen as the result of a soul retrieval.  In a few cases a person may literally experiences a complete turn around of their life to a more joyful way of being.  In some cases it begins a process of changes that take time to fully emerge.  And of course some people feel that not much really happened as a result of their soul retrieval.  Your instincts should tell you what to do, and the practitioner can help you determine if a soul retrieval would be helpful to you at this time.

If you need support after a soul retrieval, your shamanic practitioner may be able to help you.  You can also find support from a therapist or a counselor.  If you feel that you would like a soul retrieval, but have a feeling of fear because it is unknown, you can always contact a practitioner simply discuss soul retrieval or your fears.  See how you feel after you have discussed it with him or her, and then decide whether or not you wish to proceed.

Finally, a benefit of a soul retrieval or any shamanic healing is seeing that someone cares enough to help you.  Most shamanic practitioners feel a strong desire to help make your road a little easier.  Some people say that this is the most helpful part of the healing process for them. 

Good luck with your journey.  Remember that whatever you decide, it is often the process of looking for healing that brings healing to you.  When we ask the question, what is it I need, what do I need to do next, the act of questioning will often bring a flow of answers into our lives from unexpected sources.

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Lauren Torres - Lansing, IL
Copyright 2002 [Lauren Torres]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07/16/13