What is soul retrieval?
Anyone who’s had a trauma, from a shamanic point of view, may have had some loss of their soul. By soul we mean the spiritual essence essential throughout one’s life as we describe life in our culture, which is from conception or birth to the time of death. The techniques for healing soul loss are soul-retrieval techniques, and one of the classic shamanic methods is to go searching for that lost portion of the soul and restore it.
Until about 8 years ago, most people in the Western world felt that soul retrieval was a superstitious practice that had no validity, but things have turned. I must say that a major reason is the work of my colleague, Sandra Ingerman, the author of Soul Retrieval and Coming Home. During her shamanic practice in Santa Fe, NM, years ago, women who had had significant childhood abuse would mention in the course of the sessions that they had removed themselves psychically from the situation at the time of abuse. Sandra immediately recognized, as a practicing shaman, that the person’s soul to some degree had left the body (if it had left completely, the person would have been dead), and therefore the logical thing was to retrieve the lost portion of the soul and bring it back. So she then started doing soul retrieval for these people who had had significant childhood traumas, and the results were astounding. Today, this work is an important part of shamanic healing practice in the West.
Indeed, if you ask a group of people, “How many of you feel you’ve lost part of your soul?” it’s typical that everybody raises their hand. At some deep level, there is a natural awareness of this problem. By the way, even a minor trauma can result in some degree of soul loss and can be treated.
Another major technique in shamanic healing work is extraction. Extraction involves removing a spiritual intrusion. Just as there can be infections in ordinary reality, so there can be spiritual intrusions. We don’t mean that “evil” spirits have entered. It’s more like termites in a wooden house. If you’ve got termites in your house, you wouldn’t say those termites are evil, you’d say, “I’d just like to get them out of the house.” In this same way the shaman works to remove things that interfere with the health of the body, such as spiritual intrusions, and extract them. This is not done through journeying. It’s done through working here in the Middle World in an altered state of consciousness.
Bringing Back the Soul Parts using power animals
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 un-distorted 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 re-connection with its over-soul, 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.
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 utilising the assistance of compassionate forces poised to help us just beyond the borders of this physical world we all take so much for granted.