Healing The Whole... Shamanic Soul Retrieval

Published : Nexus News, Lansing, MI. Jan/Feb. 1999.
The Mountain, Lansing, MI. Nov./Dec. 1998.


Do you struggle with a weakened immune system or with illness? Feel depressed? Feel like you aren’t fully living your life? Feel numb or deadened to life? Are you susceptible to addictions? Do you look to external sources to fill a void inside of yourself?

If you answered yes to any of these questions you may be experiencing soul loss. The soul is defined as the spiritual essence and life force of a person beginning at conception and staying with them through out their life. It is life essence. Soul loss is a spiritual illness where a part of the soul, or core essence of a person, splits off causing emotional discomfort, difficulty functioning wholly in life, and/or physical illness. Soul loss can occur when a person experiences any type of trauma such as: death of a loved one, any form of abuse, neglect, abandonment, an accident, break-up of an intimate relationship, witnessing a traumatic event, surgery, substance use, etc. The trauma does not have to considered severe to cause soul loss.

Soul loss is a normal occurrence and is actually a healthy coping mechanism for survival. When a person experiences trauma the soul part leaves the person’s body as a way of escaping the pain or discomfort. It occurs so that a person’s psyche can withstand the painful event. Imagine if you were about to be hit head-on by a semi, I can’t speak for everyone but I would not want to be in my body feeling this as it happens. Modern psychology uses the term “dissociation” to describe the symptoms experienced when parts of the self become detached. Psychology believes the lost parts may exist in the vast unconsciousness where it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to access.

The problem occurs when this soul loss causes illness, emptiness, or prevents us from being whole and functioning fully in our lives. How are we to become whole again? Soul Retrieval. Around the world, in many different cultures, for approximately 40 thousand years, there is a knowing that lost soul parts go into non-ordinary reality where they can be retrieved by a Shaman. Shamanism considers soul loss to be one of the ,most common and most detrimental spiritual illness. The role of the Shamanic Practitioner is to journey with Spirit Helpers into non-ordinary reality on behalf of the client to bring back any of these lost soul parts that are willing to return to the client. This is known as Soul Retrieval.

The term Shaman has been adapted from the Tungus people of Siberia (one who sees in the dark) to denote a healer who journeys out of space and time to diagnose and treat illness. I will refer to the Shaman as a Shamanic Practitioner, a term I prefer for describing modern day Shamans who do shamanic work but do not live in a shamanic culture. Shamans are the counselors and psychologists of their communities. From a shamanic perspective all illnesses, whether emotional or physical, are spiritual imbalances that can be corrected with spiritual intervention.

In soul retrieval, as in all core shamanic journeys, the Shaman or Shamanic Practitioner calls to her/his Spirit teachers and asks for their help in this quest. The Shamanic Practitioner then closes their eyes and “journeys” into non-ordinary reality. In non-ordinary reality the Shamanic Practitioner makes contact with her/his power animal or spirit teacher in either the lower or the upper world. The Shamanic Practitioner, with Spirit guidance, actually “sees” where the soul parts are during this journey. The Shamanic Practitioner may be shown or told about the story in-which the soul part left the client and the gifts and talents that soul part holds. The Shamanic Practitioner will then retrieve this soul part and any others she/he may have contacted during the journey. The Shamanic Practitioner then pulls the soul parts back into consciousness (ordinary reality) with her/him as she/he journeys back and gives these soul parts back into the client. The Shamanic Practitioner then describes to the client what was experienced in the journey and the gifts that these soul parts bring to the client now that they are re-united.

Shamanism restores wholeness and power to a client. Once a person is power-filled they have regained the ability to heal themselves. Soul retrieval is a very effective and powerful treatment however should not viewed as “the magic cure”. There is no treatment technique that magically heals all conditions but Soul Retrieval may provide the integral piece of healing that modern psychology misses. A shamanic client must be prepared to open themselves to the return of their lost parts and may desire to make life-style changes that ensure a healthy path.

Shamanic healing is available to all willing participants regardless of culture or religion. Shamanism itself is not a religion though it has a spiritual base that is cross-cultural and non-denominational. Michael Harner (founder of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies) describes shamanism as a method, not a religion. In most countries shamanism co-exists and compliments at least one other religion. All shamanic healing centers on restoring spiritual harmony and balanceto clients and their relationship with the world around them.