Soul another name for our life force, is the power which animates our being. In our lives we can lose or become dissociated from our soul due to difficult and traumatic circumstances. This article explores the traditional shamanic practice of restoring well-being, balance, and powerful healing. This body of practices is called Soul Retrieval.
This article explores the traditional shamanic practice of restoring well-being, balance, and powerful healing. This body of practices is called Soul Retrieval.
The recapitulation of life force is the body of work, which restores or recapitulates lost life force. Soul Retrieval is one of the most well-known and effective practices to this end.
To understand how recapitulation practices work, we need to look at the multidimensional nature of reality and move away from a linear sequential perspective. From this expanded perspective, ‘anything which has ever happened to anybody, anywhere; it is still happening somewhere’. If a traumatic event occurred for a person ten, twenty and so on years ago, for that person it is still happening, and I would venture to state that it is also in some way still influencing the person’s life.
Shamanism does not dwell on past events; there is only this vast awesome ever-moving great moment of now where there is no separate past, present, or future. It is possible for a practitioner to journey and move outside of linear time to go to the place where that energetic event is still occurring for that individual, find and bring back that person’s life force which is held in that energetic event, and when this has been carried out, then the therapeutic healing of the event and it’s consequences can truly begin.
The loss of life-force is known as soul-loss, and this can take place when we suffer a trauma, have an accident, experience strong emotional exchanges with a loved one, separation from a partner, death of a loved one, go through a pervasive period of difficult circumstances. When we undergo a severe trauma typically a part of our vital nature goes away, so that we can survive what ever is happening to us. It is a way for the body and consciousness to survive severe trauma. Problems develop when the soul part or fragment does not return. It may not want to come back, or may not be able to return due to the nature of the trauma
Joseph Campbell writes in his classic work The Masks of God ‘…sickness according to shamanic theory, can be caused either by the entrance of an alien element into the body, or by the departure of the soul from the body and its imprisonment in one of the spirit regions: above, below, or beyond the rim of the world. The Shaman’s clairvoyant vision must discover its lurking place. Then riding “on the sound of his drum”, he must sail away on the wings of trance to whatever spiritual realm may harbour the soul in question, and work swiftly his deed of rescue.’
The concept of Soul-loss , and the ceremonial retrieval of souls is found in many cultures. For example in the Tibetan Bon Shamanistic tradition, One of the most important practices performed by Tibetan shamans of the Sichen path is Soul Retrieval – Lalu (literally redeeming, or buying back the soul), and chilu, (redeeming the life-energy). These practices are widespread in the Bon tradition and also in all Tibetan Buddhist schools.
Although the terminology is different, the concept of soul-loss is a phenomenon well known to psychology. Jung recounts in his memoirs a fantasy in which his soul flew away from him, that is, the libido withdrew into the unconscious and was carrying on a secret life there. The libido representing the life-force, and the unconscious typically representing ‘the land of the dead’ .
There are a number of symptoms of soul-loss, for example, when people feel that they are observing life as an outsider, rather than engaging and being fully involved. Other common symptoms are when people feel that they are being ‘spaced’ out a lot of the time, not really here. Other symptoms that indicate possible soul loss are life-themes such as a pervasive fear, inability to trust people. I have also found that a severe depression can also be a symptom of soul loss. Chronic illness may also be a symptom of soul loss. This directly relates to Power. In the shamanic worldview, power and maintaining health go hand in hand, if the body is power-full, there is no room for illness or disease, which are often regarded as an invasive force.
In my practice I have worked with many people who had done considerable work on the original trauma, but still were stuck in this. One of the differences between Soul Retrieval and some modern Western psychological systems is that Soul Retrieval focuses on the return and integration of the lost life-force, rather than focus on the original trauma itself. In my view Soul Retrieval and therapy work very well together, the best combination being first the recapitulation of the lost life-force, followed by a therapeutic approach to support the person through the process of working with released feelings and emotional energy which can be uncomfortable and even raw for the individual. This release and subsequent experiencing of the emotions is a fundamental part of the whole healing process, and I cannot stress this enough.
This healing process leads to what I call the union of the life force, when the person can then move forward in their life without being anchored to the past, and live a life of creativity and productivity.