Shamanic Healing – Return of the Soul
by Roel Crabbé
The cure of the part should not be attempted without treatment of the whole. No attempt should be made to cure the body without the soul. Let no one persuade you to cure the head until he has first given you his soul to be cured. For this is the great error of our day, that physicians first separate the heart of our soul and the soul of our body. – Plato
When trauma occurs a part of the soul may move away to avoid to fully experience the pain. This is a soul protection mechanism that is called ‘soul loss’. In shamanic traditions, one acknowledges that there are times when a part of the soul separates and that the failure to return these parts of the soul can cause major problems. It is then necessary for the shaman to search the shamanic worlds to find this lost soul part and to breathe it back into the person. This process is called Soul Retrieval.
In this article, I ‘ll share some basic principles of Soul Retrieval in shamanic healing.
We all know the mechanism of soul loss. In the case of a serious accident, for example, it often happens that the person involved testifies that he saw the accident from a distance as if he were not present in the body. It is also possible that someone falls and can no longer remember how this happened.
But soul loss can also occur during strong emotional events. When a loved one dies, close friends or relatives sometimes experience moments of absence. Or someone experiences divorce and is absent for a long time, ‘not entirely him- or herself’.
These are all examples of soul loss, which may occur in many gradations. In a less drastic situation, for example, it may be that you receive shocking news, which makes you are no longer fully here. After a while, however, you feel your old self again and the part of the soul has returned. An extreme form of soul loss is coma, whereby not a part but the whole soul withdraws into the other world. Here we speak of complete soul loss.
This protection mechanism ensures that the consciousness is not directly exposed to major pain or trauma. It is inherent to being human and ensures that the health of the soul and psyche is preserved as well as possible by withdrawing into the other world in moments of extreme stress. In many cases, these parts of the soul, these parts of ourselves, will return spontaneously when the circumstances are safe again. This spontaneous Soul Retrieval also often occurs when people perform inner healing work and reconnect with life force and deeper, soul-infused, inner motivations.
However, the problem arises when this part of the psyche or soul does not return spontaneously and continues to seek refuge in the other world. You then feel that you are no longer yourself as if a part of you has been lost: no longer part of you, no longer integrated. In psychology, this splitting of the soul is called ‘dissociation’.
Few people do not feel that they have lost a part of their soul somewhere in their lives. The soul part that has split off will find refuge in one of the 3 shamanic worlds and will stay there. Tracing, finding and returning this lost part of the soul is an important aspect of the healing work of the shaman. He will use the shamanic journey to find the soul part in the other world and to bring it back.
Soul Retrieval – Returning the Soul.
The retrieval of lost soul parts – Soul Retrieval – can be found in shamanism worldwide. The form in which Soul Retrieval rituals are performed can vary from tradition to tradition. But in all cases, the shaman will undertake a journey to find the lost soul part and bring it back safely to the person involved. This trance journey is usually accompanied by the rhythm of the shaman drum and happens in close collaboration with his power animals and spirits helpers. When the soul part is found, the shaman will make contact with it. He will let it know that it can return home to live on more completely. When the soul part agrees, the shaman will bring it back with him and blow it into the body of his client.
It is important to realize that we are not always ready to simply integrate and live all parts of the soul again. When soul parts are brought back, this is often experienced as very beneficial. It is as if you get more back from yourself. On the other hand, it may also be that with the return of a soul part that left during moments of trauma, feelings of sadness or powerlessness also return, which require more healing. In this case, time and inner care are needed to bring healing and to integrate this part of yourself.
Bringing back a soul part must be regularly preceded by other healing work such as energy balancing, Power Retrieval, or Spirit Extraction. After all, it is fundamental that the person to whom the soul part is returned has first found sufficient strength and balance.
Another crucial factor is that the conditions that caused the soul part to leave have changed in the meantime. For example, a soul part that has left to the other world because it experienced domestic violence cannot return when the situation is still unsafe. In this example, the first step will be the recovery of power, from which to take the necessary steps to build physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual safety. When the necessary steps have been taken, the soul part can be brought back.
Working with the soul is always a delicate event that requires a lot of care and integrity.
Integration of returned Soul Parts
A very important aspect of the Soul Retrieval practice is the integration of the soul parts into the energy body and the life of the person. When the lost soul part has returned and has been blown back into the energy body, you must take enough time to integrate it. A good way to do this is to make daily contact with this part of your soul for a few weeks and ask what it needs.
For example, it may be that a part of your soul has been brought back as a five-year-old and that during the integration period of this child you will be told that he or she wants to eat ice cream. It is strongly recommended to do this and at the moment you eat this ice cream let the five-year-old child in you fully enjoy. In this way, you can integrate this part of your being to become more whole as a person.
Shift within the Soul Retrieval Work
Sandra Ingerman, who wrote the book “Soul Retrieval” and trained many people in the Soul Retrieval work, told during training that I followed with her, how she experienced a major shift in the experience of Soul Retrieval in the collective soul years ago.
Initially in her Soul Retrieval journeys, she was brought back to the moment the soul part had left. She usually saw the trauma that this part had experienced. It was often necessary to help this soul part with healing. When she subsequently returned the soul part to the client, he relived a part of the trauma or reminded the pain of it, before being able to do further healing work.
At a certain point, however, this experience changed completely. During her Soul Retrieval work, she no longer received information about the trauma. The relationship with these soul parts was also different. They began asking her to take them back and gave her life-bringing messages. Asking her to pass them on to the recipient of the Soul Retrieval. These messages were always intended as medicine as if this part of the soul brought new, transformative power. The healing work had now shifted from healing the trauma to living the medicine. Time and time again this shift in her experience surprised her.
Shortly thereafter, she began to receive letters from students worldwide who reported the same experience of their Soul Retrieval work. A collective leap into the field of the soul, which now focuses more and more on what is possible in walking a path of wholeness.
© Roel Crabbé – 2012