Soul Retrieval

Soul Loss and Soul Recovery

The Soul

All of us are likely to have encountered the idea that our soul can leave our body, and become lost or distant from us. The world of mythology, as well as pretty much all culture, abounds in stories of the soul becoming lost and found. How many times we have heard the countless songs about giving ones soul away to another, and how many of us have been in that place of receiving pleas to fill that empty space of another who’s love pours out to us? Also, most of us can conjure up the vision of some tribal elder or chief, or shaman, who, with the grace of the spirits, calls back some lost soul into a patent, or picture some sorcerer or witch casting spells to steal someone’s soul. Is this magic real, or is it all just placebo? Yet regardless of weather its real, all of us can at least picture this in some shape or form and identify with the stories around the soul, and its precarious journey. The idea of the soul is not strange to us.


And yet, when we really contemplate what this “soul” is, to understand what soul is and how it functions, it turns out very few of us can really stand on solid ground, for it is allusive from easy interpretation and for thousands of years philosophers have pondered its immortal existence. After all, cultures differ in definitions, and many cultures believe we have many souls, not just one, and that each soul has slightly different functions. So for now, lets just reflect on some basic definitions from within our own western understanding.




One word from the ancient Greek language offers us a good insight into what is
meant by the word soul: Psyche.

– Psyche means breath in its most basic interpretation. It can be extended to mean breath of life or even the life. “It leaves the body with the blood.”
– Psyche is the “life or spirit of man which survives after death… It is represented as bodiless and not to be seized by mortal hands, yet keeping the form of him who owned it.”
– Psyche was seen as the seat of the will, desires and passions
– Psyche is referred to as a kind of essence: the inmost soul, with all the heart. It is the vital principle.
– Psyche is identified in philosophy with the Latin concept of Anima mundi – the animating spirit of the universe.

summarising from the above definitions, I offer you this interpretations of what “soul” is: that which animates the body.

Within our personal lives we can experience this animating principle through the various qualities of feeling, empathy, dreaming and imagination, to name just a few.


Causes for loss of the soul


The question therefore arises – how can one loose the ability to feel, to empathise, to dream, to imagine? Surely if one really lost these core animating principles, one would have no awareness that one had lost anything at all: If one had really lost the imagination, then one would have no imagination to be aware that one had lost something. The quality of soulfulness is often linked to the qualities of being able to draw upon deep memories, of times which made you happy, times which made you sad, times which contained something of the essence of life’s mystery, of the depth of experience of both the light and the dark which one can integrate. As Kahlil Gibran writes, “the deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain”.

Yes, when we go through tough times, and come through it, we are stronger for it. But sometimes the experiences around us are so intense, so traumatic, that we simply don’t have the capacity to integrate the experience in a logical fashion. It is in these moments when our soul gets “lost”. From a spiritual perspective, it has escaped from reality in the physical to survive a situation that was too difficult to integrate into our comprehension of reality. From a psychological perspective, we become disassociated. (disassociation is commonly experienced as a subjective perception of ones consciousness being detached from ones emotions, body and immediate surroundings).

The way our mind remembers the situation becomes jumbled up. Our memories, which under normal circumstances allow us to process and hence make sense of what has happened, become scrambled, and so our sense of self cannot fully comprehend the situation and becomes confused. From a spiritual perspective this is soul loss.

The most common causes of this are war, abuse, bereavement, loss of a loved one, and addiction. Fundamentally however, it is any form of trauma can cause soul loss. Soul loss is a design that allows us to survive the pain of the situation. Often the soul comes back of its own accord. But sometimes it does not. This is partly because the effort of recalling the soul ones self involves re-experience the cause of events which lead to the soul leaving, which can be traumatic in its self, and partly because we live in a society which ignores the soul and forgets what the qualities of a soulful life really are.


Healing Methods/Techniques


Many different disciplines, (science, religion, new-age therapies, etc.) now agree on the basic definition of soul loss, and its causes. At the same time however, there are vastly wide differences on methods behind how the soul can be recovered.

Many psychologists have found that through hypnosis and various forms of counselling, the client essentially recovers their own soul: they return to the memories where the trauma occurred, and fully experience, fully live the memories so as to not become disassociated from the experience. This is essentially calling your own soul home. Yet in modern shamanism, it is basically understood that it is not essential for the client to re-experience the point of trauma, the practitioner can re-experience this for them. As was described to me, the practitioner is able to see where the soul left, the point of departure, and, provided the soul wants to come back, is able to bring it back, through intention and breath, into the body. This has its advantages, in that many traumatic situations are still too painful for people with disassociation to return to, relive, and call back their soul.

Modern psychology does not have methods to understand this, yet Gustav Young offered us the concept of the collective unconscious, which could be science’s key to coming to terms with this spiritual healing method. The collective unconscious is the part of the unconscious mind that is derived from ancestral memory and experience and is common to all humankind. Through this the practitioner who can navigate effectively the collective unconscious, can access also the memories and experiences of the client. It is as if the soul were forever tied in with the well of ancestral memory.


Healing Spirits


Creativity lies at the heart of soul. Music is a language of the soul:

“The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils…”

And a good comedian uplifts most of us; Laughter is another language of the soul. Most creative people usually describe the source of their expression as a channelling of something from the spirit world into the physical world; they become possessed by forces larger than themselves. The poets of old had their muses, angels and duendes, and the ancestral spirits sing and talk through their mediums throughout the world over. The processes by which one becomes possessed by such spirits usually involves emptying the self of ego, to make space for something else to enter. Most forms of traditional cultural expression have this core understanding. In terms of soul recovery, it is by entering voluntarily into possession that the soul can be contacted and negotiated with: healers of the soul work through their healing spirits. The intention therefore, rather than attempt the journey on their own, is to partner with a spirit who will guide the journey for them.
Traditionally, healing of the soul moves both ways: the one who becomes possessed by their healing spirits is as much on a healing journey as the one who’s soul is intended to be recovered. As one layer of the soul is revealed to the client, so another layer is revealed to the practitioner.
The heroic act of diving into the unknown to seek out the hiding places and sanctuaries that the soul may have fled to, invokes both the pride and humility of the practitioner. Pride comes through the gratification of having helped someone, but in truth, they themselves were helped. So without humility, the space for healing spirits to come through is not present, and so what will result is an exchange of ego only; a personality exchange in which some healing may occur, but no soul recovered.


Soul and love


Ultimately, it is love that is the force that unites the soul with the body, not some method or technique.

The capacity for empathy that an individual holds for another is boundless, indeed, as boundless and vast as the universe inside each human being. Any method, as ritualistically decorative as it may be, or as technically correct as far as our logics can understand, will only be able to go as far to helping someone recover their soul if there is love. Love is the true healer of the soul. Any method should at best be an outward heart felt expression of this love, formalised only as much as is necessary for the act of love to be expressed.


Stephen Watts – 2016-11-21

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