The last time I sat and talked to my friend about my troubles she said it all stems from losing a part of my soul. She underwent a soul retrieval and told me how much it helped her.
While it sounds a bit far-fetched to me, it’s true that I’ve been in one bad relationship after another.
Should I have a soul retrieval? I’m not sure what it is but I’m tired of dealing with the garbage of my life and if this can take it all away, great.
Signed, Wants My Soul Back
I had a soul retrieval last year. Initially I felt a little better but I don’t think it worked at all. I’m feeling worse and my life, if possible, is even more out of control. Could it be that the person who did it for me didn’t do it right?
Signed, Wants My Soul Back
Dear Soul and Retrieval,
Inherent in most individuals’ belief systems is the viewpoint that we arrive in the world as an intact personality. The soul is that immutable and unique part of us that transcends the physical body, or at the least is with us from the moment of birth to the last breath we take. Much like a clean blackboard, we start from a particular personality unwritten upon, and then life makes its mark and we become who we are, a single narrative if you will.
Yet in most indigenous cultures there’s the belief in a multifaceted soul: one that contains every moment in our life, every aspect of who we are, our myriad skills, abilities, gifts and talents, our every experience, and every emotion and thought we’ve ever had. In some cultures there is also the acceptance of multiple lifetimes, each with its own complex history and results. We are not necessarily a straight line of being with a single thread that is being acted upon. Instead, perhaps our soul can be imperfectly imagined as a strand of pearls. Each pearl is a facet of our soul, each comprising the necklace, yet every beautifully unique pearl is intact in and of itself. One pearl breaks away and the strand, however lovely, is no longer what it was originally.
With soul loss, a part of the individual breaks away from the whole, leaving the remaining soul fragmented, incomplete as if an entire puzzle was assembled but a piece—or pieces—are missing. The puzzle itself can be discerned for the visual picture it is, but the integral parts are not all there, not entirely present, and there’s always the sense of incompleteness. We want to see its entirety and feel dissatisfied with what is left.
Why does this happen? The reasons are as varied, and as complex, as the countless thoughts, experiences and emotions each person contains. The common theme, however, is that soul loss occurs during a traumatic event, a time so untenable and painful that the psyche of the person cannot endure it and, so, part of it splits off from the person.
As often happens, what indigenous cultures have known and named for generations, is eventually accepted and described in current psychological therapies. In psychology, the term "dissociation" is described as a protective mechanism whereby part of the consciousness of an individual splits off from the psyche, taking with it anxiety, painful thoughts and the emotions associated with that trauma.
Although it’s a sadly tragic example, consider a physically abused child. This five-year-old girl didn’t ask for abuse, didn’t call it to her in any way, and yet a trusted adult betrayed her trust and in doing so caused such a horrific experience that the girl simply cannot continue to be emotionally present. She leaves the moments of abuse, separating from her experience, psychologically and emotionally in a way she can’t do physically.
With the idea of soul loss—and continuing with our example—when that five-year-old self leaves, she takes with her all the energy associated with a beautiful, precious little five-year-old girl. The traits we consider child-like may be hard for the now thirty-five-year-old woman to recapture. Perhaps she has difficulty playing, she might feel a lack of curiosity and adventure. Trust is damaged and her ability to connect in an innocent, heart-felt way seems difficult if not impossible. She might continue the theme of abuse by choosing dis-empowering relationships that mirror aspects of the original trauma.
When these individuals describe such soul losses they often use words such as feeling numb, being separate from their emotions, as though they’re an outsider watching their lives unfold, powerless to change or enjoy the moments. It can be described as living life inside an emotional bubble, or as one person described it, “It’s like I have a wound I can’t feel. I’m anesthetized from the pain but I also can’t feel pleasure.”
Because only a fragment of the soul is lost, the individual may be able to cope quite well in life, successful in ways large and small. Depending upon the awareness of the person, they might feel quite rightly that they’re happy and well-adjusted, yet for many there’s a void that no amount of effort seems to fill.
Soul retrieval is the act of bringing the soul fragment home where it can be reintegrated into the whole, allowing the person a full range of emotions. This doesn’t mean, of course, that in the span of a ceremony all sadness or unhappiness will disappear. Challenges will still occur, people will still disappoint, joys will unfold, successes will be achieved: life happens as it does with everyone. But the individual with an intact soul has within him or her all the tools necessary to grow and learn, to experience life fully in every way. In other words, to bring calm, joy, and all the possibilities in life to fruition in their own.
The details and mechanics of soul retrievals vary and even the term "soul retrieval" is a phrase unused by traditional indigenous peoples, but some Shamanic processes are fairly universal. The healer, usually considered a medicine man or woman, enters an altered state of consciousness and travels to a realm where the soul fragment has retreated. Once there, the Shaman convinces the soul fragment to return to the individual, bringing with him or her all the full range of emotions and wisdom, the abilities, gifts, talents and skills inherent within that fragment.
For all the truly wonderful reasons why someone might consider soul retrieval, it isn’t a cure-all and should not be undertaken lightly or with the mistaken belief that merely bringing back a fragment (or fragments as there may be more than one part that has split off) will bring happiness to an individual. It is part of the process of healing and as with any journey toward a desired destination, there are steps that need to be taken and considered. This doesn’t mean the adventure isn’t one of joy, merely that preparation and a full awareness of the path ahead are important in reaching the goal.
Remember, the soul fragmented for a reason. The original trauma was clearly so painful that through the process of leaving, the fragment partially escaped the full spectrum of emotions present during the experience. This separation meant that processing and healing from the wound either didn’t occur, or only happened in a limited way.
Let’s go back to the example of the five-year-old girl. Because she left her physical body, and due to the trauma inherent in such a horrific experience, healing from the abuse can be hampered by her soul’s inability to access all the elements of the experience. Examining the event, however painful, is a necessary aspect of healing. It’s an unavoidable part of moving through the trauma toward understanding, toward integrating and then transcending the painful experience—ultimately toward a life of wisdom and joy.
Bringing back that soul fragment—that five-year-old self—means that the woman she is at thirty-five will now needs to go through the delayed process of healing. Furthermore, it might be difficult if not impossible to convince the soul fragment to return if the remaining soul of the woman isn’t viewed as existing in a safe place. If she’s in an emotionally painful relationship as an adult, that child-self may not feel she’ll be protected and will either refuse to return or will simply leave once more.
After a retrieval, an individual might feel sadness or grief. They might experience recall of the trauma and all the attendant emotions and, to some degree, they may go through the process that was once avoided. With this in mind, it’s important for the individual considering soul retrieval to put in place positive foundations. What elements are present that are supportive, therapies such as mental health counseling as well as other healing modalities? If this isn’t part of the individual’s life, it’s possible to feel re-traumatized.
There are often other energetic methods that need to be done before a retrieval is undertaken, such as extractions, spirit releasements, and/or energy decording. These options all work to prepare the individual for the return of soul fragments, creating a safe and loving home to return to. In short, a soul retrieval is a powerful, profound method of healing. If after considering the steps ahead you decide to embark on this journey, may you be blessed along the way and may your destination be rich in understanding and joy.
Many blessings, Asrianna