By August 24, 2012 2 Comments Read More →

Soul Retrieval: Singing Your Soul Home Again

Beth Beurkens, MA, Guest Writer
Waking Times

We are the sum of our ancestors
Our roots stretch back to blue-green algae
They stretch to the stars
They ultimately reach the void
This history is inscribed in our psyches
Silence and solitude enjoin us to remember
Our whole and great body.

– Joan Halifax

Shamans have been healing the living and the dead for forty thousand years. Shamanic healing deals with the spiritual aspects of problems and illness. In the shaman’s worldview, there are basically three common causes of illness.

1. The loss of one’s personal power can cause repeated misfortune, depression and chronic illness. When this happens, the shaman journeys in a trance state to find and retrieve the lost power in the form of a spirit animal.

2. Another cause of illness from a shamanic perspective is when a person has taken on negative energies which create blockages or pain in localized areas of the body. In this case, the shaman merges with a helping spirit, then works with the person to extract these intruded energies.

3. A frequent cause of illness is when a person loses a part of their soul. According to shamanic traditions, partial soul loss can occur during times of emotional or physical trauma. This loss of soul can result in depression, illness, addictions, post-traumatic stress syndrome, or even coma. The shaman tracks the parts of the soul that have fled and recovers them in a soul retrieval ceremony.

I have been a practitioner and teacher of shamanism here and in Europe for many years. I was in a wooden chalet on a writing retreat in the Swiss Alps the first time I heard about soul retrieval. I had a book with me that had a list of typical soul loss symptoms and a description of healing the soul through shamanic retrieval. Having even one of these symptoms (which I did), can be an indication of soul loss.

*  Chronically ill as a child
*  Problems with your immune system and your ability to resist illness
 Difficulty staying present in your body, feeling outside your body, looking in
 Feeling numb, deadened, apathetic
*  Difficulty moving on after loss, divorce, or the death of a loved one
*  Struggling with addictions to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling
 Looking for external things to fill an internal void or emptiness

Sandra Ingerman
Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self

It became immediately apparent that soul retrieval was the next big step in my healing journey. I needed to have my vital core essence returned to me and with it a sense of joy, presence and wholeness. I looked out the small window, down to the alpine trail below. There stood an enormous bright red fox looking up at me, and I felt the power of the universe confirming my knowledge that my soul fragment wanted to come back home to me.

As I was growing up I noticed how some people changed after illness and loss. My grandmother was never the same after her beloved sister died tragically. And after her husband left her with five children to raise, my other grandmother remained completely stuck in the past. One girl in high school, who experienced an epileptic seizure out of the blue, was never present in the same way again, even though the condition was medically under control. Another family down the street whose handicapped daughter died, never recovered from the loss.

We all know people who, having gone through divorce, remain deadened for some time afterwards, or who, after a car accident or other personal tragedy, never fully recover their spirit. We see soldiers returning from war with post-traumatic stress disorder, who feel that they are not completely here anymore.

These are all situations where the person may be suffering from the departure of a piece of their spiritual essence or soul. Soul is our vital essence and when it is fully present we radiate joy, vitality and life force. Soul loss can keep us from feeling our connections with others, from creating healthy relationships and from living the life we really want to live.

The shaman is concerned with the soul and its adventure – in all the realms the soul moves through, in all its stages – birth, life, and the passage through death and back into life again. (see Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy)

Where does the soul fragment go and how does the shaman track and retrieve what was lost?

Shamans divide the spiritual cosmos into three worlds; the Upper World, the Middle World, the Lower World. A missing soul essence may be found in any of these worlds.

Shamans most often use the beat of the drum to take them into an altered state of consciousness and carry them in spirit flight into the hidden universe of these worlds. Once there, they meet with their helping spirits, power animals and spirit teachers. It is the spirits who then lead the shaman to the places where lost soul essences are found. Working hand in hand with their spirits, the shaman retrieves the lost soul and carries it back to the person who is awaiting its return. The soul is sung back, blown into the body and welcomed home in a beautiful ceremony. This work takes training, great skill and compassion on the part of the shaman.

In my shamanic healing practice I have, for many years now, had the honor of helping people recover their souls and discover how to live from a place of renewed wholeness after the soul retrieval. Every practitioner experiences the spiritual worlds in their own ways. I often find lost souls waiting in the Great Forest of the hidden universe, in the Cave of Lost Children, in the Ocean of Souls and in the Void. Occasionally I discover a soul part is still in the Middle World, in the childhood home where a trauma occurred.

After the soul retrieval, life changes for the person. For some that change is major and immediately evident. For others it is more subtle as the returning essence enters into one’s present life. When welcomed home, the return of one’s soul can bring more enthusiasm back into life, help break old patterns and open up more choices in life.

All shamanic healing is a gift from the helping spirits.

The stars call out to you
the trees and streams sing your name
the moon and sun call out to you
the mountains, animals and ocean, too
saying, you belong to a greater whole,
you have a unity with all of life.
You are not alone.

About the Author

Beth Beurkens, MA, has been a teacher of shamanism and a vision quest guide for 22 years. She is a faculty member at the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, instructor at Rogue Community College and the School of Women & Earth (Switzerland), and a teacher of creative writing. Beth leads dynamic seminars in North America and in Europe and has a shamanic healing practice in Ashland, Oregon and Basel, Switzerland. Beth has taught religion and spirituality courses at numerous California colleges for thirty one years and holds an M.A. in philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Beth has studied extensively with Michael Harner, Alicia Luengas Gates and Sandra Ingerman. She is the author of “Shaman’s Eye” and “Shaman: Spirit Walker” 2010 and 2011 wall calendars.

This article is featured as part of a partnership with AllThingsHealing.com.

All Things Healing (allthingshealing.com) is an online portal and community dedicated to informing and educating people across the globe about alternative healing of mind, body, spirit and the planet at large. We are committed to bringing together a worldwide community of individuals and organizations who are working to heal themselves, each other, and the world. We offer 39 healing categories, 80 plus editors who are experts in their fields, a forum for each category, and an extensive “Find Practitioners” listing. Our Costa Rica Learning Center and Spiritual Retreat is coming soon. Join us!

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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2 Comments on "Soul Retrieval: Singing Your Soul Home Again"

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  1. dimitri says:

    Oops! As soon as I hear of some outfit setting up shop in the high rent, U.S. colony of Costa Rica I get suspicious. For no apparent reason, though. It’s, after all, “only business”.

  2. Jan Yatsko says:

    “The indigenous people of the Am. Southwest believe that to cultivate wisdom & character, you must develop the capacity to be fluid & flexible like water, warm like fire and solid like a mountain or you will suffer soul loss…..when we experience the new or unknown, not only do we dispell the symptoms of soul loss, but we also renew our spirit, develop curiosity, reduce fear and increase creativity.” ~The Second Half of Life-Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom by Angeles Arrien.

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