In the oldest traditions, the main purpose of the shaman’s trance was that of soul retrieval–journeying in an effort to locate and retrieve “the out of body soul” (Sandner, 1997,p. 4).
When a person experiences a traumatic event such as; death of a loved one, divorce, verbal, sexual, or physical abuse, war, accidents, or surgery there is a chance that a piece of their light essence may split off in order to assist in the person’s overall survival (Ingerman, 2008). In essence, it is it is a survival mechanism (Ingerman, 2000). “Soul loss is an adaptive strategy to the original trauma. Leaving the body is at times the most intelligent way to escape the full weight of a particular horror…this adaptation can help a person survive” (Ingerman, 1991, p. 37).
Once the lost essence or soul piece is located, it is returned to the person in present time by means of a ritual which involves blowing the pieces, which were gathered and held by the shaman, (with the assistance of their Spirit/Animal guide) back into the body–specifically into the heart and the crown shakra. It is important to note that the trauma which caused the Soul Loss is not what is returned to the person’s body, rather it is their pure light essence–their soul self.
Some symptoms of Soul Loss include feelings of dissasociation or a sense of being disconnected from life–as if one is separate or detached, watching life on the outside. Addiction can be a cause of Soul Loss and also a symptom of it. Another indicator of Soul Loss can be unresolved grief. When someone tells you that they have never been the same since a specific event (and this is said in a negative way) this can also indicate Soul Loss (Ingerman, 2008).
Ingerman, S. (1991). Soul retrieval: Mending the fragmented self. New York: Harper San Francisco.
Ingerman, S. (2000). Medicine for the earth: How to transform personal and environmental toxins. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Ingerman, S. (2008). Five day soul retrieval training. Unpublished lecture presented at Still Meadows Retreat Center, Portland, OR.
Sandner, D.F. (1997). Introduction: Anakytical psychology and shamanism. In D. F. Sandner & S.H. Wong (Eds.), The sacred heritage: The influence of shamanism on analytical psychology (pp. 3-11). New York: Routledge.