Soul Retrieval

Autumn BerriesSometimes ideas take wing and become important in everyday culture, often losing context in the process.  Somehow we forget that words are symbols, fingers pointing to the moon and not the moon herself. That may be the case with the concept of soul retrieval. Following are my thoughts on this.

Everything has spirit; that is, every tree and atom in the cosmos is connected to the consciousness that underlies creation. In addition to spirit, many beings have soul, an animating principle that seems to accompany one from life to life. Soul seeks balance and expression, and may fragment when the individual, family, or community is stressed or traumatized. I use the terms spirit and soul to point to living experiences rather than as the concrete objects; both remain, ultimately, a mystery.

Traditionally folks were very cautious not to offend the spirit of things. The idea is that the collective spirit of a species or community has consciousness and volition and is best treated with respect. Spirit has a long memory, so when one takes an animal or plant for food or other need, the need must be strong and the taken one must be acknowledged and thanked. It’s best to ask permission of the being before we take it. Otherwise the individual or collective spirit of that being may turn vengeful.

Souls seem to move along from one life to another, although all lives may be viewed as concurrent. To make things even more complex, some souls may return to the Creator and no longer reincarnate. Additionally, when in a body, soul appears to occupy multiple dimensions of experience. Souls may lose cohesion when under extreme stress, and aspects of soul may leave the body, taking refuge in alternative dimensions. Such fragmentation can be brief or chronic, individual or collective. Soul retrieval is the process by which fragments are returned to the body.

I believe soul retrieval is most effective when the person or community is ready to welcome the returning “parts”.  This is tricky, for returning aspects of soul may well bring memories of traumatic events with them. Thus, there must usually be considerable preparatory work prior to the retrieval. Self must be ready to accept the returning parts and their suffering, as failure to do so may create a deeper rift between Self and parts, and make future repair more difficult. Yet there seems to be an idea in the culture that soul retrievals are a cure in themselves, requiring no preparation on the part of the participant.

I like to think of soul retrieval as a ceremony, requiring considerable preparation, careful attention to intent, and lots of post care. It is a good ceremony, powerful and profoundly healing when timely.  It is also a ceremony that demands much of the participant. Like many ceremonies, soul retrieval is a metaphorical garden, requiring much preparation and tending to producing an abundant harvest, then tender care to assure future abundance. Maybe we do ourselves a collective disservice when we focus on the brief ceremony and ignore all the work that makes the ceremony effective.

8 thoughts on “Soul Retrieval

  1. Your words speak volumes here, Michael.

    Whenever I’m called upon to participate in Soul Retrieval work with a patient, my own words echo a lot of what you present in this post. I also explain to each patient that the soul fragment is very much akin to a lost child. Soul Retrieval may be viewed, in that sense, as bringing the lost child home. Once the ceremony has ended, it is up to the patient to provide a loving and healthy home for that child. As the process of healing unfolds, both the fragment and the patient will experience an adjustment period.

    More important, obviously, than the ceremony itself is the effort the patient makes going forward to reclaim the fragment, reconstitute the energies and experiences it brings with it, and prepare and maintain a proper spiritual environment in which the fragment may heal, express itself, and reintegrate itself with the greater spiritual whole. . .

      1. Agreed, Michael. Much in the same way that prayer is the last refuge of the scoundrel, spiritual healing is often the last refuge of the desperate. So often, when someone comes to that place, they’ve pilled and doctored themselves to the point of not knowing what else to do. These methods have merit, no doubt, but sometimes, after trying everything else, a patient shows up of the doorstep of a spiritual healer looking to place everything – including their own part in the healing – into the hands of the healer whom they’re counting on to flip the switch and make the pain go away.

        Perhaps one of the things I find most gratifying about the shamanic path is that its success relies so heavily upon the patient taking an active role in their own healing. We might walk them to the door, perhaps even open it, but stepping through relies completely on their willingness – and readiness – to do so.

  2. Michael: I have had such interest and appreciation of your worik here! I have found Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life. I find him another teacher/guide in working with the “Soul” and addressing the way life these days tends to disconnect us from our souls and the larger human experience!

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