Soul loss, from the shamanic point of view, as the name suggests is when our soul fragments and a portion of it breaks. It sounds scary but it is actually compassionate action from the Universe. Soul loss occurs when we are in so much pain that the only way for us to cope is if part of us leaves. It is a survival mechanism, whereby in the moment of greatest pain (and pain is subjective) we leave the body so that we can survive. If you speak to people who had great trauma in their lives you may hear the words “out of body experience”, and that is what is known as soul loss in shamanism.

Some examples of when soul loss can happen, and again these are very subjective are: mortification, trauma, accident, loss of a loved one, surgery, abuse, war and acute feelings of shame. Being in a coma, for example, is believed to be acute soul loss.

Trauma and pain can be subjective. What ails one may not ail another. Similarly, what causes me pain, may not cause pain anyone else, and therefore anything can cause soul loss for pure reason that suffering is subjective. Naturally there are some things we all find painful, such as loss of a dear person, war, car crash, but not everything is so black and white.

Sometimes soul loss is followed by soul returning, but in cases of immense pain this may not happen on its own. In indigenous cultures this was not a problem as the person was usually able to see a shaman within days, but in our culture, it could be long time, and sometimes never, before people seek help from shamanic practitioner. This is not ideal as it can result in people living their lives with reduced essence.

Some possible symptoms of soul loss are: disassociation, addiction (no matter how innocent example, shopping, exercising, chocolate), PTSD and, patterns of behavior that keep repeating. We repeat these patterns over and over again as we try to recreate the original situation in an effort to try and find that soul part. We do not do this consciously. Or, as an example, in case of addiction we try to fill the hole, however the only thing that will fill the hole is the soul part which is now gone.

So where do soul parts go and how do we get them back?
Soul goes to Non Ordinary Reality (NOR) where it waits to be returned and reunited with the individual. Soul parts do not need healing as they are pure essence. Shamanic practitioners, with help of their Allies/Spirits, track the soul parts and bring them back to the client. What is important to stress here is that when the soul part is returned, trauma or pain is not returned with it, what comes back is pure essence, which cannot be hurt, which can now be returned to the client. Usually soul parts come back with some specific gift, talent and/or strength and it can be a very emotional reunion.

I also want to add here that while it is the role of a shamanic practitioner to bring the cure, in this case the soul part, it is the individual who is ultimately responsible to do his/her own healing and inner work and make changes in their life if need be.

Another reason why soul parts may leave is due to soul theft. Soul theft happens all the time. It is done on an unconscious level and it cannot happen without consent. Most often it happens between lovers, between parents and children and we can also give our souls to places/people/animals. You can often hear this in conversation such as: ”s/he stole my heart” and/or,  “I left my heart in xyz place”.

The reason we may do some of these things is because, we unconsciously may perceive giving part of our soul as a loving act, for example in the case of lovers. However, it is not a loving act as the other person cannot do anything with this soul part and is actually burdened by it and the person giving up his/her soul now has less of his/her own essence. So it’s a lose-lose type of situation. Or in the case of  a parent child relationship, a good metaphor would be to imagine someone trying to steal your wallet and you do not want to let go, but eventually if this person is stronger than you, well after a while you may not be able to hold on and you release it. Again, all this is often done without our conscious knowledge, however there is always consent as far as soul theft is concerned.

So what can be done? How do we get our soul back?
Many shamanic practitioners do Soul Retrieval (SR). BUT, a huge BUT here, it is NOT the shamanic practitioner who determines if SR is needed. Spirits and only Spirits diagnose what is needed! Never ever a shamanic practitioner!

Another helpful thing we can do, and I invite everyone who knows how to journey to this, is to do a journey to be shown if they are holding any soul parts and if so how to release them to the Universe so that the Universe can take care of them. We could also do a journey to see what we can do so that we do not engage in soul theft behavior. And of course do a journey to Spirits to ask anything you wish to know about this topic.

Lastly, I want to stress here that it is never the practitioner who decides what healing client needs. That is left to the Spirits who will diagnose what healing is needed. Practitioners may suspect all kinds of things but in the end all healing and all teachings come from Spirit. We, practitioners are just a vessel, a hollow bone and our job is to get ourselves out of the way so that we can be in service.
I hope this helps. For more information please see resources.