I first experienced soul retrieval at Daan van Kampenhout’s training in Mexico City. As part of his teaching on Systemic Ritual he presented this concept to the group. I have met the concept before in my basic shamanic training but had a vague idea of how this could be practiced. We were to think of the times in our lives where some powerful, if not traumatising, events occurred and then use stones to represent the soul parts that were still there in those times and events. Being witnessed by a partner we were to set an intention to call those soul parts back and to use our voice to do it – singing, talking, humming. I have set up two soul parts that I believed were missing since I moved countries several times as a child, and breathing them back into my body brought quiet peace and a sense of completeness.
Soul retrieval is one of the core practices in traditional and modern shamanism. Description and details may vary depending on cultural context and background teaching but in its essence it is a belief that a person’s soul (or several souls in some cultures) could split into pieces and leave the body for various reasons. Most of the time, it will come back and reconnect but in times of great fear, threat, challenge and pain a part of the soul might choose to remain in dreamworld – the realm that we go to in our dreams, the other world, the other dimension – whatever you call it – the place deemed safer and more pleasant for the soul.
If soul loss occurs it may lead to physical and mental illness, a sense of dullness of life, as if something is missing and nothing is the same as it used to be. The colours are not as bright, the laughter is not as sincere and nothing seems to be able to change it – no matter what healing practices and therapy you do.
Traditionally, if I am to summarise this healing practice, when a practitioner senses soul loss, she would journey on behalf of the person to her guides and spirit helpers to get help in finding the missing part of the soul. Her guides would quickly locate it and bring her there. After some negotiation – mainly explaining what happened and that the threat/situation has shifted and the person is generally in a better state – a practitioner brings the missing soul part back to the person’s body. Continue reading
(Image from Snow and Ashes film by Gregory Kolbert)
I am fascinated by the Systemic Family Constellations work and everything shamanic. I study it, practice it, research it. Here, I am sharing what I learn and hope it can be of use to somebody interested in healing their families, communities and lives.
In 2019 I published some of my poetry inspired by systemic work in this journal. It is available as PDF, Kindle or printed at the link above.