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SOUL LOSS – 18 signs a part of your soul is lost & how to get it back

soul retrieval
In this article

Reading time: 11 mins


Soul loss can manifest in many ways. How do you know if you need soul retrieval?

Maybe you are struggling to get over a relationship breakup or know someone who is struggling with this? Or the problem is bereavement? Loss of a home or a job? Are you still affected by the wounds and effects of a difficult childhood or another traumatic experience, such as bullying at school or at work? Do you feel like you haven’t been the same after a serious illness or accident? Hold feelings that do not obviously stem from a particular event; apathy maybe; a lack of focus and enthusiasm; depression; addictive behaviours; low self-esteem?

In that case, a skilled shamanic practitioner can journey to find the missing parts and persuade them to come back, a process known as soul-retrieval. More on that later. Let’s first look at the sympthoms of soul loss.

lost your soul


There can be many different signs of soul loss. These can include a sense or feeling of:

  • somehow being incomplete; that something is ‘missing’
  • numbness or flatness; of just going through the motions
  • hopelessness, apathy and indifference; like a spark is missing
  • being disconnected from life or what is around you; as if you are living in a dream
  • depression, ranging from mild, to moderate, through to severe
  • feeling lost, indecisive and aimless
  • procrastination; time-wasting; or finding it hard to sustain focus or effort
  • a lack of confidence and self-belief
  • having a strong inner critic who puts you down and is always on your back
  • phobias and anxieties; fearfulness
  • missing memories (where have the memories gone, and why did they go?)
  • addictions or other compulsive behaviours and/or thought patterns
  • never having really recovered from a past event
  • repeatedly returning to a person, location or behaviour that is unhealthy for you
  • inability to move on from an issue or event, despite efforts to do so
  • finding it hard to (re)invest in the future with enthusiasm and optimism
  • grief, fear, anger or rage that you cannot seem to shake off

This last symptom may seem strange, but in fact it is surprisingly common. It is because, before the birth of the so-called “civilisation” from around 4,000BC, shamanism was practised by all humans. In fact, they did not just practice it, they lived and breathed it. It was central to them. So the vast majority of your ancestors, going back literally thousands upon thousands of generations, would have recognised and understood the symptoms of soul loss. 

Because of this, when it is explained to them, these days soul loss still makes sense to people at a deep level, something they have long felt deep down but could not quite put their finger on. 

Physically, the symptoms of soul loss can be many and varied and soul loss can a factor behind pretty much any illness. Given soul loss results in a weakened state mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, it is not surprising if things start to go wrong physically too.

soul loss


There are some obvious causes of the soul part leaving. Traditionally, soul loss was said to result from things such as accidents, serious illnesses, shocks and other traumatic events. However, there are other causes too. These include:

  • abuse; not just sexual, but also physical and mental/emotional too
  • prolonged anxiety or fear
  • loss and grief
  • shame and guilt
  • prolonged pain
  • giving your soul to another; co-dependent relationships
  • domination by another person, or a group (everything from peer pressure to religious cults)
  • allowing your soul to be stolen by another, or others
  • substance abuse and other addictions (allowing your soul to be stolen by the object of the addiction)
  • not being true to oneself; disowning or disallowing parts of oneself

In order to fit in, we can variously send away our own playfulness, creativity, spontaneity, joy, passion, wildness, sensitivity, vulnerability, confidence, assertiveness, carefreeness, cleverness, sadness, tears, anger, and so on.


Maybe as a child there was something you were repeatedly told never to do, such as: be angry; or upset; or cry; or be noisy; or clever; or naughty; or answer back; or any number of things. As a child, what are you going to do with that bit of you? If you are repeatedly criticised or rejected, punished or shamed if you do this thing, then in order to survive, you have to block this part of you off. We do this, usually unconsciously, by adopting what is known as an introject (from the Latin intrō = into and iectiōn = throwing), something from somebody else that is thrown into us. So an introject is a ‘should’ or a ‘shouldn’t’, a ‘must’ or a ‘must not’, that we take on board and then internalise

repressed soul parts
Psychoterapeutic VS. shamanic view

Psychotherapists would say that we repressed this part and, through the process of therapy, we can recover and reintegrate it. However, shamanism says that sometimes something altogether more startling sometimes happens. Sometimes that part is not just repressed, but actually leaves altogether. The (soul) part literally splits off and goes. In this case, there will be only so far that therapy can go. This is when shamanism comes into its own, because shamanism can find the parts that are “no longer in the room” but which have left altogether.

  • Sometimes soul loss occurs when we do not feel safe, say in the case of a traumatic event. Part of us then leaves, as it does not feel it is safe to stay.
  • Sometimes the part is literally shocked out of the body. It may then still be stuck in the time and place of the traumatic event, literally hanging around it like a ghost (this is why people describe flashbacks, or persistent thoughts or images; part of them is literally still stuck back there).
  • Prolonged situations such as fear, guilt or pain can have a similar effect. Part of us eventually leaves because it could no longer cope (we may say we felt part of us died).
  • Sometimes we give our soul (our power) over to a loved one, and when they die or leave, we feel our heart has been wrenched out.
  • Other times somebody (or even a substance like alcohol or drugs) may ‘steal’ our soul, by undermining and gradually overpowering us; dominating us and keeping us in chains and tied to them.

Sometimes, the lost part is stuck back in the time period and place of the trauma. Other times, the soul part drifts further, and literally goes off into realms beyond this one. 

Sometimes parts flee to safe places in these other realms. And sometimes the gravitate to places of hopelessness and despair. What they need, and what the person they belong to needs, is to come back. This is where soul retrieval comes in. 

stuck in time and place of trauma



In a soul retrieval, the skilled shamanic practitioner leaves their own body and enters into shamanic reality. This is usually (but not always) done to the accompaniment of a shamanic drum or rattle. Working with the help of their power animal(s) and other guides, the practitioner finds the soul part of the person they are journeying for, and attempts to persuade it to return. If it agrees to return, the part is then gathered up, brought back to this reality, and then literally blown back into the person’s body.


The actual process of doing soul retrieval can seem surprisingly quick. This is because the retrieval itself happens outside the timescale of this reality. So the whole process can be done in the space of an hour or two. 


Sometimes a series of sessions are needed, when soul parts are reluctant to return, or when multiple parts have been lost.


However, if all our soul (or souls) had left, then we would have died. The fact that we did not die means that part of us stayed behind and carried on, ‘holding the fort’ so to speak. In childhood, this is the part of us that learns to bite our lip or hold our tongue; to always be ready for a fight; to not show weakness; to not speak out; to swallow our sadness; to sell ourselves out in order to fit in or survive, and countless other strategies we may have adopted to get through childhood.

This part of us, the fort-holder, may be ambivalent or even outright opposed to the ‘lost’ soul part returning, as it is likely to be nervous about the changes that doing a soul retrieval could (and would) bring. Because it is the fort-holder who sent the lost soul-part away in the first place, to try and protect us, and help us to survive. The fact that we send part of our own self away, and that another part of us may not actually want it back, makes modern-day soul retrieval a much more complex issue than it once was. 

Consequently, these days it is often not enough to retrieve the lost soul part for a person and to blow it back into them, as traditional shamans would have done, because the fort-holder in us often does not realise that the war of childhood is over, and will simply send the part away again. They are still on guard like a loyal soldier, ever ready to step in and protect us (albeit in ways that may now no longer be appropriate or serving us any more).


Other times, more sessions are needed, because additional shamanic healing is necessary:

  • As well as soul loss we can suffer power loss – the loss of healthy  connection with nature ant the other-than-human world – and so, very often it is necessary to do a power-retrieval too, usually in the form of what is known as a Power Animal.
  • Also, when soul parts leave, they leave holes in us. When this happens, other things, ‘intrusions’ can get in, and need to be removed. The process of removing these is generally known as shamanic extraction.
  • So too, where there are strong introjects, they may need to be worked with. It is all very well for bringing somebody’s soul part back for them. But if the soul part is a part of themselves that they have strong ‘shoulds’ or ‘should nots’ about, then if the part is to stay then these will need to be addressed (and this is often where counselling or psychotherapy can pick up the thread again).
  • The other thing that sometimes happens is that the soul part returns, but the body is still in shock. Shamanism recognises different aspects of us, each having different needs. Put simply, we are made up of body, soul and spirit. What the Body needs is to feel safe. So sometimes, as well as soul loss, there is ‘body shock’, in which case what is needed is a ‘body re-patterning’ journey too.


The effects of good shamanic soul retrieval (and other shamanic healing) can be dramatic or subtle. But either way, the effects are very often profound. People often describe it as a turning point, not always at the time, but usually in looking back. 

They experience a return of their self-esteem; their optimism and motivation; health may improve; addictions and compulsions fade away. Just think about what it would be like to have a whole and intact soul, with no bits, knocked out, and you will get the picture.


As I already emphasised, nowadays, soul retrieval can be a complex issue. To achieve the best results, we need to seek help from both shamanism and psychotherapy. This is why the Therapeutic Shamanism we teach, draws from both of them.


Our courses are built in a way that can give you all the necessary knowledge, practices and tools to successfully learn to do soul retrieval for yourself and for other people. However, this takes some time and work.

The Soul Retrieval Course is an advanced course, so only students who have done our First Steps and at least one of our Next Step course are eligible. If you want to start your shamanic journey, we are accepting bookings for First Steps Course: Discover more.


If you are looking for a Therapeutic Shamanism practitioner for one-to-one shamanic help with soul retrieval, or for a psychotherapist with a background in Therapeutic Shamanism, please contact the college for recommendations.

learn to do soul retrieval yourself

Soul retrieval is an advanced shamanic technique, and it takes some time to get to the point of being able to do it yourself. However – if you feel the calling, our First Steps course is a great foundation you can build on!


First Steps course covers everything you need to start with shamanic journeying, including:

  • What is shamanism?
  • The history of shamanism and animism
  • How to do a shamanic journey (a step-by-step process)
  • How to do Power Animal retrieval journey and find your own Power Animal
  • Why we nearly lost shamanism, why we need it back and how psychotherapy fits in the process
  • The basics of how to do shamanic healing for other people

Reading time: 11 mins

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