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We live in times of massive disconnection from nature and from our true selves. Learning how to reconnect and receive healing through shamanic journeying is a grounded and practical way of claiming your healthy power back.

Healing soul loss lies at the heart of this journey.

That’s why I’m excited to share our recent interview, where we tackle the most common questions about soul loss:

… or if you prefer to jump right to a specific question, simply click on it:

What is soul loss?

When a person experiences trauma, emotional distress, or significant life events, a part of their soul may become fragmented or dissociate from their being. 

This fragmentation, called soul loss, can have profound negative effects on a person’s well-being and ability to lead a fulfilling life and can result in feelings of emptiness, disconnection, depression, and a lack of purpose or passion in life.

Signs of soul loss

Signs of soul loss are many and 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
  • Other times, it’s simply a feeling that the soul retrieval may help
Causes of 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.

  • 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)
  • having your soul stolen by another, or others
  • substance abuse and other addictions (losing your soul to the object of the addiction)
  • not being true to oneself; disowning or disallowing parts of oneself

However, the principal cause of soul loss in modern times is usually that we send part of our own soul away, to ‘fit in’.

How does soul-loss happen?
  • 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.
Where does the lost soul part go?

Similarly to soul loss, psychotherapy talks about dissociation, which happens when we disconnect from parts of ourselves due to shock, trauma, or negative beliefs. In therapy, we often talk about reclaiming and integrating these disconnected parts, which is important. 

However, there’s a difference between just pushing a part aside and losing it altogether. In therapy, we work to find these lost parts, talk to them, and bring them back into the fold. Sometimes, though, these parts don’t fully come back. 

They might still be 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. It’s a complex process, and it’s not just confined to the therapy room. These lost parts can linger, affecting us in ways we might not even realize. So, addressing this sense of loss is crucial in our modern world.

Soul retrieval - reclaiming the lost soul parts

In a soul retrieval, the skilled shamanic practitioner leaves their own body and enters into shamanic reality. This is known as a “shamanic journey” and 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 shamanic 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 then receives whatever shamanic healing it needs. Then the part is 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.

In many cases, one session alone can be enough. But not always. In modern times, soul retrieval is a much more complicated process than it once was.

Modern soul retrieval is not a straightforward process

Obstacles to effective soul retireval:

  • Intrusions: When soul parts leave, they leave holes in us. When this happens, other things called ‘intrusions’ can get in and need to be removed. The process of removing these is generally known as shamanic extraction.

  • Introjects: Introjects are “shoulds” or “should nots” (“musts” and “must nots”, and “oughts and “ought nots”) that we have adopted over time. Some are healthy and useful (“I should look for traffic before crossing a road”, or “I ought to say please and thank you” for example). However, some introjects we adopt are not healthy, and may even be causing us harm (“I should always do what is expected of me”, or “I must never be vulnerable/angry”, for example). When it comes to soul retrieval, strong introjects can create problems. It is all very well to bring 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).

  • Body shock: 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.

  • Fort-holder parts: In modern soul retrieval, “fort-holders” are parts of ourselves that developed survival strategies during difficult times in childhood. They might resist the return of lost soul parts due to fear of change, making the process more complex than traditional methods.

  • Power Loss: As well as soul loss we can suffer power loss – the loss of healthy connection with nature and 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.
Learning soul retrieval

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 Therapeutic Shamanism teachings draw 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.

We are also running a Soul Retrival Course this summer – more details here.

Benefits of soul retrieval

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, people 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.

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! And if you are already a more experienced student, we are running a Soul Retrieval Course this summer, too!

FIRST STEPS COURSE: Start Your Shamanic Journey

The First-Steps course covers:

  • The history of shamanism and animism, and how this indigenous knowledge was central to how all our ancestors once lived. How, in turning away from this, and disconnecting from the natural world, we lost our way (the “Great Forgetting”). How we can bring this ancient wisdom back (the “Great Remembering”).
  • How to do a shamanic journey (a practical, safe and step-by-step method).
  • How to do a Power Animal retrieval journey and find your Power Animal.
  • Other practices to powerfully connect back to nature.
  • Therapeutic Shamanism – the differences and similarities between ancient shamanism and modern psychotherapy, and what they might learn from each other.
  • How to practice shamanism in an ethical way, and based on healthy power dynamics.
  • The basics of how to do simple shamanic healing for other people (including not just humans, but pets and other animals too).
  • How to use this knowledge and these practices to continue what can be a life-long journey of growth, healing, wonder and discovery.
  • … and much, much more besides!


INNER TRIBE WORK COURSE: Shamanism, Soul Retrieval & Parts-Of-Self Therapy

In this course, you can learn about:

  • Your “Inner Tribe. This will include (1) the shamanic understanding of the main parts-of-self – Body, Soul, Sprit and Ego, and (2) drawing on the more psychotherapeutic aspects of Therapeutic Shamanism, the many sub-parts of Ego, including fort-holders such as the protector-controller, managers, fire-fighters, pushers, pleasers, perfectionists, inner-critics, self-saboteurs, and the exiled and orphaned lost soul parts too.

  • Shamanic Soul Retrieval. Traditional shamanic techniques for identifying soul loss, finding lost soul parts, returning them, and integration into the inner parts-of-self. As well as more straight-forward soul retrievals, we will explore other practices such as “singing the souls back home”, how to retrieve lost soul parts from the middle-world (and so, how to do middle-world journeys, including looking at issues such as safety and protection), what to do when soul parts have gone into the Land of the Dead, complications that can arise from ancestral issues, and the important issue of how to heal lost soul parts before returning them. 

  • Soul Retrieval Challenges in Modern Times. For reasons we will explore in the course, soul retrieval is a much more complicated process than it once was. It’s not enough to bring lost soul parts back; we need to ensure there are no other parts-of-self objecting to their return. So, we will look at how to negotiate with fort-holder (protector) parts to ensure that soul retrieval is successful. We will also look at the crucial issue of learning to distinguish between parts-of-self, and parts that may at first appear to be self but which are, in fact, “other”; things that should not be in us (e.g. intrusions, ancestral burdens, “curses”, and possessing spirits).  

  • Shamanism and Psychotherapy. We will explore the overlaps and distinctions between the two traditions, leveraging insight and learning techniques from both to achieve a comprehensive balance of the inner tribe, and lasting well-being.

I hope to see you on one of the courses!


Paul Francis

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