soul loss

Power Animal Retrieval

Power Animal Retrieval By Jan Engels-Smith

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

Anatole France

Power Animal Retrieval By Jan Engels-Smith

 

In the Christian faith, people often speak of guardian angels as beings that are available to provide special assistance in the time of need. In the blending of faiths that I practice, I too believe in guardian angels, but in shamanism there is the belief that we are born with a power animal that serves as an ally throughout our lives, although we may not always be aware of this formidable supporter. As we grow into adulthood in the West, it is likely that we are not familiar with the concept of a power animal but these beings are always available if we decide to seek them out and call on them for support.

Children, in their divine innocence, are assigned a power animal at birth and this spiritual helper intervenes to buffer the child from the notorious bumps and bruises that each child is so subject to. Children’s resilience and adaptability is enabled by these divine spirits that keep them safe until they mature. We often lose contact with these divine spiritual beings as we grow up and unfortunately put away “childish things.” Our loss of imagination and dismissal of “magic” as a force in our lives causes us to sever our connections to the spiritual world and to our power animal. Power animal loss affects us in many of the same ways as soul loss, as they are closely connected. In shamanic practice, the restoration of lost parts of the soul is aided by the retrieval of one’s power animal and this spiritual helper sustains us in difficult situations.

The signs of power animal loss and/or soul loss may include:

  • Chronic fatigue, depression, misfortune, faulty or failed relationships, emotional problems or suicide tendencies;
  • The inability to overcome some emotional trauma from the past such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or distress in childhood;
  • Addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other debilitating dependencies;
  • Repetitive or major illnesses or a problem with recovery;
  • Shame, guilt, or a feeling of unworthiness;
  • A feeling of powerlessness.

In difficult situations, when we are in our greatest need, the absence of our power animal exposes us to greater danger and the opportunity to heal is lessened without this divine intervention. Fortunately, as we seek to recover from trauma, possibly by seeking out a soul retrieval from a shamanic practitioner, the retrieval of our power animal can help us to fully mend and this spiritual helper can remain with us to sustain our recovery. Our power animal does not cease to exist when he has left us because of our ceasing to believe in him; he has simply bided his time awaiting our decision to seek him out and bring him back to help us.

You may think of your power animal as having traveled from you (although it might be more accurate to understand that you have traveled far from him) or you might consider that he has been sleeping for many years. In either scenario, you have been exposed to debilitating and harmful conditions and have suffered the consequences of facing your suffering alone. If you have entered in a quest for personal enlightenment, healing, and reconnection to the universe, then you would be well served to retrieve your power animal and accept his willingness to aid and abet you in the restoration of your wellbeing, regaining your own personal power, and thriving in your spiritual development.

I would make one distinction in reference to power animals. If you engage with shamanic healing, you may be aware of the shaman calling on a diverse range of power animals to effect healing and to restore wellness in an individual. These power animals are allies of the shaman and assist the shaman both in healing sessions as well as everyday life. The power animals incorporated in shamanic practices often are assisting with tasks that you are involved with. These power animals can come and go without power loss to the individual. These are not the power animals to which I am referring when I speak of your retrieval of your personal power animal. Your unique connection to the spiritual world is shaped by your individual divinity and your power animal is specific to your birth, life, and person. In your life you may not have a full awareness of your power animal because you have created a distance between him and you, but you possess the capacity to recover this important ally in your life and the ability to reconnect and draw on his strength. Your personal power animal is important because he is specific to you and, once retrieved, can be one of your strongest allies.

The varieties of power animals that I access provide different support in different circumstances. You might have one power animal that you call on when you are feeling fear in a frightening experience. A powerful tiger might cause you to feel safer because of the fearlessness of your ally. In another circumstance, you might seek out a power animal that you identify with as providing peace and comfort when you are in need of gentle solace and a relief from tension. When I was writing my first book I asked for a power animal to come forth in the writing process.  A raccoon appeared.  I inquired from the raccoon what were his gifts that he could offer me during my writing.  He informed me that it was his dexterity with his hands.  He would help me with typing.

People often confuse power animals with totem animals. With totem animals there is a recognition of a particular animal that most characterizes a person’s own natures or their desired natures. I have a friend who is funny and playful in his everyday habits and he identifies readily with the coyote, which often reflects those same behaviors. An adventurous individual might find that his totem is an eagle that soars to great heights. An individual seeking confidence might discover that his totem is the brave lion. Again, totem and power animals are different.  Our power animal does not necessarily represent parts of our persona.  We do not invent our power animals; we discover them or they discover us. To find out their purpose in our lives it is best to ask the animal.  Many people will turn to books such as Animal Speaks by Ted Andrews or the Medicine Cards by Jamie Sands to find out why an animal came into their lives.  Turning to resources such as these can be helpful in understanding the basic qualities of the animal but your best source of information about its appearance as your “power animal” will always come from the animal itself.

There is no better or lesser power animal. The great elephant is not superior to the small prairie dog or even the earthworm. In the great design of the universe, each living being plays a significant role in existence and is equally valued. There is no hierarchy in the spirit world, which is where these allies exist. The earthworm, the honeybee, and the songbird are essential and make invaluable contributions to the continuing functioning of the universe. As you seek out the restoration of your power animal, stay open to all possibilities and you might be surprised by your discovery of this divine ally.

Journeying is of course the foremost method used to discover power animals. For those that are not familiar with journeying here is a process you might follow.

  • Find a quiet place beyond outside attractions. This may be indoors but a peaceful outdoor environment is also conducive to communing with the spirits.
  • Relax in a meditative mode. Breathe deeply to begin and then gently and rhythmically. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.”
  • Empty your mind of any preconceived images and open yourself to discovery.
  • Ask the spirits to assist you.
  • Allow various animals to approach you as they occur to you in your thoughts or imagination.
  • Speak to them and ask questions as needed.
  • Listen carefully. Remember that our spiritual allies do not always communicate in words but often connect to our different senses and our intuitive receptors.
  • Consider the feeling that the animal engenders in your physical, emotional, and spiritual being.
  • Do not force a decision but accept the responses that your inner self provides.
  • If you do not succeed in the restoration of your power animal on your first effort, do not despair. Your power animal will come when you and he are ready.
  • Thank the spirits when you conclude whether successful or not.

*You may choose to be assisted in this effort with a trained shamanic practitioner.

Spiritual allies are part of the universe’s great plan. All things are connected and exist for the mutual benefit of all. When life presents challenges, it is not because the universe is indifferent to us, but that we have lost our connection with the strength that exists in the unity of all things. Power animals are spiritual beings that reestablish our connections and offer to guide and advise us. They stand with us in adversity and strengthen our sense of self-worth and empower us to act wisely and with confidence. Your power animal will be there when you need him. Rediscover, restore, and use him.

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Warning Signs of Soul Loss

Warning Signs of Soul Loss by Jan Engels-Smith

soul loss

 

We are plagued in our culture with people hurting—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The issues that doctors and psychologists deal with on a daily basis are what a shaman would see as warning signs of soul loss.

Warning signs of soul loss can include:

• Anything chronic—fatigue, depression, misfortune, faulty relationships, emotional problems, suicidal tendencies.
• The inability to release some emotional trauma from the past, such as a death, divorce, or other loss.
• Addictions of any kind—alcohol, drugs, food.
• Not feeling connected to the body or reality.
• Operations or difficulty in recovering from surgery.
• Repetitive sicknesses—colds, flu, and so forth.
• Major illnesses.
• No sense of direction.
• Shame or feelings of guilt.
• Feelings of unworthiness.
• Not feeling one’s personal power.

Our culture suffers dramatically from these symptoms. It is rare to come across someone who responds and lives life from wholeness instead of from the woundedness of his or her past. If a person has voids from soul loss, these voids act like magnets trying to fill up with any energy to become whole. If you are exposed to anger, fear, greed, anxiety, unhappiness and hatred repeatedly, those are the qualities your own soul will absorb. Extracting negative energies, bringing back the lost soul energy, and then teaching a person how to stay whole will not only heal the individual and restore personal power; it will begin to restore wholeness in our society as well.

The positive shift many of us work to instill, in Western culture, is toward a restoration of wholeness and an understanding of our oneness. This work addresses the fact that we are energy, as is everything, and that all energies influence one another. We must learn to maintain and care for our own divine energy—our soul. In such a climate of responsibility and openness, shamanism would find a welcome home.

All of us have experienced trauma in some form just from experiencing life. Because of this, I believe that most people would benefit from an initial soul retrieval. I have witnessed amazing results in healing using this technique, and have also experienced it firsthand. Soul retrieval changed me, not only as a person but also as a professional therapist.

I never liked the idea of long-term therapy; I could not understand why it took people so long to heal. What I discovered in shamanism is that therapy takes so long because the part of the person that needs to be healed is not present and available for treatment. The lost soul part is in a different reality and is not even present in the therapy session.

When I first started my shamanic training, I asked my clients if they would allow me to do soul retrievals on them as experiments. All consented except for one individual who considered the concept too bizarre. Within one month, all of the consenting clients were finished with their therapy. The results were amazing. I now understood, at a different level, the concepts, theories, and explanations that I had applied in prior therapy sessions.

During traditional therapy, people often understand what has happened to them on an intellectual or cognitive level, but still change does not occur. They remain too attached to their pain. The shamanic explanation for this is that the lost soul part remains suspended in a different reality, reliving the traumatic event of its loss over and over. The client still does not have access to the soul part, and successful therapy is hindered by its absence. After a soul retrieval, there is understanding not only in the mind but also in the heart and soul of the client. The return of the lost soul part allows healing to occur emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

The soul is divine in its essence, and this divine nature is retained in a lost soul part. In receiving a soul retrieval, one never gets back the problem. The soul part left because of the problem. During the soul retrieval, the divine essence returns, which restores wholeness to the soul and causes the person to feel complete and empowered. The person is once again connected to his/her divine nature and able to detach from the past. Energy is no longer held captive to the past, and it is no longer necessary to relive the event and experience its pain.

After a soul retrieval, previous therapies increase in value and understanding. The multilevel healing allows the person to process information from the perspective of wholeness, rather than of fragmentation, and to move beyond the traumatic experience. As a result, perspectives about self and life change: When perspectives change, reality changes. It is then that life changes can occur.

Artwork by Barry Mack

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Soul Loss from Codependency

Soul loss from codependency by Jan Engels-Smith

Soul Loss From Codependency

 

Another form of soul loss happens in relationships built on codependency, in which one person bases his or her worth in another person rather than in self. This is a false love that can create soul loss on both sides. True love augments the soul and is most present when the soul is whole.

Soul loss creates a fragmentation of one’s wholeness. Consequently, a person continually tries to fill the voids caused by the fragmentation. Addictive behaviors are attempts at “fulfillment”. These may include overt behaviors associated with drugs, alcohol, sex, faulty relationships, or more subtle behaviors such as co-dependency or verbal communication styles.

Listen carefully to conversations. There is a definite exchange of energy occurring at all times. Questions about what you do for a living, how much money you make, what education you have, and where you live often establish a hierarchy of energy. There will be a winner and a loser in these conversations if the intention of the questions is to establish position. When positive energy flows, people recognize and pursue their interdependence. Interdependent behavior is evident in mutually supportive relationships in which individuals retain their personal power and self-worth. In such relationships, a person is not striving for worthiness from such external criteria as wealth or beauty, but rather from a powerful inner sense of worthiness. This worthiness creates wholeness.

It is important to understand that interdependence is not the same as dependence. In fact, soul loss is often the result of dependence. This is why children are so susceptible to theft of a soul part. However, many adults are also highly dependent on others and subject to resultant soul loss. The journey to restoration of the soul part requires the individual to first move from dependence to independence.

This movement from dependence to independence is accomplished by regaining one’s individual power. Many confuse this transition with being selfish. They have been taught for so long to give away their personal power to meet the needs of others that this transition can feel jolting. However, the acquisition of independence allows one to participate in the universe in a positive and personally powerful way. Once one’s independence is established, the individual is able to move from independence to interdependence, becoming a part of the wholeness of life without the loss of individual energy.

This movement from dependence to independence to interdependence is part of the larger universal shift to identifying with the web of life. The recognition that we are all part of one another enhances every individual’s personal power. We are capable of ending our personal fragmentation and the unnatural fragmentation we have created in the universe. We can have wholeness of person and wholeness of life.

DEPENDENCE —-> INDEPENDENCE —-> INTERDEPENDENCE

In highly interdependent societies, where the interdependence is recognized and appreciated, soul retrieval is a daily and accepted activity. The care of the soul is the first priority in health, both for the individual and for the society. In shamanic cultures, a soul retrieval is performed within three days after any major event in a person’s life. Traumatic or other dramatic changes, such as childbirth, marriage, death of a loved one, an accident, a broken relationship, an argument, to name a few, were addressed immediately by performing a soul retrieval. It was assumed that anyone going through such an event would have a high probability of soul loss, and in order to instill proper healing, the soul was attended to first.

Unfortunately, in our culture, years and years of fragmentation and soul loss can accumulate for an individual, which creates the potential for a soul to become critically fragmented. We can see the results of this by looking at the mental, emotional, and spiritual health of our society. We have a society that is depressed and self-medicating with illegal drugs, alcohol, and over-the-counter or prescribed medications. Our youths have difficulty finding purpose and meaning in their lives. Relationships and families fall apart with ever-increasing frequency. The culture is not grounded in taking care of the soul.

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Soul Loss and Soul Retrieval

Soul Loss and Soul Retrieval By Jan Engels-Smith

A particular form of soul loss happens in relationships built on codependency, in which one person bases his or her worth in another person rather than in self. “To rescue another person or to collude in abusive patterns is to give away one’s soul in an attempt to hold onto the relationship” (Soul Retrieval, Ingerman, p.112). This is a false love that can create soul loss on both sides. True love augments the soul and is most present when the soul is whole.

Soul loss creates a fragmentation of one’s wholeness. Consequently, a person continually tries to fill the voids caused by the fragmentation. Attempts at “fulfillment” may include overt behaviors associated with drugs, alcohol, sex, faulty relationships, or more subtle behaviors of verbal and nonverbal communication.

Listen carefully to conversations and you’ll hear a definite exchange of energy occurring at all times. Questions about what you do for a living, how much money you make, what education you have, and where you live often establishes a hierarchy of energy. If the intention of the questions is to establish position, then a winner and loser is established in these conversations. When positive energy flows, people recognize and pursue their interdependence. Interdependent behavior is evident in mutually supportive relationships in which individuals retain their personal power and self-worth. In such relationships, a person is not striving for worthiness from external criteria such as wealth or beauty, but rather from a powerful inner sense of worthiness. This worthiness creates wholeness.

Understand that interdependence is not the same as dependence. In fact, soul loss is often the result of dependence. This is why children are so susceptible to theft of a soul part. However, many adults are also highly dependent on others and subject to resultant soul loss. The journey to restoration of the soul part requires the individual to first move from dependence to independence.

This movement from dependence to independence is accomplished by regaining one’s individual power. Many confuse this transition with being selfish. They have been taught for so long to give away their personal power to meet the needs of others that this transition to independence can feel jolting. However, the acquisition of independence allows one to participate in the universe in a positive and personally powerful way. Once one’s independence is established, the individual is able to move from independence to interdependence and become a part of the wholeness of life without the loss of individual energy.

This movement from dependence to independence to interdependence is part of the larger universal shift to identifying with the web of life. The recognition that we are all part of one another enhances every individual’s personal power. We are capable of ending our personal fragmentation and the society’. In shamanic cultures, a soul retrieval is performed within three days after any major event in a person’s life. Traumatic or other dramatic changes such as; childbirth, marriage, death of a loved one, an accident, a broken relationship, an argument, were addressed immediately by performing a soul retrieval. It was assumed that anyone going through such an event would have a high probability of soul loss, and in order to instill proper healing, the soul was attended to first.

Unfortunately, in our culture, years and years of fragmentation and soul loss can accumulate for an individual, which creates the potential for a soul to become critically fragmented. We can see the results of this by looking at the mental, emotional, and spiritual health of our society. We have a society that is depressed and self-medicating with illegal drugs, alcohol, and over-the-counter or prescribed medications. Our youths have difficulty finding purpose and meaning in their lives. Relationships and families fall apart with ever-increasing frequency. The culture is not grounded in taking care of the soul.

We are plagued in our culture with people hurting-physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The issues that doctors and psychologists deal with on a daily basis are what a shaman would see as warning signs of soul loss.

Warning signs of soul loss can include:

• Chronic-fatigue, depression, misfortune, faulty relationships, emotional problems, suicidal tendencies.
• The inability to release some emotional trauma from the past such as a death, divorce, or other loss.
• Addictions of any kind-alcohol, drugs, food.
• Not feeling connected to the body or reality.
• Operations or difficulty in recovering from surgery.
• Repetitive sicknesses-colds, flu, and so forth.
• Major illnesses.
• No sense of direction.
• Shame or feelings of guilt.
• Feelings of unworthiness.
• Not feeling one’s personal power.

Our culture suffers dramatically from these symptoms. It is rare to come across someone who responds and lives life from wholeness instead of from the woundedness of his or her past. If a person has voids from soul unnatural fragmentation we have created in the universe. Not sure about the previous sentence what it means. Maybe if a person has voids from soul, it means we have created unnatural fragmentation in the universe? We can have wholeness of person and wholeness of life.

DEPENDENCE –> INDEPENDENCE –> INTERDEPENDENCE

In highly interdependent societies, where the interdependence is recognized and appreciated, soul retrieval is a daily and accepted activity. The care of the soul is the first priority in health, both for the individual and for the society. If a person has voids from soul loss these voids act like magnets trying to fill up with any energy to become whole. If you are exposed to anger, fear, greed, anxiety, unhappiness and hatred repeatedly, your own soul will absorb these qualities. Extracting negative energies and bringing back the lost soul energy, and then teaching a person how to stay whole will not only heal the individual and restore personal power; it will begin to restore wholeness in our society.

Restoration of wholeness and an understanding of our oneness is the positive shift many of us are working to instill in Western culture. This work addresses the fact that everything is energy including us and that all energies influence one another. We must learn to maintain and care for our own divine energy-our soul. In such a climate of responsibility and openness, shamanism will find a welcome home.

All of us have experienced trauma in some form just from experiencing life. Because of this, I believe that most people will benefit from an initial soul retrieval. I have witnessed amazing results in healing using this technique and have also experienced it firsthand. Soul retrieval changed me, not only as a person but also as a professional therapist.

Read More
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