Soul Loss?

I know, I know – I was going to look at Julian Baggini’s 12 Rules for Heathens – and I will keep that promise. But: I didn’t know then about Soul Loss.

‘What is Soul Loss?’ I hear you ask. What indeed. It is ‘one of the main reasons people get ill, from a shamanic point of view‘. After telling me that shamanism dates back 40,000 years (I am not even going to begin with that claim) the article ends its first page with the helpful: Physically, the symptoms of soul loss can be pretty much anything.

So how do I know if I’ve lost mine? A shaman will help. The main cause is trauma in the past.

Now – were this all a set of metaphors for psychological distress and its impact – that might actually work perfectly well. We may have problems linked to our past, and we can use a range of images to explore and picture them and this may well help. But what struck me here was the literalism:

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. [http://www.therapeutic-shamanism.co.uk/soul%20retreival.html]

I really am not sure what this might mean… So I looked at other Soul Retrieval providers – such as http://www.devimangohealing.com/whatissoulretrieval.htm where (after the 40,000 years claim is repeated) there is some very similar material. It seems that the key text here is the 1991 work by Sandra Ingerman called Soul Retrieval:  Mending the Fragmented Self. I have ordered a copy – and will report back.

In the meantime I note that http://www.liberate-online.co.uk/Soul-Retrieval.aspx offer soul retrieval by telephone (I wonder if it is available by text?), and that at the same site there is the claim:

So, how does soul loss manifest itself? How does someone know that they are affected by soul loss? In my experience, clients tend to make statements such as, “I don’t feel all here” “I feel lost” “I feel part of me is missing” “ A part of me died when she died” “I feel like I am constantly searching for something, but I don’t know what it is”– all these statements are indications of soul loss.

I would, from my perspective, probably rather suggest that these are indication of grief, lonliness, or existential angst at the absurdity of life. They do however also have the effect of making people feel vulnerable and at risk of exploitation by those peddling ‘answers’ which claim so much. In reality, these troubles often cannot be fixed, and certainly not easily and with ‘spirit work’, surely when people read (same site):

Everyone suffers soul loss at some point, either in the current life or former lifetimes, yet this can be swiftly rectified. It is a real blessing to do this work, the results can be miraculous!

They can begin to sense why the Mind-Body-Spirit world makes me so angry and upset?

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12 comments

  1. William Large · · Reply

    I think that I have lost my soul.

  2. I’m sure of it..

  3. Mine’s somewhere down the back of the sofa…. along with a couple of fifty pence pieces, Jesus, Buddha, and the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

  4. In reality, these troubles often cannot be fixed, and certainly not easily and with ‘spirit work’,

    And presumably you have evidence to back this statement?

    Presumably you’ve read, oh, say, this book:

    Spiritual Healing Professional Supplement

    … an evidential review of 191 randomised controlled medical trials of spiritual healing?

    If you haven’t, you might like to know that there were 124 significant successes. In 83, significance was p<.01. Oh, and placebo is completely ruled out, since effects have been shown on animals, plants, bacteria, yeasts, and enzymes. Results on everything from muscle strain to myopia to AIDS. And yes that includes trauma.

    Which I've studied some by the way. And which it is well known relates to energetic sensations often felt by meditators, and I'm quoting trauma doctors here, such as Peter Levine.

    But presumably you've looked at this. Someone of your integrity and rationality would want to know the facts.

    If not, you've surely perused online evidential reviews of some scope? Right?

    I mean, you're not just… assuming, are you? You have checked?

    Last post. Promise.

    1. Dossey’s book? I think that is, if I recall, a catalogue of cherry-picked, tinym studies, which ignores a huge range of other evidence. Nonetheless, this lies outside of my interests. Some will have other beliefs to mine: but I want to explore where my beliefs take me (and where SBNR ones can lead, in terms of their impact on our culture). There are plenty of other places for people who want to argue about ‘prayer’ and its asserted benefits…

      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/be-careful-what-you-ask-for-larry-dossey-deepak-chopra-and-rustum-roy-declare-war-on-science-based-medicine/

      1. I thought the conclusion here was interesting: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19370557/

      2. Oh come on, don’t do this! It’s not worthy of you… I didn’t reference Larry Dossey and I’ve never read Larry Dossey.

        OK hang on — maybe this is about your blog’s theme. If you mouse over the title “Spiritual Healing Professional Supplement” in my post above you’ll see it’s a link. It’s not Larry Dossey.

        Here it is:

        … and it is precisely what I said it is.

        You’re right — I’m not going to argue at length about spiritual healing here. But the evidence for it is way better than most people think, and that is germane to your post which assumes otherwise but doesn’t point to any reasoning or data. That’s all!

  5. I guess if people know they are being prayed for, it makes them feel psychologically better, which might help them to boost their own body’s ability to heal itself. I like the idea that I am prayed for, as it means someone is thinking of me and wishing me well (as long as they are not praying for me to be converted to Christianity), even though I don’t believe in the deity being prayed to.

    I tend to do healing-type-stuff in the hope that it might work, even if only on the basis of making the healee feel loved and cared-about.

    1. Maybe true but honestly not what I’m talking about. The experiments that have been done show you don’t need to know that something is happening for it to have an effect — as I said, there have been effects shown on plants which rules out that type of effect. There is even science on the mechanisms of how some of this might work. Of course this is not just about “prayer” — the techniques are many and various. But what I meant here was simply, you need to know some of the facts before you dismiss.

  6. Oh right — he wrote the intro to it — is that what you meant? You’ve read this book?

  7. I have not. Dossey cites Benor a lot, I note, but that’s another matter..

    The book, from what I can see about it (I am not a researcher into medical work, or spirit-healing, being more interested in the philosophical outcomes of various stances, but I am very skeptical) is based on some very small studies- and seems that most of the studies cited were conducted by groups very sympathetic to certain outcomes.

    You may disagree – but there really is very little large-scale research done on this.

    Other than human religious history as regards prayer, of course…

    http://www.debate.org/debates/Spiritual-healing-and-distant-healing-actually-work/1/

    1. I do disagree on many points — that the scale is always the important factor (considering available finances) is only one. If you read this book you would realise it is not about bias but is real science and that does matter.

      I don’t say it’s conclusive, nor anything like, but there is easily enough data to justify both more research and anyone’s decision to attempt any form of healing (a category involving a lot more than ‘prayer’) they want to try.

      I’ve written at length too on my blog about trauma and its link to spirituality. This is something real and it is the medical trauma doctors who are saying so. This is real stuff, and I cannot tell you how important it is. It is backed up by all sorts of psychiatric data going back decades.

      Meanwhile on healing itself, that one book is a review of 191 studies. Now let’s talk for example about this database:

      http://www.qigonginstitute.org/html/database.php

      This is considerably more comprehensive. I don’t blame you for not wanting to look at it. I myself don’t find it much fun to read papers or even summaries of papers. What led me to doing so was my own experience, and my own conclusion that there must be something to study — then I found there was.

      Of course I understand what you’re saying about the results, not least the character results, of philosophical positions. I’m not planning to ignore your point of view I assure you! But I don’t believe a priori positioning on these topics necessarily gets to the heart of them, and empirical data is very important in showing that. On this blog I not you’re constantly trying to show an incoherence in much of this kind of spirituality that I don’t believe you can demonstrate. But when I get your book, I’ll know.

      I’m sure you don’t want to go too far in these comments, but I of course will read.

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