Gloaming at the Lake, photo by R.M.

Shamans understand that soul loss is the root of much illness and confusion in our lives. It may be caused by pain or trauma or heartbreak, by wrenching life choices, or by wimping out on our best and bravest dreams. It can reduce us to the condition of the walking dead, passionless and dreary, forever trying to fit in with other people’s needs and expectations, lost to our own deeper purpose.

Soul retrieval is a shamanic operation in which the practitioner journeys to bring back lost soul-parts and puts them into the client’s body (typically by blowing into one or more of the energy centers, most often the heart or the crown of the head). Soul recovery is a practice in which we help each other to become self-healers and function as our own shamanic practitioners – to gather and integrate our own families of selves and bring wholeness and vital energy into our lives.

Dream reentry frequently opens the road to soul recovery, because our dreams show us where our missing parts may have gone, and invite us to reach in and bring them back. When we dream again and again of the “old place” (maybe a childhood home, maybe a space we shared with a former partner) we may be learning that a part of ourselves – a part scared away by trauma, or a part that resisted a choice we made – is “stuck” in that place, or went missing at the time we lived there.

By going back inside the dream of the “old place” in a lucid shamanic journey, we may be able to locate that lost aspect of our own identity and energy and find the way to bring it back into our hearts and our lives. Typically, soul recovery of this kind will require reassurance and negotiation. Our younger self may need to be reassured that she is not going to be hurt in the way she was hurt before. She may need to be convinced that we will include things in our lives that she will enjoy and will engage her passions.

In the practice of soul recovery, we support each other without necessarily playing shamanic practitioner for each other – since the heart of this practice is to assist everyone who is able to become a self-healer. The core technique is dream reentry and tracking. This is a method of interactive shamanic lucid dreaming explained in depth in my books, especially DreamgatesDreamways of the Iroquois and Conscious Dreaming. As applied for soul recovery, we place the focus on locating and reclaiming lost aspects of soul energy that may have surfaced in a dream or a life memory.

The tracker may be required to play an activist role – for example, by helping the dreamer to move beyond a fear, by running interference if there are negative entities in the field, by bringing in the tracker’s own animal guardians, or by negotiating directly with some of thedreamer’s younger or “other” selves. Before undertaking the soul recovery journey, dreamer and tracker should try to reach a clear agreement on how far the tracker should go (or not go) in assisting the healing.

What do we do for a person who has suffered soul loss and does nothave a dream? This is of course a common condition. The Iroquois say that if we have lost our dreams, we have lost our souls – at least, the part of our soul-self that is the dreamer and remembers the deeper life. Several Active Dreaming techniques can help the dream-deprived to open a gateway to soul recovery – and reclaim part of themselves that is the beautiful dreamer. We can help them to revisit a life memory in the same way that they might reenter a dream. And we can perform dream transfer in the service of soul recovery for someone who has lost their dreams. We journey for them and grow a dream for them that they can be helped to enter and can provide an authentic portal for self-healing.

Active dreamers know we can bring a dream to someone in need of a dream.

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