From Waking Times
As we pass through life on the physical plane, things happen. We
contract flus and colds and viruses, and we sustain physical injuries,
like falling off our bikes as children or experiencing sports injuries.
As adults, we may throw our back out or experience a serious car
accident, in the process, acquiring bruises, cuts, sprains, infections,
lacerations, and sometimes broken bones.
Some of us may also experience serious illnesses of an internal
nature like cancer or hepatitis, heart disease or multiple sclerosis.
Eventually we pass through old age and the progressive infirmity and
death of the physical body. These are the givens–they are all to be
expected as part of what it means to be an embodied, living being. But
these are all effects, and what the shaman is primarily interested in is
Cause and Effect
In looking through the shamanic healer’s eyes, the ultimate causes of
virtually all illness are to be found within the imaginal realms–in
those same regions from which illness derives its initial power to
affect us adversely. Because of this, it is not enough to simply
suppress the effects of illness with medication on the physical plane
and hope for the best. For true healing to occur, the causes of the
illness must be addressed.
From the shaman’s perspective, there are three classic causes of
illness, and interestingly, they are not microbes or bacteria or
viruses. Rather, they are negative internal states that appear within us
in response to negative or traumatic life experiences. The first among
these is disharmony.
Disharmony is what we experience when life suddenly loses its meaning or when we have lost an important connection to life.
Let’s take the case of an elderly couple who have had a long
marriage, and suddenly one of them dies. They may not have had a perfect
relationship, yet there is a deep bond between them because of all they
have shared together. The survivor may go into crisis upon the loss of
their mate, and within a short time, he or she may come down with
something medically challenging, like cancer. Suddenly, they’re gone
The state of disharmony that we experience in response to such life
situations causes a diminishment of our personal power. This can happen
in a subtle manner on the one hand, or in a catastrophic, life-shaking
way on the other like losing your job, and in the process losing your
livelihood. When we experience disempowerment, or “power loss,” it
affects our energetic matrix, rendering us vulnerable to illness.
The second classic cause of illness is fear. A person who is walking
around with a chronic sense of fear gnawing away at them is doubly
vulnerable to illness because their anxiety aggressively and
progressively diminishes their sense of well-being, and this, in turn,
affects their feeling of being safe in the world.
This sense of well-being is the base upon which our personal health
system stands. When this foundation is affected negatively, it
diminishes the ability of our immune system to function. And when our
immune system goes down, we’re in trouble.
It’s not too difficult to see that there is a feedback mechanism at
work here. Fear, and the anxiety it creates, produces disharmony. In the
same breath, disharmony generates fear, and if the two of them are
working together, it doubly affects the protective mantle of the body’s
immune system, as well as the energetic matrix. Illness is the
It is no surprise to Western medical practitioners that disharmony
and fear can manifest themselves in diseases that are recognizable to
science. Almost 500 years ago, the Renaissance physician Paracelsus
observed that “the fear of disease is more dangerous than the disease
This brings us to consider the third classic cause of illness–the phenomenon known to indigenous healers as soul loss.
Among the traditionals, soul loss is regarded as the most serious
diagnosis and the major cause of premature death and serious illness,
yet curiously, it’s not even mentioned in our Western medical textbooks.
The closest acknowledged context is “He/she has lost the will to live”.
In Western society, soul loss is most easily understood as damage to a
person’s life essence, a phenomenon that usually occurs in response to
trauma. When the trauma are severe, this may result in a fragmentation
of that person’s soul cluster, with the shattered soul parts
dissociating, fleeing an intolerable situation. In overwhelming
circumstances, these soul parts may not return.
The causes of soul loss can be many and varied. There may be
traumatic perinatal issues that happen around the child’s birth
experience such as arriving into life only to discover that they are not
wanted, or that they are the wrong gender—they’ve come in as a girl
when everyone was hoping for a boy.
Soul loss can also occur when a child is mercilessly bullied or
teased at home or at school, day after day, or when a young person is
molested by the one who is supposed to be caring for them. When someone
has been raped or assaulted, has suffered a shocking betrayal, a bitter
divorce, a traumatic abortion, a terrible car accident, or even a
serious surgery, soul loss is assured.
Many of the young men and women who were sent to war in Afghanistan,
Iraq, Kuwait, Viet Nam, Korea and beyond, came home personally damaged
because they had suffered terrible soul loss. Our medical specialists
labeled their disorders as post-traumatic stress syndrome, but they had
little to offer these “walking wounded” in terms of true healing, and
many who survived are still deeply traumatized at the soul level by what
happened to them in war.
Symptoms of Soul Loss
Soul loss is easily recognizable if you know what you’re looking for. Here’s a checklist of some of the classic symptoms:
- feelings of being fragmented, of not being all here.
- blocked memory–an inability to remember parts of one’s life.
- an inability to feel love or receive love from another.
- emotional remoteness.
- a sudden onset of apathy or listlessness.
- a lack of initiative or enthusiasm.
- a lack of joy.
- a failure to thrive.
- an inability to make decisions.
- an inability to discriminate.
- chronic negativity.
- suicidal tendencies.
- melancholy or despair.
- chronic depression.
Perhaps the most common symptom of soul loss is depression. In the
early 1990s, Time magazine did a cover story on depression in America
that revealed 60 million Americans were taking anti-depressant drugs on a
daily basis, representing about 30% of our population.
Today that number is closer to 80 million, representing about 40% of
society at large, and sometimes that number jumps in response to a
national trauma. On the Friday following 9/11, a television newscast
revealed that 7 out of 10 Americans polled were experiencing significant
depression in response to the tragedy, an indicator of soul loss on a
Although the term “soul loss” is not familiar to most Westerners,
examples of it are expressed daily in our language and descriptions of
personal hardships. Media interviews and news reports include
individuals’ comments such as “I lost a part of myself when that
(trauma) happened” and “I have not been the same since.” When discussing
soul loss with inquiring individuals, most everyone has a sense of
having lost a “part” of themselves at some time in life, yet virtually
no one has the awareness that the missing part(s) could be recovered.
This article was featured at the website Shared Wisdom.
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Thanks to: http://www.thehealersjournal.com