I’m reading D.J. Conway’s book, “By Oak, Ash, & Thorn: Modern Celtic Shamanism”. Within it I found a fascinating topic and the reason why some people are the way they are, why they seem to have to go through, or put themselves through, a "trial by fire". It’s in a chapter called “The Shattered Soul”, pg. 167……
“Every shamanic culture teaches the value of what is called soul-retrieval. This practice is one of the least understood methods of shamanism. It does not mean, as the orthodox religions interpret it, total loss of the soul. Rather it recognizes that traumas, personal tragedies, illnesses, and crises can often shatter off a piece of the soul, leaving the individual feeling not quite all there. This feeling may well be the origin of the saying, “being beside one’s self.” This separation can open the body to illnesses, the mind to confusion and uneasiness, and the life to disorganization and disruption.
In the cases of comas and long periods of unconsciousness, the shaman may well have to retrieve a greater portion of the soul. In these instances, the soul may have withdrawn as a whole or have shattered into a myriad of pieces, each of which will have to be found and encouraged to return.
With the pressures and dangers of our present society and the state of the world, it is no wonder that a great many people are trying to function under conditions of partial soul-loss. They feel lost, out of it, not all there. They are constantly searching for something that they can’t quite put into words. They try to find it through drugs, alcohol, sex, frantic activity of work and play, and/or life-threatening pastimes, but nothing fills the void…”
D. J. goes on to explain just how you can recognize a shattered soul, and she also takes you through the shamanic journeys necessary for healing (the most important part of this chapter, in my opinion). The things to look for, those things connected with a shattered soul include:
- 1. Chronic depression
- 2. Difficulty with being "present" in the body
- 3. Feeling numb or apathetic
- 4. Trouble resisting illness
- 5. Chronic illness as a child
- 6. Memory gaps
- 7. Addictions
- 8. Frantically trying to fill life with external activities or people
- 9. Difficulty getting your life back together after a broken relationship, loss of a job, death of a loved one, etc.