Shamanism: Soul Splits and Soul Retrieval

In Shamanic terms, when a trauma causes the individual to reject an aspect of self, this is termed the splitting of the soul. The concept is that an individual’s soul is the totality of self and when we reject an aspect of that totality we stop communicating with that aspect of self, causing the soul to become fragmented. Serious trauma can cause many fractures, but even a slight rejection by others can often cause us to unwittingly reject self and so cause a soul split.

This splitting of the soul typically happens many times during a typical person’s life, especially as children, who have a tendency to take criticism very seriously, especially from adults. This means that many individuals enter adulthood with numerous soul splits and these will tend to form the basis of that adult’s emerging psychological condition. I say emerging because soul splits are the basis of many issues the individual may have, and as that individual gets older than often the impact of the soul split becomes more and more pronounced. This is often seen as a worsening psychological state, though in reality it is due to increased internal pressure to heal the split. The split makes itself apparent in order to instigate healing by the individual concerned, yet we often misinterpret this and adopt strategies to hide these psychological traits in order to feel normal. A huge number of us are hiding such issues behind a façade of normality created by ego.

From a shamanic perspective, once a split occurs within a person, then that person will effectively adopt an altered personality – aspects of the primary personality will be lost, and a second personality will be created. Thus, the primary personality will become diminished, and a hidden secondary personality will be formed. It is sometimes possible to see elements of this secondary personality when a person comes under the influence of drugs such as alcohol, though in reality there will often be multiple personalities hidden behind the façade of the primary, this is dependent on factors such as the timings of the soul splits and also the extent of trauma the individual has experienced.

One way of looking at it is that the soul splits to save the primary personality from pain and this can be the reason why sometimes during painful situations we feel disconnected from that pain and instead feel numbness.

Often this secondary personality will undergo an inversion of the originating personality and will therefore have the impact of creating negative thoughts and feelings that tend to be triggered based upon the cause of the original split. It is like the aspect of our personality says to the primary personality “You rejected me, so I’m going to reject you” and it works to see that the primary personality has a significant negative burden.
It should be noted that usually there are many more than just a single soul split and that the impact of these numerous splits will be varied depending on the harshness of the trauma that created the splits and the resilience of the individual in being able to deal with them. Usually, the individual who is most comfortable with self will be most resilient to trauma and therefore soul splits will be minimised. However, it is fair to say that this process of having soul splits during childhood that comes back to haunt the adult in later years is very common and should be considered to be a very common pat for most people.

As an example, a child who denies and suppresses aspects of their free self (suppresses expression of freewill) due to adults finding such behaviour inappropriate and therefore chastising the child, may well find themselves in adulthood with pronounced needs to suppress expression of freewill in themselves and others. The root cause of this would be in shamanic terms a hidden personality aspect that triggers negative thoughts when the individual is confronted by the need to freely express self. Such an individual can easily become regimented in their own thought processes and suppressive of others where they are placed in positions of power over others. Needless to say, this is a common human “condition” and is a direct result of what many people think of as “Good discipline”.

It should also be noted that people who have soul splits such as the above, will tend to cause others to have soul splits and therefore this behaviour has a tendency to be passed down from parent to child indefinitely until the chain is broken, and the individuals concerned no longer suppress those aspects of self.

Soul Retrieval

The healing of soul splits is called a soul retrieval, and it is the work often carried out by shaman who help the individual locate such splits and re-attach them to the primary soul via a process of understanding and acceptance.

Once an individual realises that they have psychological problems that stop them from loving all of the self, they can begin to work on the process of a soul retrieval.

The task of healing a soul split has the following aspects:

1. Remembering the personality/discovering the drama that represents the soul split
2. Working through the personal drama to reach a conclusion whereby the split aspect is willing to again work with self for the benefit of self
3. Reintegrating the soul split into the soul

The secret to soul splits is that the healing process often requires for the memory of the trauma to be replayed and often this need to replay the trauma can reveal itself in negative desires and needs whereby the individual finds themselves drawn to relive these dark episodes from their past. This is part of the automated healing process, yet this is often misunderstood as an illness rather than a healing process.

Sometimes however it is only necessary to recall the feelings involved in the split, and this may mean that a false drama, one which does not reveal the truth behind the original split but which involves the same emotional impacts and feelings can be used as the drama.
Often people are scared of these memories resurfacing, but it has to be understood that they will return over and over again until the split is repaired, and the issues are understood and resolved.

The key thing to realise is that soul splits are caused by a misunderstanding on the part of the individual concerned whereby they blame themselves for an issue another has with them, and they seek to change or remove that aspect of their behaviour which caused the other offence. The reality is that this other person was no doubt having issues of their own and in seeking to externalise their own problems by blaming someone else, they were passing on their issues, not healing them and the error for the other individual was in not realising that this was happening and taking on board that blame into a self-destructive act of denial of self and seeking to change.

So any person with a soul split will naturally be drawn to express certain feelings, experiences or desires, this will make them feel uncomfortable, and they will try to avoid this expression, yet it is key that somehow, and safely, these expressions are revealed. It is a case of often reliving that dark moment in an authentic way and to do this once means that you need never do it again. Fail to take this task seriously and one finds oneself in a loop of partial expressions – numerous failed attempts at resolution which are often interpreted as serious mental illness.

Possibly, the best way to reconnect with these lost aspects of self is to enter into a meditative state and ask those lost aspects of self to come forward. Often, there is a primary aspect who will come forward first and once their issues have been resolved they will introduce you to other rejected aspects of self.

Within the meditation, intuition is of critical importance. The reality is that each of knows exactly how to heal ourselves, but the problem is that we have been taught not to trust our intuition or ourselves and to seek to rely on “professionals”, however, who knows the most about self? The answer is: You do and no-one else.

So, in meditation you look to your intuition to reveal to you the path to your own healing. You ask for the aspect of self that wishes to be healed to come forward and to mouth the words that this aspect presents to you. With these words, the lost aspect of self will re-introduce itself to you and may seek for you to play out a drama of remembrance whereby it seeks to re-acquaint you with itself.

Do not be surprised is these soul splits are particularly negative at first, many may come forward who want you dead, and they may urge you to kill yourself so they can be free of you; however, this is part of the reconnection drama. It is important to show these elements your remorse at having rejected them and to remind them that before the rejection they were part of the primary soul that took the decision to reject them. Many people will not remember the rejection, but it is important to take on board what this lost aspect of self has to say and to remember that it has been locked in a prison in your head for many years and during that time has had no form of expression.

Often the healing process is almost completed purely by the realisation that this lost aspect of self can now express itself. It may feel like a different part of the personality, but that will change over time as it slowly reintegrates back into self.

However, particularly traumatic splits will require more work, often this takes the form of a re-enactment of the original circumstances whereby the split occurred. If the exact circumstances cannot be reconstructed then sometime an alternate drama will surface that allows the same emotional content to be replayed. It may be necessary for you to seek help with this part of the process for whilst it is possible for many soul retrievals to me carried out only be the individual concerned, often there is a need for a witness and sometimes there is a need for an external control to ensure the drama stays on track. This is where a shaman with experience can be invaluable.

So with a soul split, there is a drama of remembrance and there may also be a drama of acceptance, whereby the split becomes willing to reconnect with the whole through its realisation that it can have expression through the whole and at the end, the split may signify its acceptance of the reunification by going through a symbolic death, and it allows its individuality to again become a part of the one that is you.

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    Shamanism; Soul Splits and Soul Retrievals In Shamanic terms, when a trauma causes the individual to reject an aspect of self, this is termed the spli
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    Excellent and most informative article.

    Indeed soul retrieval is a most important key to the healing of the self. By becoming more complete releasing and reuniting with the aspects of self that have become atrophied and seperated from the whole we reunite with many forgotten skills, talents and strengths.

    Best introduction to this subject for me was “Soul Retrieval: mending the fragmented self” by Sandra Ingerman


    ive had severel vivid dreams where ive purposely…sliced… myself up into 7 to 13 pieces….Soul Splicing….using this method, for soul work…


    I think the process of soul splitting must be built in to the human phsyche. Every child needs to learn, and part of that learning process involves pain, which is often the cause of the sould split. More specifically it’s pain blamed on self, which is a very easy thing to do as a child and even moreso later in life after the individual has learnt to apply judgement on self.

    Such a shame this process is not more widely acknowledged and understood – Surely Soul Retreival is something that could be taught from an early age?

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