The Causes of Soul Loss: How We Lose Our Vitality And Identity

Robert Moss has a great post on Soul Loss and the reasons behind it. Here's his background on what soul loss is:

The greatest contribution of the ancient shamans to our medicine and healing today is the understanding that in the course of any life we are liable to suffer soul loss - the loss of parts of our vital energy and identity - and that in order to be whole and well, we must find the means of soul recovery.

On a visceral level, we all know how soul loss comes about. We suffer pain or trauma or abuse, we are overwhelmend by grief or guilt or shame, and part of us goes away because it doesn't want to stay in a world that seems so harsh and cruel.

He goes on to list five ways he's witnessed his clients suffer soul loss. Here's 2 of them:

Loss of animal spirits

Indigenous and ancestral shamans know that we are all connected to the world of the animal powers, and that by recognizing and nurturing our relation with animal spirits, we find and follow ther natural path four eneries. Yet many of us have lost this primal connection, or know it only as a superficial wannabe symbolic thing that we look up in books and medicine cards without feeding and living every day.

Loss of ancestral soul

This is a two-edged affair. When we live oblivious to the fact that we are always in the presence of the ancestors - those of our bloodlines, those of the land where we live, and those of our spiritual kin in a broader sense - we are likely to be the plaything and even the tenement for entities we don't necessarily want to have near us. When we awaken to ancestral soul, we become ready to claim the connection with wisdom-keepers and protectors who can help us to re-establish heathy psychic boundaries and clear out what does not belong with us.

Way-Of-The-Wild-Rose has a few more reasons for soul loss:

Emotional suffering and grief can also trigger soul loss. Frequently the loss of a loved one causes soul loss both in children and adults. In some cases the soul wants to accompany the deceased into the spirit world and is drawn into the Realm of the Dead. This is a place in the Otherworld that can be dangerous even to experienced shamans. Only a shaman who has gone through a shamanic death initiation can go to these realms without risking injury or physical death! Fortunately it is rare for souls of the living to get stuck there, but I have retrieved the occasional soul piece from this realm.

Grief over separation such as divorce or the end of a relationship can cause a soul loss, as well as the loss of beloved pet. A prolonged time of loneliness, feeling unappreciated or just being unhappy over a long time, such as working in a job you hate, or being in an unhappy relationship can cause soul loss also. Children who get ignored by their parents and who feel they are not being seen or heard, or aren't given enough love frequently suffer soul loss.

Collective Soul Loss: Society doesn't really give proper support for natural life situations, such as death and bereavement. We are not taught to embrace our emotions but rather suppress them. For example grieving is not socially accepted and people are expected to keep a stiff upper lip and get on with work no matter what -- or pop in a few pills to get over the depression. But that isn't healing, it is suppression of natural emotion. When we are not allowed to grieve we are in fact doing grievous damage to ourselves! 

And look what it has done to us: modern society is made up of so many emotional cripples and people on tranquillizers and mood altering drugs. Our unwillingness to embrace our emotions has caused an epidemic of soul loss. One could say that mankind is suffering of a serious collective soul loss as well. The collective numbing out that is so apparent in acts of cruelty and lack of compassion in my opinion is largely due to soul loss, both on an individual and collective level.

ShamanLinks has an article with a key point I am always stressing with clients

Another way to lose ones soul is to give it to someone.  When two people are in love, or when they are in a family, it is sometimes occurs that they will give portions of their soul to their loved ones.  A mother may give some to her child because she wishes to protect him or her.  This type of soul exchange may seem acceptable because of a person's desire to share themselves with another, but it is generally not a good idea.  An individual can't use another person's soul, because simply: it is not their soul.  The person must then deal with this unusable energy in addition to his or her own problems.  In addition, the persons who have given a piece of their soul away have disempowered themselves.  The giver's journey is made more difficult because they are not fully present to do the living of their life.  It is a lose lose situation.

Image from Janesdead on flickr