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The concept of soul loss may seem foreign and perhaps impossible for people who see the soul as an immutable essence that reflects the divine presence within us. While this is an ideal, it is likely that this ideal has not been a constant throughout a person’s life. The soul is sacred essence energy that originates from divine source, but this energy can be depleted if we allow it to be.
Modern Mesoamerican curanderx may identify the soul by many different names, including spirit, tonalli, ch’ulel, and chanul. The soul may also encompass many different manifestations and forms of embodiment, and its loss may be diagnosed and remedied in many divergent ways. Nevertheless, there is one underlying and pervasive understanding of the soul: it is sacred essence energy. Because my training in soul retrieval is derived from modern Mesoamerican curanderx, my explanation of soul loss and retrieval stems from this understanding.
Recognizing Soul Loss
Some of the most common symptoms of soul loss are depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, reoccurring unpleasant patterns, lack of motivation, eating disorders, destructive behavior, and being too emotional or, on the contrary, very unemotional and detached.
Soul loss can occur as one traumatic event, such as a heartbreak, severe car accident, sexual trauma, physical abuse, physical injury, receiving shocking news, and other types of emotionally jarring events. It can also occur as a continuing and ongoing trauma, including working in unsatisfying jobs, putting up with pernicious bosses, exposing ourselves to unhealthy relationships—friendships, romantic, or familial; ongoing sexual or physical abuse; and putting our health at risk.
The "Why" of the Soul Retrieval Process
This soul retrieval process helps to bring back soul pieces that have left because of a specific trauma or continuous and ongoing traumas. A single soul piece can be lost, although frequently other issues arise out of that trauma, which then often result in the loss of more soul pieces. Whether we are working with one soul piece or many, this practice is fluid enough to work with any situation.
Sacred essence energy supports, heals, purifies, and amplifies the human framework—the physical body, energetic core, chakras, meridians, and subtle energy bodies. Our subtle energetic bodies (etheric, emotional, mental, astral, etheric template, celestial, and causal), also identified as the aura, are energy bands that surround the body, and increase in frequency and color as they move outward, continuously receiving and transmitting energy.
The more soul pieces we retrieve, the more sacred high-frequency energy we have to influence our surroundings and world in beneficial ways. We can manifest with greater impeccability.
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Personally, I can say that after losing and retrieving much of my sacred essence energy from ongoing childhood sexual and psychological abuse, I am no longer attracting horrific patterns in my life. Rather, every day I spend my time doing what I love, with resulting abundance, and am in an ideal and loving marriage. I have been blessed to see the same for many of my clients, whether or not they encountered traumas of the severity that I once experienced.
Concentration of Soul Essence Energy
Like the ancient Mesoamericans, this practice teaches that the soul is concentrated in certain parts of the body. These are the seven principal energy centers: above the crown of the head, at the forehead, at the throat, at the center of the chest, at the abdomen, below the navel, and at the tailbone. These centers are associated with the health and sanctity of particular organs and parts of the body.
Many contemporary Mesoamerican curanderx, including a couple of my principal mentors, were readily familiar with these seven principal energy centers or incorporated some variance of them. Again, curanderismo is an eclectic and dynamic practice, and we curanderx often engage in diverse complex processes of negotiation and appropriation of other practices into curanderismo.
While our roots are in ancient Mesoamerican traditions, we appropriate other practices and make them our own. In this book, I appropriate the modern understandings of these seven principal energy centers and use the popular well-known Sanskrit word to identify these energy centers, chakras.
Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning “wheel,” “circle,” or “revolving disk.” Chakras are usually envisioned as spinning wheels of light at the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, as well as at the already identified energy centers. They animate and regulate the health and well-being of the physical body.
Chakras are composed of the energies inside and outside the body, including cosmic and Earth-based energies, and can temper and transmute these energies. Each chakra is typically associated with a gland or glands, a harmonic tone, an energetic frequency, and a color.
Chakras tie together different parts of the body and connect the body to the cosmos. They temper physical and subtle energies and can transmute one type of energy into the other and back again; they can also increase the frequency of the subtle energetic bodies. While Eastern religions have different names, attributes, and classifications for the chakras, I will base my discussion on their use in popular terminology.
Chakras and Their Recorded Emotions and Memories
The seven chakras carry records of our memories—good or bad—life patterns, traumas, and belief systems. They can readily be stimulated with sound, acupressure, intention, and breathwork.
It is the energetic signatures and the information recorded in the chakras that we use to engage in soul retrieval and journey into the three nonordinary realms. Like the ancient Mexica, I was taught that the seven energy centers were all associated with particular nonordinary realms. We can take the information stored within these energy centers to stimulate the chakras, resolve issues related to the soul retrieval process, and retrieve more of our soul pieces.
Following is a description of the chakras and the typical emotions and memories that are recorded in them.
1. Root chakra. The root chakra is located at the base of the spine, inside the vagina in women and above the testicles in men. It is the chakra of basic survival, instinctual drive, primal sex drive, and bodily life energy and is the physical regulator for the endocrine system. Wounding recorded in this area often leads to mistrust of others and ourselves, defensiveness, aggression, unhealthy sexual relations and patterns, and/or looking for security in material things. When we heal soul loss in this center, we resolve feelings of scarcity and lack, release our reliance on material things, and feel more secure in trusting ourselves and others. We are also more likely to enjoy healthy sexual relationships. The root chakra is associated with the Underworld.
2. Sacral chakra. The sacral chakra is found just below the navel in the center of the body. It is the center of emotions and empathy, gendered identity, and sexuality beyond primal needs. It activates the adrenal glands. Trauma recorded in this area often leads one to be in a perpetual fight-or-flight mode, with high levels of paranoia, an inability to manage emotions, and/or constant involvements in codependent relationships. When we heal soul loss in this center, feelings of fear and attracting fearful circumstances are resolved, and we have an increased potential for higher emotional intelligence. The sacral chakra is also associated with the Underworld.
3. Solar-plexus chakra. The solar plexus is between the navel and sternum. It is the center of personal will, thought, self-control, and the psychic immune system. It influences how we express ourselves in the world and is associated with the adrenals and pancreas. Injury recorded in this area often leads to a poor sense of self, feelings of disempowerment, narcissism, imbalanced energy levels, taking on other people’s energies, and/or an inability to filter out intuitive information. When we heal soul loss in this center, we can establish more meaningful relationships, obtain a greater sense of self and self-confidence, and ensure healthy self-respecting boundaries. The solar-plexus chakra is associated with both the Middleworld and Underworld.
4. Heart chakra. The heart chakra is located behind the sternum. It is the center of unconditional love, forgiveness, and compassion. It is associated with the thymus gland and is the bridge or translator between the “lower” and “higher” chakras. Wounding recorded in this area often results in an inability to discern different degrees of love, receive love, or love selflessly, as well as self-loathing and self-criticism. When we heal soul loss in this center, there is a stronger sense of compassion and a higher ability to love selflessly, forgive, and be compassionate. We can develop an ongoing practice of self-love. The heart chakra is associated with the Middleworld.
5. Throat chakra. The throat chakra sits right above the hollow base of the neck. It is the center of communication, creativity, clairaudience, change, and commitment and is associated with the thyroid and parathyroid glands. Injury recorded in this area often results in an inability to express oneself or commit to change, or to hear whether someone is being sincere. It also typically results in weight-related disorders. When we heal soul loss in this center, we improve communication skills, can speak with authenticity, are highly creative, and become more patient and receptive to people. The throat charka is associated with the Middleworld and Upperworld.
6. Third eye chakra. The third eye chakra is at the center of the forehead. It is the center of imagination, insight, discernment, and intuition and is associated with the pineal and pituitary glands. Trauma recorded in this area often results in being spiritually disconnected and undependable and having poor discernment skills. When we heal soul loss in this center, we are able to experience spiritual truths, feel a strong connection with the divine, and experience higher levels of intuitive intelligence.86 The third eye is associated with the Upperworld.
7. Crown chakra. The crown chakra is located above the very top of the head. It is the center of inspiration, unity, idealism, and divine wisdom and is associated with the pineal gland. Wounding recorded in this area often results in episodes of deep depression, constant states of confusion, or feelings of isolation. When we heal soul loss in this center, we have a stronger awareness of our infinite nature and an ability to create our world as we choose. The crown chakra is associated with the Upperworld.
Many assert there are more energy centers outside the physical body, often identified as the “spiritual chakras.” But their numbers and associations vary. Typically they are associated with spiritual growth; rescripting negative patterns (whether they are or are not in the current lifetime); karmic records; and a remembrance of our infinite nature. They are sometimes symbolized as a sun above the head. Although this book will primarily focus on the first seven chakras, we will be working on the issues associated with the spiritual chakras as well.
We will be using the seven principal chakras as a map for navigating and journeying into the nonordinary realms (which will be discussed in the third chapter); to heal and restore our soul pieces by working with the issues that may come up and with their relevant energy centers; to release nonserving patterns as stuck energies; and to recalibrate and reconsecrate our returning soul pieces. We will also be relying on the most accessible and effective ancient Mesoamerican methods to facilitate soul retrieval: shamanic breathwork, intention, the spoken word, and diagnosing the area of the body where the energy has been depleted.
What Is Being Retrieved
Before beginning soul retrieval, it is important to understand that we will not be re-experiencing the trauma(s); rather we are engaging with the soul piece to find out what we need to do to create a loving and safe space for it to return.
Sometimes the soul piece is in an alternate reality, where the trauma did not take place or where we are completely honoring ourselves. Other times, the soul piece may be in a metaphorical space that represents either the trauma(s) or the reality that we would have preferred. Wherever we find our soul pieces, we are engaging with them to find out how we can love, heal, and honor them and bring them back home into our sacred hearts.
©2019 by Erika Buenaflor. All Rights Reserved.
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
Bear and Company, an imprint of: www.InnerTraditions.com
Curanderismo Soul Retrieval: Ancient Shamanic Wisdom to Restore the Sacred Energy of the Soul
by Erika Buenaflor, M.A., J.D.
Drawing on her more than 20 years’ experience working with present-day Mesoamerican curanderos/as and the ancient shamanic healing traditions of the Mexica and Maya, Erika Buenaflor, M.A., J.D., provides a step-by-step guide for the curanderismo practice of soul retrieval. She explains how the soul is a form of sacred energy that can escape when someone experiences trauma or is threatened by challenging and stressful situations. Its absence can be responsible for a host of negative conditions including physical ailments, depression, insomnia, and dysfunctional behavior patterns. (Also available as a Kindle edition.)
About the Author
Erika Buenaflor, M.A., J.D., has a master’s degree in religious studies with a focus on Mesoamerican shamanism from the University of California at Riverside. A practicing curandera for over 20 years, descended from a long line of grandmother curanderas, she has studied with curanderas/os in Mexico, Peru, and Los Angeles and gives presentations on curanderismo in many settings, including at UCLA. To find out about her workshops, classes, book signing events, and retreats, or schedule a session with her please visit www.realizeyourbliss.com.
Another Book by this Author: Cleansing Rites of Curanderismo
Video: Experience and Training of Curandera, Erika Buenaflor