Soul is an elusive concept that appears in many disciplines including psychology, philosophy, alchemy, religion and neuroscience. It is sometimes explained as intuition, instinct or inner guidance.
I see soul as the life force or essence that animates us and carries over through many lives. This essence or energy is more like a moving and fluid process than a fixed concept. It is deeply mysterious and full of paradoxes. For me the soul is central to the journey of being human. It communicates through poetic and symbolic language and is therefore very much fostered by the arts.
With Clover Trail, I advocate for soul and soulfulness in our communities, in our relationship with our loved ones, our home, and with the land we live on. Soulful practice for me is inspired by all these elements and infuses them in return. At the same time, I am very down to earth about it. Much like a tree searches for the optimal amount of life-giving water, nourishing earth and growth-ful sunlight, how can we provide optimal conditions for our soul to grow and thrive?
Our precious soul essence can be affected by life’s experiences. Sometimes these experiences can be trivial, sometimes they are deeply traumatic. When part of our soul dissociates or fragments in a threatening situation or a prolonged period of distress, we can experience ‘soul loss’, which often results in conditions such as low self-esteem, chronic exhaustion, eating disorders, depression and illness. You can simply see this as a loss of wholeness, and do not have to adhere to any religious or metaphysical explanations.
The good news is that there are many practices that coax back the soul when we realise that not all of us is accessible anymore, or when we experience specific ongoing symptoms. You can start by providing situations where your being can relax, where you make sure you are surrounded by beauty, where you feel nurtured. Another step is to ask for a ‘soul retrieval’, an ancient healing tool to retrieve this lost essence. This can be done by a skilled shamanic practitioner, although in my experience consciously engaging with dance or arts can be equally powerful to return to wholeness.
Clover Trail acknowledges your soul as your personal guide and most precious essence that has been with you all your life, witnessing all you experience. What does your soul yearn for?
Horwitz, J. (1996) ‘Coming Home: The Shaman’s Work With Soul-Loss’, Sacred Hoop, (13), pp. 16-20.
Ingerman, S. (2003) ‘Tracking lost souls’, in Harvey, G. (ed.) Shamanism: A Reader. London: Routledge, pp. 355-364.
Kieft, E. (2020) ‘Soul Loss and Retrieval: restoring wholeness through dance’, in Williamson, A. and Sellers-Young, B. (eds.) Spiritual Herstories: Soulful research in dance studies: Intellect, pp. 180-206. Preprint PDF accessible here.