Soul Loss

Photo: Barney F
Photo: Barney F

In shamanic traditions, soul loss is the notion that psychological or physical illness is caused by the loss or spiritual abduction of the soul from the physical body.

Through rituals, dancing or entry into a trance (sometimes induced by hallucinogenic drugs such as mushrooms or peyote)¹, an experienced shaman allegedly undergoes a mystical voyage to return a lost, wandering or abducted soul to its body.

Reasons for leaving the body could also involve severe trauma, such as those associated with accidents or sexual abuse.

While the shamanic view of soul loss is an intriguing idea not too difficult to imagine in our age of digital graphics, video games and films like The Matrix, critics of Shamanism believe that shamans are lost in a world of fantasy or possibly astral, even demonic realms.

Mircea Eliade
Mircea Eliade (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Along these lines, Sri Ramakrishna once said that all religious and spiritual paths lead to the same place and involve the same type of numinosity. But not everyone agrees with this view. For some, Ramakrishna’s claim is questionable. And some believe that demons may pretend to be angels or helpful guides when really, they just want to mess people up.

¹ The eminent scholar of religion and mythology Mircea Eliade seems to call this state of mind “ecstasy.” But he has been critiqued for not giving a clear definition of just what he means by ecstasy. See for instance,

Related Posts » Illness, R. D. Laing, Possession, Spiritual Attack


  1. If the soul leaves the body, that body can be declared “dead.”
    If the spirit leaves the body it can be:

    During transcendental meditation
    Removed and healed by another party, then replaced
    Astral traveling

    To dismiss Shamanism completely, is disregarding a vital element found within most forms of organized religion. Specifically, by tampering with the foundation of any structure, that structure is weakened….


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