One of the most expanding teachings I've explored through learning more about myself as a spiritual human being is the concept of soul loss. In core shamanism, it is believed that the soul and the spirit are different things, though many of us, present company included, sometimes use these words interchangeably.
In core shamanism, it is believed that everything has a spirit or an essence. The trees have a spirit; the ocean has a spirit; the birds have a spirit; even your garden tomatoes have a spirit. In order to understand this concept, I imagine that everything around me is aware. While my home may not be able to inhale and exhale the way I do as a person, it very much has its own energy and expression. Try not to look at objects or your surroundings through a human lens. Just because something isn't like us, like a human, it doesn't mean it isn't full of life in another way.
I might be easier to imagine that your rose bush is alive, or full of life, because it grows and changes. But a stone in the earth doesn't change in the way that shrub changes, so is it full of life? Core shamanism would say yes, it does have a spirit. It may not breathe like a human, or grow and bloom like a rose bush, but a stone isn't a person or a plant, so we can't look at it through a human or a plant lens. But that stone is ancient and wise. It has been around for thousands of years, forming deep within the earth, and seeing things our human minds can't even imagine. Ice ages. Famines. Moose poop. Whatever. Though it may not see the way we do as people, it still sees and experiences.
With this concept in mind, a soul is something else entirely. I believe a soul actually IS a very human thing (and I personally believe this transfers to animals as well, because I've had some pretty special dogs). When we come to this earth as human beings, our souls come here, too. Our souls are our essence. They're the sound of our laugh. They're our reaction to the music that makes us spur into emotional waves. They're the feeling we get when we hold our children.
They aren't our sore knees, or the colour of our hair. Those are our human parts.
Now, the idea of soul loss will resonate with some, and it won't with others. Chances are, those of us who have experienced some really awful and earth shattering events had something invisible wiggle inside of us when we read soul loss. It made sense to us because we have gone through things that made us change or feel different.
When I say soul loss, I don't mean there is a part of your soul floating off out there, lost in some grandiose abyss. When I say soul loss, I mean something happened that fragmented part of your soul, cracked it, or broke off a piece of it. Once that piece is detached, it is no longer alive, or part of your essence. In order to understand this, it may help to imagine something detaching from a statue, only to dissolve into dust if it crumbles off. Sometimes, in order to understand an idea, our human minds needs to relate it to something we can see and understand in order to digest it. For me, I imagine any parts breaking off my soul, turn to dust and cease to exist.
But the wound still remains on my soul. Many of us are hurting because we are walking around, unaware of how wounded we are. This doesn't mean we are broken, or that we need "fixing", but it does mean that we are hurting. Healing some of these wounds is where core shamanism comes in to play, accessing the spirit world for an actual healing, or for information, wisdom and advice. Because some spirits, like a stone, have been around for much longer than we have, and they've seen some shit.
For example, our souls have a great attachment to other souls. That's why you feel something when the love of your life walks into the room, or why the emotions overtake you when you see your mother in pain. That's why your dog makes you feel better when you're sad. Our souls connect with each other.
If one of these souls is taken from us, say, it passes away and is no longer available for you to interact with on a human level, it is a deep deep pain for us. Something like this, can cause soul loss. It isn't necessarily a physical blow that would break a physical part of us off, because souls aren't physical. That being said, becoming physically or mentally ill can cause soul loss, because an experience as such affects us on a much deeper level. It isn't the depression itself that can cause soul loss, but the experiences you feel while under the cloud of depression, definitely can.
Let's say under a very tragic circumstance, your husband passed away. It's easier for us to understand how something like this could cause soul loss because by losing that person who means so much to us, it does in fact feel like we have lost a part of ourself. And that saying has a lot of truth in it. It's very possible that you HAVE lost a piece of yourself with your husband's passing. A part of your soul has shattered and crumbled away, leaving a painful wound that can and will cause hurt for a very long time. This experience can make you float around in a fog for a very long time, "heartbroken" and "lost" without that other person's soul around you anymore. Are these feelings of heartbrokenness and loss the actual feelings of soul loss? Are we ever the same without that soul in our lives anymore?
Try to reflect on your own life and see if you can pinpoint any moments where it feels like you may have endured some soul loss, and try to understand how you are different now because of that experience. Try to remember what it felt like inside when that terrible thing happened. And know that there may be moments of soul loss that you aren't aware of as well. You can and will heal these wounds on your spiritual quest and half the battle is understanding that these wounds are there. Once you've acknowledged them, you can understand them, and in turn begin to heal them.
Core shamanism has helped me immensely on my road to recovery, and I encourage you to explore different ideas that resonate with you and make your soul sing. Because a singing soul is a happy soul.