In many shamanic belief systems, the soul is thought to be able to split apart and journey away from the body to gain wisdom or power. It is believed that the soul also leaves the body to protect itself from any impending injury or pain, such as domestic violence or a traumatic injury. When part of a person's soul goes missing, several symptoms begin to manifest: weakness, lethargy, feelings of incompleteness, or lack of initiative. The soul can be repaired. Shamanic and New Age healing rituals that restore the pieces of the soul to their original body are called soul retrieval.
First, the healer talks with the client in order to get background information and to establish rapport. In order for soul retrieval to work, both the healer and the client have to be in a heightened state of consciousness and the healer has to be in tune with the client's soul. Traditionally, this was achieved through the use of narcotic or hallucinogenic plants, but this has been made illegal in modern times for safety purposes. Other methods of attaining altered consciousness involve deep-breathing meditation, drumming, chanting or binaural patterns. These patterns send a different audio frequency into each ear and alter the brainwaves of the person to induce relaxation.
After the healer has entered an altered consciousness and gotten a feel for the client's soul, he or she can astral project to find the lost parts of the soul. Astral projection involves separating a portion of the consciousness from the physical body and sending it elsewhere; in this case, to the location where the soul has gone. The healer may need to search multiple locations to find the soul fragments. After they have been located, a dialogue is conducted with the soul to attempt to convince it to come back to the body. Attempting to force soul retrieval can be potentially harmful; the soul may not be prepared to rejoin and will therefore leave again.
A soul crystal is often used to attune the person's energy to the crystal so that soul fragments can be located and stored during soul retrieval. The rigid structure of crystals is believed to make them more receptive to other wavelengths of energy. Attuning involves placing the crystal against the person's forehead to absorb some energy from the third eye chakra, or energy center, in the middle of the forehead. Upon return, the soul re-enters the body through the same chakra as it does during astral projection.