Soul – Many cultures posit the existence of various parts that make up a person (human or other-than-human). In addition to possessing arms and noses, or branches and trunks, or fins and gills, as the case may be, particular kinds of person may also possess a soul, or possibly more than one soul. Some writers translate indigenous terms as either soul(s) or spirit(s). In some cultures these terms can be equivalent to psyche, consciousness, or will, but they may instead refer to some more mystical aspect that is thought to survive death. The precise location of a soul in relation to other, especially physical, parts of a person varies in different cultural understandings. Since souls are often considered to be detachable aspects of a person, they may be the part that “journeys” to other worlds to seek knowledge, power, or help, or they may be lost. Shamans may perform “soul projection” to combat enemies or to cause illness if they are at the sorcerer end of the shamanic continuum. When people infringe cultural taboos, the resulting “soul loss” often requires “soul retrieval.”


Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007


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