When I was in Chiapas a few weeks ago, "soul loss" came up several times. Soul loss occurs when a piece of you disassociates and becomes "lost" in reaction to some kind of trauma--accident, abuse, scare. Mothers in this part of Mexico will swing their little ones, calling out their names when they fall or hurt themselves giving their lost pieces the opportunity to come back. In Chamula, the shamans worked on supplicants to recover lost bits. When my cousin was 4 or 5, he was chased by a dog. He never recovered from the scare. He reverted back, forgot how to talk and even how to use the bathroom. Decades later, he functions at child capacity. I wonder if he could have been helped with soul retrieval.
What does this have to do with the Five of Cups? We often think of deep grief and being stuck in paralyzing pain when this card appears. I'm beginning to think of it also as the parts of us we disconnected from so we could save the larger parts of us, needed for day to day functioning. What do we do in present time to compensate for the loss? Do we escape and numb ourselves in self-destructive patterns? Do we find a way to trigger the phantom soul limb in order to return to the scene of the crime in hopes of healing and reintegration? Do our dreams haunt us? Does synchronicity serve up just the right people and circumstances encouraging us to work with the old wound?
Perhaps a helpful clue is to look at Chiron in the birth chart when the Five of Cups appears. Chiron points to our original wounding and the habits we create in order to compensate for it. When we work with Chiron, we alchemize past pain into present wisdom. It becomes a part of our survivor's kit that we share with others on their journey. There is powerful medicine in the Five of Cups and Chiron when we commit to their healing curriculum.