The concept of the soul is fascinating. Despite many attempts, no-one can really tell you with certainty what the soul is and what happens to it when we die.
This doesn’t prevent us from having thoughts on the subject though and modern people are just as curious about the subject as our ancestors were. Depending on your religious beliefs, your concept of the soul may vary.
Native Americans are deeply spiritual people and their beliefs are reflected in their myths, legends, traditions and customs. Several Native American tribes believe a person has within him or her, two souls. Of course, we mustn’t forget those soul concepts vary widely among the various groups, but the belief in a dual-soul is nevertheless widespread in all regions of North America.
Professor Åke Hultkrantz (1920- 2006) who studied ancient religious beliefs of our ancestors said that myths are primarily religious concepts. Many will disagree with this opinion, but Professor Hultkrantz’s studies led him to believe religion comes in as an illustration of subconscious forces that are later reflected in various myths.
Professor Hultkrantz was objective in researching his subjects and never tried to draw conclusions based on his own personal beliefs. He studied the traditions and beliefs of many ancient cultures, such as for example the Sami people, the Shoshone and the Arapaho with whom he interacted. In time he gained so much respect that he was adopted by the Shoshone medicine man John Trehero.
The Two Soul Concept Was A Pre-Christian Belief
The concept of two souls was widespread throughout pre-Christian Europe, but later, the Church considered it to be a heretical concept.
“According to Origen, one of the early Christian bishops, the revived souls of the dead – following the Last Judgement – would have an ethereal, spherical body form. This clearly repeating the ancient Egyptian concept (as carried forward by Hermeticists) was condemned by the Church Fathers of the time as heresy – probably because it too closely matched the dreaded spiritual independence of neo-Platonic concepts with which the politically fixated Church had already had to do battle.
Much later on, in the twelfth century CE, we find a recrudescence of the common pre-Christian teaching found throughout the Middle East as to man having two souls – the ba and the sah of the Egyptians. The idea was clearly carried forward by the Bogomils in their teachings, for in 110 CE a synod at Constantinople (modern Istanbul) posthumously anathematized the monk Constantine Chrysomalus for just such a “heretical” concept.” 1
Why Do Native Americans Believe We Have Two Souls?
Unlike, pre-Christian Europeans, Native Americans never abandoned their belief people carry two souls. Expect for the Pueblo people of the Southwest, who were influenced by the Mexican high culture’s concept of a unitary-soul, most native American tribes still maintain the two souls play an important part in a person’s material and spiritual life.
According to Native American beliefs, one of our souls is free. It stays with us throughout our lifetime and when we die, it leaves the body and undertakes a journey to the realm of the dead. Our second soul is the body-soul, or life-soul that is sometimes referred to as the breath-soul.
“This soul animates the body and facilitates movement and consciousness. Among several groups, the life-soul is thought to reside in the chest, and many connect it with the heart.
Quite possibly, the many rock drawings of animals and men found in the Southwest are the earliest representations of Native soul beliefs, for they show a lifeline running from the mouth to the heart. For many people, the heart was the seat of the soul, and the breath coming through the mouth in the form of words expressed a person’s soul.
At death, the life-soul can wander for a time in the land of the living as a malevolent ghost, but eventually, the disincarnate life-soul dissipates and merges with the wind, the clouds, and sometimes the Great Spirit, or it just disappears and is gone forever. Some believe the soul goes to live in the Milky Way. While a person is alive, if the life-soul leaves the body and cannot return, the person dies.” 2
This native American belief reminds of what Professor William A. Tiller expressed about the human body and the nature of consciousness. Professor Tiller believes humans are spiritual beings dressed in bio-body suits.
His theory is controversial but intriguing. Professor Tiller explained that he sees humans as spirits dressed in bio-body suits and enormous powers, of which we are all unaware. According to Tiller, consciousness is a byproduct of spirit entering dense matter.
His theory, in combination with the two souls concept, gives us reason to ponder whether death is just the beginning of a new journey to the great unknown.