Tag Archive for: ego

the trickster archetype

The Trickster Archetype

Daredevil skateboarders, snowboarders, BMX bikers, skiers, and motocross riders have an ever increasing dictionary of tricks. They are our modern day trick-sters, doing what defies logic and seems impossible while having a good time. An avid snowboarder for many years, I could never fathom what a rodeo flip was, let alone how to do it, but it didn’t matter, I still admired the beauty and grace of my trickster friends. These amazing tricks are a simple demonstration of how the trickster archetype stretches the bounds of what we think is possible.

Blaming the Trickster

Like the counter-culture members of modern-day youth, the trickster archetype is often viewed as a mischievous outsider. The trickster is interested in breaking through convention, undoing structures and over-stepping bounds.

Most people think of the trickster as a misfit that causes trouble. Many distrust the trickster.

The trickster archetype is blamed for our computer crashing in the middle of completing a lengthy tax form, our pipes breaking and flooding the basement during a dinner party, or an overdue loan payment getting lost in the mail. We often don’t see the trick coming, it comes at the seemingly worst possible time, our plans are defeated, and our life as we know it is ruined.

In viewing the trickster from this one-sided perspective, we leave ourselves subject to the whims of this energy. We feel powerless and helpless. We pass off blame. The best we can do is throw up our hands and hope life gets back to normal soon.

Paradox of the Trickster Archetype

When asking, “what is a trickster?” a key piece to realize is that the trickster is known for duplicity, landing us in situations that are both a blessing and a curse. This propensity for paradox is signature of the trickster archetype.

The Greek God Hermes

The trickster archetype has taken many forms throughout history, and the greek god Hermes is one that most embodies the paradox in this archetype. Only hours after Hermes’s birth, he made off with a handful of the god Apollo’s oxen. Initially, Hermes denied ever stealing them, but soon enough took Apollo to the cave where they were hidden. Apollo couldn’t stay angry with Hermes for long because he was charmed by the sound of the lyre instrument that Hermes had just created.

This story shows that the trickster archetype can be both charming and frustrating. We want to stay mad when the trickster wrecks havoc in our lives but we soon throw up our hands and find laughter. Usually the act of the trickster is so preposterous that we can’t believe it. A newborn baby stealing oxen and inventing a musical instrument is about as absurd as it gets. There’s nothing left to do but laugh in exasperation.

Hermes was known for being both the inventor of sacrifices and protector of sacrificial animals. He was the god of commerce and was a thief. He was heralded as a peacemaker and committed fraud. He was a great container for paradox.

The Roman God Mercury

The greek god Hermes was known to the Romans as Mercury. Today, astrologers call the planet Mercury the trickster.When the planet Mercury goes into retrograde (moves backward in relation to the earth), astrologers warn us to be on the lookout for the trickster. The element mercury itself is paradoxical, and as Carl Jung points out, Mercury “is metallic yet liquid, matter yet spirit, cold yet fiery, poison yet healing draught—a symbol uniting all opposites.”

Blessings of the Trickster

For some, the trickster is a constant presence. For others, he merely comes to visit on occasion.  However often he drops in, the trickster’s influence is typically unwelcome.

Many people believe that the best way to thwart the trickster is to become more conscious, mapping our patterns and befriending our shadows. This comes from knowing that the trickster is incredibly good at finding what is hidden, unveiling our greatest insecurities and fears.

In this protective stance against this multi-faceted archetype, we miss key blessings of the trickster archetype:

  • The trickster manifests what we wish for but are too afraid or meek to actualize. Whether it is changing careers or investing more time in a relationship. The trickster breaks what we no longer want and makes room for the new. The trickster makes the time and space for what we’ve secretly been craving.
  • The trickster knows what is best for our soul and cares little what is best for our reputation and pride. Staying home to dry vac a flooded house may be just what’s needed to unwrap us from the constant need to achieve and produce and impress.
  • The trickster is our natural “eject” button that pulls out of a crash course leading us precisely to a life devoid of soul. Even though the trickster’s tricks feel like a crash landing, the trick is a rescue mission bringing us out of our ego and into our soul. Anyone who values humility should befriend this archetype.
  • A trickster experience brings disappointment and elation. The trickster archetype teaches us the divine truth that everything contains its opposite. When we stop trying to frame experiences as either good or bad, we come closer to the sacred.
  • Fun, welcome, liberating and happy accidents are also the craftsmanship of trickster. Remember to keep an eye out for the faux-pas that delight and inspire. Give thanks to the trickster.

The Divine Trickster

Above all, rather than fear, revere the trickster. The trickster archetype has appeared as Gods, Goddesses, spirit animals, demigods, guardian angels, and helping spirits. He has played pivotal roles in creation myths and helped shape countless life forms. The trickster acts as a divine messenger bringing us much needed guidance when we are most blind to our own need. Leading us to cosmic truths, the trickster helps us transcend into the infinite. One of the most common forms the Divine takes to intervene and save us from ourselves, the trickster is a sacred instrument.

Confused with Tricksters

There are a number of archetypes that are confused with the trickster archetype, among those are the fool, magician, and alchemist. The fool makes jokes to alleviate tension within conventional structures whereas the trickster is set on breaking free of the structures.The fool often wants people to like his jokes. The trickster is not trying to make friends. The trickster could care less if we think he’s funny or not. The magician archetype is caught up with creating illusions and fascination. The trickster exposes illusion. The alchemist is concerned with the evolution of the soul and is invested in forward momentum. The trickster is glad to take one step forward and two steps back.

Want to know what archetypes are yours?
Schedule an Archetypal Consulting Session
and Find Out!

 

shamanism beliefs

Do Shamanism Beliefs and Other Religious Beliefs Mix?

Shamanism as a Container

Unlike organized religions that tell you exactly what to believe, precisely when to worship, and literally how to talk to God, the practice of shamanism does not fill our worlds with things to do and think.

I like to use the metaphor of a container, be it a bowl, vase, or basket, that holds our beliefs. Shamanism is that bowl. It is our hands cupped and open, ready to receive whatever we choose to fill them with. This reality is refreshing for many people who are looking to break free from the confines of an organized religion that no longer fits what they believe, but who do not want to leave everything behind.

Shamanism is a worldview, meaning a way of seeing the structure of the cosmos. Shamanism beliefs tell us how the world is ordered and connected. We learn early on in shamanic studies that the cosmos is made up of three worlds: lower, middle and upper. These three worlds are connected by a central axis, also known as the axis mundi, world axis or cosmic axis.

This belief in the basic structure of the universe leaves a lot to the imagination, and that is where other religious beliefs come in to fill the container.

This motif of the three worlds and connecting axis mundi is common throughout all shamanic cultures. Of course, each tradition elaborates on the theme adding levels to each world and/or preferring one axis over another. What fills these three worlds also varies widely depending on the local religious beliefs. In polytheistic groups that believe in many gods, there are gods and goddesses that move throughout the worlds, some laying claim to one world or another. In monotheistic traditions, one God is infused throughout and influences all of the worlds.

Shamanism Beliefs & Christianity

Most people know that shamanism and Christianity have historically been at odds. Although not the only establishment hunt witches, the Catholic church was famous for naming shamans as witches and sorcerers. As a result, many shaman were burned at the stake for their beliefs and practices. If you feel these two paths are incompatible, history is on your side.This rift between the traditions is only recently healing in the hearts and minds of individuals who follow the teachings of Christ and benefit from shamanic practices.

The age-old trouble between Christian churches and shamanic practitioners assuredly has a number of roots that fill many volumes, but we can view it simply as the clash between the need for centralized power and the desire to place power in the hands of the community.

In traditional shamanic cultures, belief was much less centralized and the shaman had a good deal of authority and influence over the spiritual lives of community members. People trusted their shamans and knew them well, this pulled them away from organized churches which was an obvious threat to the church. But, this is just politics after all. Let’s get back to beliefs.

The toughest conflict in beliefs to reconcile between Christianity and shamanism is in regards to what lies beneath us. Shamans travel to lower world by going down through the earth, and they have beautiful, healing experiences. Christians believe that hell is below us and would never dare to imagine venturing below the earth’s crust. Anyone who is a Christian practicing shamanic techniques has to forfeit their belief that hell is the only thing below us.

What shamanism and Christianity do have in common is a shared belief that there is both good and evil. Exorcism and depossession are practiced both within Christian faith and shamanic tradition.

The belief in a single God and the belief that Christ is our savior do not come into conflict with shaman beliefs. In fact, they blend quite nicely into shamanic tradition. I know a number of Catholics, Protestants, Lutherans, etc. that incorporate shamanism into their involvement with an organized Christian theology. I myself follow the teachings of Catholic mystics and find these teachings support a lot of what I experience in my shamanic practice.

Shamanism & Buddhism

As I mentioned in a previous article, shamanism and Buddhism have a lot in common. The belief that all of life is interconnected is paramount for both systems. They are both forms of eco-spirituality and neither depend solely on the existence of a God or gods.

Buddhists focus on the workings of the mind and how to release thoughts and attachments. Shamanists believe that thoughts are energy and that thoughts have a profound effect on our world. Shamans are taught how to watch the movement of energy. In shamanism, the study of attachments is common and shamanic practitioners learn how to break attachments.

Buddhists are interested in dissolving the ego. Shamans endeavor to become a “hollow bone” or “hollow reed” to be a clear channel for healing energy. Ego gets in the way of the healing. Thus, shamans are also interested in dissolution of the ego. As you can see, there are many ways that these two belief systems compliment each other quite nicely.

Shamanism & Atheism

Like Atheism, shamanism does not require belief in any particular deity or deities. However, it does require the belief of spirits and a spirit world. The belief that we have souls and the acceptance of the movement of energy in the hidden realms are essential and basic components of shamanic practice. This may or may not be an issue for some atheists depending on how strictly they’ve diverged from traditional religious convictions.

Shamans work to understand mystical laws so that they can understand the processes of illness and healing. Shamans also study the movement of harmful and compassionate acts in relation to illness and advise others on ethical behavior. Similarly, atheists often find some form of ethical code to follow and are interested in the cause and effect workings of the universe. In this way, the two perspectives inform one another.

Shamanism & Paganism

Paganism is a natural fit for shamanism and many of the beliefs in these traditions are the same. Paganism arose from hunter-gatherer cultures at the same time and in cooperation with shamanism. Paganism can easily be viewed as the lay-person religion in communities that had the shamans as religious leaders. This does not mean that all shamans are pagans and vice versa. The two can be practiced independently and do not rely on each other to exist.

Shamanism Beliefs & Other Religions

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive comparison of shamanic beliefs and other religious beliefs, but, suffice it to say that shamanism can be studied and practiced in collaboration with many additional faiths including Hinduism, Judaism and Sufism. Please share your experiences below of how you’ve combined your religious beliefs with your shamanic practice.

 

About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch shamanic practitionerStacey L. L. Couch, Certified Shamanic Practitioner, works as a publicist and journalist for Mother Nature and is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She empowers people with the ability to explore life’s big questions by calling on nature, story and synchronicity as a source for guidance and healing. With her deeply rooted experience in the field of shamanism and passion for working with wildlife and rescue animals, Stacey has a unique blend of rational and mystical perspective that makes the world of shamanism easily accessible to others. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.

Medicine Wheel by Season

How to: Prayers for the Directions

In an earlier post on “Calling the Directions & The Medicine Wheel” I shared a definition of medicine wheels, how to move about the wheel, and associations with the directions on the wheel. In this post, I share with you methods for composing a prayer to call in the directions.

The Nature of Prayer

Prayers are peculiar things that can take on any nature. Just because we call something a “prayer” does not make it sacred. The ego can compose self-involved pleas to a Higher Power. Many people choose not to pray because they’ve become frustrated with petition and gratitude prayers. Others grow weary of prescribed prayers (such as the Hail Mary or Lord’s Prayer) that can lose their spark over time.

So, how do we say sacred prayers that foster connection? How do we avoid the dry wishlist and rote repetition? Practice composing our own organic prayers helps. Petition and gratitude prayers are often fueled by fears. In tracking how our unconscious fears creep into our prayers, we can tailor our prayers to admit and release our fears consciously. Lastly, it helps to have a practice of cultivating your connection with your intuition and your soul. The stronger this connection, the more able you will be to create authentic, spontaneous prayers.

If you feel like you are entirely new to tracking your fears and cultivating soul connection that’s okay. Continue on the path of learning and, in the meantime, rely on the written prayers of so many who’ve gone down this path before.

Composing Your Own Prayers

Do not be anxious. There is no need for you to compose beautifully worded prayers. Use whatever words suit your needs and desires…. But don’t spend all your time summoning up the presence of God…. Simply set out your needs and acknowledge that you have no right to be always aware of God’s presence. There is a time for this, and a time for that. Observe them. Otherwise your soul will grow weary.” – Saint Theresa of Avila

Below are elements of calling in the directions that you may choose to include in your prayers for the directions. How you word your prayer for each of these elements will vary with your relationship to them. Notice that words aren’t the only elements here. Actions are just as, if not more, critical to your prayer. The cardinal direction you choose to start at is your choice. I recommend going clockwise on the wheel and finishing with all the cardinal directions before going to earth, sky, and center.

Step 1: Aligning

To align and show your intent for working with a direction you can very simply face the given direction. For the earth you have the option of kneeling and placing your palms on the ground. For the sky you may choose to raise your arms up to the heavens. In this portion of the prayers for the directions you state the name of the direction. It may be as simple as “Spirit of the East”. Some use “watchtower” or “guardian” instead of spirit. You may also choose a more complex name that you have adopted such as “Goddess” for the earth or “Our Heavenly Father” for the sky.

Step 2: Opening

You may choose to demonstrate your openness to greet and welcome in the power of the direction by standing with your arms open and palms facing outward. In a more private prayer you may choose to bow or kneel. You can simply say “I welcome you to our circle”. In my prayers, I typically follow that with the phrase “with open heart, arms, and mind.”

Step 3: Invitation

Here is where you can take the opportunity to name the graces or gifts of that direction that you are inviting into your life. “Please bring your graces of new beginnings and fresh starts” would be a perfect prayer to include for the East. Not to be confused with petition, this portion of the prayer helps us name and embrace what we are inviting in. You may say “I embrace/allow/invite your gifts”.

Step 4: Gratitude

Although we don’t want to fall into petition and gratitude prayer, gratitude is a valuable component to consider. To avoid saying “thank you for blah, blah, blah” instead say “thank you for your presence”. One way to field test your gratitude prayer is to see if it’s attached to a certain outcome. If you say “thank you for your fresh start” that is an outcome, but “thank you for the guidance and healing you offer” is less results oriented.

Step 5: Closing

Once you’ve completed your ceremony, it is customary to thank the spirits again and release them. Ultimately the space we use for ceremony is left off to serve another purpose and it is up to us to release the space to its new purpose. Often the ending sounds something like “Spirits we release you. Thank you. Your service today and always is greatly appreciated.”

Other Practices to Keep in Mind

When saying prayers for the directions many people like to include an instrument that goes beyond the power of words into the power of sound alone. Shaking a rattle or beating a drum while praying is common as is whistling or playing a flute. Some sing their prayers.

Speaking out loud helps us practice with the weight of words. Creating prayers like these helps us understand how powerful the words from our minds and mouths are. Mindfulness with speech is an important spiritual practice. When we decide to summon divine support let us do so with reverence and attention. And, it is worth listening to Saint Theresa of Avila when she advises we “use whatever words suit your needs and desires”. Take these prayers seriously, but not too seriously that you get tongue-tied. Be willing to put yourself out there in your beautiful imperfection.

“Humble Island of the Soul” from Gracious Wild

I opened my eyes, stretched in my sleeping bag, and looked around. After a few moments, I recognized where I was and realized that I still wasn’t. I still wasn’t much of anywhere or much of anyone.” (from Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks)

These are the first three lines of a book that I wrote on a crisp fall morning seven years ago. These are the first three lines of a story I lived many mornings of my life what seems not so long ago. This is the broken world we all have such easy access to. How can the first thought we wake up with be so alienating, so painful, so grave? I still wake up with that same pit in my stomach some mornings. I don’t know if I’ll ever not know this feeling or if my memory will be cleansed of this kind of suffering. Just now, I’m soothing a pit from my stomach with a hot cup of chai tea.

My black cat Gretchen sits on my desk next to the keyboard purring. She wishes she could be in my lap pushing her full weight through her back into my belly, kneading my thighs, and forcefully jamming my arm off the keyboard, but she’s not. She reminds me of my commitment to embracing the void, to being courageous in the face of not knowing. There is no turning back now. Her overbearing presence makes that clear.

On the island, the fears were so tangible and immediate. I really was alone. Now the fears are like smoke that slips through my fingers. My vision is clouded and the air smells odd, but I am surrounded by people, civilization and the busyness of life. This morning as I prepare myself for another day, the day of the release of my book Gracious Wild, I go back to these first lines of the story for guidance. They help me remember the raw, sobering truth that we never really know who is out there and what is coming, that our minds can play fabulous tricks on us to make up fantastic fears, and the very best we can do is get brave, really brave. In being brave I learn over and over again that we are both inconsequential to the course of the universe and of utmost importance. The ego cannot grasp this truth, but the humble soul can. Imagining myself alone on an island brings me back to my fear, but also to my humble soul.

Today I pulled a beautiful card from the deck “Osho Zen Tarot” named “Creativity.” I’d like to share a quote:

Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, if your act of doing is not purely economical, then it is creative. If you have something growing out of it within you, if it gives you growth, it is spiritual, it is creative, it is divine… The important thing is to be open to what wants to be expressed through you. Remember that we don’t posses our creations; they do not belong to us. True creativity arises from a union with the divine, with the mystical and the unknowable. Then it is both a joy for the creator and a blessing to others.

May this book be a blessing to the world and to you the reader. May you find healing in the pages. May Graccia and Thalia and all who gave their lives to this story touch your heart. This is the blessing I offer to you and the service I am in to the creator.

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit Animals: MAGPIE the MYTHOLOGIST

Magpie goes about her business, chattering to and fro. Both of the old world and of the new, she wears her black and white costume with her brothers and sisters going on about life as if everything were normal. Then a ray of sunshine glimmers over the tips of her wings and tail and a burst of royal blue radiates. She knows this and she is clever. She does not worry if the rain will come or go. Magpie is the rain and lightening. She is the drought and wind. She carries on as if neither were of consequence, full of joy and mirth, warning of nothing and foreshadowing everything. Magpie knows that she and her tribe are bigger, louder, and brighter than the others, and she knows stories about the others. She is an artist at knowing these stories.

The Rebel in Biblical Lore

Magpies are found around the world from the western half of the United States to China to England and Africa. Their association with humans goes back a long time as they followed nomadic people scavenging leftovers from hunts. There is a story from biblical lore that survives today that the magpie would not go into Noah’s Ark, but instead insisted on riding out the storm on the ridgepole of the boat, chattering the entire time. There are some references to the fact that the magpie either did not attend or refused to mourn Christ’s crucifixion. This pairs this cunning corvid with the archetype of the rebel.

Magpie spirit animal reminds you to ask: What beliefs did you adopt that now act as blocks in your quest to find your divine self?

Magpie Funerals

These birds are related to crows and ravens and are a member of the jay family. They mate for life and are dedicated parents. A pair can spend up to 40 days building a large covered nest and they often are seen in small groupings of 3-5 birds as they travel about in their undulating flight looking for food. “One of the most notable Black-billed Magpie behaviors is the so-called ‘funeral’—when one magpie discovers a dead magpie, it begins calling loudly to attract other magpies. The gathering of raucously calling magpies (up to 40 birds have been observed) may last for 10 to 15 minutes before the birds disperse and fly off silently.” [1] This speaks of the ability to call on the help of your tribe in times of mourning.

When studying the meaning of magpie symbolism, it may be time to watch how you congregate with your kind and remember how others can help you with a death. This could be a death of the ego, the self, a way of life or a loved one.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

Magpie Helps with a Healing

This September, I started to see two or three magpies with my horses on a regular basis. My horses would cock a back hoof so the magpies could clean the underside. The magpies would jump up and cling sideways to the horse’s legs to pick bugs from their fur. Other times the birds would be perched atop my mustangs cleaning bugs from their ears, manes, and backs.

Cherokee and Legend seemed to enjoy the attention. I was absolutely caught up in the beauty of the scene. I started working with what the birds’ appearance meant in my life and began to discover a link between their presence and my process of breaking down myths I held about other people. We all attach stories, judgements, beliefs and meaning as to why other people are who they are and what they represent in our lives, but ultimately these myths keep us from truly connecting with people. The myths stand in the way of us truly seeing them and truly being seen. I started to notice the birds every where: at work out the window, on my drives home, at my house, and with the horses.

Then, last week Legend, my white mare, feel gravely ill. A large portion of her colon had flipped 180 degrees and gotten stuck between her kidney and spleen. I went on a three day mission to save her life and the magpies were no where to be found. But, I felt their presence still haunting me and haunting Legend.

Magpie Omens

In British and Scottish folklore magpies are believed in different numbers to foretell death, a funeral, and bad luck. I learned the popular saying about magpies: “One for sorrow. Two for mirth. Three for a wedding. Four for death (or birth depending on the origin)”. [2] 

As is the way of things, Chinese folklore portrays magpies of omens of good luck and sometimes I had seen the fortuitous two or three birds at a time, so I tried not to be overcome with foreboding. I waged an inner battle with my fear and superstition.

Here is when I realized that my fear of my loved one’s death was keeping me from my ability to channel healing for her. I had adopted the myth that “I can’t really channel healing that makes a difference on a physical level” because I feared what would happen if I surrendered myself fully to grace and had her die anyways. I didn’t know how I would recover from that kind of grief, but I couldn’t both protect myself from utter devastation AND surrender to divine guidance. As I broke this myth down I went through waves of intense fear, doubt, and suffering. I showed up for Legend to channel the healing power of grace in a way I never had experienced before and she survived.

Less Myths and More Meaning

On the morning of the fourth day, I checked Legend over endlessly to absolutely convince myself that she was okay. A single magpie came to her corral and landed on a fence post. As the black and white bird with a long tail looked at me with her shiny black eyes, she christened me back into the world of the living, a new world with less myths and more meaning.

Seeing one magpie is supposed to be an especially grave occasion as the popular saying goes “one for sorrow”. I knew the death and sorrow had happened in me.

I was a different person now. Legend was well and healthy. I opened the gate to let Legend out onto her pasture and life went on.

The Mythologist

This is why I have come to think of the magpie as a mythologist. Magpie spirit animals can help us study myths we have about spirituality, the universe, others and ourselves. Magpies are known for eating anything as is indicated by their scientific name “Pica“, meaning to crave things unfit for food, and they remind us how we can crave and eat odd stories that aren’t true in an attempt to secure nourishment and safety or to feed the small fears that protect us from the big fears.

Ultimately it is not important to know why we adopted those myths in the first place, but to understand the role of myths in our lives and to treat them lightly. There’s no need to crawl inside the ark and hide away from the storm for the storm of fear and suffering is of our own making. We can light upon the ridgepole of the boat and find humor and humility in the art of rebelling against that which we thought we ought to always know.

I would like to finish by quoting a favorite song of mine by Neko Case that takes on a deeper meaning now. It’s from her album Middle Cyclone and is called Magpie to the Morning. I have to say that Legend was always the closest to death in the mornings…

Magpie comes a calling
Drops a marble from the sky
Tin roof sounds alarm
And wake up child
Let this be a warning says the magpie to the morning
Don’t let this fading summer pass you by
Don’t let this fading summer pass you by

You can listen to these lyrics on her website: http://nekocase.com/music/discography/middle-cyclone/

References: [1] http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/black-billed_magpie/lifehistory [2] http://www.wisdomportal.com/MagpieNotes.html

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

 

meaning and purpose

On Meaning and Purpose

I am lucky to have blessed revelations peppered throughout my 7 day a week morning contemplation practice. Since March this year I’ve given myself at least 60 minutes a day of focused time for writing, reading and meditating. There’s one pre-requisite – the practice must be focused around my relationship with my soul. All distractions are dismissed from the conversation.

There is one particularly meaningful conversation that occurred over a month ago that I refer back to every day. I would like to share this with you. My task was to ask my soul and ego each for their interpretation of meaning and purpose.

This is what came:
To my soul, meaning is that deeply felt sense, a feeling of rich connectedness, a sense of flow and draw. To my ego, meaning is the ability to connect something in to a pattern, a system, in a logical way. It’s taking a string of symbols, synchronicities and experiences and finding that they all point in one direction or add up to a truth. 

To my soul, purpose is a life force welling up inside that fuels service and loving action and joyous experience. There is no end result in mind, just the full experience of this moment. There is a drive, but it’s a drive to pour forth the divine. For the ego, purpose is tied up in appearing like I know where I am going, in achieving a goal, fulfilling a need. There’s a practicality to this purpose even it it is to find joy. There is a striving for something rather than being in it. for the ego, if I don’t know where I’m going then I am insecure. For my soul, I am fulfilling a purpose if I know where I am. My life has meaning when I’m connected to where I am. 

When mapping the route of each, I see that the ego creates paths that I wander down, paths that take me outside the moment. I see that the soul accesses the moment as it resonates with meaning and moves with purpose.  

The Little Selves Seen

Today I was sharing with a group the value of employing power animals to help us in our daily lives. I have a great egret that I call in to help me manage my energetic boundaries in a group setting. I see her fly in and then dance, wings flowing, around me to help me stay clean and clear about what is mine and what is that of the people I’m negotiating with. I have a red fox that helps me look for something, or someone, I’ve misplaced. When I see him run out after the prize I trust that what I am missing will come back to me, and it does.

I love these spirits and have an intensely intimate bond with them. I cannot imagine my life without them. At the same time, I understand that my attachment to them is the same as my attachment to my role as a wife, animal mother, herbalist, shaman; the same as to my attachment to my ego. I love who I am in the world and I trust that it is not me.

I am the witness. As Ken Wilber says in the introduction to Caroline Myss’s Entering the Castle, “we have at least two selves, or two sorts of selves – there is the self that can be seen and known, and the self that cannot be seen or known. There is the unknown seer, and there are all the little selves seen. ” This unknown seer is considered our “true self” and is referred to in many meditative practices as the “witness”.

How can I view my power animals and my roles as “little selves seen” and hold the truth of the witness that is me? Do I hold one over the other?

The one that judges the little selves as less than the true self is just another little self. When we judge our power animals as mere projections we are not speaking from our true self. When we dismiss our role as a woman we are not acting from our true self. This is one little self judging another. In our polarized world we fragment into these multiplicities to have the experience that is human. These selves are what make our lives so unbelievably rich. Their judgements create our experience.

All the while, our true essence remains intact watching, accepting and learning from all the little selves do. Our true essence does not know how to judge, only watch. We have access to all the forgiveness and love that is the witness at any given time. Whenever a little self feels defeated she can release the shame to the witness and be overcome with an overwhelming sense of relief. Whenever I am asking a power animal for help, I am stepping outside of my role as a wife, employee, boss, etc. and becoming the faith that is the witness.

This goes against many teachings that encourage people to release their ego for the sake of the true self. What I’ve found is that we all are a work in progress and to expect any one of us to be free of ego is asking a lot. It is a tough road to follow and not fit for everyone. I am here to suggest another path. Instead of struggling through all the doubt and self-judgement that comes with severing oneself from the ego, I have chosen to instead honor the value of the little selves seen. The more I love them, talk with them, and share them with the witness, the more I find they align with my true nature. In the end, that is the ultimate goal, unity with all that is, was, and ever will be.

Quote from Entering the Castle: An Inner Path to God and Your Soul by Caroline Myss