Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus 1 April 2018

From Wendy Robertson Fyfe, Creator of Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus…

You are invited to participate in creating a wave of human song around the Earth at Dawn on Sunday 1 April  for Earth and Earth Community. This event is a ‘give-away’: to feed, praise, give gratitude and celebrate this magnificent planet. The intention is that wherever we are in Earth to be present to Dawn and sing to that place; whilst there is a place for silence we want the Earth, animals, trees, birds, insects, flowers, wind, mountains, oceans and all to know we want to hear their songs and for our song to be singing with them. We might also wonder what each of our notes are as part of that song and what the song of humanity is at this time of ‘The Great Turning’. You may also want to listen, to see if there is a response from Earth around you. What if Earth is dying in longing for our voices and what if , what if singing our Earthnote in the Cosmic Composition will make a difference …..

This event has already spread to New Zealand, Australia, India, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, France, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Brazil. See www.earthsongwave.com and facebook page for further information, resources and offerings. You are invited to send in ideas, experiences and sharings to facebook Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus 2018 Page and Group. The facebook page has already reached 2,421 people around Earth. Share widely if this different kind of news sings to you.

Blessings, blessings, blessings,

Wendy Robertson Fyfe

 

Soulcraft Musings 26/1/18 – The Journey of Soul Initiation

The Journey of Soul Initiation
 This is the twelfth part of a fourteen part Musing (one per week) 
(reproduced from the Animas Valley Institute www.animas.org)
Friday, January 26, 2018
Although the descent to soul has largely been forgotten in mainstream Western culture[1], there is nothing more essential in the world today. The experiential encounter with soul is the key element in the initiatory journey that culminates in true adulthood. And true adults — visionary artisans — are the generators of the most creative and effective actions in defense of all life and in the renaissance and evolution of generative human cultures.
But the encounter with soul is not a weekend workshop, a handful of imagery journeys, several entheogenic experiences, an occasional piece of dreamwork, or a vision fast. It is not something that can be achieved by simply using certain techniques or practices. It is a hazardous odyssey unfolding over many months or years. The risks to the Wanderer’s sanity are great. It’s a time of worry and distress for her family, too, and can be at least a temporary loss for her community. To reach the depths of soul generally requires extreme consciousness-shifting measures, practices, ceremonies, and/or circumstances.
The techniques and methods for the descent to soul are numerous but mostly unknown or forgotten in the contemporary mainstream West. I explore many of them in my books.
Whatever set of methods you use, they are your means to precipitate, quicken, and navigate the journey of soul initiation. It’s entirely possible — and most always preferable — to undergo the journey in a contemporary manner that doesn’t adopt or appropriate methods from another culture. Furthermore, no particular belief or faith in the journey itself is required, only a willingness to embark. Since 1980, the guides of Animas Valley Institute have woven together and cultivated a contemporary, Western, nature-based approach to the journey — a set of practices, ceremonies, principles, maps, and models.[2]
One of the most essential things we’ve learned is that in order to encounter your soul, you need something more than a method. As noted earlier, what must come first is the attainment of a stage of personal development that makes possible such an encounter. Until then, you can use any practices or rituals you’d like, but they will not result in soul encounter. The stage in question is absent from virtually all contemporary developmental models (including the models offered as comprehensive or integral) and is rarely attained in the Western world precisely because of its danger to contemporary society. This is the stage I have called the Cocoon, the stage in which we most fully embody the archetype of the Wanderer who constantly crosses borders into the mysteries of nature and psyche and who hones the tools and skills of what I call soulcraft. Reaching that stage requires the wholing of the ego, self-healing, and attending to the most incomplete developmental tasks of childhood and early adolescence. I explore a great variety of practices for this preparatory work in Wild Mind and also in Nature and the Human Soul.
Harvesting the fruit of the journey of soul initiation and feeding the world with its bounty plays out over the rest of your life. When you first receive a vision, you won’t know what it means or what to do with it. It takes months or years of living it into the world before you truly understand it. The vision is “only” the seed for a conversation you can begin with the world. That conversation itself is what enables you, eventually, to consciously understand your soul’s place in the world and how best to embody it. Furthermore, as you embody your soul’s place, you’re actually modifying and co-evolving your ecological niche. You are changing the world, not just yourself. You are co-imagining, co-creating, and co-evolving hand-in-hand with the land, the waters, the Earth community. This is how human and Gaian evolution unfolds.[3]
To read part one through eleven  click here
To read Soulcraft Musings Inaugural Introduction  click here

Soulcraft Musings 19/1/18 – Contemporary Challenges in Uncovering Even Middleworld Purpose

Contemporary Challenges in Uncovering Even Middleworld Purpose
 This is the eleventh part of a fourteen part Musing (one per week) 
(reproduced from the Animas Valley Institute www.animas.org)
Friday, January 19, 2018
Psychological early adolescence is a life stage reached by most everyone at puberty, but in the contemporary world only a small minority, perhaps ten to fifteen percent, ever mature beyond this stage due to the difficulties of completing its developmental task. That task is to fashion a social presence that is authentic and at the same time accepted by one’s peer group. For an early adolescent (of any age), “purpose” is whatever might achieve that dual goal. But that goal, as simple as it might sound, is extraordinarily elusive in the egocentric and pathological environment of contemporary Western culture.
The challenges of reaching that goal are largely due to the all-too-common failures with the tasks of the two stages of childhood, especially with the nature-oriented tasks of childhood.[1] For example, it’s hard to be authentic when you have trouble being present to yourself and others. Cultivating the capacity for sustained presence is the nature-oriented task of early childhood (a task that must be addressed by the parents and other family members of the young child). But it’s never too late in life to cultivate this essential capacity, which can be done through meditation or mindfulness practice, other contemplative arts such as tai chi or nature solos, expressive arts, presence-cultivating psychotherapies, and other practices.[2] Presence is a prerequisite for true empathy and compassion — including self-compassion. Empathy for others and compassion for oneself have become rare achievements, and they are both essential for achieving authenticity.
Authenticity is also much more difficult when you don’t feel at home in the more-than-human world (that is, the more extensive and differentiated world that includes our human world as a subset). Learning the enchantment of the larger world that enables the human village to exist at all is the nature-oriented developmental task of middle childhood. Nature connection is the evolutionary and psychological foundation for feeling at home in any other context, including your peer group.
All challenges in human development stem from the cultural disconnect from the greater Earth community. Conversely, our single greatest collective need now is for what I call eco-awakening — the somatic experience of being fully at home in the more-than-human world. Our second greatest need is the cultivation of personal authenticity and heartfelt social belonging.
Because psychological authenticity and social belonging have become so rare, they are perhaps the greatest and most pervasive longings in the Western world today. Witness the explosive growth and addictive qualities of social media such as Facebook. Being liked (or even “liked”) and being authentic is what most people mean when they say they yearn for greater meaning and purpose in their lives or for the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the world. These are core middleworld desires and purposes. People want to feel more real and more a part of a real world, in greater communion with the web of life. They want their lives to make a difference. This, indeed, is the ultimate goal of the journey of soul initiation, but the necessary foundation for the soul journey is an achieved middleworld experience of psychological belonging (to yourself), socialbelonging (to a peer group), and ecological belonging (to the more-than-human world), the latter being eco-awakening. The eventual achievement of a soul-infused belonging to the world is built upon this prior three-legged middleworld foundation of belonging.
It seems what most people mean when they say they want more “soul” in their lives is actually this sense of psychological and social belonging. A smaller group also means greater ecologicalbelonging. A group smaller yet mean the kind of mystical, underworld belonging to the world implied by the way I use the word soul in these pages. For yet others, “to experience soul” means to merge with the upperworld realm of Spirit or the divine.
To read part one through ten  click here
To read Soulcraft Musings Inaugural Introduction  click here
  References
[1] See Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World (Novato: New World Library, 2008), chapters 4 and 5; or “A Brief Introduction to the Eco-Soulcentric Developmental Wheel,” a link to which you can find under “What’s New” on http://www.animas.org.
[2] See Nature and the Human Soul, ibid., chapter 4.

Soulcraft Musings 19/1/18 – Contemporary Challenges in Uncovering Even Middleworld Purpose

Contemporary Challenges in Uncovering Even Middleworld Purpose
 This is the eleventh part of a fourteen part Musing (one per week) 
(reproduced from the Animas Valley Institute www.animas.org)
Friday, January 19, 2018
Psychological early adolescence is a life stage reached by most everyone at puberty, but in the contemporary world only a small minority, perhaps ten to fifteen percent, ever mature beyond this stage due to the difficulties of completing its developmental task. That task is to fashion a social presence that is authentic and at the same time accepted by one’s peer group. For an early adolescent (of any age), “purpose” is whatever might achieve that dual goal. But that goal, as simple as it might sound, is extraordinarily elusive in the egocentric and pathological environment of contemporary Western culture.
The challenges of reaching that goal are largely due to the all-too-common failures with the tasks of the two stages of childhood, especially with the nature-oriented tasks of childhood.[1] For example, it’s hard to be authentic when you have trouble being present to yourself and others. Cultivating the capacity for sustained presence is the nature-oriented task of early childhood (a task that must be addressed by the parents and other family members of the young child). But it’s never too late in life to cultivate this essential capacity, which can be done through meditation or mindfulness practice, other contemplative arts such as tai chi or nature solos, expressive arts, presence-cultivating psychotherapies, and other practices.[2] Presence is a prerequisite for true empathy and compassion — including self-compassion. Empathy for others and compassion for oneself have become rare achievements, and they are both essential for achieving authenticity.
Authenticity is also much more difficult when you don’t feel at home in the more-than-human world (that is, the more extensive and differentiated world that includes our human world as a subset). Learning the enchantment of the larger world that enables the human village to exist at all is the nature-oriented developmental task of middle childhood. Nature connection is the evolutionary and psychological foundation for feeling at home in any other context, including your peer group.
All challenges in human development stem from the cultural disconnect from the greater Earth community. Conversely, our single greatest collective need now is for what I call eco-awakening — the somatic experience of being fully at home in the more-than-human world. Our second greatest need is the cultivation of personal authenticity and heartfelt social belonging.
Because psychological authenticity and social belonging have become so rare, they are perhaps the greatest and most pervasive longings in the Western world today. Witness the explosive growth and addictive qualities of social media such as Facebook. Being liked (or even “liked”) and being authentic is what most people mean when they say they yearn for greater meaning and purpose in their lives or for the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the world. These are core middleworld desires and purposes. People want to feel more real and more a part of a real world, in greater communion with the web of life. They want their lives to make a difference. This, indeed, is the ultimate goal of the journey of soul initiation, but the necessary foundation for the soul journey is an achieved middleworld experience of psychological belonging (to yourself), socialbelonging (to a peer group), and ecological belonging (to the more-than-human world), the latter being eco-awakening. The eventual achievement of a soul-infused belonging to the world is built upon this prior three-legged middleworld foundation of belonging.
It seems what most people mean when they say they want more “soul” in their lives is actually this sense of psychological and social belonging. A smaller group also means greater ecologicalbelonging. A group smaller yet mean the kind of mystical, underworld belonging to the world implied by the way I use the word soul in these pages. For yet others, “to experience soul” means to merge with the upperworld realm of Spirit or the divine.
To read part one through ten  click here
To read Soulcraft Musings Inaugural Introduction  click here
  References
[1] See Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World (Novato: New World Library, 2008), chapters 4 and 5; or “A Brief Introduction to the Eco-Soulcentric Developmental Wheel,” a link to which you can find under “What’s New” on http://www.animas.org.
[2] See Nature and the Human Soul, ibid., chapter 4.

Soulcraft Musings 12/1/18 – Moltings: Radical Shifts in Middleworld Purpose

Moltings: Radical Shifts in Middleworld Purpose    
 This is the tenth part of a fourteen part Musing (one per week) (reproduced from the Animas Valley Institute www.animas.org)
Friday, January 12, 2018

There is one type of change in life purpose that might be mistaken as a shift from middleworld to underworld purpose, from egocentric to soulcentric, but is actually a transition from one middleworld purpose to another. I think of this type of change, which can be quite profound, as a “molting,” a metaphor borrowed from the lifecycle of moths and butterflies. The caterpillar is the larval or adolescent phase in the order of Lepidoptera. Caterpillars shed their skin several times, each time growing a larger one. Each of these sheddings is a molting. We can imagine that losing one’s skin and growing a new one is aradical experience. But it does not hold a candle to the life change that occurs during the chrysalis stage when the caterpillar’s body totally dissolves within the cocoon, enabling it’s cells to be reshaped into the adult form of a moth or butterfly. We can sense that this transition from earth-crawling caterpillar to winged butterfly is that much more profound than from one caterpillar incarnation to another.

Likewise, humans often go through a series of moltings – shifts from one social, vocational, political, religious, or spiritual role to another. This might, for example, be a transition from high school to college, or from single to married or the reverse, or from a job in advertising to a career as a psychotherapist, or from living in Louisiana to a life in L.A., or from being a closet gay to one who is out, or from being Christian to being Hindu. Some moltings are quite earth-shaking, and involve extreme shifts in worldview, such as with religious or spiritual “awakenings.”
For example, I recently read about a woman who, in her late twenties, had what she called a “complete emotional breakdown.” She was in a dysfunctional relationship, living in a bad neighborhood, with an office job she hated. She became depressed, anxious, and desperate, and began using drugs and alcohol to dull the pain. Then she got fired. After a week or so of despair, she heard about a weeklong Buddhist meditation retreat in the desert. She packed up, left behind the life she had been living, and went to the retreat. During that week, she grieved wildly, learned to meditate, and was introduced to the Buddha dharma. By the end of the retreat, she made a vow to follow the Buddha’s teachings. Clearly, this was a radical shift in worldview, lifestyle, and purpose that made all the difference in her life. (She eventually became a Buddhist teacher herself.) But it isn’t a shift to underworld or upperworld purpose. It’s a middleworld molting. Saying this is not in any way to diminish its significance, but rather to contrast it with an underworld or chrysalis passage, which shifts us not from one lifestyle or cultural identity to another, but from an identity rooted in the middleworld of culture to an underworld identity that is ecological and mythopoetic, an entirely different category of personal transformation.
Human moltings are major shifts or awakenings that occur before the start of the journey of soul initiation. The latter is the human chrysalis experience.
To read part one through nine click here.

Soulcraft Musings 12/1/18 – Moltings: Radical Shifts in Middleworld Purpose

Moltings: Radical Shifts in Middleworld Purpose    
 This is the tenth part of a fourteen part Musing (one per week) (reproduced from the Animas Valley Institute www.animas.org)
Friday, January 12, 2018

There is one type of change in life purpose that might be mistaken as a shift from middleworld to underworld purpose, from egocentric to soulcentric, but is actually a transition from one middleworld purpose to another. I think of this type of change, which can be quite profound, as a “molting,” a metaphor borrowed from the lifecycle of moths and butterflies. The caterpillar is the larval or adolescent phase in the order of Lepidoptera. Caterpillars shed their skin several times, each time growing a larger one. Each of these sheddings is a molting. We can imagine that losing one’s skin and growing a new one is aradical experience. But it does not hold a candle to the life change that occurs during the chrysalis stage when the caterpillar’s body totally dissolves within the cocoon, enabling it’s cells to be reshaped into the adult form of a moth or butterfly. We can sense that this transition from earth-crawling caterpillar to winged butterfly is that much more profound than from one caterpillar incarnation to another.

Likewise, humans often go through a series of moltings – shifts from one social, vocational, political, religious, or spiritual role to another. This might, for example, be a transition from high school to college, or from single to married or the reverse, or from a job in advertising to a career as a psychotherapist, or from living in Louisiana to a life in L.A., or from being a closet gay to one who is out, or from being Christian to being Hindu. Some moltings are quite earth-shaking, and involve extreme shifts in worldview, such as with religious or spiritual “awakenings.”
For example, I recently read about a woman who, in her late twenties, had what she called a “complete emotional breakdown.” She was in a dysfunctional relationship, living in a bad neighborhood, with an office job she hated. She became depressed, anxious, and desperate, and began using drugs and alcohol to dull the pain. Then she got fired. After a week or so of despair, she heard about a weeklong Buddhist meditation retreat in the desert. She packed up, left behind the life she had been living, and went to the retreat. During that week, she grieved wildly, learned to meditate, and was introduced to the Buddha dharma. By the end of the retreat, she made a vow to follow the Buddha’s teachings. Clearly, this was a radical shift in worldview, lifestyle, and purpose that made all the difference in her life. (She eventually became a Buddhist teacher herself.) But it isn’t a shift to underworld or upperworld purpose. It’s a middleworld molting. Saying this is not in any way to diminish its significance, but rather to contrast it with an underworld or chrysalis passage, which shifts us not from one lifestyle or cultural identity to another, but from an identity rooted in the middleworld of culture to an underworld identity that is ecological and mythopoetic, an entirely different category of personal transformation.
Human moltings are major shifts or awakenings that occur before the start of the journey of soul initiation. The latter is the human chrysalis experience.
To read part one through nine click here.

Soulcraft Musings 5/1/18 – Upperworld and Underworld: Two Complementary Realms of the Spiritual or Transpersonal

Upperworld and Underworld: Two Complementary Realms of the Spiritual or Transpersonal 
 This is the ninth part of a fourteen part Musing (one per week) (reproduced from the Animas Valley Institute www.animas.org)
Friday, January 5, 2018
In the Western world, the spiritual has been largely identified with the upperworld of God, Spirit, transcendence, enlightenment, or nondual consciousness. But the underworld of soul is equally spiritual, equally mystical, and equally essential to human development. Spirit and soul are both spiritual in the sense of being numinous (of the sacred or holy) and in the sense of being transpersonal (beyond the personal, beyond the realm of the ego’s conscious self-awareness). The upperworld is the universal transpersonal, while the underworld is the unique transpersonal. While upperworld spiritualities focus on transcendence, the underworld journey provides for what cultural historian Thomas Berry called “inscendence,” which he defined as “a descent into our pre-rational, our instinctive resources.”[1] The underworld and upperworld are the two complementary realms of the spiritual. Either alone is incomplete and imperfect.
In the mainstream Western world, most religious organizations operate primarily in the middleworld of personal healing, charity, community, and morality, some in a mature and life-enhancing way, some not. In the relatively rare instances when religious people in the West truly approach the spiritual or transpersonal, it’s virtually always upperworld, as is also the case in the East.
But upperworld practices alone result in an incomplete spirituality. They catalyze the life-shifting experience of oneness, of the interconnectedness or interbeing of everything, of oneself as an integral part of God or Spirit, and of the felt-sense of being unified with all of creation — along with the accompanying sense of peace, joy, vibrancy, and deep wonder about the world — but they do not help us find our unique transpersonal role in this world, the ecological niche that makes possible our greatest service to the world as well as our deepest fulfillment. Conversely, the underworld journey alone is incomplete. Living from soul, although deeply fulfilling and life-enhancing, can become too heavy, self-centered, or stressfully goal-oriented (overly attached to outcomes) when not integrated with the transcendent experience of oneness. Nondual awakening, although joyous and peaceful, can become ungrounded, purpose-less, or complacent or detached without the experience of soul encounter .[2]
Upperworld development in no way implies or requires underworld development. And vice versa. You can be an enlightened Zen master and not have a clue about your soul purpose — probably true of most Zen masters. And you can be a soul-initiated adult and never have had an experience of nondual consciousness.
But the universal and unique transpersonal are inextricably interwoven whether or not we’ve consciously experienced either one or their interconnectedness. In just two thirteenth-century sentences, Rumi — the Persian Sufi mystic — managed to sew together the upperworld and underworld or, better, showed how we can never have one without the other:
God picks up the reed flute world and blows.
Each note is a need coming through one of us,
a passion, a longing-pain. …[3]
The soul of anything — human, flower, frog, or fox — is a unique, God-originated passion or longing-pain pouring through one of us creatures.
To read part one through eight click here.
  References
[1] Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988), pp. 207-8. Berry saw inscendence as essential to human survival at this time: “We must go far beyond any transformation of contemporary culture. … None of our existing cultures can deal with this situation out of its own resources. We must invent, or reinvent, a sustainable human culture by a descent into our pre-rational, our instinctive r esources. Our cultural resources have lost their integrity. They cannot be trusted. What is needed is not transcendence but ‘inscendence’.”
[2] For more on the relationship between underworld (soul) and upperworld (Spirit) and the three realms of human development, see chapter 2 of Soulcraft (ibid.), which can also be found online at http://www.natureandthehumansoul.com/newbook/chapter2_sc.htm .
[3] Jelaluddin Rumi, The Essential Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks (San Francisco: Harper,
1995 ), p.103.

Soulcraft Musings 5/1/18 – Upperworld and Underworld: Two Complementary Realms of the Spiritual or Transpersonal

Upperworld and Underworld: Two Complementary Realms of the Spiritual or Transpersonal 
 This is the ninth part of a fourteen part Musing (one per week) (reproduced from the Animas Valley Institute www.animas.org)
Friday, January 5, 2018
In the Western world, the spiritual has been largely identified with the upperworld of God, Spirit, transcendence, enlightenment, or nondual consciousness. But the underworld of soul is equally spiritual, equally mystical, and equally essential to human development. Spirit and soul are both spiritual in the sense of being numinous (of the sacred or holy) and in the sense of being transpersonal (beyond the personal, beyond the realm of the ego’s conscious self-awareness). The upperworld is the universal transpersonal, while the underworld is the unique transpersonal. While upperworld spiritualities focus on transcendence, the underworld journey provides for what cultural historian Thomas Berry called “inscendence,” which he defined as “a descent into our pre-rational, our instinctive resources.”[1] The underworld and upperworld are the two complementary realms of the spiritual. Either alone is incomplete and imperfect.
In the mainstream Western world, most religious organizations operate primarily in the middleworld of personal healing, charity, community, and morality, some in a mature and life-enhancing way, some not. In the relatively rare instances when religious people in the West truly approach the spiritual or transpersonal, it’s virtually always upperworld, as is also the case in the East.
But upperworld practices alone result in an incomplete spirituality. They catalyze the life-shifting experience of oneness, of the interconnectedness or interbeing of everything, of oneself as an integral part of God or Spirit, and of the felt-sense of being unified with all of creation — along with the accompanying sense of peace, joy, vibrancy, and deep wonder about the world — but they do not help us find our unique transpersonal role in this world, the ecological niche that makes possible our greatest service to the world as well as our deepest fulfillment. Conversely, the underworld journey alone is incomplete. Living from soul, although deeply fulfilling and life-enhancing, can become too heavy, self-centered, or stressfully goal-oriented (overly attached to outcomes) when not integrated with the transcendent experience of oneness. Nondual awakening, although joyous and peaceful, can become ungrounded, purpose-less, or complacent or detached without the experience of soul encounter .[2]
Upperworld development in no way implies or requires underworld development. And vice versa. You can be an enlightened Zen master and not have a clue about your soul purpose — probably true of most Zen masters. And you can be a soul-initiated adult and never have had an experience of nondual consciousness.
But the universal and unique transpersonal are inextricably interwoven whether or not we’ve consciously experienced either one or their interconnectedness. In just two thirteenth-century sentences, Rumi — the Persian Sufi mystic — managed to sew together the upperworld and underworld or, better, showed how we can never have one without the other:
God picks up the reed flute world and blows.
Each note is a need coming through one of us,
a passion, a longing-pain. …[3]
The soul of anything — human, flower, frog, or fox — is a unique, God-originated passion or longing-pain pouring through one of us creatures.
To read part one through eight click here.
  References
[1] Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988), pp. 207-8. Berry saw inscendence as essential to human survival at this time: “We must go far beyond any transformation of contemporary culture. … None of our existing cultures can deal with this situation out of its own resources. We must invent, or reinvent, a sustainable human culture by a descent into our pre-rational, our instinctive r esources. Our cultural resources have lost their integrity. They cannot be trusted. What is needed is not transcendence but ‘inscendence’.”
[2] For more on the relationship between underworld (soul) and upperworld (Spirit) and the three realms of human development, see chapter 2 of Soulcraft (ibid.), which can also be found online at http://www.natureandthehumansoul.com/newbook/chapter2_sc.htm .
[3] Jelaluddin Rumi, The Essential Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks (San Francisco: Harper,
1995 ), p.103.

Soulcraft Musings 29/12/17 – Soul Purpose vs Delivery System

Soul Purpose vs. Delivery System   
 
This is the eighth part of a fourteen part Musing (one per week)  (reproduced from the Animas Valley Institute www.animas.org)
Friday, December 29, 2017
Soul images, like those we looked at last week, do not tell the person how to embody their souls — what practices, projects, procedures, professions, arts, tools, or crafts to use, or in which settings to work. Rather, they inform the person what it is they are doing whenever they are doing their soul work. Their soul images reveal the deepest significance of their work and of their existence. Their conscious understanding of their soul’s purpose allows them to assess to what degree their everyday actions are successful embodiments of their soul — and to make corrections as needed. These soul images are like navigational tools. They are the human equivalent of what allows monarch butterflies to migrate from New England to Mexico. The what is much deeper and more essential than the how. The how is in service to the what. The what — the soul image — is given to us, by Mystery. The how is determined, fashioned, and implemented by us, by our mature egos.
The what is what I call soul purpose. The how is what I call the delivery system for soul. The what might also be called a vision, and the how might be called a task:
A vision without a task is just a dream .
A task without a vision is just a job.
A vision with a task can change the world.[1]
The what — the soul image, the navigational aid, the vision — might also be understood, metaphorically, as what William Stafford called the “thread you follow”:
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost. …[2]
Underworld Purpose vs. Middleworld Purpose — and the Sacred Marriage
 
Social or middleworld purpose is a perspective on personal meaning that is psychologically adolescent — again, referring here to a developmental stage, not an age range. (By calling it “adolescent,” I intend no criticism or diminishment. Acquiring middleworld purpose is an essential early stage in human development.) Middleworld purpose defines us in terms of our social roles, our job descriptions, or the intended outcomes of our creative projects. Although a social or vocational perspective on purpose is necessary, appropriate, and healthy in psychological adolescence, it does not derive from the depths of the psyche or go to the depths of the world and is not enough to build a fulfilling life upon.
After being initiated into our underworld, soul, or ecological purpose, there is no longer what we might have earlier called a middleworld purpose. Now we have a middleworld delivery systemfor our true (soul) purpose. Our social roles and vocational endeavors are means to an end. Following my soul initiation, for example, I have been in the roles of psychologist, vision fast guide, author, and soulcraft facilitator, among others, but none of these social-vocational roles constitute my purpose. Rather, they have been, for me, delivery systems for the weaving of cocoons. (This essay is also an effort at cocoon weaving.) Yeats delivered his silver and golden apples with the vehicles of poetry, theater, and metaphysics. Malidoma Somé befriends the “enemy/stranger” by interpreting African indigenous wisdom for Western people through writing, speaking, community rituals, workshops, and trainings. In addition to writing and speaking, Joanna Macy embodies that stone in her imaginal bridge between the East and the West through the delivery systems of Buddhist scholarship, systems thinking, Buddhism-infused activism, and a theory and methodology for personal and social change she calls the Work That Reconnects.
From the perspective of our middleworld lives, the soul is a dream. From the underworld perspective of our soul’s purpose, our middleworld lives — when disconnected from our souls – are illusions or phantasms, or drudgery.
But our middleworld lives are not incidental to the soul. Far from it. The healthy, mature, middleworld ego is our means for making real our soul’s underworld desires. This is why there’s an ancient pancultural belief in a love affair between the soul and the ego; when they come together in partnership, this is the Sacred Marriage. Each has what the other lacks and longs for and is deeply allured by: The soul knows our true, destined place in the world, holds the knowledge of what is truly worth doing in our lives. But the soul has no means — no head or hands — to manifest that purpose. It is the healthy, mature ego that can fashion things and accomplish things in the material middleworld. The soul is captivated by this strategic capacity of the ego’s to manifest, especially when accomplished artfully. The ego, in turn, is moonstruck by the soul’s visions and passions. The mature ego wants, more than anything in life, to make real the dreams the soul has been weaving since before our birth — this is the deepest love-making. And it is life-making. The soul wants, more than anything, to be partnered with an ego with that vast desire and that elegant and artful set of reality-shaping skills. How absolutely romantic!
To read part one through seven click here.

Soulcraft Musings 22/12/17 – A Few Sketches of Soul

A Few Sketches of Soul   
 This is the seventh part of a fourteen part Musing (one per week) (reproduced from the Animas Valley Institute www.animas.org)
Friday, December 22, 2017

The Song of Wandering Aengus

 I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream

And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
 
– William Butler Yeats
 Some examples of mythopoetic identity might be helpful, even though it’s impossible to communicate the numinosity of the human soul in a few words. Much better would be an intricate story or poem, something there’s not space here to include. (The single best way to understand a person’s soul purpose is to live in community with them and experience them in action.) That said, I’ll offer here a few linguistic sketches with the hope this will at least convey a feeling for the difference between a social-vocational identity and a soul identity.
There are a great number of people whose mystical encounters with soul I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to learn about and to witness the embodiment of. The following are four exceedingly brief word portraits that embody the wild mysteries of such encounters and how they’ve been communicated mythopoetically, each of these examples being mere intimations of the genius and destiny of these four individuals:
  • the overseer who guides others into the oceanic depths of the psyche
  • the one with a sparkling heart who walks the path of the bear
  • she who generates perception-expanding images and identity-destabilizing questions
  • the one who dances the earth and dreams song to feed the longing
 Despite being so brief, you can sense how these soul-infused identities and purposes contrast with middleworld cultural roles. These are not job descriptions you’ll ever see advertised. They are not the kinds of recommendations you’ll get from a vocational guidance counselor. They are of the dreamtime or the mythic. And they are the kinds of purposes utterly core to our deepest, innate human identities.
Another example: The preface to my book Soulcraft recounts my own story of how I received, on my first vision fast at age 30, an initial glimpse of my soul identity or ecological role as the one who weaves cocoons of transformation.
Three more: Malidoma Somé , the West African elder and teacher, identifies his destiny, his place in the world, as “he who makes friends with the enemy/ stranger,” something revealed to him (by Mystery) as a young man during a month-long initiation process.[1]
Joanna Macy, the North American ecophilosopher, spiritual activist, Buddhist scholar, and Earth elder, experienced a life-shifting numinous image during a meditation session in the early weeks of her Buddhist practice, while living in India, at age 37:
To my inner eye appeared a bridge, slightly arching, made of stone. I could see the separate rocks of which it was built, and I wanted to be one of them. Just one, that was enough, if only I could be part of that bridge between the thoughtworlds of East and West, connecting the insights of the Buddha Dharma with the modern Western mind. What my role might be — at the podium of a college classroom? at a desk in a library tower? — was less clear to me than the conviction possessing me now: I would be a stone in the building of that bridge.[2]
Irish poet William Butler Yeats, in his mid twenties, discovered that his destiny or soul-calling was to
… pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.[3]
In Soulcraft and Nature and the Human Soul, you’ll find much more elaborate accounts of soul encounters and identities.[4]
Now that we have a better feeling for how our mythopoetic human psyches experience soul and communicate it to our conscious minds — by way of numinous images — next week we’ll consider the vital difference between our soul images and what we do to embody those images, which is to say the difference between our soul purpose and our delivery system for soul.
To read part one through seven click here.