To properly understand what our Soul is, we first need to understand our inner system of selves.
WE ARE A MULTITUDE - Body, Ego, Spirit and Soul
Most people see themselves as being a single “self”, a single “I”. The reality is much more complex. Each of us is made of several different parts of self, each part having their own needs, drives, agendas and stories. As we go about our daily life, we are constantly moving our sense of self from one part to another, usually without being consciously aware we are doing so.
Although we can divide the parts-of-self into any number of sub-divisions, in therapeutic shamanism, we concentrate on the four primary ones. From a shamanic perspective, each of these four corresponds to (and is an aspect of) one of the main shamanic realms.
The four main parts are:
OUR UPPER-WORLD SPIRIT
This aspect of ourselves corresponds to the shamanic Upper-World. It is pure consciousness, a fragment of Father Sky (or God, if you like), in the same way that a water drop is part of the ocean, or that a spark is part of a fire. It seeks to soar and transcend, gaining a broader perspective; to rise above things and see the bigger picture. One of the reasons people often experience positive benefits from having a regular meditation practice is that, in meditation, we are connecting to this part and allowing it to do what it needs to do. However, it requires us to live ethically, morally, and with kindness and compassion. Neglecting these values deteriorates our well-being and affects this part negatively.
OUR MIDDLE-WORLD SELF OR SOUL with a small S
This part of us corresponds to the shamanic Middle-World. It is both a personal and a collective construct. It is made of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, and of the stories society tells us. It is the domesticated, socialised part of us. It is also the part that most people identify with as being who they are. It includes our ego (our inner self-identity), and our persona (the face or mask we present to the outside world). It is also made up of two other sub-parts. These are “head” and “heart”, and each of these needs two things. Head needs to understand, and it needs to feel understood. Heart needs to love, and it needs to feel loved. In order to try and meet these needs, the head and heart make up stories. They make up stories about things like love and loyalty, duties and deceptions, motivations and meanings, rights and wrongs, all of which we weave into our middle-world story of who we are.
OUR PHYSICAL BODY
This part of us corresponds to the physical Middle-World. It needs to have its physical needs met. It needs clean water, warmth, healthy food, fresh air and shelter. It needs to know that it is safe from harm, and to have somewhere it can rest and sleep. It also needs to be allowed to do what it was designed to do, which is to move around (instead of sitting at a desk, or in a car or on a sofa for most of the day). In our culture we tend to think of the body as not us, but something that we inhabit; a “vehicle” for the soul, a kind of biological car that we drive around in. The body is far more than just a vehicle though. Remember, in shamanism, everything has a soul, is alive and conscious and can be communicated with. Everything has its own unique qualities and gifts, and that goes for the body, too. Our bodies are a conscious part of us; a part of us that has its own wisdom and intelligence.
OUR LOWER-WORLD SOUL (with a capital S)
This part of us corresponds to the shamanic Lower-World. Our lower-world soul is our true Self-identity. It is part of Mother Earth, but it is also the unique individual that Mother Earth intended (and still intends) us to be. Unlike our middle-world self, our Soul is not a collection of human-made stories. It is the untamed and undiminished part of us, free of Taker cult domestication. This part of us needs to live a life that is authentic, a life that is true to our Soul. It needs to express itself in the world and be allowed to blossom and thrive. It must be connected to nature. Without connection to nature, it withers and weakens. Sadly, though, since we domesticated ourselves and turned our back on the lower-world and nature, it is a part of themselves that most people do not even know exists. It is this part of us that this blog is about.
A quick word about soul retrieval
As we’ve seen, Middle-World soul and Lower-World Soul are not the same thing. L-W Soul is not something we lose, but something we have to find (if and when ready), m-w soul-parts can become lost. So most soul retrieval is of m-w parts, and (relatively) is an event more than a process. Connecting with the L-W Soul is a lifelong process and not something we can retrieve via soul retrieval.
OUR LOWER-SOUL AS THE BLUEPRINT
All beings have a template, like a seed within them—a blueprint of what they could become—and all beings, deep down, have a drive to grow into this.
The founder of counselling, Carl Rogers, called this drive the “actualising tendency”. It is the drive each being has to reach their full potential to be the best they can be. For animals and plants (stones are different, as we shall see later), whether a being succeeds in growing into what it is meant to be depends not only on this drive but upon the environment around it.
Think of a plant. Given the right environmental conditions, a healthy seed will grow into a healthy plant and thrive. However, if it has not enough light, or is missing essential nutrients, it will grow into a sickly plant, trying to be the best it can be, given the environment in which it lives.
WE ARE STORYTELLERS
Everything in the middle-world fashions itself on its blueprint from the Lower-World, and tries to be as close to it as it can, given the environment it finds itself in.
Except for humans.
We are able to make our own stories, to an extraordinary degree. These can diverge from the true Story of what we are meant to be. So a lot of times we are not following the real blueprint, but wonky stories about what it means to be human, influenced by the Fall.
To be able to find Soul and rebuild our Middle-World self on it, we need to strip the layers of these wonky stories (especially the Myth of human supremacy and stories of takers culture).
Hunter-gatherers knew this (and the dangers in it). Which is why they had shamans to stalk the stories of the tribe and to keep stories on track, to keep them true to deeper blueprints of Soul and Oversouls. And they also had Adulthood initiation ceremonies.
BECOMING an ADULT
RITES OF PASSAGE INTO ADULTHOOD
Because they understood the extent to which, as Humans and storytellers, we can be strangers to our true, authentic Soul, all hunter-gatherer cultures had initiation ceremonies. Performed around the time of adolescence, these ceremonies were designed to shock the initiate out of childhood thinking and help them step up to become a true Adult.
The point of them was to:
• Deconstruct the sense of self constructed in childhood.
• Connect with Lower-World other-than-human, and the healthy Story of what it is to be truly Human.
• Emerge reborn as an interconnected, interdependent, Adult Human Being.
In these animist cultures, being an Adult meant far more than just taking on middle-world adult responsibilities in the tribe. For being an Adult (rather than just an adult), meant being connected to your true Soul. It meant knowing your true Human nature. It meant stepping up to take your place on the Earth as an interconnected-being, a part of the web of life and a member of the great tribe of all the Peoples. It was only once you had done this that the tribe considered you to be a fully Human Being.
what an adult really is?
A True Adult:
- Is grounded, present, and embodied.
- Has a good degree of self-awareness.
- Is reality-orientated.
- Is willing to face the truth and see the world as it is (rather than how they would like it to be, or how they think it “should” be).
- Is willing to accept responsibility for their own choices, actions and behaviour.
- Is open to learning from their mistakes.
- Is open to feedback.
- Sets and maintains appropriate and healthy personal boundaries.
- Is willing to step into and own their personal power and authority. Does not unhealthily hand their power over to others.
- Knows the limits of their power.
- Uses their power wisely and constructively.
- Seeks to empower others where possible and appropriate.
- Is reliable and dependable.
- Is congruent.
- Is in touch with their feelings and emotions. Can show vulnerability when appropriate.
- Can ask for help and support when needed.
- Is empathic and compassionate.
- Can engage in healthy parenting when appropriate (including nurturing, setting healthy boundaries, teaching and protecting).
- Is a good role-model.
- Has healthy self-control and self-discipline (mental, emotional and physical).
- Contributes constructively to their community.
- Supports others.
- Treats others with respect and dignity, including the other-than-human members of the community, too.
- Seeks to enhance social cohesion.
- Is inclusive rather than divisive, and accepting of difference (whenever possible and appropriate).
- Is willing to act for the greater good when necessary, rather than purely for personal gain.
- Does not take more than their fair share of resources.
- Seeks to distribute resources fairly.
- Is competent in their chosen roles and tasks.
- Lives ethically, honourably, and with integrity.
I am not claiming this is a definitive list. There may be things you disagree with, and other things you think should be included. The point here is not whether the list is “right” or not. Rather, it is to think about the issues, and in doing so, strip away wonky Taker cult ideas about adulthood, ideas that would otherwise get in the way when it comes to journeying to find your Soul.
MEET YOUR WILD SOUL
Your Wild Soul is waiting for you in the Lower-World – meeting your Soul and starting a life-time process of rebuilding your Middle-World self on Soul is done via shamanic journeying.
If you appreciate support of the tribe and want some guidance through the process, I invite you to join us – the Wild Soul course starts in November:
FINDING YOUR WILD SOUL
Finding who you are, and were, truly meant to be
The Wild Soul course consists of 6 pre-recorded theory sessions and 4 two-hour long live sessions.
Theory pre-recorded sessions will be released on or before:
November 4, 11, 18, 25, December 2, and 9.
The live (experiential/community) sessions:
November 11, 18, December 2, and 9.
They will be 2 hours long, and start at 2pm (UK time).