The South, Will, Center, Sacred Fire

In this blog I will delve into the south direction for healing, as an extension of the blog “The Defeat Story and the Transcending True Self.” That and the north and east direction blogs are written right before this one. I am using the power of the south to blog this morning as I don’t want to lose momentum and motivation to write a blog for each direction. My conviction leads me here.

The south is the will. Here we can heal through intention, conviction, and courage. Most of our wills are reactive to what others think of us and how the world treats us. The will is what motivates us. When we are groomed to be reactive to the outside world as the thermometer of how valuable and good we are, the will acts like a ping pong ball always bouncing around based upon circumstance and other’s opinions of self. In the south we learn how to make the will our center. Our true worth stems from the will which is a sturdy yet supple knowing within self and not a temporary emotional reaction. Learning how to live intentionally with every aspect of life builds the will. Making ritual a daily hygiene practice strengthens the will. Healing the will through releasing guilt, shame and other toxic stories connects to the work of the other directions. In the south the healing is one of purification through fire which is using courage, conviction and physical expression to burn away the old.

The will is mysterious. Like the heart of the west the will is also a felt experience. But where the heart’s feelings are the response to relationships (with self as well as external relationships), the will’s felt experience is generated by spirit. If you are not spiritually inclined you can say by  generated by nature or instinct. There is no difference between spirit and nature other than the mental concept relating to it. Remove the mental concept and it still exists as the felt experience that motivates us to act. The will is not the action itself. North is action. The south is where the impetus to act exists.

The will is like an instrument. If you don’t tune it and play it with intention, it will get out of tune and it will be played by the past and by the world of relationships within and without. The will and heart are like the instrument and the melody. The instrument is the impetus and the melody is the response. They are constantly in relationship with each other, just as with body and mind. All the directions always interplay. I am only wanting to differentiate the subtle difference between heart and will. Your heart may long for a romantic relationship while the will rejects intimacy because it’s filled with shame from the past, your past and maybe the ancestral past too.

The will, if not tuned and directed, will be motivated by the past and by getting validation from others that it is worthy as the will collects guilt, shame, and other toxic stories from the mind, ancestral wounds, social and family conditioning, and past lives. The will needs clearing constantly.

We tend to think of the heart as the area that needs healing and purification but it’s the will that needs it. The heart is like weather, always changing, always coming and going just like the thoughts in the east. The east and west, mind and heart, are alway in flux. The south and north, will and body, are meant to stabilize and move in a linear progression that creates a cohesive reality over time. The will is a still center that pulses and these pulses are what motivates.

To purify, heal, and stabilize the will we need to have courage because it’s friggen scary to face shame, guilt, and insecurities weighing the will down and making it act in ways not in integrity with true self.

To release shame, guilt and other toxic mega-stories that live like a perpetually out of tune string on the instrument, we must face and feel these feelings in the west and let go of identifying with the stories in the east. I like to think of the mega-stories the will holds as having different narrative tones, like the tones of movies. For myself, when my will is holding the mega-story of shame I feel like I am living in the tone of the movie “Donnie Darko” and when my will is clear and centered I am living in the tone of the movie, “Amelie”.

We must have the courage to look shame in the eye and give it love. If you let shame express and give shame love, it leaves the will and the body, making it much easier to let go of the mental story. So simple and so hard! You may need to do this a million times. Healing occurs in layers because of the north. We are process oriented creatures that require baby steps (with the occasional miracle) or we explode from too much light at once. Keeping the body relaxed in the north is vital as shame rises up. If you learn how to do this, shame will exit.

Another important healing for the will is to set daily intentions with daily ritual. This is different than the meditation practice of the east. In the south we want to use thoughts like a magic wand. Intentions set in the south are like flags we stick in the soil of the soul’s integrity.

If each morning you have a ritual of intention setting, saying for example, “spirit fill me with unconditional love, acceptance, forgiveness, a sense of humor, and grace,” you will tune your will to these words, spirit or nature will rush in to help, your heart will play the melody of your intention, your mind will write the intentional story, and your body will perform the intention on some stage in your life.

Motivation comes from the will. Intention increases motivation, ignites it. Light a candle and some incense, hold a crystal, stand by your alter, smudge, bless water you drink, water a plant, use sacred tools or ordinary tasks in a sacred way to connect your intention to the physical elements. This brings your will into the present moment by connecting will with the embodied north.

Each morning, I light incense and hold a specific crystal and call in the four directions, my angels, ancestors, and allies and I make an intention for my family and myself in each of the directions. After my intention setting, I pull tarot in a four directional spread with the fifth card revealing the daily theme. I tune my will to the archetypes, get on board with the story, and surrender my heart to the energy of the day. Until I do ritual, my will feels all over the place, reactive to the mood I wake up in, reactive to the dreams I had during sleep, reactive to the emails I read before I do ritual…but I wait until after coffee and emails because I like a soft wake up time. Once I do my ritual, my will tunes up and aligns to true self and spirit. Immediately, I feel more centered, supported, courageous, and self-generating.

Doing a daily ritual practice for the will builds its strength and integrity so that you don’t rely on the validation of others and the temporal outside world to keep you motivated. The will becomes the steady center and sacred fire in the belly that drives, motivates, encourages, validates, and protects the true self with conviction and integrity.

Physical expression plays a key role in the south. The north is where the creation is given; the art itself, the meal itself, the garden, the massage, the clean house, the song, the dance, etc. The south is the impetus to physically express. When my will is tuned up as my sacred center, I will paint and write often in my free time. When my will is flailing about from reacting with shame to others or to circumstance, I will feel creatively blah and instead compulsively eat and zone out to too much Netflix.

The root of addiction is in a will filled with toxic stories. The toxic stories are so unbearable to hold that the will loses center and reaches for an external dopamine hit to substitute for the missing sacred fire of spirit. This external dopamine hit is the drink, food, spending, orgasm, instagram like, accolade, weight loss, whatever the addictive behavior may show up as in your personal story.

Over the years I have strengthened and healed my will through releasing shame and doing daily ritual so that now, many years later, I am beginning to catch myself when the will is reaching for the sugar or carb to avoid the shame it’s holding. When this happens it’s not clear. I don’t know my will is filled with shame in the moment because it’s always rationalized with some mental thought that makes the behavior seem innocent and not connected to feeling pain. When I catch the compulsion masked as a rationalization, I know it’s the hurting will needing to release shame. I call for spiritual help first and then I reach for the paint brush. This actually releases the hurt, tunes and heals the will in the living moment.

Courage is needed to not fall into comfort zones of compulsive behavior or avoidance that masks shame and pain…and to face the shame and pain, releasing it with love and expression. Conviction is built with daily intention setting ritual, using thoughts like a magic wand that roots your will in the soil of true self, spirit, nature, the present. The sacred fire.

 

 

 

Notes on the East, Mind, and the Story

This blog will go deeper into the east direction of healing as first written about in the blog entry, “The Defeat Story and the Transcending True Self.” Healing started in the north and you can read about that in the previous post.

East is the mind and here we can find the mindfulness practice that allows us to be witness to the story of defeat versus buying what it is selling. When we can watch the mental stories and the mind blah blah blahing while knowing true self is not the thoughts, we free ego from being enslaved to the story of defeat. This gives space for true self to rise up from the shadow and synthesize with the ego. No need to understand how this works. If you learn to watch your thoughts but not believe in them and if you learn how to be the witness to your mind but not identify with mind as self, the true self will rise, synthesize and become ego. The healing of the east is connected to the air, seeing the big picture like a wise eagle up in the sky.

I want to share my personal story of healing in the east. Back in 2010, when I was 38 years old, I had never meditated before minus a handful of times. I had done countless journeys inward in the form of creative visualizations and shamanic journeys. I had stared out the window and allowed my thoughts to reveal themselves in silence probably every day of my life. But I did not think I needed to meditate and I had no desire until my father suggested I try it when he noticed how much I was struggling with a certain issue in my life.

Smack dab in the middle of New York city, I closed my eyes and began the basic practice of watching my breath and noticing my thoughts pass like clouds through the sky of my mind. Beginners luck. Within just a few minutes a profound felt experience took me over. I could feel me being my breath and the thoughts not being me. Suddenly, I changed forever. I no longer believed my thoughts were true. I no longer felt my self to be what my thoughts were telling me I was through their stories and more deeply, I no longer felt thoughts themselves to be anything even close to who I was.

An emptiness seized me for weeks afterward as I would have thoughts about me or whatever topic rose up and every single thought seemed irrelevant. Not pointless or bad or wrong or any judgmental thing. Just a soft neutral irrelevance that left me feeling empty because I used to fully invest in my thoughts before that. I used to not have a sense of space between me and my thoughts. All of the sudden there was space and complete differentiation. Thoughts seemed nothing more than song on the radio.

I am very mental by temperament. I have seven air planets in my natal chart which represents mind. I am a huge meaning-maker. Eventually, I found my way back to the love and joy I experience for allowing my thoughts to have some weight. During that period in 2010, I would have said, “I have seven air planets in my chart, is just a thought. Astrology is just a thought. I am a meaning-maker is just a thought. None of it matters. I am, is just a thought.” and let it all go the moment those thoughts rose up in me. This is a path many take in life and it is beautiful and true in its own right. I swung back to the middle because my true self love for meaning-making led the way.

Every time I get too invested in thoughts I can return to that place and drop all identification with thinking and identities that thinking creates. To identify with your thoughts means to believe them as true and to believe what they tell you informs you about the nature of reality, self, or whatever you are thinking about. We use thoughts as a means to communicate and they have their purpose. Eventually I found the right balance for me in how much I invest in thoughts but I don’t identify with them at all anymore. I can blab on and on about my natal chart and how it makes sense of my internal experience and I also don’t identify with Astrology as a concept, at the same time. This is how it is with every mental understanding that I love and that gives me a strong felt sense. I love exploring the archetypes, they give me a strong self sense and I don’t identify with archetypes as concepts.

I identify with only a felt experience of being me. It’s wordless. It’s love if I have to give a word.

I share my story of east healing to show how quick it can happen to loosen the grip on the mind. When we over-identify with the stories our mind tells us, we suffer. Buddhism is rooted in the psychology of detaching identity from thought. We are not our thoughts. Even being a “me” is a thought and radical practice of this transcends sense of self past the individual level. We are not who we think we are.

Thoughts are not ours. We don’t make them up. Thoughts travel around and we catch them with our brains that are like nets catching butterflies. Or you can see the brain as a radio station and thoughts are the radio waves. Those of us who channel experience this consciously all the time. I turn my brain to a certain channel and channel a certain being.

The big idea (which is a thought too, so everything I explain in this blog is also moot) is that we are not the stories we tell ourselves and we don’t make up thoughts we think. Rather, the human being is a frequency channeling other frequencies in one big frequency being.

How is this healing?

Because, for example, when you let go of believing you are insecure and not good enough, space is created within. This space will naturally fill up with love. Love is the frequency of oneness that is the core power inside every single human being. Love is God. Love is Nature. Love is Universe. It’s the most natural thing in the world. Yet it is very easy to blotch out. If you spend all day trying to prove your worth in the eyes of others or chasing after projections of what you think will satisfy you or tell yourself you are a piece of poo or tell others they are a piece of poo or whatever story of pain and suffering you tell yourself, you blotch out the natural love that is the very core of existence.

I don’t use the word love like a hippie woo woo creature you can make fun of but you might make fun of me anyway. Let me remind you, love is strong. Love is childbirth, love is surviving abuse and war and starvation, love is saving a life, love is working through problem after problem, love is communicating truth, love is being honest, love is being open, love is being vulnerable, and love is being present. Love is hope. Love is the blood in the body and the gold of the soul. The west is where we feel this love. The east is where we clear space to feel this love.

I have not formally meditated in years. I do a vinyasa yoga practice that connects breath to movement and this keeps me centered so that I remain the witness of my thoughts. Four times a week. Chill. I have huge struggles in certain areas and I am not on any mountaintop when I share that being witness to my thoughts is something that comes easy to me. For you it may be harder and you may need to meditate daily to stay the witness. We all need a different kind of practice.

You can meditate by simply watching your breath and thoughts pass by while sitting in silence. You can watch your thoughts and breath while chanting, making something with our hands that does not require thought, or do some form of movement that allows you to watch thoughts and breath at the same time. You can meditate for five minutes a day or hours a day. Some ancient eastern practices make it complex and add all sorts of fancy breath work. There is a lot of variety to choose from and practices root back to the beginning.

True self rises from the west when we create space by not identifying with thoughts. This is my take on it, coming from a western point of view where I have consciously chosen to embrace the creative play of being an individual soul. I don’t believe in the individual soul as a static thing because as we lose the human suit we may become more collective and when I let go of all thought, I feel only oneness as the play of forces and form. I like to use all metaphysical concepts playfully, poetically and free to morph, as a result.

I feel the play of forces and form that is oneness choosing to put on the costume of the individual soul. Like the Russian doll image, I feel oneness as the core doll evolving through individuating itself into more and more specific life forms. I feel oneness evolve through creating stories of being different life forms. Just as humans stem from the single cell bacteria here on earth…I feel oneness as the spirit version of the single cell bacteria, continually evolving into more and more life forms. Metaphysical tangent.

True self is the authentic individual aching to emerge from the shadow of the ego where it waits for ego to make space for it to rise.

When space is created by not identifying with thoughts, true self can begin to rise and embody the conscious personality. True self is a felt experience and not a belief system. Why must I always express myself creatively? It’s my true self. Why am so sensitive and feel things with the volume way higher than most? It’s my true self. Why am I so spiritual? It’s my true self. It’s me beyond an idea of me. It’s living breathing me.

I was blessed to be raised by parents who did not tell me what to believe about who I am or life itself.  I was raised without religious or moral dogma. I was raised with a felt experience love, even through the dysfunction, abuse, and troubles youth delivered. This may have made it easier for me to know who I really am. I can only imagine the struggle for some who are raised with strong mental belief systems and dogma that forces them to repress their true nature at a young age to survive or be liked. I think about this especially for LGBTQIA kids and it breaks my heart that their true nature is made to be sinful and wrong by religion.

We all face the battle of true self versus conditioned self if we don’t align with our culture’s value system, on any level. Yet even if you are gender binary, christian, cis-male, straight, between the ages of 18 and 35, healthy, handsome, wealthy and educated with the cultural norm kissing your feet, you may equally battle discovering your true self because the world will mold your success so easily and distract you from looking within. However you are praised or marginalized by family and culture will inform how your true self is repressed or valued. Nature and nurture.

A certain true self temperament may not let any amount of cultural/family conditioning, abuse or trauma repress their true nature. Another temperament may crumble from the slightest thought of being humiliated. The reality of being oppressed, abused, or steered away through a strong value system put in place by family and tradition effects each individual in varying degrees. You can notice this in siblings who grow up in same household and culture but respond to external life in very distinct ways based upon their distinct internal experience. The distinct internal experience is the true self.

True self exists beneath and beyond thought but thought turns true self into a word and a concept. In the east, space is made between the felt experience and the thoughts that are always flooding in to costume the felt experience into a story. This story, when identified with, cements itself into the psyche and loops. This looping is called a neural pathway. The reason why we get stuck in habits of thinking and behavior roots itself in the way the neural pathway plays on repeat like forgetting to change the radio station and it always playing the same song, over and over. This is suffering.

 

 

The North, Body, Ancestors,Physical Expression

This blog will go deeper into the North of the four healing directions written about in my last blog, “The Defeat Story and the Transcending True Self. Please note, this is how I attune to the four directions based upon my direct experience and with books I have read over time. The healing modalities I attribute come from my direct channel. There are many maps made by many people channeling information from the thought planes. I channel in the vein of love and the voice of the divine feminine who goes by many names. I don’t claim or care to be right over others who are wrong. I am a needed voice in the variety of needed voices.

As written in the last blog…north is the physical world and here we can do the work of differentiating self from family and ancestral wounds, we can heal trauma in the body, and we can yoke mind and body through a disciplined practice which is necessary for the true self to marry and mature the ego. The north speaks to somatic healing, family systems and ancestral healing through telling the stories of the past and understanding the patterns. To do this we need to release trauma and anxiety from the body so it may support this investigation that makes self a pioneer seeking to manifest true self destiny. Healing in the north is connected to earth and hence process oriented, slow, pragmatic, and linear.

The north honors the linear progression of time in one lifetime, the linear movement of the soul through lifetimes, and the ancestral bloodline. Sometimes healing in a linear progression is the safest and best practice. For instance, if you have been through trauma in your life, it may be better to first address healing the body before processing the emotional, mental, and soul healing directions because trauma is stored in the body and is the cause of anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks, and stress. Processing the other directions before healing the body may re-traumatize you and make things worse in the long run.

I can speak of this experience myself. I healed in soul, heart and mind before receiving somatic (body) healing and as a result, my body is still very split off from my mental/emotional self and often in a state of regressed threat response which has caused me many problems in daily functioning life. Looking back now, had I known better, I would have began healing in the north and sought out therapists, healers, and practices that release trauma from the body to heal me physiologically from the PTSD and anxiety before healing through meaning-making.  Our bodies are our base.

The reason why we inherit ancestral trauma and wounding is because it never left the bodies of our ancestors, it lives in the DNA and stores itself in the next of kin. What we heal in our bodies in this life heals seven generations back and forward, they say. I feel this to be true. I like to see the ancestral bloodline as a dragon creature and each individual life in the bloodline is part of the dragon. No matter which way we look at systems, we are part of one.

The soul also travels through lifetimes in and out of our bloodlines. There are two axises here. The vertical ancestry is the soul traveling in and out of bloodlines through the lifetimes. The horizontal ancestry is our individual human self in the linear progression of the bloodline. We have ancestors in the bloodline we are born into in this life and we have ancestors from traversing many bloodlines and systems on and off planet (I will save the off planet talk for another blog.)

Healing in the north consists of releasing trauma from the body that stems from what happened to you in this lifetime and what happened to your ancestors and parents. Healing in the north is also discerning/differentiating your soul from your family and bloodline. To differentiate it is important to have a felt sense of the true self or the soul. Some people feel their authentic nature easily while others have a harder time accessing their sense of self. Analyzing the past in terms of how you, within your family of origin, operated as a system is a method that helps to gain that felt sense and differentiate the self. Releasing trauma from the body also may increase the felt sense of true self.

Past life regression may also light up the soul’s karma and what needs healing for those who are into that. Karma is what the soul has not let go within a lifetime that carries into the next lifetime. Karma is not tit for tat, this for that. If you die with guilt in your heart you will carry that guilt into your next life. If your grandmother died with shame for her body you may feel shame for your body. Karma is carried over from the vertical axis of the soul and the horizontal axis of the bloodline. To heal karma means to let go which is rooted in acceptance and forgiveness. Letting go is a mystery. There is no equation. The healing of karma happens in the west so I will save that for the west blog. The north is where we can begin to analyze and discern the karmas, sense of self, and release what is being held in the body.

In the north we honor our past lives, ancestors and the suffering they have been through. As we release trauma from the body, differentiate the self from the larger family system, and heal, it is important to understand the healing power of honoring the stories of suffering those before us (and us before) endured to give us the life we live today. We don’t want to just forget the holocaust, the colonization, the indentured servants, the slavery, the abuse, the oppression, and those who fought and died for us to go to a cafe, order a latte, and write about trauma. Tragedy exists right now for many and existed in the past, as much as we fight to overcome tragedy and bring freedom, equality and health to all people. Nature contains a structural dominance hierarchy that makes life as we know it dance with “power over” and “power under” in a strange symbiosis nobody can escape or avoid. Can we honor this?

The north requires patience and asks us to develop compassion. If you sit on a high horse judging others for their short comings you miss the point and avoid your own short comings. It might be easy for you to function in the world and incredibly hard for another to function in the world. It might be easy for you to be kind and fair while another person struggles to be kind and fair. You may be able to heal and let go of the past while another struggles and clings. We are all at different points on our soul journey.

Developing compassion for those not at your level of morality, functioning, intelligence, emotional maturity, etc is key to letting karma go and supporting the well-being of the dragon of humanity. The biggest spiritual lesson for us to learn is how to support one another instead of battle. There will always be a certain amount of battle and separation due to the dominance hierarchy of nature living through our blood, urging us to divide as well as harmonize….but we can create much more balance than we have now. The power balance is way off and not a reflection of what nature is able to provide. We heal the self to heal the dragon of humanity.

As far as therapeutic practice goes, in the north we learn how to commit and be disciplined to a practice that yokes mind to body. The actual yoking is more of an eastern healing but the commitment and discipline to the practice exists in the north. It may be that if you lack discipline and commitment that you are very critical and judgmental of yourself because it is compassion for the self that creates discipline that is rooted in love and not the force of sheer will. An astrologer once shared with me that he thought a better word for discipline is devotion. This really stuck with me. In my own experience, I gained discipline when I devoted to the healing of my body because I had reached a level of self love where healing self outweighed judging self.

Beginning healing in the north allows you to build a solid foundation. Many earth based spiritual maps (not all, there is variety) see north as the beginning because this is when the seed begins its journey in the dark soil of winter. This is how it feels to begin in the north. You are a tiny, vulnerable and tender yet strong seed holding an innate knowing of how to grow. Beginning in the north means you first release trauma and feelings from the body before mentally processing the trauma. The meaning-making you do in the north is to differentiate self and to understand self in the larger pattern of family and ancestry. You devote to a mind-body yoking practice such as meditation or yoga in the north and begin to build your foundation like the seed gaining sustenance in the soil.

Of course the way life is, we bounce all over the directions when it comes to healing because life is not an equation, it is also wild, spontaneous and beyond the linear progression of the north. I healed in the east and west for many years before I ever touched the north and south. I was in therapy in the eighties when processing trauma mentally was the thing to do to heal. I relied on mental and emotional meaning-making, ignoring healing body and will until 2010 when I began meditating and slowly moved into a yoga practice. How we progress on the healing journey is largely informed by the moment and what is available to us.

I want to end this blog with releasing any shadow rigidity the north may contain by acknowledging it. Northern shadows may show up as being too linear, rigid, stuck, systematic, empirical, narrow minded, traditional, and judgmental. If you are north heavy you are earth heavy and may need to travel to another direction to balance out.

The Defeat Story and the Transcending True Self

The story of defeat we all can relate to in different areas of life and with different levels of intensity and duration.

The term “dark night of the soul” may speak to a time in life, or a lifetime for some, where loss leads the soul on a journey of healing, redemption and transformation. We all experience the dark night when a loved one dies or we lose something precious such as our health, a job, home, reputation, partner or any fundamental experience that gives our animal natures a sense of security and satisfaction. For some, not having the fundamental experience is a life long karma. Being chronically single or in unsatisfying relationships. Being chronically impoverished or chronically ill physically, mentally, or both.

Again, the duration and intensity is different for each of us and we all can relate to the story of defeat that comes with loss or the never having. This story of defeat is groomed by culture, family of origin, and the soul’s karmic journey.

American culture places value on youth, physical beauty and health, wealth and financial independence, and being the best or number one-getting that attention. These are only a few values out of many that are highlighted while the other values are suppressed into the shadow.

Systemic cultural oppression adds to the stew pot of creating the juiciest of defeat stories. You are not valued the same way in our culture if you are a person of color, a female, in the LGBTQIA community, over the age of 40, disabled, physically or mentally challenged in any way, low in income, not American, or a child. Family of origin and our upbringing also grooms the character and contains all of the ancestral wounds, patterns, and illnesses born of an oppressive cultural narrative that lacks love, care, depth, awareness, and compassion. The soul also carries defeat stories through the lifetimes.

To be quite honest, with all of the restrictions we face, anyone who is free of the story of defeat is a living miracle! And those who claim to be may have the lofty ego compensating an insecure self hiding in the recesses of the shadow. These types project outwardly onto others as the problem. But that’s another topic.

Back to the defeat story. It is a story made by the mind based upon the felt experience of being human. If you get rejected over and over it hurts the heart and the mind will create a story such as, “I am unlovable” or “people are terrible.” For those who meet the cultural standards for what is of value, they may have all the things, the home, partner, thin body, good health, accolade, success yet still feel unworthy and defeated. Or they may suddenly get ill or lose somebody precious and face the defeat story later in life. Realistically, if the ego does not experience the defeat story it may be suppressing childhood trauma or pain and use the cultural value system unconsciously as a way to feel victorious and worthy.

On the surface our karmas look very different but get beneath the surface and we are all in the same stew pot of being human in a sick world, with most of us having endured some level and at different levels; abuse, poverty, oppression, addiction, being rejected, not receiving the proper love and care we needed as kids, and ancestral trauma. As a result, we do not know how to connect to the true self and express our uniqueness, connect with the divine or nature, connect to our philosophy of life, connect to our value system, our dreams and our true self worth.

The ego tries to compensate for defeat by achieving victory. Victory good. Defeat bad. Attention good. Lack of attention bad. Money good. Lack of money bad. Partner good. Single bad. Successful career good. Low paying job bad. Independent good. Dependent bad. Pretty good. Ugly bad. On and on.

This can also be translated into those seeking healing. Enlightenment good. Not enlightened bad. Faith good. Unfaithful bad. Love good. Hate bad. You can plug in the struggle of the soul to be whole into any value paradigm, be it the mainstream American value system or the offshoots such as the New Age, Mindfulness, Yoga, Witchy or whatever subcategory rooted in healing and wholeness of the individual. The value categories are many but all touch upon the fundamentals of relationships, security, happiness, morality, and self worth.

It is important to discern between when your ego is trying to achieve victory over defeat versus when you are authentically connected to and acting from your true self. It is also important to not judge the ego for wanting victory. We don’t judge the cute little doggie for begging for food no matter how much they won’t stop whining. The ego is a cute little doggie that can develop into a mature ego which would be the true self expressed in the world. But the ego is never something to punish, see as bad, or judge. Our egos need our love.

Having discernment between what is true self and what you have been groomed to value is a process. Transcending the victory/defeat ping pong game is also a process. We have to make a new recipe in the stew pot of the inner self and we also have to survive. Disclaimer: many don’t have the luxury to express the true self through their work and lifestyle, which is unfortunate and unfair. But everyone has the ability to transcend the victory/defeat story through connecting to the true self and being who we truly are designed to be, in character.

The true self can be felt and known even in the most grave of human experiences. But it’s not easy. Nor is it easy to make true self the inner compass, anchor, and love generator which is what is needed to transcend the victory/defeat narrative that enslaves the ego.

This blog is not a “how to” in “ten easy steps” blog. I am not about that mentality. But there are methods to help and results are real. The methods I use are fourfold which coincide with the four sacred directions.

North is the physical world and here we can do the work of differentiating self from family and ancestral wounds, we can heal trauma in the body, and we can yoke mind and body through a disciplined practice which is necessary for the true self to marry and mature the ego. The North speaks to somatic healing, family systems and ancestral healing through telling the stories of the past and understanding the patterns. To do this we need to release trauma and anxiety from the body so it may support this investigation that makes self a pioneer seeking to manifest true self destiny. Healing in the north is connected to earth and hence process oriented, slow, pragmatic, and linear.

East is the mind and here we can find the mindfulness practice that allows us to be witness to the story of defeat versus buying what it is selling. When we can watch the mental stories and the mind blah blah blahing while knowing true self is not the thoughts, we free ego from being enslaved to the story of defeat. This gives space for true self to rise up from the shadow and synthesize with the ego. No need to understand how this works. If you learn to watch your thoughts but not believe in them and if you learn how to be the witness to your mind but not identify with mind as self, the true self will rise, synthesize and become ego. The healing of the east is connected to the air, seeing the big picture like a wise eagle up in the sky.

The south is the will. Here we can heal through intention, conviction, and courage. Most of our wills are reactive to what others think of us and how the world treats us. The will is what motivates us. When we are groomed to be reactive to the outside world as the thermometer of how valuable and good we are, the will acts like a ping pong ball always bouncing around based upon circumstance and other’s opinions of self. In the south we learn how to make the will our center. Our true worth stems from the will which is a sturdy yet supple knowing within self and not a temporary emotional reaction. Learning how to live intentionally with every aspect of life builds the will. Making ritual a daily hygiene practice strengthens the will. Healing the will through releasing guilt, shame and other toxic stories connects to the work of the other directions. In the south the healing is one of purification through fire which is using courage, conviction and physical expression to burn away the old.

The west is the heart. Here we heal through connection. The attachment wounds live here and are healed here. In the west we also dive into the deep sea of the psyche to discover and awaken the true self, archetypes, wounds, gifts and all aspects hidden from ego that are asking for acknowledgment. The west is where psychological depth work is helpful to integrate the aspects of self through differentiating them. Uncovering, acknowledging, and expressing all that wants out from the unconscious happens here. This is the direction of the heart. Honoring feelings. Going with the flow of inner wisdom. Being in relationship of all kinds, romantic, therapist, healer, friend, mother, father, sibling, pet, teacher, co-worker, etc. Through being in relationship with others outside the self and aspects within the self, we heal. The heart is purified in the west which is connected to water. Water cleanses and renews. Forgiveness, acceptance, letting go and surrender all happen in the west.

This is how I see it and there are many ways to see it. In my work with clients and on myself I use this basic framework as I learn new skills along the path. I am walking it with you and beside you. Not ahead or behind. Not better or worse. There is no victory to gain over defeat. The story is a creative quest of the soul seeking sovereignty. Say that ten times fast.

 

The Archetypes in the Collective Shadow and Self-Parts in the Personal Shadow

Understanding from a Jungian perspective, depth perspective, internal family systems perspective (all of which root to the indigenous shamanic perspective), the psyche is made up of many “parts”. Integrating these self-parts brings healing. Each system of thought may have its own specific map and set of methods but they all stem from the fundamental idea that the psyche is made up of many aspects and that the conscious self, or ego, is only a tiny portion of the entire psyche.

Ego is our aware self-part, the part of the psyche that is literally conscious of self on a basic level of knowing you are a person. The unconscious contains the aspects of the psyche we are not aware of and do not identify with as a result and yet the workings of the unconscious deeply effect our conscious lives.

Jung made a distinction between the personal and the collective shadow. Shadow is another word for the unconscious. A poetic and metaphorical word, as Jung was quite the poet in my opinion!

Shadow refers to what cannot be seen. Many people think the shadow is the negative or “bad” traits of the personality, such as the desire to harm, steal, self-destruct, cross boundaries, take selfishly, etc. Although such traits may exist in the shadow or as a shadow personality, the shadow is a neutral term. The shadow is simply what is hidden from the conscious self.

The personal shadow contains what the ego represses in order to be liked and valued, or in order to survive. Hence, the personal shadow contains personality traits the ego thinks will cause shame and also wounds and feelings the ego could not process consciously, stemming from childhood trauma, abuse, or anything too harsh.

The spectrum of what gets relegated to the personal shadow by ego is different for each person because we all have our temperaments and that factors into the mix just as much as the events that take place. Nature and nurture.

The collective shadow is not personal. It is the root of the personal. If our individual selves are the flower, the personal shadow is the seed and the collective shadow is the soil. To understand, think in terms of all of life living symbiotically and interconnected at all times. We are always attached to every living cell of the universe and we would not exist as individuals without the collective holding us here.

Ancestral patterns, wounds, and karma live in the collective shadow and so do the archetypes. The archetypes are the collective instinctual drives we all share in common. Jung took this a new level and defined these archetypes as have their own sentience. We do not create the archetypes. The archetypes are our human foundation.

This concept is hard to grasp and requires the right brain to do so, which is of equal value to the left brain. The ancient and indigenous cultures engaged their right brained skills and understood the archetypes as the many gods and goddesses that ruled each particular collective human function (agriculture, fertility, truth, sexuality, mothering, fathering, morality, etc).

It is important to understand that no matter how you connect to the archetypes, the relationship is cultivated by the imagination or right brain. The imagination does not mean what is being imagined is false (though it might when turned to fantasy). Imagination allows us to communicate with levels of sentience that are not detectable by the five senses. Just as real but cannot be seen, touched, heard, tasted, or smelled.

In tarot, archetypes are imagined as the 22 major arcana. Jung imagined his own list of major archetypes. Internal family systems imagines its own essential model of archetypes living in the psyche. Astrology imagines planetary archetypes to map out the psyche.

I am not here to convince you that archetypes are real, sentient, or needed to heal. If you think this is all bullocks, no worries mate. If you feel drawn to this information than this concept and understanding of the psyche may be very healing for you. I also find it to be fulfilling spiritually and creatively to connect with the archetypes and I do so daily though using tarot, astrology, painting, and journeying.

Healing using archetypes involves becoming aware of the archetypes. Becoming aware brings the archetypes into conscious life. Integration means to bring what is unconscious into conscious life through bringing conscious life to the unconscious. Say that ten times fast!

Much of who we are is collective and not individual. As westerners we tend to avoid the collective level of reality culturally speaking and also psychologically speaking. When you take your ego into the unconscious to integrate with the archetypes you transform into a more balanced, healthy, fulfilled, and happy person. Nature makes it so. By reconnecting with your natural roots, you will experience well-being.

For example, integrating with the Animus (the masculine archetype of the conscious feminine ego) will make a feminine identified ego take authority over her life, set healthy boundaries, make good decisions, partner with an equal who values her, differentiate herself from family, and contribute her ideas to the world as a unique person.

If her Animus is not integrated and lives unconscious and ineffectual in the collective shadow of her psyche, she may see men who do not value her as holding all of the power, she may lack boundaries and give too much of herself away, she may feel lost inside, she may be overly critical and judgmental of her partner, she may be filled with unconscious “shoulds” that she projects onto those she loves as if they are be-ll end-all truths.

In this woman’s personal shadow may live a lonely and desperate character who feels not good enough to be loved and valued by others. Let’s call this character the disempowered girl. This disempowered girl is a mirage living in the woman’s personal shadow, made up of repressed energy from childhood trauma. 

The Animus is sentient and an essential foundation of this woman’s psyche. The disempowered girl is not sentient. The disempowered girl is a character made up of a narrative made up of repressed feelings that never integrated with the woman’s ego.

The disempowered girl emanates the negative vow, “I am bad” (understood through the lens of  cognitive-behavioral work). The disempowered girl is the wounded inner child when understood through inner child work but the inner child is also the child archetype.

Jung used the term “complex” to describe when an archetype becomes the center sun that personal shadow characters orbit around. The sun being the archetype and the planets being repressed energy in the personal shadow make up a galaxy of dysfunction.

In in this example, the child archetype would be the sun and the disempowered girl would be the negative narrative orbiting around it. The child sun would want to integrate with the conscious ego through expressing curiosity, following wonder, experiencing innocence, play, and newness but it’s pulled the disempowered girl into its orbit.

The woman, in her waking ego life, feels shame all of the time and she is too scared to try anything new and express curiosity. She judges herself and others unaware that she is doing so. She sticks to a rigid routine to feel safe, all because of this complex.

But I don’t want to get too far into complexes. My point of this blog is to share the distinction between sentient archetypal aspects that make up the fundamental nature of the psyche and the self-parts in the personal shadow that are living as characters after being repressed by the ego long ago.

I have done a lot of work on myself and with clients on engaging with the self-parts in the personal shadow, treating these parts as valuable, giving them love, acknowledging their existence and letting them express so that they may be released. This work is effective. Using tarot is a potent way to unearth these parts, as are dreams and noticing what causes big reactivity in relationships.

When you suddenly become conscious of a self-part in the personal shadow and give the part love, acknowledgment, and freedom to express, the part will often dissolve. Dissolving means integrating because when the part is released from the shadow it has integrated with the conscious present ego self.

Sometimes the part dissolves all at once and other times the part dissolves slowly over years. I have parts that have taken twenty years to integrate and sometimes a switch in treatment is what brings healing.

Sometimes it is best to not treat the personal shadow part as a character that needs acknowledgment, love, and expression. It may be more effective to use the mindfulness practice of radical acceptance and not attach to the repressed energy as a character. This would look like allowing the expression of the repressed energy to exist with conscious radical acceptance while at the same time not engaging with the part as a character, essentially ignoring it, over and over.

So, if the disempowered girl living in the personal shadow of the woman expresses through her conscious ego as a perpetual feeling of shame, the practice is for her to allow the shame to present with radical acceptance, over and over, while she ignores the shame at the same time.

I like to use the example of the movie “A Beautiful Mind” where the main character overcame his severe delusions that showed up as a group of friends that did not really exist. He did this through a very mundane practice of mindful radical acceptance. By learning to accept the appearance of these friends while at the same time not engaging with them at all, he found integration. He healed.

Sometimes you will need to attach and lovingly engage with the self-part in the personal shadow. You will need to treat this self-part like a parent or therapist and give this part love, listening, honor, and expression. Maybe you’ll need to give this part a job or a role to fulfill. In this way, it is the relationship between ego and self-part that creates healing and integration.

Other times you may need to use radial acceptance and mindfulness to heal from a chronic issue, pattern, or block. You may need to heal by not identifying with what is in the shadow while radically accepting the conscious emotional expression of this shadow part without identifying with it.

We are not our wounds. We are not our thoughts. We are not our feelings.

Integrating the archetypes into conscious life, on the other hand, is necessary. You don’t want to not identify with your most fundamental human instincts. Well, unless you are a radical Buddhist monk. Otherwise, you want to integrate the archetypes so that you live with more health, balance, freedom, and happiness.

How do you know the difference between a self-part in the personal shadow and an archetype?

Usually the self-parts in the personal shadow leak through conscious life as chronic issues, negative narratives, and repeated feelings, whereas the archetypes tend to seize the ego and come on strongly as potent feelings or character traits, instincts or impulses.

For instance, in the personal shadow may be an “ugly girl” who was teased as a child and felt rejected by her classmates. This may show up in the adult woman’s ego as a chronic insecurity narrative where she is always trying to lose weight, look prettier, shop for new clothes, and improve herself because she never feels pretty enough.

The archetype that pulls the “ugly girl” into orbit may the lover, our instinctual desire to sexually merge with another. The lover archetype would seize this woman with erotic desire, feelings of love, seduction, a crush, a need to merge with another. Now we have a complex (usually there are more parts but for the sake of example, I make it simple).

The complex blocks integration of the lover with the ego of the woman because the “ugly girl” in her personal shadow shows up as the insecurity narrative in one form or another and she never allows herself to feel beautiful enough to merge with another. The lover remains shadowed and the “ugly girl” remains in the driver’s seat of her conscious life.

Does this woman need to engage with the “ugly girl”, listen to her, love her, and let her express all her wounds and pain? Does this woman need to give radical acceptance to the insecurity she feels while ignoring the chronic narrative of insecurity at the same time? Or does this woman need to do a little of both?

Intuition guides us and so does trying out different methods. I am naming only two methods and using only one framework of understanding the psyche. The important thing to keep in mind is to not compare yourself to others and do not treat any healer or therapist as a god who knows more than yourself. Results are real and methods work. Healing also may happen without any method. Keeping the mystery alive after all of this explaining! Do what works for you.

 

 

 

Hope through Tragedy

Today’s blog is inspired by a friend going through a very difficult time who suggested I write about enduring hope when I requested a topic. This blog is for her and everyone traversing their own version of tragic circumstances.

What is hope?

Hope is an archetype….an archetype called The Star, according to the ancient wisdom of the tarot.

Archetypes are the collective instinctual drives we all share in common and inherit the moment we are born, according to Jung.

Archetypes are the gods and goddesses, according to the ancients and indigenous people.

Whichever way you want to see archetypes, see them as sentient energies that live in their own place and this is the place we all birth from on a soul level. The collective unconscious is our mother birthing the individual psyche. The archetypes are transpersonal helpers, instincts, forces, and beings.  Hope is a goddess, a god, a sentient energy, and a collective instinct.

Hope is the “light when all lights go out” as said in Lord of the Rings when Frodo is trapped by a deadly giant spider and needs the light of hope to literally not die.  Victor Frankl wrote a book, Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he links feeling hope to the chances of survival for concentration camp victims in Nazi Germany. Could this really be true? Could hope keep us alive?

What we endure as humans is beyond rational comprehension…

From the natural tragedies of break-ups, death of loved ones, illness, and sudden losses of all sorts….to the diseased type of tragedies that stem from multigenerational trauma and systemic oppression such as sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, prejudice, poverty, and mistreatment of humans, animals, and the planet on many levels….human life and tragedy are bound together.

You cannot answer why on a spiritual level without finding a lesson in the darkness. When you endure hope through tragedy you come out the other side of it with more compassion, more liberation, more knowledge, more love, more understanding. This is a truth of human kind.

When you collapse into tragedy with a sense of doom, blame, punishment, despair and resentment you come out the other side more bitter, closed off, abusive to self or others, hateful, and sick. This is also a truth of human kind.

I want to be careful here and say that every feeling needs an outlet. Hope is not turning a frown upside down. It is not putting a positive spin on a terrible situation. Horrible experiences happen. Unfair circumstances happen. Nobody should spiritually bypass the feelings of anger, despair, resentment, rage, and resignation (among many other feelings) by saying, “this tragedy is meant to be because it will make me stronger, wiser, loving, and aware.”

The process is key and the journey is everything. Feelings are like poop and like chemical storms. What happens if you don’t let yourself poo because you tell yourself it is wrong or bad to poo? What happens if you try to stop a raging hurricane? You can’t stop a storm and not letting yourself poo will make you sick.

All feelings need time and space to be honored and felt.  The key to moving feelings out of the body is to not wrap a mental story around the feeling. Feel the resentment when your partner betrays you but don’t tell yourself you are piece of shit and it’s your fault or whatever the story may be. Keep stories off the feelings and use your mind to keep repeating, “I feel resentment” as you find a way to express it.

Express feelings through exercising, making art, acting, singing, venting to a friend, dancing, cooking, cleaning…find your way and let the feeling out purely without a narrative of why and what the feeling means.

I promise you, the feeling will pass as every storm and every bowel movement does. I am being crude on purpose. Negative feelings are crude. They are not elegant and they don’t smell good but they still need to be honored and let out.  If you let your feelings out you won’t spiritually bypass them with answers, solutions, reasons, meaning-making. Even the best of tools can be used for harm.

Karma, which is simply the accumulation of feelings that are not released from the body (due to stories or what the Buddhists call “attachments”), can be turned into a scolding and judgmental concept when you say, “I won’t feel my anger because I don’t want to create karma.” If you don’t want to create karma, feel your feelings fully and let them pass through.

Astrology is a great tool that can also be used the wrong way if you won’t let yourself feel despair by saying something like, “I have a Scorpio eighth house moon so despair is in my chart.” The tiniest bit of reasoning, no matter how true, can shut the actual feeling off.

Many therapeutic modalities do this too. Re-framing, a cognitive-behavioral technique of turning a negative story into a positive story, may shut off a feeling of anger that needs to surface and be released. It is best to first release the feeling and then re-frame the story.

The point I want to make is that all tools in the spiritual-psychological-self-help tool box can be misused. Take positivity for example. Positivity is not about only feeling and thinking positive thoughts. For that secretly judges and scolds negativity and the act of judging and scolding is extremely toxic. True positivity is remembering that all feelings are innocent when felt and expressed purely.

The truth of how the human body works is that honored and expressed feelings leave the body and cause no harm. When feelings collect in shadow they change over time. They putrefy and create bigger uglier monsters that erupt as chronic illness, projections, neurosis, and imbalances of all forms.

When negative feelings are honored and expressed they leave the body and hope has room to enter. Hope needs room to enter. Hope wont bludgeon its way into the heart.

Why some people have an easier time feeling hope while others struggle to feel hope is part mystery and part rational. The mystery roots down into temperaments. We all have a temperament. No need to judge yourself if your temperament is not very hopeful. I am sure you have another archetypal instinct pouring through you in spades.

Every human is a unique finger print of qualities and this is not in our control. The mystery owns our temperament.

Yet even the most hopeless temperament may experience hope because hope is an archetype we all connect with in the collective unconscious or spirit world. Every. Single. One of us.

Sometimes it takes a little work, which leads to the rational understanding part. If you struggle to feel hope due to your temperament, due to struggles internal or external, or due to being pummeled by tragedy all at once…you can do two things to invoke hope.

First, you can stop rejecting your feelings with judgements and make the dedication to feel your feelings without a story wrapped around them. You may get help doing this with a therapist or healer, a friend, or even a pet. Maybe being with spirit in solitude or in nature is helpful.

Feeling your feelings without stories may take a while. Patience is not easy but needed. For most of us have been told by culture, family, or both that negative feelings are bad and wrong and we experience literal cut-off from feelings as a result. Many of us instead find refuge in various addictions and distractions such as drinking, working, working-out, over-analyzing, focusing on others in service, partying, escaping through drugs, eating, shopping, etc.

But it’s every human’s birthright to reconnect to our feelings. Everyone is capable.

Another aspect to check is the story showing up as identity.

Maybe you identify too much with despair, depression, resentment, etc. Identification is when it’s not really despair you are feeling, it’s the story of despair you are telling yourself and have been your whole life.

You can tell the difference between a feeling and a story by seeing if you identify with it. If you identify with being a depressed person, chances are you have cut-off from many feelings due to being stuck in an identity. Feelings of anger and even self-empowerment may be longing to express but cannot get through the depressed story or persona.

Sorting out feelings from the story, starving out the stories, honoring and expressing the feelings is a process. Process is the most important part. Nobody can bypass their own process. For some it is quick, some slow… but for most of us healing moves in a spiral. We make progress then fall backward yet when we do we are a little wiser, a little more aware, a little more loving.

The second thing is you can invoke hope through ceremony and ritual.  The ancients and indigenous were very connected using ritual and ceremony to stay healthy. Arhcetypes such as hope speak to the conscious-self through images, sound, taste, movement, and feeling. The ancients and indigenous also understand that we are literally made of the elements (earth, air, fire, water, ether) and we may call upon them to ground and connect self to earth.

Whether you partake in a more formal ritual, alone or with a group, or whether you express ritual through making art, singing, listening to a song or a sermon…. ritual and ceremony simply means that you intentionally use your creativity, feelings and senses to invoke the archetypes.

It is everyone’s birthright to invoke hope.

Invoking may be as simple as lighting a candle and calling upon hope in meditation. It may be as elaborate as performing a sacred dance on the full moon after calling the directions, elements, angels, ancestors and allies.

Invoking hope may be as simple as singing a song that makes you feel hope. It may be as elaborate as writing a song about hope and performing in a hospice setting to inspire those close to transitioning into death.

You might find the perfect crystal and invoke hope into the crystal, wearing it over your heart each day.

Or perhaps you put your hands around every glass of water you drink and invoke hope into the water.

Hope does not ask for a specific kind of ritual or ceremony. Hope only asks to be acknowledged.

Many leaders have hope moving so powerfully through their hearts that they inspire everyone around them. Martin Luther King Jr comes to mind as a perfect example of this. Hope catches flame. You may not intend to call upon hope but hope finds you anyway.

Sometimes hope enters the body so strongly that it wipes out any blocks in the way and washes you clean. We have all experienced this through listening to song, watching a movie, being moved by a speaker, looking at a sunset, into a loved one’s eyes, or a work of art.

Hope is always available to us no matter how dense the jungle of tragedy, betrayal and injustice we are traversing. May hope find its way into your heart in your darkest night of the soul.

Tarot Card Medicine

Tarot cards may be used to predict the future and for healing. I have been a reader for about twenty seven years and professionally for about seventeen years and in my own practice, I have witnessed both aspects reveal through the cards. Not all readers use the cards to predict and many do not believe in prediction. I use the cards in service to the healing journey and if psychic predictions come through, I share them and include the sentence, “take this with a grain of salt, ” because I do not want to hold the power of an all seeing/knowing eye.

My intention is to be a very human ally and guide even if I channel psychic messages at times.

The way it works is that I connect with the divine/higher self/true self (whatever word works best for you to describe the transpersonal aspect). I channel messages using the cards as keys that unlock my unconscious to see into the unconscious and life of the client.

Sometimes I will channel a loved one who has passed or a specific soul guide. Sometimes I am given a picture of what is to come, usually in metaphor. The cards have predicted the endings and beginnings of relationships, lives, jobs as well as inner transformations/cycles for myself and clients for so many years that it does not seem like a big deal. Prediction is a very minor aspect of the Tarot’s medicine.

The medicine of Tarot is in their ability to illuminate what is hidden from the ego or conscious self. Many years ago, a Tarot client said to me, “you have uncovered in a half an hour what would have taken months in therapy”. My calling to bridge Tarot reading with therapy was sparked by her words. How often I have said in a reading, “this would be beneficial exploration for therapy.”  My desire is to be a messenger and a guide through the therapeutic journey.

I love using Tarot as a therapist. To be honest, I don’t see too much difference between these two roles. Every Tarot reader I know is a healer but the persona of therapist is more legitimized in our masculine-heavy culture. Although, there are many readers who are not healers in their soul-calling or their training. Point being, for those readers who are healers, the only thing separating them from having therapy clients is largely the way society does not legitimize the tarot reader as a healer. I have served on both sides of this fence and have a strong opinion, hence the diatribe. Back to the Tarot talk…

Tarot reveals different aspects of the unconscious. Archetypes, feelings, personality traits, vows, wounds, soul gifts, and the true self may be dwelling in the ocean deep of the unconscious. The magic of Tarot is when aspects are suddenly revealed to the  conscious self it…just feels right. The illumination feels so good, as if a missing piece has been returned to the whole. The illumination itself is healing. Though more than often, aspects emerge like tangled balls of yarn needing to be sorted out and understood. Family of origin, personality traits, vows, feelings, and multigenerational wounds create complexes and take time to process on a cognitive level.

Awareness and meaning-making is medicine for the conscious self while embodiment and expression is medicine for the unconscious self. What first brings unconscious content into conscious awareness are dreams, projections, triggers, creative expression, “freudian slips”/blurting out without awareness, ceremony/ritual, and images that speak directly to the unconscious, such as Tarot cards.

When aspects emerge from the deep you feel that relieving feeling of something missing that is returning even if it’s incredibly painful. We all crave integration. The great divide between the conscious and unconscious self is unhealthy and we long for wholeness. In therapy the sacred space to release and process what comes up and out is often painful. Just as often, joyful and confident parts emerge from the shadow, starving for the nourishment of conscious integration. Those of us who have over identified with the pain body relegate self-worth, self-love, and happiness into the shadow. Tarot cards illuminate all.

Another wonderful medicine of Tarot is the illuminating of one’s soul karma, purpose, and lessons. From the ego or conscious self’s vantage point, we seek the same basics; belonging, success, security, health and healthy relationships. But the soul does not seek these things. The soul seeks to fulfill its destiny, which is rooted in evolving its character as being spirit embodying as an individual self.

The soul is the meeting of spirit and matter.

For instance, the ego may want to experience success in work and experience suffering when success does not come over and over. But the soul may be wanting to evolve through learning how to let go of worldly success and to surrender to a deeper sense of fulfillment through unconditional love or the divine.

The ego may be attached to success as a way to validate its self worth. The client may come in with the problem of not being able to manifest success in their work life unaware of how their soul longs to feel self-worth through surrender to love. The cards will reveal this. Paradoxically, success in work may suddenly occur once this reversal of energy has taken place.

Everyone is at a different point on the journey with different soul lessons, purpose, callings. Tarot reveals the specifics.

Some people do not want to uncover in one session what might take months otherwise. Some people might not want a guide to tell them what is going on inside of them. For those who do not prefer this but still want to use the cards, I have them read their own cards. You do not need to logically understand the cards to read them. In fact, some of the best readings I’ve received were by those who never looked at a deck in their life.

By looking at any image or set of images, we speak directly with the unconscious. The client may do their own digging and meaning making.

Tarot cards may be used solely to explore the unconscious if the client does not believe in soul lessons, karma and the evolution of ensouled spirit. The cards may or may not be used to predict. They may or may not be used to understand the dynamics of relationships with others and the self. Tarot can be read as effectively by a novice as by an expert because intuition does not require practice to be strong and The Fool can bumble out unconscious wisdom through playfully making a story out of an image, without realizing it.