I began this way too late to finish it properly! But, here goes!
As I peruse my own blog I have to stop and wonder if I have I have learned anything at all over the years! I read old posts and as I do it seems to me that I’ve been asking the same kind of questions for years! I’d like to think, however, that I am asking them at a different level, but I’m not always so sure! Jerome talked of always having more questions than answers, and that this works to assure humility, and I understand that. I think it’s the onion analogy again, everything is multilayered, and just as one understands one layer, one has to peel off another, and so on and so forth. It can make for a pretty exhausting journey! I assume that at some point one reaches the centre and then suddenly everything makes sense!
Today I have found myself back at the dichotomy between ego and soul. In recent months I have come to feel, with a deep sense of conviction, that (1) I have a soul and that (2) this aspect of me is divine and comes from Source – indeed, it is Source within me, Divinity in human flesh. This has been something of a significant step for me and some would argue, I suppose, that with this belief system I’m not really Pagan, but that’s for another blog at another time and in another place I think!
I found myself at Glastonbury Tor again today – as ever, one of my most favourite places. I arrived late and it was crowded, I much prefer it when I get there early and it’s just a few of us there. However, among the noise I managed to meditate for a while and was aware of my soul connecting with the heavens. I had a sense of my soul singing with Source and as I was aware of this I became aware of the song of Nature all around me and we were all singing the song of Source with Source, we were all in celebration. My own Divinity was connecting with the One Divine Life and we were in union and singing in unison. It was a most wonderful, albeit brief, moment.
At the same time I was aware of my roots being deep within Earth. I was drawing energy deep into myself from the very core of Earth and I became increasingly aware of my body belonging to Earth, and my soul to the heavens.
With this I went into something of a state of flux. My body, the current house of my soul, is of Earth. I don’t believe, as some would argue, that Earth, roots and the body are evil. Through my senses and through my body I feel, touch, taste, hear, see and understand this world and my place in it. My roots also connect me with my heritage, my ancestors and my sense of belonging with place and the spirit of place. This doesn’t separate me from my soul, but it supports my understanding of the house, the tent, within which my soul currently resides. Yet this body has desires, it has longings of its own, it has needs, and it has automated and learned responses, responses and desires that can feed the ego and which can, if I allow them, to overtake my spiritual path and quest, and here is my conundrum.
It is right to celebrate and experience the body, to take joy in this world and to revel in the wonder of what it is to be alive in this time and place and to enjoy that and those which surround us. It is right to be wild and free in Nature and to be one with Nature – we’re in this body for a reason! Yet, at the same time, I cannot be a slave to the body and its impulses. Whilst I don’t advocate a chaste and strict denial of the body – not for a moment – there has to be a place, when training as an initiate, where the body is somehow brought under the control of the soul, of spirit. Is this what Crowley calls ‘love under will’?
There’s a balance to be struck here, I guess and perhaps this balance is about each of us being ever present, being self and spiritually aware and knowing what is feeding the soul and what is feeding the ego at any given moment.
Today I had a clear sense that the only thing that truly holds me back from spiritual progress is me. The only limits that are placed upon my own spiritual experience are those that I myself set in place. Any ceilings, any blocks and any breaks are not imposed but rather allowed or even created by me.
As an individual with a hugely influential Christian past, one that seeks to cast a shadow over my spiritual development and progress, any talk or discussion of the body, the flesh, the ego, poses significantly difficult issues. However, as I read any writings of the Adepts, such as Dion Fortune, and the writings of other paths, I see that the issue of ego is always there, in some shape or form, and these writings, although may be expressed differently, talk about the need to bring the desires and needs of the body under some kind of control, and that there is a discipline required if one is to spiritually progress.
I think that my issue with this is about the fear of loss of sense of self. Much of human journey has been one of fighting for my right to be myself and to fully express myself – my sense of social identity, and to ensure that my right to be who I am is celebrated. My human journey has been one of moving out of suppression and oppression into true freedom – the freedom to be me, without condemnation or criticism or judgement.
So you see, this physical/human journey and the cost of that to me as an individual, together with the gain, appears, at some degree at least, to be at odds with the need to bring this self under control.
I think some of this may be that I am confusing what my True Self with my small self. My True Self is who I was intended to be before name and form. My True FREE self, free from the adaptations one falls into just to get through another day, to please the Boss, the Department, the neighbours, the ‘anything for a quiet life’ type of thing. But this also has to be about being free from the body being in charge, dictating, ruling what one does. It’s not about bringing the body into submission as such, it’s not about chastisement, but it has to be about who is in charge, who is in control? If I choose to have a wild time and indulge every sensory pleasure, then that’s fine, provided that I am doing so from a place of freedom and choice.
So True Self is Higher Self, that place of enlightenment, that place where Spirit shines from my own human eyes and I see the world, and my place in it, from a new place. But it is also about not letting go of my roots, not denying my place in this Earth and the fact that I experience this Earth through my bodily senses. It’s a marriage of body and soul, it’s a relationship between the heavens and Earth, between the Divine and mortal, a celebration of humanity and this earth realm and the Divine and the celestial realms.
From this understanding of True Self comes knowledge of my own true will, my own calling in this time and place, my connection with the One Divine Life and that connection of the Divine Will and mine and the two becoming one and the same. But I think that too is for another blog entry at another time. Now, I think it’s time for this human body to go to bed and rest!