Sometimes I go about pitying myself and all along my soul is being blown by great winds across the sky. – Ojibway proverb
The ‘soul’ is not a thing; it is an experience, a feeling, an image we see in our dreams day and night. The soul has to do with our heart and spirit, the psyche and the depth of who we are, what we came here to experience related to our purpose in life.
Thomas Moore in much of his work describes the soul as the ordinariness we all want in life. Whereas, Neale Donald Walsch in his book, When Everything Changes: Change Everything describes the soul as “energy”, and through the images it creates we move through life facing constant change. Walsch feels once we accept all change is for the higher good, perhaps then we can begin to live a more satisfied life.
Both Moore’s and Walsch’s descriptions suggest an examined life perhaps offers each of us the opportunity to live a more purposeful life. The soul might liken to an ongoing ever-occurring change and evolution. Therefore, our work individually, and even collectively in the context of higher education, is to become conscious and accept change is inevitable, rather than get hung up on the fact that change has taken place. Through embracing the ordinariness of our daily lives as Moore has eloquently written and spoken about in his life’s work, and then developing a practice of reflection as he and others recommend (Jean Houston, James Hillman, Neil Donald Walsch, Laurence Hillman, et al.), we have made the choice to do our soul work.
A modified excerpt from my journal to provide a sample of the soul's relentless calling:
In and around 1992-93 I bought a book Care of Soul: Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore. I was initially attracted to the dark cover (true) and the word ‘soul.’ It was the first time I had a word, soul, to connect to what I felt and the images in my life. I carried that book with me everywhere, devouring each line in an attempt to understand what the author was conveying. It was one of those seasons in life when life felt overwhelming, and I felt and sensed my inability to grasp its depth and wisdom fully. One afternoon in my office with a former colleague, I was sharing and struggling out loud about what I was reading. Long story short, my colleague walked over and pulled the book from my hands and then threw it out the open window, uttering they were tired of me taking life so seriously. I recall the word “melancholy” being used. I felt the full impact of their disdain. I can still recall how fast I ran down the flights of stairs to the street where my book had landed. The building was on the main road and the city sidewalk bustled with people. I never found it and came the conclusion someone must have needed my book more than I at the time.
Fast forward to 2013 when my beloved mother had just passed away, and a friend Suzanne gifted the book she said had helped her family when they lost their mother. She had never heard my story–the moment I took the book into my hands and realized it was ‘the’ book that had been violently snatched away from me all those years ago, I knew this was a nudge, a sign, to return to my work on the soul.
I have almost every book Thomas Moore has written. I hope to in some small way extend his life’s work through this CAP and my dissertation.
James Hillman, an American psychologist and founder of Archetypal Psychology (also incredibly relevant to my work), in his book, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling suggests four areas we all need to satisfy, they are:
- Having a place to call Home. A place we feel good about maintaining.
- Family – The acceptance of all of your family, no matter who they might be.
- Community – Work and service which fulfils each of our unique purposes.
- Body – The acceptance of growing older.
Soul is immeasurably deep and can only be illuminated by insights, flashes in a great cavern of incomprehension. – James Hillman
In my dreaming stage and through the development of this project, I hired an artist, who happens to be my niece, Tegan A. Crozier, to create four sketches from the images evoked from her soul. These sketches are based on what Hillman describes as “The Platonic myth of growing down…” The four images which cover the areas described above: Home, Family, Community and Body which the soul works through to complete our unique purpose. These four areas can be used to to assist participants in covering the domains of their soul.
The images are meant to provide examples of another’s images within the four domains to evoke and aid or, as Hillman suggests, assist in the recall of one’s purpose.
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl C.G. Jung
If we allow for deeper reflection on the soul and how it works to support us on our journey to live the life we dream of, we will accomplish much more than we could alone. In this project, the topic of the soul and each person’s unique purpose is the focus. Through the exploration of the soul, we may begin to create a culture of meaning, depth, personal and professional potential, which ultimately creates a sustainable and positive impact on society as a whole.
In James Hillman’s, The Soul Code; In Search of Character and Calling, he discusses the Acorn Theory. This theory suggests we each are born with a unique image. Just as every oak tree’s destiny is contained within an acorn, we too are born with an image, a character and we are meant to spend our lives uncovering what our purpose is. This includes career or vocation, service, the art we create, the music we sing, write and more. The Acorn Theory suggests we were each born to fulfil an individual mission, unlike anyone else’s. Many of us do listen to the nudge and call of our soul and carry out its vision. However, whether we listen or not, the soul never sleeps–its presence is alive within us our entire life. In other words, we don’t find our life’s work and then settle into the satisfaction of having ‘arrived.’ No, the soul will continue to provoke us for our entire lives.
It is the seed of the acorn, the daimon as Hillman calls it, that can be explained as spirit, or the helper of the soul, or a higher power, any and other definition might work. In this instance, it is for me, my daimon whose insistence is that I do not silence my calling and that is to explore the soul as it relates to a vocation and invitation to service. I believe it is my fate, my daimon, to study, discuss, and research the soul–specifically through my CAP and dissertation research.
If you have come this far, you have agreed to participate in The Soul Project: Evoking an Ensouled Life. I use the word soul. However, as you work on and create your digital story, if there is another word or definition for the soul, and your calling or purpose, please feel free to assign and use your description(s).
Key Terms and Definitions:
Acorn Theory: developed by the late Dr. James Hillman which goes, that just as the oak tree holds the acorn of a single seed, each of us has unique gifts and a plan specifically designed for our lives.
Archetypes are about relationships: primary forms and constellations of energy that govern the psyche or that inner self we call the soul. – Jean Houston The Passion of Isis and Osiris
Daimon: is the seed within the acorn, the soul, unique to each. The soul whispers, nudges, creates havoc, appears in dreams both day and night. The daimon awakens us to our imaginations and to begin the life we vision, feel within and know to be our destiny.
Narrative: is the personal accounting of the participant’s soul. The representation is a truthful accounting of what one’s soul is wanting, going towards, experiencing.
“Psyche.” Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed January 21, 2018. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psyche.
Spirit: is the helper of the soul. It is the part of each of us who wants to do better, in life and within ourselves–take courses, read an important book, learn to play a musical instrument, paint and so on.
Story: is the creation portion of the digital soul story
Vocation: is used mutually and to mean the same as, career, work, service, calling and purpose.