In a previous installment of Letters from Luna, we began some initial explorations into the nature of the soul – what Mary Oliver described as the ‘Third Self’, and James Hillman, borrowing from the ancient Greeks, called the ‘daimon’ or ‘daemon.’
This is – for me and for countless others who place inestimable worth on a commitment of intimacy with what is mysterious, ever-changing, and vastly precious within us – a tireless topic. It is to live within a state of gossamer humility and curiosity that renders the notion of a rigidly fixed, unchanging self, less than even half the story. The concept of an ‘I’, sitting here writing these words, an ‘I’ in the common understanding of a person with a concrete, homogenous identity, who claims a territorial ownership over what is emerging through her, feels brittle, dull. Devoid of meaning.
There is far more richness and depth in taking the sacred oath of faith and fidelity to our inner invisible, our numinous soul, and offering ourselves up in service of their slow, seasonal revelation into the world.
In his classic The Gift – Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, Lewis Hyde writes:
“The task of setting free one’s gifts was a recognized labor in the ancient world. The Romans called a person’s tutelar spirit his genius. In Greece it was called a daemon.”
Echoing Hillman’s “acorn theory”, he continues:
“The genius or daemon comes to us at birth. It carries within it the fullness of our undeveloped powers. These it offers to us as we grow, and we choose whether or not to accept, which means we choose whether or not to labor in its service. For again, the genius has need of us…the spirit that brings us our gifts finds its eventual freedom only through our sacrifice, and those who do not reciprocate the gifts of their genius will leave it in bondage when they die.
“An abiding sense of gratitude moves a person to labor in the service of his daemon. The opposite is properly called narcissism. The narcissist feels his gifts come from himself. He works to display himself, not to suffer change. An age in which no one sacrifices to his daemon is an age of narcissism.”
I’m reminded here of a line from the Nag Hammadi scriptures, or the Gospel of St. Thomas, the non-canonical scrolls attributed to Jesus of Nazareth discovered in a cave near Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945:
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you.”
This is our inner tutelary spirit, our daemon – nothing less than our soul. It is not so much that one is a genius, as one has a genius. Integrating this distinction allows for relationship and gratitude to emerge, and for narcissism to dissolve.
Authentic, interactive relationship to a creative life, to the art that is waiting to emerge from us, in whatever form, has traditionally been the domain of soul, to what gives the human experience depth and meaning. Describing something as soulless is another way of naming it meaningless. And my daemon, absorbing the warp and weft of this time in our history, desires to weave a wider web for the domain of soul-making: that is, they seek to imbue not only the inner and the creative life, but also the mundane, the physical, the political, the commercial and the scientific, with the sparkling water of meaning from the deep subterranean well of the soul.
I suspect that there are many of us who are feeling this daemonic tug. Don’t ignore it. This is the art of soul-decolonization, of re-membering our marginalized native wisdom: the permeation of soul into any and all areas of human life.
How to begin, though? The structures of soullessness, decrepit though they are, seem overwhelmingly entrenched and fortified.
Remember: this tutelary spirit was with you from the moment you took your first breath, and has never left you, even if you’ve buried them away.
Spend time getting curious: what was the thing, or things, that aroused your childhood passion and curiosity? For me, it was an innate experience of the world as animate, as invisibly interconnected and pulsing with the wholeness of life- including numbers and letters, plants, rocks and dreams. It was the taboo feeling that I am this and also that. This was my soul’s indigenous wisdom; and I – sensing its weirdness, its dissonance with the prevailing culture of this or that, good or bad, of a linear universe cut up into parts, inanimate, demystified, and disconnected – repressed and buried it away for a long time.
What is the weird in you that you deny? Perhaps you don’t deny it, and it is the evolving foundation of your creative life, your art.
With your daemonic weird as your guide, create your stand: there is deep potency in discovering and declaring to yourself what you stand for. It’s important to note here that having something you stand for is not the same as having a position. The latter has the tendency to become polarizing and rigid, like a fixed, unchanging opinion – calcified bricks with which we build the dull, self-righteous, this-or-that-persona.
Positions are a reality of life- but they stifle the daemon by stifling the imagination. Positions, by their very nature, create an opposite because they locate themselves at a fixed point, rejecting anything outside of that limited purview. Positions exist; and they can be used in service of something more vast than themselves – the generative quality of your daemonic stand.
Author, activist and teacher Lynn Twist says:
“Positionality is very important and a huge part of life, and it’s not all of what we need to inhabit or be; in fact, positions take place inside of a larger context, which is what we stand for.
“When you take a stand, when you discover your stand, there’s a liberation there. There’s a freedom. There’s a freedom, actually, from all your positions. You move from having a point of view, which is almost geographic, it describes a place, a location. But when you let go of your point of view even for a moment, you’ll find that what you may discover is something deeper, something more profound, which is what you stand for.
“A stand is something larger than your own life. It’s not something you actually can accomplish in a lifetime, but it’s the direction that your life is calling you to be in, or calling you to express.”
When we allow what we stand for to reveal itself, and afford it the freedom to change and evolve, we’re able to connect with our innate Vision – which is the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis of a confining point of view.
Discovering and connecting with what you stand for in this way puts you in relationship with your daemon, your soul and the queerness of their unfixed positions. This generates a field of resonance between you and your tutelary spirit, and creates a context within which you can labor in its service – that is, labor in service of ensouling the world, especially those parts of it that have been rendered soulless.
If you are interested in exploring this work of inner decolonization/re-membering your soul’s indigenous wisdom through the lenses of Alchemy, Myth + Nature, Rohini is now offering immersive one-on-one sessions. You can also download her mini-ebook, The Esoterica of Inner-Decolonization: A Primer here
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