There is always hope! Soulful seekers know this to be true and they live it every day. Even when it seems nothing can be done, even when it seems all is lost, a powerful ray of hope can still be found.
“Uh-huh,” we all might say, “Right. I wish this were true, but you haven’t seen my life or walked in my shoes. You’re being unrealistic and a total pollyana. It’s better, or far easier, to be a pessimist, to cut our losses and run.”
I’ve had those thoughts before and I know that some of you have too. But we don’t stop there, do we? Not at all. Because of her hope, our soulful seeker is in fact more realistic than the realistic tough guy, and therefore also more resilient and tougher as well. Why? Because she knows something else. She knows a little secret that gives her hope.
In this Lunar Letter, I am going let you in on that secret. I am going to let the cat out of the bag.
Standing at the many crossroads of life – and there are so many! – the soulful seeker knows a little something about Soul and its particular and unique sources of power and potency. What is the power of the Soul? It is the real ability to transform bad situations into good ones, to turn a loss into a victory, to allow a scar to become an ornament and to find blessings in the broken places – in our lives, our stories, our relationships and the wide, wide, world. If we can explore this actual ability deeply enough, and live it as far as we can, new hitherto unexpected and unimagined pathways open to us.
The truly miraculous thing about the Soul is that its powers are entirely within our grasp. They are powers native to every human being. What are these powers? X-Ray vision, invulnerability, web slinging? Not hardly. A special talent or “genius” that sets us apart, makes us unique, makes us special? No.
The powers of the Soul are not found within the pages of a comic book or tale of witches and wizards. You need not be bit by radioactive spiders or spend time in a colorful leotard in order to acquire them. These powers have been with us since, as CS Lewis writes, time out of mind – long before you or I were here in the world, and they will remain long after we have departed. They are the powers native to our very humanity that transform life-sucking and heart-breaking situations into life-bestowing gifts. And as most true and genuine things are, these powers are easily overlooked for flash and dash of other less effective ones.
Again we ask, what are these abilities? They are none other than: courage, justice, wisdom, moderation, faith, hope, and love. These words have lost their fashion in our time, but they refer to real capacities of heart and mind. We don’t like to speak of them as virtues, and so they lay fallow and unknown. But they need not be. These are your internal powers, abilities which, if cultivated and cared for, will help you in tangible ways transform bad life situations into better and more life-bestowing ones.
Surprised? See for yourself. Look all around the world’s traditions, cast your net far and wide, and you will find that the most sacro-magical and liminal of medicines, aim in actual fact for the restoration and cultivation of these internal powers of the Soul, powers traditionally known as the Virtues.
In older and more comprehensive ways of understanding, to be in touch with the power of the universe is to be in touch with the power of the soul, for the soul of a living creature and the soul of the world are one. To be in touch with one’s deepest most desired medicine is to touch these sources, and have available whatever virtues are needed for any given situation. So when we speak of finding our medicine, we are really speaking of coming into deeper relationship with our inner resources, or powers of Soul, with the Virtues.
Contacting the deep sources of inspiration, experiencing cosmic wonder, living in the mystical, miraculous and magical, attuning to the presence of the sacred, are the water and sun for the Virtues. The way we identify and apply these medicines to our own souls, to way we live through our daily life, is through remembering and practicing the sacred arts.
Every sacred art has an aim:
- The sacred art of Right Relationship teaches us the medicine of Love.
- The sacred art of Prayer and Blessing allows us to find the medicine of Faith.
- The sacred art of Ceremony and Ritual teaches Moderation.
- The sacred art of Lineage and Legacy teaches Justice.
- The sacred art of Divination and Dreams teaches Hope.
- The sacred art of Alchemy and Magic teaches Courage.
- The sacred art of Cleansing and Purification teaches Wisdom.
The sacred arts act as guide and ally when we find ourselves in crisis, at the crossroads, unsure of what direction to take, while their aim is directed towards the powers, the medicines, of the virtues that we carry within ourselves. This is why there is such a strong focus on memory in the sacred arts – we remember ourselves back together – back into a state of wholeness, we literally re-collect the pieces of soul, psyche, and spirit that get scattered hither and yon by the winds of life.
So what does a soulful seeker do at the crossroads? She knows she needs to summon all of her inner resources, all powers of Soul. In the language of myth, she will then make a descent into the underworld in search of medicine that will help her transform bad situations into good ones. The soulful seeker does not feint right or left, she does not choose one easy path or one slightly less easy path, instead she goes down. Down into the realm of shadow, down into the unknown, down into the underworld where the terrain is often jagged, broken, and parched; and where real medicine, holy and whole-making, awaits.
In love and blessing~