By Sera Beak
Five years ago I had the honor of interviewing the Jungian analyst extraordinaire, Marion Woodman, and that’s when I realized that despite my devotion to the divine feminine and my successful career in women’s spirituality, I had lost my soul.
Although many wise ones like Marion Woodman believe soul loss is a modern epidemic - especially afflicting “spiritual” folks who tend to be more focused on a transcendent unifying spirit than their immanent unique soul – I was not only humbled by my own soul loss, but devastated. I quickly realized that I could not truly serve the divine feminine and other women until I found my soul again.
So, I made some difficult choices. I let go of my career, lost most of my livelihood, pulled away from my personal life, and went into a spiritual cocoon for three years where I began to face all the reasons I had lost my soul, some of which involved compromising my truth in order to succeed in the spiritual marketplace. It was a painful metamorphosis, but eventually I reunited with my soul again and wrote a book about this journey, Red Hot and Holy: A Heretic’s Love Story. Now that Red Hot and Holy has been published, I’ve begun to experience some of the professional success I experienced five years ago, before I met Marion Woodman.
However, my soul work is far from over.
Recently during a morning meditation my “soul team” (my holy guidance gang that hangs out on the other side) informed me that before I could start writing my third book, Redvelations, I needed to make a choice about my career path.
My ego responded: “Really? Again? Haven’t I done this already?” But, I’ve come to recognize that choices usually have to be made over and over (and over) again as we evolve and new layers of us arise. There are always new skins to shed and old shadows to integrate. So, I gave my ego a chill pill and went along for the inner ride.
I suddenly saw two “paths” before me (kudos Scott Peck).
One of them was glowing with golden light, well-paved and well-trodden with thousands of people on either side of it cheering me on. It made me feel seen. Important. Special. Like I was being recognized and celebrated for my third book.
The other path was dark. Hushed. With no cheering crowds. In fact, there was no one else on or near this path. As I leaned more into it, I felt a hummmmmm – a distinctly familiar vibration. A profound pulse. A natural warmth that welcomed me to my core.
I pulled back and looked at the bright crowd-lined path.
Then I looked at the shadowed solitary path.
Then I looked at my soul team.
“Uh, so are you peeps trying to tell me that if I choose the dark path there will be no external acknowledgement, no audience that benefits from my third book, none of the usual ceremony and pomp and public displays of affection?”
They solemnly answered: “We don’t know what’s at the end of that dark path.”
So I somewhat saucily kicked back: “And why is that oh wise ones?”
They replied: “Because no one has ever taken that path.”
Sobering truth trumped my ego’s surprise.
because this is my soul’s path.”
Gravity pulled their words deeper into my belly.
This dark path is much more than a path…
It’s my soul’s birth canal. It’s how I incarnate my soul into the world.”
I opened my eyes and made my choice. (Again)
Why am I sharing a snippet of my personal story plus this wild inner romp with you?
Because while the way we lose our soul is different for each one of us, some of the most prevalent and surprising ways we lose our soul is when we subtly shape shift, suppress, or sell our soul in order to fit into an external model of success. I’ve done it. My colleagues have done it. The stark reality is: It happens more often than not.
These days there are many bright and shiny paths to success. There are many courses, models and templates for how we can (even should) offer our gifts to the world, as well as promises of what will happen when we do so - promises that can puncture our most tender wounds: to be seen, to be loved, to be financially supported, to be admired, to be of service…to be ourselves. But these prescribed paths to success often involve compromising and commodifying our soul’s free expression and I’ve learned the hard way that compromising or commodifying even one iota of our soul just ain’t worth it.
As we all know deep down where the fires of truth burn the brightest, the soul doesn’t give a rat’s ass about external success. It only cares if we are being our authentic self out loud and on purpose and in service to this planet. And this can only happen when we dare to hug our soul so tight that nothing comes between us. It’s this fiercely loving embrace that allows life to finally and fully support us.
So brave souls,
Remember what true service is.
Remember that you glow in the dark.
And, remember that your soul’s birth cannot come from any other belly but your own.
Sera Beak is a world-traveled Harvard trained scholar of comparative religion and author of Red Hot and Holy: A Heretic’s Love Story and The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark. She offers Soul Fire Sessions, Retreats, and Classes. www.serabeak.com
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This article appears in:
2014 Catalyst, Issue 9: Inspiring Women Are Rising