I just returned from the fourth weekend workshop in the series, “Archetypes of Spiritual Guidance”. The title was the archetype of The Wise One. Atum began by suggesting that wisdom was in the realm of the feminine; he quoted that “Sophia resides in your depth but you notice her everywhere.” This very much coincides with my own perspective on that nature of intuitive wisdom. He spent some time describing aspects of Sophia: the mediator, offers access to the divine, light in the unconscious, God present amongst us, the wisdom of being able to hold opposites. I have never named this aspect of my inner self in this way. I tend to think of it as an aspect of Soul without giving it personality. The first practice we did was active imagination around accessing a personal image of Sophia. I have learned over the years to let go of “doing it right” and I now trust that my journey will take me where it needs to go not necessarily where Atum may be leading.
He guided us into a meditation to explore the depths of our unconscious and in the darkness to find our Sophia figure and then to draw what has come to us. To my surprise and some excitement I found myself reviewing a recent dream that had been very powerful. In the dream I am in the company of James Hollis, the renowned Jungiam analyst and depth psychologist. During our conversation he morphs into a gracious, serene, beautiful feminine figure then returns to his original form. To my fascination when he assumes his male persona he has become younger. He repeats the transformation two or three times and each time he becomes more youthful. At first I had thought the feminine figure represents feelings and the dream was about the value of getting in touch with feelings but now I realized it was so much more. I knew beyond a doubt that the feminine figure represented my Sophia – Goddess of Wisdom. I knew that my drawing would attempt to represent this dream. I wish I had the talent to actually draw the feminine figure but I am afraid that is beyond me but I could capture the essence of the dream.
I described my impressions of the Sophia figure: gracious, timeless, wise, serene, empathetic, beautiful, patient and calm. I identified what the Hollis represented in my psyche: Jungian, working with the unconscious, exploring complexes, finding meaning and owning feelings. When this part of who I am explores and identifies more closely with the Sophia aspect of my unconscious the result is a transformation – more youthful, more vital, serenity and radiance. What an amazing gift this dream is and for it to occur about two weeks before the workshop is magical. A continuing part of practice with this archetype is to develop a dialogue: in what areas of my life do I need your wisdom, what is the prayer that arises from the heart to heart connection, ask how I can serve her and what blessing she offers me.
I felt that even if I got nothing else from the weekend, this more than justified my attendance but in fact it was only the beginning. Next we did an exercise around looking at eight aspects of wisdom: the heart, relating to the world, nature of mind, relationships, connection to the deeper self, relationship to body, instincts and sensuality, vocation or purpose and financial. Having drawn a circle and created the eight compass points then we developed a “Wisdom Council” of those living and dead, symbolic or real that we could call upon for guidance. I found this a very affirming exercise as I have been very gifted to be surrounded by a group of friends who play various supporting roles in my life. It includes three therapists, a Dr. of TCM, a bodyworker/counselor, two coaches, and in addition I added Atum my teacher, James Hollis also my teacher although less directly and the late Rev. Marvin Anderson whose wisdom from the pulpit at the Unity Church in the late nineties still lives on. It was delightful to see these support figures in the context of my wisdom council.
The primary teaching by Atum during the weekend was what he referred to as the Path to Wisdom but which I personally defined as The Journey Of The Soul as to me it was not only the path to wisdom, it represented our life’s work and the very reason we had come here. It was a concise, beautifully summarized and presented list of the aspects of self exploration that we may fulfill on our life’s journey if we stay conscious and committed.
1) To live an individuated life. This requires doing our shadow work, finding the gold and recognizing projections placed onto us.
2) Learning to live and hold the opposites. This is the first step to wholeness.
3) Moving from the self to the Self and establishing the dialogue necessary to achieve this and the practice of discernment.
4) Acceptance of life in its mystery and its limitations.
5) Understanding and practicing forgiveness. I have learned that forgiveness is much more about the self than the other; does not mean condoning the behavior but rather forgiving the person.
6) Understanding and letting go of shame; we have the challenge of accepting ourselves as human as opposed to the projection of an ideal.
7) To practice compassion so it arises naturally.
8) We begin to detach from our own drama and become the witness to the experience. This enables us to see life from an overview perspective and view the larger context.
9) Harvest meaning from our lives.
10) Finding our place of service from the perspective of wisdom.
11) We have a responsibility for joy and living our joy not hiding it.
12) Learning to live with ambiguity, uncertainty and not knowing – Life Is A Mystery.
He reminded us of the shadow side of the Wise One. Don’t become “the one who knows”, love wholeheartedly in the face of imperfection, don’t pontificate and be careful of the projection as the one who knows. I believe that we must be so careful as Spiritual Coaches and teachers that we encourage personal discernment rather than provide answers.
He quoted many wise people through the weekend. A couple of my favourites: “Life offers the opportunity to pick up pearls and throw away pebbles and to pick up pebbles and throw away pearls.” Then of course Woody Allen who said, “God is everywhere except for two particular towns in new Jersey.”