Week 1: Your Story
Calling and Your Mythic Journey
This first week I speak about:
- My own personal story
- The theme of identity
- Different lenses we can see our lives through, such as literal, symbolic, mythic and energetic.
As I mention in the recording, I specifically offer these weekly talks from a non-linear and unplanned place.
May they support an exploration of how to allow the unknown and the unseen to inspire, guide and shape the way that you engage your gifts.
From this place, we can always refine as needed per the situation at hand.
By exploring this way first, we give ourselves a soulful foundation before we bring the mystery of who we are into the world.
Week 1: InterviewInterview on Calling and the Mythic Life with Francis Weller
Week 1: Interview
Interview on Calling and the Mythic Life with Francis Weller
This interview sets the tone and the frame of this whole seven-week journey. It is a real treasure!
Francis speaks of important topics such as:
- The relationship between career, vocation and calling
- The importance of relationship and community in discovering our calling
- What we hunger to hear and to know
- The importance of our failures and shortcomings
- The role of reverence and solitude, and more…
Francis Weller, MFT, is a psychotherapist, writer and soul activist. He is a master of synthesizing diverse streams of thought from psychology, anthropology, mythology, alchemy, indigenous cultures and poetic traditions. Author of Entering the Healing Ground: Grief, Ritual and the Soul of the World, he has introduced the healing work of ritual to thousands of people. The core of his work is creating pathways to reclaiming our indigenous soul, what psychologist Carl Jung called the “unforgotten wisdom” that resides in the heart of the psyche. To further this work, he founded and directs WisdomBridge, an organization that offers educational programs that seek to integrate the wisdom from traditional cultures with the insights and knowledge gathered from western cultures.
Interview on Calling and the Mythic Life with Francis Weller
Week 1: Homework
Week 1: Homework
Living into a purposeful life is a call-and-response process. When we pay attention to the speech of the soul, we move toward our unique way of belonging to the world.
The weekly exercises in this course are a bridge to that deeper conversation, the one between your soul and the soul of the world.
The journaling and visual exercises provide a foundation for the work. If you have the time and motivation, the somatic and earth-based invitations will take you deeper. Follow your interest and enjoy.
Journaling: Gather Your Story
As Ms. Bird mentioned in the welcome video, the Mystery is one of our central portals to clarity of calling.
Let’s explore the ways that you may have already received guidance, insight, and inspiration about your unique way of belonging to the world, and how it has expressed itself throughout your life.
- What are your earliest memories in nature? You don’t need to understand anything about how this might connect with your calling at this point. Simply become receptive to what memories arise and write them down in as much detail as possible.
- What is your deepest longing? Is there something that you cannot seem to get away from? How has this shown up throughout your life?
- What were the three most transformative experiences of your life?
- Are there any patterns or themes you notice as you ponder these questions?
Express Your Story:
The visual exercises are the basis for the work. If you care to take it deeper and wider, you can also explore the somatic and earth-based invitations.
Imagery and symbols reach below the mind by traveling beyond the realm of words. They can stir longings for essential states of Being, and desire for self-expression unfettered by a lifetime of conditioning. They can awaken a knowing of who we are outside of societal definitions. What images call to you?
- Choose an image that relates to your journaling reflections.
- Paste the image(s) on a surface that will allow you to build a collage over the next seven weeks.
- Place it somewhere you can see it throughout the week.
Feel free to cut out pictures from magazines, print something from the internet, or even draw something yourself. What matters most is that you trust the Image(s) that beckons you!
The body is another portal to the soul. It can tell us what brings us alive, and what deadens us. The body is a powerful companion and compass when it comes to calling.
If you choose to include the body in this exploration, allow yourself to become familiar with different sensations. A fluttering in the heart may be saying, “Yes!” A sinking feeling in your gut, a “No!”
Here is some body vocabulary that can help you open more fully to the speech of your soul:
Prickly, smooth, warm, cold, tight, open, heavy, light, flowing, stuck, spacious, constricted, enlivened, and numb.
If movement is something you feel comfortable exploring, see if you can put aside movements that you may have learned, such as yoga or a specific form of dance; instead let your impulse originate from inside. It can help to start in stillness and listen to what wants to move first.
- Let yourself gaze at the image(s) you chose.
- Where does it live in your body? How does it want to move?Do you want to reach out? Curl in? Sway, breath more deeply, or perhaps lie down? Trust your impulses. They don’t need to make sense to your mind. Right now, you are simply welcoming more of yourself into this conversation so that your ability to listen to the speech of your soul grows stronger and clearer.
- Once you’ve moved the image, let yourself end with a word that expresses your experience.
These earth-based practices are an invitation to enter imagination, curiosity and sacred play. Depending on how long it’s been since your ancestors were earth-based animists, you may need to unlearn, or at least not feed, the doubting mind.
If your brain tells you, “Nothing is happening. This is stupid.” or “I feel something, but I’m probably making it up.” try coming back to childlike play, like a meditator comes back to breath.
How this unfolds will depend on what is available to you in terms of time and access to nature. Whatever your circumstance, initiating a conversation with nature can be a powerful portal to calling.
If you are drawn to this part of the adventure, here are my recommendations: *
- Allurement: Allow yourself to be drawn to a nature being. It could be a house plant that you love, or a redwood in the forest. It could be the night sky or an active ant mound. There are no right or wrong choices. You may not have been trained in the intuitive arts or raised in an animistic culture, but you know how to do this. We all do. It’s our evolutionary inheritance.
- Introductions: Begin a conversation as you would with someone new. This can be a silent or verbal greeting. It can be as simple as, “Hello, my name is… I’ve never done this before, and I feel silly, but I want to connect with you.”
Follow your own impulses and experiment with what feels right. What matters most is your intention. Sincerity of heart goes a long way.
- Offerings: At this point, I like to offer something, be it a song or a chant, a moment of unifying silence, or water on the earth. Some traditions offer ash, tobacco, milk, or honey. Honor what lives in your ancestral bones as well as in your heart. And don’t forget…let yourself play!
- Share: Once you’ve established relatedness, experiment with sharing your hopes and dreams, and/or fears and quandaries. Practice speaking from your heart and asking for the help you need.
Although we need our minds to communicate, when we speak from the head up our ability to commune is diminished.
- Open Attention: A conversation has been started. Give yourself the gift of listening to what comes back your way by tuning into subtle channels of perception.Here are the four most common channels we use:
When we allow our gaze to become soft and receptive, we ignite visionary seeing.Perhaps a branch that you saw sticking out when you first arrived, now looks as if it is reaching out, as if to say hello. Or maybe you see a face emerging from the bark of the tree. Some people can see spirits on the land, or energy fields. What do you notice?
Inner ear: We all know how the mind feels when it’s looping, obsessing, grinding, or even daydreaming. The experience of one’s inner ear is different. Sometimes it sounds like an inner whisper, other times, as if it’s being spoken a short distance from the head. In either case, it usually has a distinct quality that catches our attention.Once I was standing in front of a grove of redwoods, fretting about what I should be doing with my life. When I got quiet and communed with the trees I heard, “Be the redwood that you are.” I was reminded of the aspect of calling that has more to do with being than doing. That memory stayed with me, and still helps me when I get out of balance.
This channel shows up as sensation. A well-known example is the experience of getting shivers or goosebumps when something rings true. A more subtle example might be feeling a hum or a warmth in your heart.
See what happens when you listen to the whispers of your body as if you are the body of the earth communicating with itself, because you are!
Inner Knower Channel:
This is the channel most commonly associated with intuition, the kind that tells you, “Don’t go there.” or, “I don’t know why, but I sense this is my next right step.” Is there a knowing that arises in you as you sit with nature?
- Closure: When you’re done, close the conversation with gratitude.
It can help to take notes of your experience, as these conversations can often feel fleeting and ephemeral. Keep an index card and pen in your back pocket or use an app on your phone if that suits you better.
If you feel like nothing happened this first time around, that’s okay. You have the next seven weeks to explore this practice, and after that…the rest of your life!
*I want to acknowledge Bill Plotkin and the Animus Valley Institute for their potent nature-based programs that guide people deeper into calling.
**As well as Hugh Milne, of Visionary Craniosacral Work, and Marti Spiegelman of Shaman’s Light, both who helped me recognize, hone, and trust my visionary channels.
What did you track this week?
Inner Eye: Did images catch your attention, surprise you, enliven you or disturb you in any way?
Inner Ear: Did you notice whispers of the soul?
Kinesthetic: Did your body speak? If so, what came into your awareness?
Inner Knower: Did you have moments of knowing that could not be explained by your mind, but that felt unquestionably true?
It can also be helpful to also track archetypes, symbols, patterns and synchronicities.