What is Soul Initiation?
Updated: Sep 21, 2018
Worship does not mean offering flowers - it means offering your heart to the vast mystery of the universe
The Radiance Sutras translated by Lorin Roche
Firstly there is initiation into the soul - so this means the letting go of identifying with the inauthentic self that each of us has grown in response to the world and its needs and demands on us to 'be someone’ so that we are accepted, loved, can earn a living and so forth. The soul here is the authentic self - the true human being, the unique living expression of love and freedom that each of us essentially is. This is called many different things by many different pathways and traditions but we all recognises it when it shines forth. Then the outer ‘persona’ that we developed as a skin for the world becomes a fine coat for the soul to wear and express through rather than something hiding or cloaking the soul. Then the soul itself is on a path of growth and initiation. For clarity I like to look at three types of soul initiation each with their own various degrees of intensity.
Spiritual initiation - the soul is opened and initiated by its contact with spirit or the godhead. This is experienced in the inner life of the soul as a touch or inflow of energy from the superconscious dimensions - it awakens the soul to deeper understandings and wider views and ultimately connects the soul to the infinite and eternal dimensions of being and non-being. It can be a solo process or involve guides – both inner and outer – to help point the way to having the experiences and unpacking them once they have been had. In the monastic traditions of Christianity and Buddhism this kind of guide would be called a spiritual director. This type of initiation is best imagined as energy ‘descending into and penetrating the soul from above’ and the result is expansion of consciousness, being lifted up into a higher view, and ultimately union with spirit. The soul can ascend fully through the crown chakra and causal body. The soul knows irrevocably and undeniably its source as pure spirit.
Shamanic initiation - the soul is strengthened and tempered by its experience and initiations with matter. This can best be understood as a descent along the lines of Inanna or Orpheus. Souls un-initiated in this way remain light and insubstantial. Another image is Persephone being dragged down by Hades. The reality of living in a physical body, the confrontation with sex, death, making a living, caring for children, depression, vulnerability in the face of war and exploitation etc. all are forms of initiation for the soul. There is also an upwelling from the unconscious, shadow work and depth psychology. The integration of the unconscious results in full presence of the soul on the physical plane and then the penetration of matter itself so that the infinite, eternal void is also found through the veils of the goddess. The soul lands fully through the base chakra. Guides and allies on this journey also range from nature, inner shamanic beings, to outer sometimes indigenous shamans who are also often strict and unyielding in their training disciplines. The result of these initiations is that the soul also knows itself to be one with all matter and substance.
Group initiation - the flower of the soul blooms in a garden of other souls. It is initiated in relationship. The first two areas of initiation are more in the vertical dimensions - the father and mother contacts of the soul journey. This third path is more horizontal or omnidirectional. The soul grows through intimacy. Often the early stages of this are tied into romantic and erotic love. We choose one person to trust enough to open the deep recesses of the soul, heart and body to. This search can go on for a long time - we open and close, follow cycles of being seen and feeling alone, opening and closing. We might try different pathways - monogamy, polyamory, celibacy and so forth. Where we are headed is the realisation of group soul and group intimacy - not just with each other but with all of the kingdoms of nature and the cosmos itself. Group initiation and intimacy accelerates the soul’s unfoldment as well as providing a field that allows much more powerful transpersonal energies to move through it into the collective and therefore accelerates planetary soul initiation.
The result of these initiations is that the soul knows itself more and more to be one with all others souls and the soul of all. In practise these three types of soul initiation reinforce each other and overlap. Many pathways and practitioners are supporting different aspects of this whole and they can happen in different orders. Sometimes the soul opens to cosmic vision first and then struggles to ground this realisation and build group relationships that can bring it into form. Sometimes the depth journey with matter is taken first or the soul is opened through relationship. This is why groups themselves are great teachers for they contain souls who have unfolded different dimensions of this wholeness.On the planet as we undergo a global soul initiation we see this same process at work.
Many groups and pathways have emphasised the opening and expansion of consciousness and want to call everyone ‘up the mountain’ but they themselves often lack development in embodiment and integration with their shamanic energies and the lower chakras. There is likewise a great movement that embraces embodiment, sexuality, and nature that calls everyone to reconnect with the earth in a sacred manner. Without the transcendent vision of the whole however, these paths can become tribal and self-absorbed. And there are those paths that emphasise relationship and the heart. What is the point of the love of spirit and matter, god and goddess if we cannot express that love in our intimacy with each other? The great search for love-in-relationship is one of our deepest motivations and preoccupations. This longing will never be requited because it is part of the evolution of the cosmos itself. It draws us into deep surrender and union with another but beyond this other is all others. The beloved is the whole of existence.
And we are that One
and edited by the sub personality of JDR