Learning to speak the language of soul
I am so excited to be accompanying you on this most necessary of adventures – the journey to the depths of your soul, to uncover the truth of who you really are, who you were born to be in this lifetime, and the task your soul wants you to carry out.
To take this journey, you need to let go of the ways of the mind and the ego, and get to the know the ways of your soul, as though you had met a new friend and you were excited to get to know everything about them.
The first thing you’d need to do with a new friend is communicate – so we’ll begin by learning to speak the language of soul, so that we can navigate our way on this journey.
(The Module 1 assignments are at the bottom of the page. Read the whole page before going on to the assignments. Let me know if you have any questions. Do this any time between now and our next meeting.)
Let the journey begin!
Images – the language of soul
The soul speaks in images. They may not always be visual ‘pictures’ – images can also be: fleeting sense impressions, knowings, symbols and words that have the ‘feeling’ of images, or glimpses of something that doesn’t feel ‘logical’.
When you begin to connect with the soul, you will likely receive soul communication in these forms. (Also, when you really commit to this journey, don’t be surprised if synchronicities occur, you have vivid dreams and experience all kinds of magical stuff. That’s what tends to happen!)
To uncover the deepest truths of our soul, we need to let go of the thinking mind and sink into the imaginal realm. You’ll find many definitions of the imaginal realm online, but I like to think of it as a layer of experience we may not access often, if we are always in the mind, but which contains nothing less than the truth of life. The imaginal realm is made up of images (not just visual ones, as I explained above). I see it as the place where stories, music, poetry, and magic live, and as the source of creativity and genius.
A few people have experiences of actually experiencing these things in ‘reality’ rather than just as images in the mind. For example, instead of sensing fairies or feeling that a tree is speaking to them, they may actually see fairies and hear a tree talking to them. It doesn’t matter whether or not that happens to you. Either way, as you deepen into the journey, it’s likely that you will become more and more open and receptive to images. And rest assured; you will receive exactly what you need.
I think of the soul not as ‘in’ the imaginal realm, but as made of the same stuff.
Stories are a series of images that, together, can hold or reveal the arc of our soul’s journey, or contain a message for us from our soul. When we step out of the black-and-white logic of the mind and allow ourselves to sink into story, images and symbols, we put ourselves in the realm of soul.
The story below is rich in imagery, and it has a storyline too. The two are interlinked. The storyline depends on the imagery and symbols in the story – they have as much place as do the characters.
To help you sink into the realm of soulspeak, read the story below. Let the images and feelings sink in at a soul level – let them inhabit you.
The Myth of the Black Lake
Once upon a time, in a Land far away, the people learned a great lesson.
Theirs was a beautiful Land, covered in emerald forests, deep turquoise lakes and snowy peaks. The air was pure, and so clear it seemed to sparkle.
The people of the Land were kind. Although at first glance they looked much like we do, on closer inspection, slight but noticeable differences were apparent. Their heads were smaller than ours, and their chests were a little broader. Their faces bore few wrinkles – even the brows of the Elders were unfurrowed.
They had brains, of course, like we do, but unlike us, they used their hearts to navigate through life. This is why their chests were broader than ours – because their hearts had expanded through use. And over time, their brains had contracted a little.
Why did the heart rule this Land? It’s simple – it was because of their Reverence. The people knew their place in the natural order of things, and they lived in balance with all life forms. They didn’t use the word ‘reverence’ – no word was needed, because it was just the way things were. The Elders taught the young ones how to live, and it was so natural to all of them that they never really thought about it.
The outer edges of the Land were marked at the North, South, East and West by the Sacred Stones: huge rocks, each with a different coloured jewel – called the Heartstone – set into its centre. Nobody knew who had put the Stones there, but everyone understood that they were as much a part of the Land as the Forests, the Birds, the Lakes and the People. If you had asked them to imagine their Land without the Sacred Stones, they would probably have shaken their heads and laughed at you. Such a thing would have been inconceivable to them! The Stones were the Land: they shaped it; they defined it; they marked its borders.
At the Changing of the Light and the Singing of the Winds, it was the custom for people from across the Land to gather together at the East stone and wait, silently. As the light rose above them, the deep yellow jewel at the centre of the rock seemed to come alive: it sparkled and filled with energy. The people smiled, and silently gave thanks to the East Stone for the light of the dawn.
The people would then visit the other three Stones – South, West and, finally, North, giving thanks to each of them, before returning to their villages and settlements to feast and give thanks. They were happy days and nights, and all were content.
In the very heart of the ancient forest in the very centre of this place lived the oldest Clan in the Land. Nobody knew how long the people had been there, or even how many of them there were. Even the Clanspeople themselves didn’t really know how they were all related. But everybody knew that Namshala was the head of the Clan, and the great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother of all of them.
Namshala loved all her Clan, of course, but she had a secret. She loved Tomasso, who was her great-great-great-great-great-great grandson, a tiny little bit more than she had ever loved even any of her own children. In the cosy, white, mushroom-shaped house where the Clan slept all together, Namshala would often wake up to find Tomasso snuggled up against her, wrapped in the soft white feather sleeping wrap the baby Birds had gifted to him.
Lately, though, Tomasso had taken to walking in his sleep. More than once, Namshala, who normally slept lightly, had found him stumbling into the cooking pots in the dark, sitting staring at the dying embers of the fire, and even outside, looking up at the sparkling sky with glazed eyes. She would gently take his arm and lead him back to his bed, being careful not to startle him awake. He normally remembered nothing of his night-time escapades by the morning.
On the night of the feast of the Singing of the Winds, Namshala slept more deeply than normal. So she didn’t hear Tomasso rise up from his bed and shuffle across the floor, the firelight casting his shadow on the walls. She didn’t see him open the door to the outside, and she didn’t see him walk through it and into the snowy night.
Tomasso, still fast asleep, kept walking. He walked along the river, some secret sleep sense keeping him from falling in. He walked past the sleeping Wolf-children, and along the silent forest floor, through the night. He walked so far he left the forest, and he walked some more, still sound asleep. He walked past the Squirrel people, who were gathering nuts by the last of the starlight, and who looked quizzically at him as he passed – and he walked past the Great Black Bottomless Lake. The Lake had always scared him (as it did the rest of the Clanspeople), but he was asleep, so he had no idea he was anywhere near it.
The light was rising now in the East, and the air was starting to stir. The wind lifted little flurries of snowflakes and hurled them here and there, but still Tomasso didn’t wake up. The little white Birds, far above Tomasso, spotted him and chattered amongst themselves. The baby ones wanted to swoop down and send him safely back home, but the Bird-Elders forbade it. It was not their place, they said.
And then Tomasso did wake up, with a jolt – because he had stumbled straight into the great North Stone.
At the very instant his eyes flew open, the light from the East hit the centre of the North Stone, and lit up the dark purple jewel at its heart with the most beautiful, brilliant light Tomasso had ever seen. Tomasso had never seen the North Stone like this. Of course, even at his young age, he had been on many processions around the Stones. But it was always dark by the time they reached the North Stone, so he had never seen the purple Heartstone lit up by the light. He was transfixed. The stone seemed truly magical! Thinking he must be dreaming, Tomasso reached out his hand to take it, half expecting an Elder’s voice to tell him not to, or some unseen force to prevent him. But nothing happened. He closed his fingers around the stone and withdrew it from the place it had sat for longer than anyone knew.
As soon as he’d done it, Tomasso had a bad feeling. He didn’t know how to name it, because he had never felt it before. Clutching the Heartstone, he ran away, trying to get away from the feeling. But he couldn’t, as long as he had the stone. And now it was getting hotter and hotter, and it was starting to burn his hand. Before he knew what he was doing, he threw the Heartstone as far as he could. He watched, at first relieved, and then dismayed as it disappeared with a hiss into the middle of the Great Black Bottomless Lake.
Feeling even worse now, Tomasso decided to run all the way back home. But first there was something he needed to do. Hunting in the snow, he soon found what he was looking for: a large, black stone, around the same size and shape as the lost purple Heartstone. He hurried back to the North Stone and put the black stone where the purple one had been. No-one would be any the wiser, he thought, because the Clan only ever visited the North Stone when it was dark.
Then Tomasso ran faster than he’d ever run, back through the forest, past the river and into the safe, warm mushroom house. It was still early, and everyone was still sleeping, even Namshala. He sank into his bed and hugged his feather wrap around him, hoping that in a few hours’ time he would wake up and find out that this had all been a dream.
The Clan called the times that followed that night the Sad Times. Although the Land looked much as it did before, important things changed. People quarrelled now. Sometimes there were food shortages. Lines – sometimes deep – appeared on the Elders’ faces. They knew how different things used to be. And now the young ones no longer wanted to learn from them, so the Elders felt useless and the young ones lacked direction. The people’s chests shrunk and their heads grew. Smiles and laughter were seen and heard much less often.
Still, every Wind-Singing and every Light-Changing, people from across the Land would gather at the East Stone, and make the procession around to the North Stone, finishing their pilgrimage in the dark. They gave thanks for what they had. But it was no longer everyone who came. The younger ones stayed at home – including Tomasso – and even some of the Elders no longer seemed bound by the same sacred rhythms.
Tomasso was a young man now, and Namshala was an even older Elder. Her brow was furrowed, and she carried with her an ever-present sadness at the way things had changed – not least her relationship with Tomasso. It was so long now since they had been close. What had happened? It seemed to her that their bond had vanished almost overnight. She had tried to talk to him about it many times, but he just closed up, or denied that things were any different.
Namshala knew that her time was coming to an end. It was a source of deep grief to her that she would leave this Land, and her Clan, in such a state of unhappiness and disorder. But the thing that saddened her most was Tomasso. He seemed so unhappy, and not only wasn’t he close to her; he wasn’t close to anyone else in the Clan either. She hated to think of him being lonely and sad, and she decided to try to talk to him one last time. What had changed, all those years ago? Perhaps a change of scene would help him to open up.
‘Tomasso’ she called over to him one day, as he was grumpily knitting small goatswool hats for the young Clan-children. He looked up as she approached. ‘Yes, Grandmother?’
‘l want you to walk with me tomorrow for the Wind-Singing. This may be my last procession. I won’t take no for an answer.’
And before Tomasso could object or refuse, she shook her grey mane, turned around and was gone.
Early next morning, Tomasso and Namshala set out with the rest of the Clan. Namshala had put her foot down: none of them were allowed to stay behind. It was time to get back to the Old Ways, the Old Times.
Tomasso gritted his teeth and decided he would grin and bear it. He owed Namshala that much. While the Clan was Reverently giving thanks to the Stones – East, South and West – his mind was elsewhere. He made smalltalk with Namshala, but evaded every serious attempt at conversation she made. He felt terrible, but it was too late to tell her the truth now. The damage had been done.
Just the North Stone to go now, and then he would be free. Dread started to build in Tomasso’s stomach as he trudged through the snow in the falling light. He was very familiar with this feeling after all these years. Guilt. Fear of being found out. He hadn’t been to the North Stone since his terrible crime, long ago in the Old Times, and he wasn’t sure if he could handle it. But here they were already. He took a deep breath.
The North Stone stood ahead of them, just as he’d seen it on his last visit, long ago. He saw the black stone he had placed there all those moons ago. Maybe he could do this.
The people were standing silently now, giving thanks. At his side stood Namshala, her head drooping – in disappointment and resignation, it seemed to him. A tear fell from her eye. Oh, he couldn’t bear it! He had to get away! Just as he had done back then, Tomasso started to run. But he didn’t get far. He tripped on the roots of a Tree being that sprawled in his path. As he lay there, whimpering, he heard a strange noise. It started quietly, then grew louder and more forceful – it was a strange wailing, a moaning, coming from the Depths.
Tomasso looked up to see the faces of his Clanspeople above him. They had rushed to help him, but now they were transfixed by the same strange noise he had heard. The sound built and grew, built and grew, and suddenly all their heads turned towards the Great Black Bottomless Lake.
At that moment, witnessed by all his Clan, all the harshness drained out of Tomasso. He cried with relief at the prospect of giving up his burden, not caring who saw, or what happened now. Namshala appeared like a ghost at his side. She stretched her arm to help him up, and they began to walk in silent procession to the Lake, the Clanspeople following behind them.
‘Grandmother’ cried Tomasso. I am so sorry.’
Tomasso hid his face with his hands. Namshala looked at him gently, questioning him with her eyes.
The story rushed out. ‘I didn’t mean to do it. I couldn’t resist it. The North Stone – it was so beautiful. I was asleep, I think. I don’t know. But I threw it …’
Namshala breathed in his answer, her mind putting together the parts of the story that Tomasso had missed out.
‘Where is it, Tomasso? Where did you throw it?
‘You’ll never get it back! It’s in the lake – the Great Black Bottomless Lake. I’ve ruined everything. It’s all my fault.’
Namshala breathed silently for a long time. She cried more tears. Anger, sadness and finally compassion and determination flashed across her face.
‘I won’t get it back, Tomasso, but you will. You must, for the sake of all our people.’
She went on. ‘The North Stone is the most important of all of the Sacred Stones. It represents Sacred Balance. Without the North Stone, all of the other Sacred Stones are powerless.’
Tomasso choked with fear. ‘I can’t go in there! I’ll drown! I won’t be able to see! The stone has been there for years – and anyway, there’s no bottom! It’s hopeless!’
Namshala seized Tomasso’s shoulders and pulled him around to face her. She stared into his eyes, and said:
‘You have no choice.’
Tomasso stumbled, and Namshala righted him. He cried out, looking up to the sky: ‘Noooooooooo!’
But no help came. The white Birds came to rest in the branches of the Trees all around, and looked down at him. His Clanspeople watched, waiting. Tomasso put his hands to his face. He had caused them so much pain, and now he was failing them again.
A small child stepped forward, and put her hands out towards him. He took them, and bent down to look into her eyes. It was Lucia, a mischievous little elf who loved dancing and banging on the cooking pots as though they were drums. She came close to his ear. ‘You can do it’ she whispered. Then she stepped away, and ran back shyly to the rest of the Clanspeople.
Tomasso stood up. Somehow, suddenly, he had courage. He didn’t know how or what or why, but Lucia had changed something in him. He was determined to get the Heartstone back – and, he realised – quite prepared to die trying.
The Clanspeople, who had been standing in a huddle between him and the Lake, suddenly parted, as if in silent agreement. The sound from the Lake was getting louder and louder, and Tomasso started to feel a magnetic pull towards it. Its depths now had a strange attraction. Unable to wait any longer, he turned quickly to Namshala and smiled. She nodded, smiling back.
The Clanspeople were toning and wailing now, and he was running, faster and faster, towards the Great Black Bottomless Lake. In a flash he was at the water’s edge. He sprang into it, and started swimming towards the centre.
When Tomasso reached the middle of the Lake he took a deep breath, ready for it to be his last, and plunged downwards. He opened his eyes, but everything around him was in complete darkness. He was running out of air, yet he continued on, swimming deeper down. No breath. No air. He was going to die here. Swimming, panic, mouth opening, drowning, death – surely. But what was this? Tomasso was breathing. He was underwater, and he was breathing. And his eyes were open, and it was light. There was a shining column of light in the darkness, and a rope, going down. He grabbed onto the rope and pulled himself down against the force of the water, breathing easily now. The light was coming up from the depths – and look! The light was purple – yes, it was definitely purple! The force of the water was pushing him upwards, but with all his strength, Tomasso pulled, continuing his descent.
He had stopped! His feet were standing on something soft and squishy. He looked – the Lake had a bottom after all! He was standing on silvery shining mud. So did that mean … the Stone! It must be here! Tomasso looked all around him, but there was nothing except mud in any direction.
Where had the purple light gone? Was all of this just the Land punishing him for what he had done all those moons ago? Maybe he would die down here, after all. That would be better than facing his Clanspeople again, without the Heartstone. Had he imagined the purple light?
He shifted on his feet, and hung his head. And then, in the silvery mud, he saw something, glinting purple and gold. He dropped to his knees and started pushing away the mud, as best he could, desperate now. But however much mud he scooped away, he couldn’t uncover the Heartstone. Had he forgotten how big it was? Or had it … grown?
Tomasso finally managed to prise it out from the mud, and if he hadn’t already been underwater, he knew his face would be wet with tears of delight. The Heartstone spoke to him, telling him of its joy that he had found it and its readiness to return home. Tomasso’s joy matched his despair of just a few moonments earlier.
While it had been resting in the silvery depths, the Heartstone had indeed grown, and it was almost too big for him to tuck underneath one arm for his ascent back to the surface. Somehow he made it to the top of the rope, pulling with his free arm and inching up with his legs. He broke the surface to a huge cheer, and suddenly all of his Clanspeople were in the Lake with him, splashing and laughing and helping him swim with the Heartstone to the shore.
Namshala waited by the Tree that had tripped him, beaming. As the Clanspeople held the Heartstone, he ran to Namshala and they hugged, both crying with joy. The Heartstone was not yet back in its rightful place, but something had already changed, and everyone could feel it.
Joyfully, and without needing words, the Clanspeople, headed by Namshala and Tomasso, arms around each other, walked to the Sacred Stone of the North.
With Reverence, Tomasso stepped forward and removed the imposter stone (as he had come to think of it). He brought it to his lips and kissed it. ‘Thank you, stone’ he said. ‘You did a good job, all of these moons.’ And he put the stone in his soggy pocket, for safekeeping.
Much to the Clanspeople’s surprise, with a strange groaning noise, the hole in the North Stone where the impostor stone had nestled opened up. It was now big enough to receive the expanded purple Heartstone.
Watched silently by the Clanspeople, Tomasso and Namshala took the stone and, together, inserted it into its rightful place. There was a strange sucking noise, and a feeling of settling down, as the Sacred Stone of the North received her Heartstone again. And instantly, the whole Land seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. The light brightened, the air had a new freshness and the people felt suddenly and almost imperceptibly shinier. The white Birds danced in the sky, and the Trees creaked and stood just a little bit taller. The Clanspeople were no longer scared of the Great Black Bottomless Lake (or the Great Black Lake, as they had already begun to call it), and they knew that Life would be pure, good and sacred again.
Reverence had returned to the Land, and it was stronger than ever before. That night, the Land saw the biggest celebration she had ever seen, and she was happy.
The next morning, Tomasso, still half asleep and deliciously happy from the previous day’s triumph, wandered over to where Namshala slept. She was beaming, even in her sleep. As Tomasso watched her, smiling, she opened her eyes. Immediately alert, she sat up in bed and pulled him down next to her.
‘Tomasso. It is you now, it is you. Yes.’
She hugged him, her frail body warm. Then she pulled away, and looked into his eyes. ‘All of this was meant to be. We are all stronger now. Thank you, Tomasso. It is you.’
‘Give me the stone’ she said.
Tomasso looked at her, confused.
‘The impostor stone. Give it to me!’
Tomasso fetched the black stone, and gave it to her.
‘Look!’ She said. And Namshala took the black stone and popped it into her mouth. Before Tomasso could say a word she started chewing, appearing not to be hurting her teeth at all in the process. Namshala’s mouth started foaming. Tomasso was alarmed, but all Namshala could do was giggle. She reached for Tomasso’s head and bent it towards her. She blew onto the crown of his head, where his hair swirled out, and the foam became sparkles of silver and gold and white, all mixed up together. She blew sparkles into his head until there were none left.
Tomasso looked up. He felt confused, but also light and profoundly peaceful. Everything around him felt different, in a way he couldn’t quite explain.
Where had Namshala gone? Her bed was empty.
He looked up above him.
There she was, small and golden, in a bubble of light. She floated around his head, seemingly able to direct the bubble at will to where she wanted to go.
‘I’ll always be here now. This is where you’ll find me.’
‘It’s you now, Tomasso. It’s always been you.’
Module 1 assignments
A note on resistance
As you start to explore your deeper meaning and purpose, your ego (whose job it is to keep you safe, and which wants things to stay exactly the same) may well resist the process – including these assignments. This is normal – recognise resistance, thank your ego for trying to keep you safe, and move on! We will talk more about how to handle resistance as we go on.
- a) Sit in silence for a few minutes, and let the story inhabit you. Then, without thinking about it, write or draw anything the story evokes (or dance, or sing). What comes out might not be anything to do with the story – just use it as a starting point. There is no right or wrong!
- b) (optional but recommended!) Imagine your life as a story with a main character (you), themes, lessons and purpose. Get into a place of stillness, and ask Soul to write or draw through you the myth of your own life. There is no way to do this wrong, and it doesn’t have to be as long as the story above – it may be just a few lines. Let the words or images come, without thinking about them, judging them or questioning.
(If writing is not your thing, you could draw or express your life story some other way in images).
- c) Email at least three friends/acquaintances (as many as you like). Explain that you are going in search of your purpose, and ask them these three questions. (If you are on Facebook, and feel brave, you could even do it that way!)
- What are my soul’s gifts? I.e. what am I naturally good at? What do I naturally bring to any situation?
- What would you love to see me do or be in my life? What do you feel I was born to do, be or offer to the world?
- How do I hold myself back?
2. Make a purpose altar
A purpose altar is a physical representation of your commitment to living a life of purpose. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of space, or be fancy. You can choose objects that speak to you, inspire or motivate you, or which represent something about your intention to live a purposeful life. What wants to be there? The objects can be person-made, or from nature. A candle can energise your altar. You may wish to spend a little time with your altar every day, focusing and energising your intention. If you meditate, you could choose to meditate near it.
Consciously connecting with your purpose altar can help you connect with your purpose!
Here is a picture of my purpose altar, just to give you an idea of the type of thing I mean:
Pick a place in nature and spend 20 minutes there at least three times this week (or more often, if you can) in silence. Know that nature is always communicating with us. Be in an attitude of openness and receptivity to nature.
Send me at least a paragraph (more if you like) about your experience of doing these practices. Take up to seven days to do this.