It comes to us veiled, in strange guises and restless enthusiasms. But mostly it keeps itself to itself until we say the word. And what might be the word? Nothing that you could think of – more an attitude that looks only out of the corner of its eye, or a way of life not over-scrutinised. The indigenous soul has silent knowledge of what is not here any more. And we all have one regardless of skin colour, gender, race or creed or heritage. It is natural and like nature does not give explanations of itself. It is both carnivorous and gentle; it eats whole lives, and makes them purr when touched. The indigenous soul is always outside the law and so demands from us an integrity that cannot be legislated. It worships the graven images of music, story dance and metaphor, and invisibly attends all celebrations of life and death. Ceremony awakens it, work without vision alienates it. It loves purpose and meaning and it does not like mission statements framed on walls, lavender air-brushed auras, or anything that denies it has a physical body. It is indigenous because it constitutes the first peoples of the psyche, resisting the colonisation by consciousness, the refusal of our dreams or, as a case in point, the tricky manipulations of affirmations.
In the last 500 years non-indigenous colonisers have swept across continents hoping to civilise the ‘wilderness’ and the ‘primitive’ peoples who are connected to the land, and make them bend to their will. The same has happened in the inner world. Our unseemly lust for material and spiritual progress has led us to imagine that the unconscious, our own original wilderness, and the archetypes, the first nations of the psyche, can somehow be brought under control and be made to do our bidding, that the inner wilderness can be tamed through the conscious imposition of new thinking. This psychological colonialism is the heroic, quasi-fundamentalist world-view of Norman Vincent Peale, Napoleon Hill, Tony Robbins et al. Thoughts and attitudes are treated like commodities that can be traded on the inner market. If they are shoddy they can be returned or if the production line is not producing the right widgets then different raw thoughts need to be fed into the process. Heavy users of affirmations believe they create a better world for themselves and others by thinking only good, positive thoughts. The dirty work of having to provide a home for the unthinkable, for thoughts orphaned because they are too ‘negative’, is left to others. When our affirmations and aspirations are not aligned with the needs of our indigenous soul, they have a short half-life. When the initial rush of the affirmation has ebbed, it is inevitably followed by a compensatory collapse of conscious will.
The result of all this ‘empowerment’ thinking is an over-valuation of masculine consciousness which always begets an unconscious fear of, or fascination with, the great mother, in other words with love, death, sex and money. In declaring that all things are possible and that we ‘create our own reality’, we take for granted that the great mother will bless us with prosperity and advancement if only we ask properly and behave well. When we seek to all be of the same loving nature instead of our own nature, we sacrifice ourselves on an altar of loving sameness.
To find the indigenous soul, we must first accept the limitations of willpower, look askance at the seductions of positivity, wonder about the naïveté of the notion that every problem has a spiritual solution, and be prepared to cast aside all pretensions of ascension. When we are not trying, not seeking, not saving the world or ourselves, then the indigenous soul comes out of hiding, unbidden, unexpected, and magic begins.
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