DSC_9801For 19th century English poet John Keats, the soul is our helpmate in carrying out our purpose here and in forming our true and lasting identity:

“Call the world if you Please ‘The vale of Soul-making’… There may be intelligences or sparks of the divinity in millions—but they are not Souls till they acquire identities, till each one is personally itself . . . How then are Souls to be made? How then are these sparks [which are God]. . . to have identity given them—so as ever to possess a bliss peculiar to each one’s individual existence? How, but by the medium of a world like this? . . . Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a soul? A Place where the heart must feel and suffer in a thousand diverse ways!”

The soul, a spark of God, needs the conflict of this world to fulfil its destiny. Soul-making happens when the light merges with the dark, when joy and sorrow intermingle, when the eternal breaks through from the temporal realm, and when polarities are consciously acknowledged and confronted in our everyday lives.

When the lesson of experiencing the opposites are learned, in the classroom of this world, the soul remembers what it came here for and evolves as it is designed to. As the woodcarver who sees the carving he wants to fashion before he starts to carve the wood, soul-making is a process revealing what is already there.

            James Hillman, in Re-Visioning Psychology, sees soul-making as what happens when we have the experiences—of crisis and opportunity, of love and dying—that give life a deeper meaning. At any reflective moment, the unique could turn into the universal, or the temporal into the eternal. But soul-making requires such a reflective moment to differentiate the middle ground between these necessary oppositions.

            Marion Woodman, both an English teacher and a Jungian analyst, draws these two threads together when she says:

“Soul-making is allowing the eternal essence to live and experience the outer world through all the senses—seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, touching—so that the soul grows during its time on Earth. Soul-making is constantly confronting the paradox that an eternal being is dwelling in a temporal body. That’s why it suffers, and learns by heart… True creativity, true soul-making, comes from that deep communication with what Jung would call the archetypal world. That’s where the real nourishment is.”

            Whether we remember it or not, we are always connected to our Infinite self. We are always living in the archetypal realm. We just have to be a bit more conscious of where we are each moment. If you could take some special time right now to connect deeply with your eternal self, you might hear what your soul has to tell you. When we are open to all moments, to all dualities that come our way, we will be assisted in our process of soul-making; we will recognize more clearly that all that does come to us is purposeful. Take in deeply all of these moments of grace, reflect upon their meaning for you, and, when you have reached some new or deeper clarity, write down your insights from this reflection.