The Daily Card: The Enchanted Map ~ Spirit of Place

 Today the card I pulled was Spirit of Place and how I love this card! I love how the spirit’s face grows out of the living rock but how her diaphanous shawl seems to merge with the environment she’s in; how the living tree seems to grow from her. The autumnal colours of the leaves contrast so strongly against the muted greens and browns of the background. Her face though is strong as if she is sure of the place where she lives, quietly confident in who she is and what she’s about. In this card I see all of the elements – earth, air, fire and water that coalesce into Spirit.

The companion book says this about the card:

Authenticity is the essence of power. Our ancient ancestors believed that every place has a Spirit looking after it or embodying it; just as we have a soul, the plants, trees, birds, mountains and rivers have their own spirits or essences. When the Spirit of Place arrives in your reading, it says that the answer to your query is in the overarching theme of your circumstances. Is your question about struggle? The answer is to relax and let go of your need to control the situation. If your enquiry relates to finding love, then embody love rather than long for it. Once you find the essential truth that underlies your question and then name it, you’ll discover the answer you’ve been seeking. Your greatest power is your authenticity.

This is an interesting card because I hear the word ‘authentic’ spoken of so often. I also hear the question ‘who am I really’ asked so often too, in fact I used to ask this question many times too in the past.

Here’s what the Oxford dictionary defines authentic as:

  • of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine
  •  made or done in the traditional way
  • based on facts; accurate and reliable
  • (in existentialist philosophy) relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant and responsible mode of human life

I’m interested in the first (and the last, but the last can wait for another day and another post). In the first we are of undisputed origin and genuine. The trouble with a lot of people (including myself at one time) is they don’t know ‘who’ they are because they are not rooted in themselves. They have no sense of place within themselves and their own bodies. They don’t see themselves as utterly unique and genuine beings but rather try to hang their sense of self on a label, or on the peg of how others see them or think they should be. When we do this it means we have little or no inner sense of being, so we need others to tell us who we are even if this is done subconsciously, and most of the time it is.

So how do we get a sense of self, or place in our own world? Well, I think the fundamental thing is to realise that we are not just a mind and a body – we are a spirit too. In fact, we are actually spirits having a human experience and not the other way round. We do not own or have a soul (or spirit – use the words interchangeably). No! Our souls have a human body. Even the most hardened atheists are spirit. We need to remind ourselves that spirit has absolutely nothing to do with religion here, in fact it is completely irrelevant whether we are religious or not. The fact is we are ALL made up of spirit.

So what is Spirit? Well in my mind and belief it is our true authentic selves. Our real self! When you laugh uncontrollably over something silly – that’s spirit! When you feel joy at watching the sun set in glorious shades of purple, red and orange – that is spirit! When you are honest about your feelings and emotions that’s spirit! When you can acknowledge that you have terrible thoughts sometimes – that’s spirit! When you can just BE without worrying what anyone else thinks or says, that’s spirit! When you can stop the struggling mind even for a few moments – that’s spirit! Get what I’m saying?

But of course in the world we live in spirit is always given second, or even third, place and most often no place at all. We are socialised creatures and from the moment we come into this world we are bombarded by ‘should do’s’ and ‘ought to’s’ and ‘you must’s’. We learn how to behave, think and act from our parents first of all, or lack of them, then school and then the work place. Just think of the thousands of people who have had input over the years on how you act, think and behave. No wonder so many people are confused as to who they really are.

To find our true sense of self, our authenticity, we have to embark on the long, and often quite difficult task of stripping away all the baggage, of everyone elses input on WHO we are. This takes time, oh so much time! and patience, and compassion and love for ourselves but like anything worth doing it’s good to do it slowly and in increments.

When I think of the people I know, or know of, who I see as really authentic beings I come up with people like Carl Jung first and foremost. Why? Because he lived his live authentically. He was known for being a bit weird, and I’ve even been told by a therapist that he was mad. However, madness is in the eye of the beholder really isn’t it. What is mad? What is normal? Aren’t they just other people’s ideas? We all have different ideas about them yet no one can ever really pin those two aspects down can they. For me, they’re just labels and even though we all still use labels to make sense of our world, I don’t think they’re very helpful in the long run.

Being your authentic self means being in a place that feels right, not right to your mind, or even your body but right in your inner core. It means not selling out to how you think other’s perceive you, or even how society perceives you. It means being honest though, with yourself and with others. This is not always easy and sometimes even means you might incur prejudice or even judgement. However, being who you really are will provide you with inner power to withstand these judgements. It won’t be your baggage, it will be theirs.

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