For most of human history, we have lived in deep connection to our own souls, the soul of our community, our land, our food, our planet and the Cosmos. Over the last 2,000 years, through our forces of empire, institutional religion, the Enlightenment and industrialization, we have moved away from this fundamental way of knowing, being, feeling, seeing and connecting. The result is that few of us have a connection to our purpose, land, culture, ritual and each other. Few of us have completed a rite of passage to become a soul-initiated adult. Many of us have tried with great creativity and zero success to fill this hole in our lives with everything other than our higher purpose, e.g. overwork, wealth, luxuries, marathons, military, consumerism, entertainment, drugs and alcohol. The result is that we have a soul-starved society governed by psychospiritual adolescents - well-meaning, but unitiated and soul-starved leaders.
Over the last 100 years, we've begun to add back what has been missing, to ensoul our lives once more, reconnecting with the heart of our wisdom traditions. Over the last 30 years, there has been an explosion of books, programs and teachers to help us find our higher purpose, create a soulful life and livelihood and step into purpose-driven leadership. Out of this work, we have begun to soulfully re-imagine the human experience, which does not seek to abandon any of the bona fide gifts of empire (global identity, trade, laws), religion (spiritual practices, tradition, ethics), the Enlightenment (science, civil rights, reason, modern medicine) or industrialization (soap, textiles, household appliances, smartphones, internet, space exploration), but rather to re-imagine them from a place of soul - our unique souls, the soul of humanity and the soul of the Earth - the animus mundi.
Prior to these four forces (empire, institutional religion, the Enlightenment and industrialization) we venerated our elders - our shamans, witches, gurus and sages - and relied upon them to help us claim our souls and step into our wholeness and sovereignty. Beginning almost 100 years ago, a handful of voices emerged to help us reconnect with this ancient wisdom and live more soulfully. These more recent elders experienced and studied numerous indigenous mythologies and shamanic practices and set to work to bring humanity back into soul alignment, and make an ensouled life more palatable and accessible to a modern person. Through their writing, lectures, transformation practices, art, politics and cultural efforts, humanity has begun to once more engage in the soul conversation. You are invited to explore these more recent elders, and if so moved, pick up one of their books or take one of their programs.
Note: These elders are not affiliated with ensouled.LIFE; they are simply the shoulders upon which the revolution / remembering of soul stands. Any books or goods you purchase, via the Amazon links below, benefit the ManKind Project, an international men's community and initiation, devoted to developing, empowering and connecting soulful, whole, emotionally articulate, high-integrity, wise and compassionate men. MKP believes that in the healing, wholing and activation of the sacred masculine, we will heal, whole and activate a better world.
Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)
In the early 20th century Jung reconnected us to Self, a deeper, more ensouled identity, than that of our ego or social norms. He went further to explore the concept of collective soul / unconscious, explicated the various archetypes moving through the collective unconscious (now the foundation of numerous personality theories such as the Enneagram, Meyers-Briggs, etc.), and invited us to move through the world with a more mystical sensibility, what he termed synchronicity. Synchronicity invites us to hold an attitude that the arising world, our artifacts, situations, thoughts and emotions could all hold meaning for the journey of our souls, and provide clarity as to the next steps. Jung blazed the trail for his successors to explore and contemplate soul as a foundation of psychological health, wholeness and well being. His ideas are foundational to the fields of transpersonal psychology and purpose discovery. Works: Modern Man in Search of a Soul, The Portable Jung, Man and His Symbols
Joseph Campbell (1904-1987)
Joseph Campbell is a mythologist and religious historian who illuminated, edified and aggregated humanity's understanding of the descent into soul. By exploring our species' wide array of myths, he discovered common themes which we now collectively refer to as the "hero's journey". The hero's journey, beyond being interesting to mythologists and cultural historians, also provides a foundational metaphor for individual transformation, wherein the key steps of soulful transformation are illuminated. There are 3 phases or acts: departure, initiation and return. Within each phase are 6 steps or scenes. Works: Hero With a Thousand Faces
Victor Frankl (1905 - 1997)
Victor Frankl helped us see that we could become more happy, healthy and fulfilled if we explicitly cultivated our sense of purpose and meaning. After seeing the dramatic difference, among his fellow prisoners during the Holocaust, between the survival rates of those who had a connection to purpose and meaning and those that did not, he offered a new therapy based on meaning, logotherapy. This was the first post-Enlightenment soul awakening modality developed in the West. On the back of his theories and practice, James Crumbaugh and Leonard Maholick created the Purpose in Life Test, which is the foundation of the science of purpose, correlating purpose with dozens of outcomes important to most modern people - wealth, success, love, health, leadership and impact. Through the work of Frankl, Crumbaugh and Maholick, we can now translate soul into the lingua franca of humanity (science). Works: Man's Search for Meaning
Thomas Berry (1914 - 2009)
Thomas Berry was a Catholic Priest who helped us see that our descent into soul was also the descent into the Earth's soul. Through his own direct experience, he popularized the idea that we have a more direct route to self knowledge by entering into wild nature. He reconnects the individual human journey towards soul-initiation and integrity with the journey of the Earth to greater integrity and soulful expression through humanity. His ideas, along with those of Jesuit scholar Pierre Teilhard de Chardin form the foundation of much of the practice of ecospirituality and Gaia theory, and have influenced other evolutionary thinkers and soul guides, such as Bill Plotkin (below). Works: Dream of the Earth, The Great Work
James Hillman (1926 - 2011)
James Hillman followed in the tradition of Jung by welcoming a transpersonal identity into the field of psychology. Specifically, he reignited the ancient Greek concept of a daimon, a part of us that is our guiding spirit or soul, the part that guides us to our genius, our life's work and highest contribution. He also took square aim at his own field, psychology, Western education and parenting practices for killing off the soul / daimon in children at an early age, for example his book entitled We've Had 100 Years of Psychotherapy - And the World is Getting Worse. His work was continued by his protege, Thomas Moore, who would go on to popularize the idea of welcoming the daimon and ensouling every corner of your life. Works: The Soul's Code
Marion Woodman is a Jungian Analyst and the pioneer of BodySoul work, a group process to descend into the unconscious and the body. BodySoul work holds that the psyche and body are inseparable and must be integrated to come to consciousness – to the positive feminine in the body and the positive masculine in creative pursuits. Her work explores the nature of archetypes through story and myth to heal the wounds of the whole person (body, psyche and relationships). The goal of her work is the embodied ego through the soulful crafting of a personal mythology, an essential building block in the process of individuation, recovery, enhancing individual growth, marriage and family healing, and professional and personal development. Works: Leaving My Father's House, Dancing in the Flames
Robert Bly is a poet, storyteller, leader of the mythopoetic men's movement and the founder of The Great Mother and New Father Conference. He was one of the first to note that we are society governed by boys, by biologically mature men with undeveloped psyches and souls, and that what is needed is ritual, men's initiatory societies and rites of passage. His book, Iron John, illuminates a powerful myth that connects men to their souls and frees them (and by extension women as well) from the inner forces that keep men's souls silent. Deeply influenced by Jungian archetypes, Bly's work helps men reconnect with the Wild Man archetype, to embody soul, passion, emotions, pleasure and purpose, along with the other archetypes, such as the Golden Child (Lover) and Good King (Wise Sovereign). Works: Iron John, The Sibling Society
Thomas Moore is a former Catholic monk, a psychotherapist, mythologist and champion for living an ensouled life. His numerous books re-imagine what it is like to live soulfully in a secular world. He brings alive the concept of duende, the visible effusive expressions of being deeply moved by a daimon, one's soul's craft and highest expression. His perspective spans religion, mythology, medicine and psychology. Through his works, we have unique access to ensouling our bodies, our careers, our love life, our homes, our spiritual practices and our relationship to aging, dying and death. As a student of Jungian archetypes and the protege of James Hillman, Thomas Moore's perspective holds all pathologies, all disease, all war, all inequity, all suffering as the symptoms of a spiritual illness, of an archetypal imbalance and a disconnection from living one's soul's purpose. Works: Care of the Soul(New York Times Best Seller), Soul Mates(New York Times Best Seller), The Soul's Religion, Life at Work
Parker Palmer is an author, educator and activist whose life's work is to transform the American conversation around, from being a passive, moral ascent to Heaven, and into a passionate and active descent into the world. His version of faith means being faithful to one's gifts, faithful to the excellence of others, faithful to the larger need in which we are all embedded and faithful the possibilities of human creativity and evolutionary emergence. Works: Let Your Life Speak, A Hidden Wholeness.
Steven Foster and Meredith Little
Steven Foster and Meredith Little are the co-founders of the School for Lost Borders, a community of guides and leaders who resurrected the indigenous rites of passage ceremonies from North America's native peoples, such as the Vision Fast. Working directly with Heyemoyosts Storm, Sun Bear, Grandpa Raymond, and Virginia Hine, they developed numerous rites and trainings for contemporary Westerners who seek a soul initiation, the direct connection with their soul's identity. Their work and Steven's writings ignited a wide diversity of nature-based offerings in the West, such as those of Bill Plotkin's Animas Valley Institute (below). Works: The Four Shields, Vision Quest
David Whyte is an Irish poet and author, whose work brings us into a deeper conversation with our own souls and that of the living world. He talks about your soul's purpose as the "promise it would kill you to break", "carrying what is hidden as a gift to others". He is best known for his prose and poetry, however, he has also be effective in bring the poet's heart into American business, leading workshops at major corporations and writing extensively on how we can ensoul our careers. Works: The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self & Relationship, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as A Pilgrimage of Identity
Bill Plotkin is a Wilderness and Underworld (Soul) Guide, a Research Psychologist, Founder of the Animas Valley Institute, author of three books and an agent of cultural transformation. Bill and his colleagues at Animas, leveraged the work of Steven Foster and Meredith Little, as well as numerous other indigenous cultures and lineages to create a rich ego/soul developmental pathway via immersive experiences in nature. Bill is perhaps best known for his soul-centric / eco-centric wheel of development, an eight-stage model that describes the psychological, soul, creative / craft / mastery developmental thresholds of a soul-initiated adult. His work is foundational in the fields of transpersonal psychology, wilderness quests and purpose discovery work, influencing many guides and practitioners such as Jonathan Gustin, the Founder of the Purpose Guides Institute. Works: Soulcraft, Nature and the Human Soul
Michael Meade is an author, mythologist, storyteller, key figure from the men's movement's early days in the 1980's and 1990's and Founder of the Mosaic Multicultural Foundation. He collaborated with James Hillman and Robert Bly on a poetry anthology, The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart. His work reveals the deeper mythological themes that run through our lives, revealing our own hero's journey, our plunging into the depths and darkness to retrieve our gold (powers, craft, mission, etc.). Two of his works are foundational to the soul and purpose conversations, Fate and Destiny and The Genius Myth, each revealing multiple multicultural contours of our soul's purpose. From him we have been reconnected with the terms upavita and genius. Upavita is a Hindu term that speaks to the thread woven through a life, a golden thread, that once pulled, reveals the magic, mystery and adventure of an ensouled life. Genius is a Latin term similar to the ancient Greek word of daimon, referring to one's guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth, and guides us into our deepest calling and craft. Works: Fate and Destiny, The Genius Myth
Malidome Patrice Some
Malidoma Patrice Some is a writer and teacher of West African spirituality and soul initiation. At age four, he was forcefully removed from the Dagara (his people and community) by his father, and taken to a Jesuitboarding school. After enduring 16 years of physical and emotional abuse by the priests, he left this school when he was twenty, and returned to the village of his birth.Upon his return, elders from the village let him undergo a belated manhood rite with a younger group in the tribe. Having been raised outside of the culture and not speaking the language made the month-long, baor process, believed to unite soul and body. It is from these experiences and his doctoral work in African culture, that the Western world has gained access to an understanding of traditional African rites of passage. Works: Healing Wisdom of Africa, Of Water and the Spirit
Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Clarissa Pinkola Estes is a poet, author, Jungian Analyst, and practitioner of ethno-clinical psychology, exploring social and psychological patterns of cultural and tribal groups. She is best known for her work on awakening the feminine soul, utilizing myths from dozens of cultures to explore and empower psychospiritual development. Her New York Times Best-Seller, Women Who Run With the Wolves, is a foundational text for awakening mythopoetic identity and empowering women to honor and develop their sacred, wild, soulful and sexual powers. Works: Women Who Run With the Wolves
Martin Prechtel is a Shaman and author. He was initiated into a shamanic lineage in a small village near Lake Atitlan inhabited by the Tz'utujil people. There he met Nicolas Chiviliu Tacaxoy, a respected shaman of the village who believed Martin to be the student he prayed for. He learned the Tzutujil language, began his initiation and married a Tzutujil woman. He eventually became the shaman to the approximately thirty thousand people of Santiago Atitlan. Through his teachings and writing, we were gifted a breathtaking understanding of what is possible when a whole culture, language, land and soul discovery path are co-created and lived. Works: Secrets of the Talking Jaguar
Tim Kelley is the Founder of the True Purpose Institute, Author of True Purpose and co-founder of Amoveo Mundi. Tim's contributions to the field of purpose discovery work are monumental. Specifically, he articulated how to distinguish ego versus soul in such a compelling, clear and uncontroversial manner, by saying that soul is the part of you that knows your purpose, aches for its expression and evolution, and is the fount of exploration, connection, creativity. Tim says that what stands in the way of knowing and expressing your soul's purpose is ego, the multitudinous cacophony of ego voices, specifically the Critic, Skeptic, Image Consultant, Risk Manager and Wounded Child, that strive to keep us safe, content and comfortable. His methodology creates a more integrated relationship between soul and the voices the ego. He leveraged earlier work from Jung (archetypes), Assagioli (psychosynthesis) and the Stones (voice dialogue) to empower people to understand each of these voices, negotiate with them and transform them into allies on the journey of purpose. Further, Tim's own purpose is to awaken Heaven on Earth through the activation of the purpose of sovereign nations. He and his team have developed a process that allows whole nations to come alive with an awareness of their collective purpose. He is currently deploying this process in Israel and Columbia. Works: True Purpose
The ensouled life is purposeful, creative, vulnerable, connected, loving, inclusive, curious, courageous, sustainable, entrepreneurial and fiercely political.
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