"Gut instincts are often black and white. Life requires more nuance."
I overheard this on the radio this morning. I was driving and talking with my partner. It played int he background. I made a mental note to come back to it because it opened up a piece around living beyond basic. It echoes "do better" and crosses and creates intersection about my life and The Great Work, or the work of the soul.
To live. To know. To be.
As I continue my studies of energy anatomy and how I figure intuition and guidance and reasoning into my body experience, this snippet fit into a broader understanding about my own walk on the life path.
As I see it, gut instincts are central to the area. I mean it is the gut and it's full of little transmitters who are part of the relay team of feelings, cravings and instinct. It is highly influenced by food, by emotional experience, and many non-verbal events that create triggers, illness, or health. To quote a friend, "It's no wonder we have such a sick, terrified, over-medicated society, there is not a lot of conscious food choice, food production, or advertisements."
Gut is instinct, is training, is trauma, is nature. It is not a perfect system for navigating the world.
So what's in the gut aside from fascia, blood, water, and all the soft and dark things that make digestion and elimination possible? A whole tract of feeling, instinct, and intuition. It serves for our survival in the immediate. It is nature.
It is limited when we look at it from a strictly scientific standpoint, but it's a valid piece to consider.
When Gut Instinct and Intuition can lead you astray.
There is another aspect of Spirit Anatomy that I found myself confused with early on. The Higher Mind or Higher Self. These are not the intuition, however the intuition can be aligned to be the receiver of messages that this Higher Self receives.
In my experience I can recall having great instincts and intuitive responses that have helped me in the moment. Feeling like I should duck, when unseen by my eyes a steel disk flew at my head. I was 12 and that was particularly helpful. Needing my head and all. Early in my dating life, feeling strange around some people, I would say I had a "bad feeling," as something about them repulsed me. These feelings took more thought, more investigation. Why am I feeling this way? This is where intuition served to protect.
I spent my teenage years around healers, witches, authors, ritualists, trance channels, Indigenous People, pow-wow, seminars... Yes I still had comics and school and the inevitable angst of teenage life, but my instinct was to know more about my world, magick, myself. This is where instinct served survival. I wanted to know why I felt these things that turned out to be more or less accurate, depending on the situation. I wanted to know how to get better at it. I wanted to ace intuition.
But not all feelings and instincts I had were correct. Sometimes I found that my feeling about someone turned out to be more own biases, fear (valid response, needs unpacking), or reference to memory. These feelings were accurate because intuition and instinct said, this person is strangely similar to that last one and you got hurt, avoid! But the new person isn't the last. Sure they may have exhibited some similar behavior but they aren't the same being.
Nuance is incredibly important and comes from the Middle Self, and inspired by the Higher Self. The Higher Self alone is not completely clear of view. I mean to say, it too needs some ground level perspective and that's the beauty of a Spirit Anatomy that includes these various facets of experience. Higher self will overlook the faults and ask us to love. Okay great. Yes, however we need to know when to back up, come into center, and realize when it is okay to say no, to walk away (or run), for self-preservation.
We need Higher and Lower (intuitive, instinctual) self to successfully navigate the world.
How do you go about getting these perspectives aligned? You know how. Some form of contemplative practice or "meditation" that includes or allows the examination and experience of the three selves. You know these. These aspects, or souls of self have popped up in mythology, psychology, ritual, pop-culture, modern magick, neo-shamanism, and more.
You may know them as:
- Consciousness, subconscious, super conscious
- Personality, Shadow, higher conscious
- The Ego Soul, the Primal Soul, and the Holy Soul (Ferrie Tradition)
- Namer, Shaper, Watcher (Temple of Witchcraft)
I personally use ritual and trance for contemplation. There is more than one way to contemplate, as I've written in the past, but I prefer these over dance and movement. I am in the Temple of Witcchraft tradition and so I recognize these souls that make up a larger part of the Spiritual Anatomy as the Namer, the Shaper, and the Watcher.
The important piece here in the practice is to first find and associate with these aspects of self, and then bring them into alignment through ritual, writing, art, breath-work, and other means.
What happens when these aspects of self come together in soulful and magickal union? Magick of the Soul! Communication between the layers of being. These three are one, that one is you, but you seek and do the work, weave threads of communication and start a synergistic process.
In alignment we learn to discern who is speaking within us. To join hands with intuition, instinct, and messages from the higher self, and we bring them to center in our own bodies, minds and hearts!
Getting Into Accord
Here is a simple exercise for you.
- Get yourself into a comfortable meditation position, lay down if prefer to meditate this way. It is a valid posture so long as you are not falling asleep.
- Find your breath. Where are you breathing what is the rhythm. Count it out for a few minutes and adjust it into a breath that is comfortably in the belly. This is in the area of Soft Belly Breathing and you are free to use that technique if it works for you.
- Visualize, feel, or know your center. Some see this as a pillar of light running along the spine through the center of the body. Some see a tree in the heart and expand it with each breath until it is firmly rooted in the earth and its branches reach into the heavens.
- Breathe into the heart. Breathe light into the heart. Breathe light into the body. Breathe light into the mind. This connects with the personality.
- Breathe deep, imagine breathing up from the earth. From an aspect or intelligence of the earth that you are deeply connected with. Breathing in the dark spaces. Breathe up that light and center it on the heart.
- Draw your attention up the tree or column and breath from the starry sky. Breath light from on high. Breathe light into your heart from the heavens.
- Center on the heart. Breathe light from these three spaces into one. Center on the mind and breathe light from these spaces into one. Center on the pelvis and breathe light from these spaces into this space.
- Feel that space and alignment. You, heaven, earth. You, Shadow, and Higher Self. Three souls.
These and other techniques with similar purpose help to bridge the three selves into the beautiful and strange you, uniquely loved, that you are. There are of course other practices, and there are many that we can use to build off of this introductory technique that come out of magickal circles, safe spaces, and deeper explorations of magick, the craft of the soul.
Since engaging myself in this way I have come to hear and know my intuition, my instinct, my thoughts, and guidance from my Higher Self. This practice created clarity. It can create clarity for you.
Right now, like any now, this is incredibly important in our world. We subject ourselves to an insane amount of information and hyperbole. We're seeking truth: personally and collectively. Being a person who chooses with their will to find the space to practice and act from that centered, magickal space, is a true radical in a world dominated by external reactive stimuli.