Why knowing yourself is essential to a meaningful, soul-led life

There is an unseen life that dreams us

by Hillary Rain

The archetype of the wild woman and all that stands behind her is patroness to all painters, writers, sculptors, dancers, thinkers, prayermakers, seekers, finders—for they are all busy with the work of invention, and that is the instinctive nature’s main occupation. As in all art, she resides in the guts, not the head. She can track and run and summon and repel. She can sense, camouflage, and love deeply. She is intuitive, typical, and normative. She is utterly essential to women’s mental and soul health. So what comprises the Wild Woman? From the viewpoint of archetypal psychology as well as in ancient traditions, she is the female soul. Yet she is more; she is the source of the feminine. She is all that is of instinct, of the worlds both seen and hidden—she is the basis. We each receive from her a glowing cell which contains all the instincts and knowings needed for our lives.—Dr. Clarissa P. Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

There is a profound reason you were born. Something wants to emerge into this world that can only come through you. Something wants to be born that can only exist in you, through you, and as you.

Essentially, you exist as two lives: the life that is in your blood—the body that drinks water and sticks her arms through soft sweaters and hugs her babies tight. And the life that is in your soul—the uncontainable you, the true of you—who you are within and without the body that holds you. You are life unto life. Your soul ensures that life will go on.

So what is the work of the soul? What is meant to last? What is your beautiful uncontainability which chose, for a time, to incarnate your human flesh? 

Hundreds of years ago, Rumi wrote, “The soul is here for its own joy.” Rumi is long dead. But the soul of Rumi lives on, relevant and beloved, expressing itself through truth and art. We might even say the presence of Rumi is still in this world because his writing is so profound and so deeply meaningful that it is still being translated, quoted, moving and healing us.

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”

— John O'Donohue

More recently, Celtic teacher John O’Donohue lived and wrote a number of books that have had a profound impact on me. My soul recognizes his; deep calls to deep and my love for his life, his work and his wisdom is numinous and tender. Like Rumi, his body has passed on but his spirit is most eagerly alive, present, and continues to be lived through the expression of his soul.

Before he died, O’Donohue spoke with Krista Tippett in an interview for On Being. He said: “One day I read [14th-century mystic Meister Eckhart] and he said, “There is a place in the soul that neither time, nor space, nor no created thing can touch.” And I really thought that was amazing, and if you cash it out, what it means is that your identity is not equivalent to your biography. And that there is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's still a sureness in you, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you. And I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.”

Our work is to live from that place. And to let that place live itself through us.

So what is that thing? What did Rumi have, what did John O'Donohue have, and what do you and I have that is so timeless and alive and continues to heal, evoke, nourish, move, and inspire? How do we, while we are still warm, breathing bodies, inhabit it and let it indwell us?

This is the invitation of Dear Artist. This journey is about making yourself available to what wants to be lived through you. It's about fleshing out your soul, expressing your soul, and living a soul-led life. It’s about observing life through your soul and making choices that are congruent with who you are. 

This is the way of living truth—letting truth be lived through you, in you, and as you. This is the hunger of the soul. This is the call of the Divine, who wants to be lived through you. Beauty wants to be lived through you. Art wants to be lived through you.

Art is allowing what wants to be expressed through you to matter—to become born, to breathe, take shape, find words, find form, be mattered and made through you, by you and as you.