“If we fail to nourish our souls, they wither, and without soul, life ceases to have meaning…. The creative process shrivels in the absence of continual dialogue with the soul. And creativity is what makes life worth living.”
– Marion Woodman
Dictionaries often define the soul as, an intangible quality within, an essence of your life force energy. It is a highly critical component of your being, without which, if not properly nourished, understood, or responded to can create mental or physical illness and possibly even death.
In 1907 in an effort to prove a material existence of the soul in the body, a Dr. MacDougall of Haverville,Massachusetts,USA, did an experiment and weighed 6 patients during the various stages of their terminal illness. He weighed each body before, during & immediately at the point of death. He reported a measurement about three quarter’s of an ounce or 21.3 grams, as the consciousness, the soul essence, left the body.
The soul has a direct inter-relationship with thought, words, will, emotions, feelings and action. We can’t see it or touch it as by its very nature, it is invisible. It is the glue of what holds us together and also fuels the life force energy of our aliveness & vitality. It is reflected in our being as an emotional, animating & passionate aspect. Music, art, poetry all capture the emotional, right brain, more feminine aspect AND our soul nature.
For instance, ‘soul’ music, cries out in a deep longing, that has a common, underlying emotional moan of suffering with an enormous range of expression of sounds to capture a melancholic, universal, collective feeling of love or the loss of love. This inner moaning is our soul, calling us home, stirred, aching deeply in the cracked, broken and wounded recesses within all of us.
Soul [Music] is based on certain musical techniques including - Soul Shouting, Call & Response and Melissma (the ability to bend a word over several notes)
“King James (Cleveland) is master of all the vocal devices of black singing – syllables stretched over many, many notes, falsetto glisses, bent notes, torn notes, excited shouts, and the changing sonorities and textures manipulated by blues and jazz singers” (The World of Soul, by Arnold Shaw, P.244)
Often, poetry will ‘speak’ to our soul. One can have a direct emotional response that our intellect, our reasoning cannot understand right away. Something in the way the poem has expressed itself, has resonated with a quality within our soul that allows something of the essence of our divine soul to shine through. If you can catch those moments, you have caught a glimpse into the heart of your soul.
Whoever finds love beneath hurt and grief
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises
What is the soul
What is the soul I cannot stop asking
if I could taste one sip of an answer
I could break out of this prison for drunks
I didn’t come here of my own accord
and I can’t leave that way
whoever brought me here
will have to take me home
Poetry is a form of expression for the soul, speaks in several layers of meaning, alluding to something that is unseen. It creates word pictures, that can be illusive, more symbolic, feeling based rather than literal.
worms, grubs, parasites, fungus
add water, shit & dirt
keep stirring circles
smell this aroma
taste the richness
put your face right in it
in this grows the innocent seed
hope, possibilities, potential
stretch, risk, release
reach for the light
breathing in life
gasping against the contractions
complex patterns interwoven
meaning found in this form
fullness in the ground of being
growth in fertile soil
- Ingrid Cryns
Mystical Art can also seek to capture the mystery of soul & spirit. Several illusive layers of seeing are often woven into a representation of something that can only be alluded to or subtly suggested. The work of Alex Grey is one example of how an ethereal quality of the invisible energies of the body & the imperceptible ‘space’ surrounding it, can be seen through a clairvoyant’s inner eye.
The soul is often considered as immortal, something that exists after death and has an aspect of awareness that continues on, with fragments of memories of many lifetimes of experiences. A Tulku is an enlightened Buddhist being who is born with all their past life memories intact. There are many reported case studies and tests that prove this possibility. How is that possible, if who you think you are, your personality and your self identity in this one lifetime, is all that you THINK you are?
Sometimes you meet someone and you think, here is an ‘old soul’. What does that exactly mean? Is it a quality of deep knowing in their eyes, or a presence that they emanate? What is presence? Or is it simply the way they can phrase words, articulate a deeper breadth of meaning with a careful selection of a few words? These are questions that we will consider throughout this blog as we explore the various layers of meaning when building soul.