Lost Souls: Soul Alignment and Mental Health
My mother-in-law has been in a closed psychiatric facility for the past 10 days.
This blog isn’t about her. Like the rest of my husband’s family, I have my opinions and hopes and fears about her condition, which may be psychosis (hearing voices, paranoia) or a symptom of Lewy Body dementia.
This blog is about soul alignment, and it carries a question to those readers who work within the world of counseling/psychiatry/mental health: Do you think that some mental illness may be caused by lack of alignment of the Triple Souls?
What is soul alignment?
Soul alignment is fundamental in a variety of (pagan and magical) religious traditions, the practice of bringing the Fetch/Younger Self/Etheric body PLUS the Shining Body/Talker/Aura PLUS the Godsoul/Higher Self into congruence. (If you aren’t familiar with this practice, I urge you to read or watch some of the great material about Soul Alignment that is available, notably from Thorn Coyle (http://www.thorncoyle.com/evolutionary-witchcraft-excerpt/) or Gede Parma (http://www.gedeparma.com/?p=288). While the practice as they describe it derives from Anderson Feri Tradition, the psychological aspects of a Triple Soul are most certainly part of the work of Jung and Freud).
When souls aren’t aligned
In visiting the psych ward, what was noticeable in my mother-in-law and in the other patients was the lack of integration – the literal disintegration – of the Three Souls and the body, the physical vehicle of these souls.
One could energetically feel that the Three Souls had drifted apart, ‘doing their own thing’ in their own realms as it were.
My mother-in-law’s roommate doesn’t speak; huddled under her blanket all day, smiling blankly when addressed, one feels her Fetch, her little Animal Soul, is so wounded it has taken over her existence. There’s another woman who has lost her voice, clearly intelligent and delighted in the visits of her grandchildren but unable to answer their questions or remark on the drawings they bring her. One feels her Talker is so angry that it is saying ‘f—k you’ and just won’t come to the party.
Noises that sound more animal than human occasionally escape the locked doors at the far end of the hall. A pregnant woman who seems to have no energetic field at all drifts into the group sitting area on her way to the ‘game room’: she has to ask the nurse to light her cigarette.
Other members of the ward are refusing their connection to the body – one young woman, now in a state of foot-shuffling overmedication, will not eat without being ‘encouraged’ to do so. She is in Stage 3 access: she can only leave the locked ward if an orderly accompanies her. My mother-in-law is Stage 2: she can leave the ward, and even the building, for a few hours each day if accompanied by family. ‘You get to go outside?’ the skeletal young woman asks her. ‘Oh, that is what I want. How come you get to do that?’
It’s been ten years since I left the US where, sadly, a lot of people deemed ‘mentally ill’ are living on the streets. And in remembering their affect, this kind of non-alignment, this lack of defined energetic body, this lack of connection to the body (except sometimes through the miserable addiction to alcohol or substance) comes to the fore.
And it occurs to me that we quite literally call the mis-aligned ‘lost souls’.
Three Souls, One Body: On Target
With this blog, I am not proposing that those suffering from dementia or chemical imbalance are responsible for their lack of alignment. There are concrete physical, historical and individual aspects to mental illness, and unlike some of you reading this now, I don’t have the education or framework to understand the subtle gradation of health to illness in this area.
I am, however, wondering if – like a lifetime practice of moderate exercise and sound eating – a daily practice of aligning the triple souls might enable those ‘on the edge’ to remain firmly on THIS side of the mental health continuum.
I remember that in one of Thorn Coyle’s workshops, she shared that if we could view our energetic bodies from the top, in alignment they would look like a bulls-eye: our physical bodies surrounded by the ‘glove’ of our etheric/’animal’ body, the shining aura of our mental/communicative self, and the God Soul which connects us to All and may be seen as a globe of energy at our crown.
As humans we can keep those Bodies communicating with each other through our practice. When They are not in communication, our effectiveness and joy and power are diluted. Aligned, open to the guidance of our Godsoul/Higher Self and practicing kala and prayer, we accumulate energy to a clean centre and become a pillar of power.
So, once again I’m asking: Mental health professionals – Reiki masters – counselors - those who work in a healing modality – do you think alignment can prevent or ameliorate mental illness?
I come at this question from the other end of the spectrum to you Fortuna. I am a consultant psychologist, well versed in the "science" of mental health and ill health, and I am only finding my personal spiritual path with lots to learn and experience ahead. I have heard about the three souls, have received very basic introductory teaching about it, but it is not a core part of my practice.
One thing I've learnt over the years of working with severely distressed or disintegrated people is that there is no one single cure, no one size fits all. My medical colleagues in psychiatry have been chasing after the magic pill for decades. Everyone was prescribed haloperidol in the 1960s, vallium in the 1970s, amytriplyine in the 1980s and prozac in the 1990s. Each was the wonder drug that somehow never delivered all that was promised.
More recently government policies in the UK have swung over to therapy, notably CBT. While I welcome the switch from pills to therapy again we have a one size fits all model which is, I fear, doomed to fail as a result.
The most important healing in therapy comes from the therapeutic relationship itself. All the literature comparing one therapy to another has said the same thing. It is talked about as the "Dodo Bird Verdict" from Alice In Wonderland ("All have won and all shall have prizes"). The quality of connection between patient and therapist, the trust, compassion, shared goals and vision are the things that count. Good relationships heal.
If we look at our ancestral societies people would always be in need of healing. Whether they received it from the shaman, cunning man or woman, or priest, a safe relationship with an element of spiritual guidance was all they had access to. Maybe a few herbs thrown in for good measure.
The spiritual side of healing is usually (not always) absent in modern psychiatry and psychology. This is where I feel your question is nudging me. Its something I've been aware of when working with some patients. Its about working with the individual, where they've come from, where they are and where they want to be. If spirituality is part of their process and journey it should be part of their healing. Whether it be in the language of three souls, soul retrieval, forgiveness/redemption, moving towards enlightenment etc.
For some people they have well and truly bought into the medical model and the only thing they believe will help them is a pill. For others they want an "evidence based" talking therapy. Are they right? Are they wrong? The longer I work in this field the more open and accepting I become of a range of tools to heal. Pills do work for some people, therapy for others. What we do need in society and in the health service is a recognition that spiritual health is part of physical and mental health and that we need to be able to offer this as part of a complete package of care - where it is wanted.
Great piece - thanks :-)
In my experience as a counsellor, I think that some types of mental illness come from when a person literally loses their sense of 'I' - the central identity of who they really are. This is the difference for me between a state of say, spiritual crisis or spiritual bliss and mental health crisis. It depends on whether or not a person can connect to their very core self - literally, their identity. For example, in Borderline Personality Disorder one of the central issues is that a person has no stable sense of identity and has never developed one. A state of psychosis is a complete loss of touch with identity and with consensus reality. Alternative states of consciousness are not a problem as long as a person is able to be anchored by their own identity and thus able to return to a state of self-possession without intervention.
In this sense, the model of soul alignment definitely is one way of looking at what is 'wrong' with someone who has a mental illness. Whichever method you might use, prayer, alignment, drugs (?), psychotherapy, ecotherapy or whatever, getting back (or developing) a sense of self-possession and a sense of alignment of the self is the aim for good mental health.
Don't know if this really answers your question but it's a few thoughts from a counselling perspective. xx
thanks to you both, Helen and Nerissa - this is what I needed to hear and my plea. And the more I visit the psych ward, the more I agree that there is no one size fits all (for ANY kind of healing), that spiritual or mental or physical disease challenges our sense of what we know about health, etz.
Nerissa, thank you for identifying that fundamental loss of self - eg opposite of self possession! - that is indeed what I feel when I am with my mother in law or the others in the ward.
and thank you both for reading, and taking your precious time to respond. love!