Cultivating spiritual sovereignty in a secular world is about relationship, to the earth, to each other, a process of practice and trust.
Dear Community—You are connected to the earth and your ancestors, always, and this world loves you. In this relationship you are whole and sacred. Believing in this truth is the root of spiritual sovereignty.
Historical sources speak to the importance of an individual spiritual connection that blossoms into community practice and celebration. In the traditions of my ancestors the basics of everyday spiritual work were the responsibility of everyone, and were woven into the tasks of living. From healing, to crop tending, to animal husbandry, to divination, the threadbare historical records indicate evidence of direct relationship between people and their ancestors, their venerated mythic figures, and the animate spirits of the places where they lived. Even with the advent of religion these personal practices continued, adapting and integrating as new information arrived.
While there were certainly spiritual leaders and healers, specialists who had specific roles in the community, they were not who my ancestors visited first when they were seeking healing or answers. In the old way they would make their offerings, talk to their beloved dead, and work to heal themselves before seeking healing support.
So much of this innate spiritual connection has been severed. Currently individualism and consumerism drive us away from lived spirituality. There is a lot of space for spiritual authority, and those paths speak to many. I find great value in the stories and histories of religion, but the rigidity of modern religions has left many historically alienated from their own relationship to spirit, and without spiritual resources. When I taught at the university I found my students were mostly raised without religion, and were hungry for non-religious spiritual conversation, but felt that they did not possess the ability to access such information on their own without an intermediary.
I should say here too that when I speak of spirit and spirituality I mean life force, the living energy that is in all things, in all of us, the miracle of existence and creation, the great mystery. To live spiritually does not necessitate belief in any particular thing, but rather to live in reverence for this existence and cultivate meaningful relationship with the earth and each other.
Developing spiritual sovereignty in a secular world is about this relationship, a process of practice and trust. For those of us interested in living spiritually in this modern time, believing in our own ability to receive spiritual information is part of awakening to our wholeness. Learning the deeply ancestral skills of offering, listening and receptivity helps us begin a process of spiritual reconnection and care.
One of the primary tenants of spiritual sovereignty is sharing the path. That is always my hope with my writing, art and classes, that by sharing my journey I can support others in developing their own.
Here are a few tools that have been supportive on my path to spiritual sovereignty:
1. Embrace simultaneity.
Simultaneousness allows us to step out of duality and into the paradox where spirit expands and exists. Simultaneity invites us to hold seemingly opposing ideas and views, expanding our relationship with self and opening our hearts to others. When we can hold possibility without position it allows us to listen, removes the need to be “right,” and opens the way for the natural complexity that is relationship. Examples of traditional binary areas where simultaneous thinking is supportive in sprit work include real/not real, right/wrong, self/not-self, good/harm. This has been especially helpful in working with historical religions and their impact on my ancestral spiritual traditions. In moving out of dualistic consciousness I can better see the patterns of connection and hold the both.
2. Listen without judgment, respond without criticism.
Spiritual seeking on unconventional paths is fraught with fear, doubt and shame for many of us. As we come into simultaneous awareness part of the work is removing layers of presumptive knowing, often trained or ingrained by culture, environment, family and story. Deep listening means keeping an objective openness while others are speaking, not formulating an argument or interjection while waiting “our turn.” This includes when we are reading books, posts and articles. Everything has the potential to teach us if we are willing to listen. Compassionate listening without judgment might include asking clarifying questions or offering affirmations in response, but not every listening requires response. I’ve found that by letting go of my judgment and allowing information to sit with me peripherally—meaning I am not engaging with it directly—I can better hear what divinity is asking of me, and I also become a more centered and curious companion to others in this complex journey.
3. Don’t seek advice before you listen to your own deep knowing. Practice first.
I am a researcher and a former academic, prone to finding my own answers, but for years I relied on spiritual information filtered through other people and trusted their information more than my ability to find answers on my own. It came as a shock, and then as a warning, to realize that much of the information I had been receiving was either plagiarized, invented (and labeled ancient), taken without relationship or respect, or misconstrued. Once I started investigating my own spiritual path through research, direct translation and gnosis work in ritual I began feeling a connection I’d always been seeking outside myself. It lives within.
Cultivating spiritual sovereignty doesn’t mean we are isolated and not inspired by others, it means not looking outside of our own spiritual relationships for answers all of the time. Instead we practice listening to our inner knowing, developing tools and skills with support, and share our path in community.
When the answers don’t come easily we know not to immediately reach for others to tell us what to do. We go back to the basics of ritual practice, meditation, listening and trusting our relationships with the life force of spirit, our ancestors who live within us, and our powerful discernment. Learning to be with the not knowing and discomfort is part of the process. It becomes more difficult to trust our inner guidance when we give our power to others, believing they have all the answers.
When I began writing Wild Soul Runes my intention was to provide this kind of gnosis based shared path work for others. My early experiences with the runes followed a path of spiritual authority, but once I began working with the runes as beings, in relationship, what I found were synchronicities and magics affirming what I have always at my heart believed: we are all powerful, all capable, all divine and descended from lineages of potency and survival. This animate, living earth and all of its beings long for our remembering, we have only to open and listen, to trust and make thanks offerings for what we receive.
I have now had the joy of witnessing so many others empowering themselves in these processes, developing community and sharing the path. It is my prayer: to continue reconnecting, weaving, with you.
By this and every effort may the balance be regained. ᚨᛚᚢ
Some Resources For Sovereignty
I had the honor of joining Yarrow Magdalena a while ago for a conversation released this week on Daydreaming Wolves. I had been sick at that point for many moons, and the embodied rhythms of illness and wellness are something we both share. We spoke at length about rites of passage, illness as initiation and the purpose of myth in crafting lives of meaning. Yarrow is a powerful kindred on this path, and I am so grateful for their heart words here:
“There is so much about Lara I appreciate – her wisdom around chronic illness and disability, her incredible story telling skills, her kindness and generosity and her willingness to be in awe of life.
Here is some of what we talked about:
Building spiritual sovereignty, community and self-trust
Relating to myths and archetypes through difficult times
Expanding what ancestral practice can be
Adapting our practices to changing needs and abilities”
It is my honor to share this conversation with you all, as it is a container for so many of us in this life, considering how to make meaning out of challenge, power out of transformation. You can find the full podcast and more about Yarrow’s amazing Livelihood and Creative communities by clicking here.
Energetic Sovereignty Series With Raina Corah
Raina is a dear friend of mine and a powerful healer. She is offering a series of classes on cultivating energetic sovereignty live in Portland, OR and online via Zoom, that may be taken individually or as a series. Click here to explore and register.
Connect in Community
The Wild Soul School Community is a space for sharing and connection. The photos in this post are from the Flower Bath Challenge, a shared spiritual practice, and we now have ongoing gnosis based study groups facilitated by the community. Click here to join the circle.
Resources for Healing and Ancestral Animist Connection: includes meditations, book recommendations and more.
13 Days a Ritual Practice: This free ritual practice offers specific guidance and inspiration for cultivating a sustainable spiritual practice.
I have a ton of resources on my Patreon, including video tutorials, myth telling, meditations, practices, downloads. Some are public, with no paywall, but if you appreciate this work I hope you will consider joining the support community. Patrons make it possible for me to offer all of my classes with tuition reductions and full scholarships for anyone who asks, and are helping me create a physical space for earth-based healing and ancestral animist practice.
With love and gratitude to this myth path we share—
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