Introduction to Soul Purpose
Updated: Sep 23, 2020
Among the work I do, one of my focuses and deepest passions is helping people uncover and follow their soul purpose. This is a topic very close to my heart, as I have undergone a long and arduous personal process of remembering my own soul purpose. I use the word remembering because “finding” our purpose or calling is not so much a matter of creating it as it is remembering something innate that we have forgotten.
Every individual comes into this world with a purpose, a calling. This is something that enlivens us, lights us up… gives us our vitality. But it does not just serve us; it serves the entire Earth community. When we are in alignment with, and actively manifesting our purpose, the whole planet benefits. All the creatures of the Earth are blessed with the gift of our offering. When we are in alignment with our soul purpose, we are incredibly powerful, because we are channeling something beyond our ourselves. When we serve the preeminent master that is our soul purpose, when we are in alliance with it, all the forces of nature conspire to support us.
So what exactly is soul purpose? To understand it, first we must consider the premise that there is more to life than just the physical dimension. There is also the “other” world, or the spirit world. As West African elder and teacher Malidoma Somé likes to say,
the spirit world is like the tree, and the material world is its shadow. We live in the shadow/ material world and we think that it’s all there is. We think that is the main event. But we are missing the real thing… that which is much bigger which is casting the shadow! The tree, or the Spirit world, precedes everything in our material world, and is where it’s really at.
Likewise, we each have a divine purpose, a soul calling, a name, or an identity on a spiritual level that is preeminent. It exists, and it is just waiting for us, with our unique configuration, to manifest it. Our soul craft or task in this physical realm is to bring this spiritual potential in to physical form and elevate the wellbeing of the larger community with it. Many indigenous societies recognize the value of soul purpose. It is central to their map of the life cycle and to the organization of their community. They have ceremonies to aid individuals to go in to the spirit world and retrieve information about their soul purpose. These ceremonies are designed to help one connect with her or his soul, soul purpose, or the spirit world (where the soul purpose originates.) Examples of these ceremonies include foremost the initiation ceremony, where a young person on the precipice of adulthood will venture out in to the natural world to commune with the elements, with the spirit world, and with his or her soul (more on this ceremony in a later post).
Another ceremony was illustrated in Malidoma Somé’s book, The Healing Wisdom of Africa. When a baby is still inside her or his mother, elders and mentors of the village will psychically communicate with the soul of the unborn child to learn its purpose in coming to Earth. The elders will then know how to best support the incoming individual in carrying out her life purpose. As the child grows and the illusions and distractions of the material world separate her from her connection with her soul, the elders and the wider community take on the responsibility of guiding the individual back to her soul purpose.
In this ceremony, the incoming individual will often be named after her or his purpose. For example, Malidoma literally translates to “he who makes friends with the enemy,” as it was prophesized that his purpose in this lifetime would be to befriend the white colonizers that were destroying the earth and the nearby villages of his people. In so doing, he could actually become a bridge between the two cultures to share the wisdom and resources of each with the other, and wage peace between them. Thus, with his name as a constant north star pointing to his mission, he could step with clarity into his purpose and manifest his soul’s gifts.
Naming ceremonies vary somewhat from culture to culture. You don’t need to be yet unborn to receive one. In some cultures, an individual who wants to know his name will approach someone with naming medicine (bearing an offering, mind you)! This isn’t someone who is good at coming up with clever or extravagant names. It’s someone who has the ability to travel into the spirit world and contact something that is preeminent… the identity of someone on Earth. Perhaps in a dream, or perhaps in deep meditation and communion with the Spirits, (and always with an offering for the Spirits,) the person with naming medicine will be told the name of the individual by the spirits. The person will then share this information with the individual (and there is usually some kind of community gathering and celebration
surrounding this momentous and joyous life event!) In any case, knowing one’s name on a conscious level can be very validating and affirming, especially with the support and reflection of loving community members. It is hard to see ourselves when we are not reflected by the outside world. However, when we have this, we can feel ourselves, and make a confident stand in the world.
Knowing our purpose can help us immensely. It can help us to focus steadfastly on our mission in life. There are so many distractions in our modern world, and we get easily caught up in them when we are lost, confused, aimless, or unclear about our purpose. But when we know our purpose, everything not directly related to it slides effortlessly off our back, like water off a seal, and we glide through the water like a soundless torpedo.
Every one of you has a name, a name that the spirits know you by. If you were to hear it, you would feel a resonance and recognition deep in the memory of your bones. Truth would ring true and clear… reverberating through the acoustics of your being. You would hear the beautiful song of who you have always been, and what you have always been meant to do.
One more thing I want to mention before I close, as a segue to the next post: Every person will manifest their soul’s calling to some degree during their lifetime, but the degree to which they do, and the power their soul is enabled to bestow upon the world depends on how much support they receive. As illustrated above, members of traditional indigenous societies received a lot of support in remembering their soul purpose and their true, spiritual nature. Those of us in modern society do not have this same privilege. We live in a society that is organized against the current our souls in a lot of ways. That being said, it is very much possible to uncover and live out our soul purpose, we just have to know the terrain, with all of its modern obstacles.
This series is designed to help you navigate the landscape of remembering your soul purpose, to support you in the ways that an ideal community would that are lacking in our modern society, and to provide further resources for helping you step into your mission.
This series will explore: How do we recognize soul purpose? What is traditional initiation? What are challenges of uncovering our soul purpose in this modern society? What does support our growing relationship with our soul? How can we remember our purpose ourselves if we have forgotten it? What is it like to be in connection with our soul purpose? And what does soul purpose counseling look like?
I hope you will benefit greatly from these readings.