Temple Illuminatus

Transcending the Cocoon: From Soul-courage to Soul-craft to Soul-tribe

By Gary Z McGee

When you follow the crowd you lose yourself, but when you follow your soul you will lose the crowd. Eventually your soul tribe will appear. But do not fear the process of solitude. ~Unknown

Soul-craft is a difficult skill to gain without first acquiring a form of soul-courage. It typically requires a leap of courage into a hero’s journey or heeding a call to adventure.

Once we’re caught in the grip of the journey, once we’re in the thrashing to-and-fro of the adventure, once we’re in the throes of the wild, there tends to be bouts of intense solitude. It is during this phase, within this sacred space, where our unique soul-craft begins to emerge.

The metaphor we use is the cocoon. But unlike caterpillars, which merely work on instinct to enter their cocoon, it is our responsibility alone to cultivate the courage necessary to enter our own cocoon. The leap of courage is paramount for the uninitiated human to enter a phase of initiation into Soul.

Follow the crowd, lose yourself (soul-courage):

If you follow the crowd, you will likely get no further than the crowd. If you walk alone, you’re likely to end up in places no one has ever been before. Being an achiever is not without its difficulties, for peculiarity breeds contempt… You have two choices in life. You can dissolve into the mainstream, or you can choose to become an achiever and be distinct. To be distinct, you must be different. To be different, you must strive to be what no one else but you can be. ~Alan Ashley-Pitt

As it stands, we are almost entirely surrounded by a culture of uninitiated egos. These uninitiated egos seem content to just “dissolve into the mainstream.” It’s the lot of almost every human born into today’s cultures to fall victim to this unconscious dissolving. That is, unless there is a spark, or a sign, or a calling that breaks the cultural spell.

And unless that spark or sign or calling is recognized and then embraced, there can be no spell-break. And thus, there can be no entering of the cocoon; let alone a cultivation of soul-craft, and certainly not the awareness needed to recognize a soul-tribe.

Today’s cultures are twice removed from healthiness. What I mean by this is that today’s cultures tend to be abstractions of an abstraction of eco-validity, eco-morality, and eco-consciousness. Where natural cultures were only once removed, modern cultures are twice removed. Natural cultures were only abstractions of eco-consciousness –that is to say, eco-consciousness was second nature to them, whereas it is third-nature to us.

Breaking through this extra layer of abstraction requires an extra mode of courage. The first mode of courage is the courage to question culture itself. The second mode of courage is the courage to leap outside of the cultural comfort zone. Both are powerful forms of soul-courage that must be negotiated and reconciled before entering the soul-craft cultivating powers of the cocoon.

Where the caterpillar just needs instinct to compel itself to grow, the human needs courage.

Follow your soul, lose the crowd (soul-craft):

The art of knowing is knowing what to ignore. ~Rumi

Those few who become distinct from the crowd tend to be initiated egos who have, or who are going through, their own unique cocoon phase. They’ve taken the leap of courage, daring to stretch their comfort zone. They’ve heeded the call to adventure, or they’ve stumbled into it somehow through a tragic event or an unexpected fall from grace.

Either way, they are seized by the unrelenting grip of the cocoon, and there is no turning back.

As such, they are over the indifferent crowd. They are finished with the myopic song and dance. They are fed up with the ego-centric one-upmanship and invulnerable pretense of the unhealthy zeitgeist. Their will to power has overcome their willful ignorance. They are ready to grow, despite the loneliness and pain. They are ready to transform, despite the annihilation of their uninitiated ego and precisely because of their soul’s longing for an initiated ego.

This usually means deep solitude, a falling into a loneliness so mysterious that one comes out the other side realizing that loneliness was always an illusion. Everything is connected. But within the throes of this loneliness, within the existential black hole of this dark night of the soul, within the sunken depths of this solitude, there is a tearing apart and a putting back together again which is the essential ingredients for developing a personalized soul-craft.

Where the caterpillar instinctively grows its wings through the annihilation within the cocoon, the human counter-intuitively grows its soul through the annihilation within its “cocoon” phase. The continual counter-intuitive courage involved within this challenging task is the epitome of soul-craft.

Lose the cocoon, find your sacred place (Soul-tribe):

We need shamans, and if society doesn’t provide them, the universe will. ~Joe Lewels

If you can survive the deep loneliness of the cocoon, and if you can emerge slowly enough from that cocoon without damaging your wings (soul), and if you can somehow manage to fly (keep growing) enough to gain a more profound and interdependent perspective, then you might also gain the beatific and numinous powers of being able to recognize those of the same ilk. This would be your soul-tribe.

In your dependent phase, you had your family. In your codependent phase, you had your culture. In your independent phase, you had the personal journey that led to your cocoon.

Now, in your interdependent phase, having emerged from the cocoon, you are prepared to recognize the whole in the holistic and vice versa. You are now sharp enough to shave the superfluous from any given situation to reveal the underlying essence.

Your ego is now initiated enough into Soul-work to be able to recognize the invulnerable aspects of the human condition and then cut straight through to its vulnerable core. This is where the magic is. This is where the human precondition spills over into the shamanic recondition.

Shamanic reconditioning is as old as human conceived time. It’s personified in self-actualized beings with soul-initiated egos capable of perceiving the cosmos as self and the self as cosmos. Such beings are magnets for like-minded individuals, beacons for those who are either taking their first steps onto the path, who are deep in the throes of their cocoons, or who are further down the path, having experienced multiple cocoons and reeking of magnanimity that both lights up the darkness and blackens out blinding lights. They are the authentic leaders and wise elders of your soul-tribe.

Your soul-tribe is on the horizon just waiting for you to do the soul work necessary to develop a soul-craft capable of cultivating a soul-centric perspective that sees through the egocentric perspective that surrounds you. No easy task. The horizon is constantly moving. And thus, so is your soul-tribe. You just need to earn eyes keen enough to find them, a mind flexible enough to perceive them, and a soul cultivated enough to conceive them.

The soul-tribe is waiting. The cocoon is waiting. They (interdependence) are both waiting for you to gain the courage (independence) to break away from culture (co-dependence). From soul-courage to soul-craft to soul-tribe, your own personalized hero’s journey begins with a leap of courage.

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