Soul Calling

On my early morning walk today I bumped into three magpies in the park – one for a girl, two for a boy, three for sorrow….? Oh dear, I thought…where is that coming from I wonder? Didn’t have to wait too long to find out.

Magpies: the only bird to see its own reflection
Back at home, a call to a much loved friend immersed me in conversation about abandonment, bereavement and rejection. But this was not something new, it was old and deep~seated. “I can even feel it in my bones” she said. Those feelings had been triggered by a random incident.

Robert Johnson tells of the wounding of the masculine and feminine feeling function – a wounding of the soul – “probably the most painful wound which occurs in the Western world.  It is very dangerous when a wound is so common in a culture that hardly anyone knows that there is a problem. There is a general discontent with our way of life but almost no one knows specifically where to look for its origin”.[1]

The origin of the wound lay deep within the psyche. It is the grief of the broken heart separated from the Source. The sense of loss engenders an unbearable pain to which the ego cannot respond.

That conversation this morning brought me right back to the book I am writing and nearing completion: a radical interpretation of that old Greek myth of Eros and Psyche. Abandonment is a constant theme in Psyche’s journey to empowerment.

Desperately seeking to regain paradise lost
 In Abrams’ seminal compilation on Reclaiming the Inner Child, one contributor notes that “The experience of abandonment – actual, emotional and psychological – initiation into life.  It is a re~enactment of the fall from Eden, a loss of innocence, both a disappointment and a betrayal. Yet, it is a positive event because it sets us in motion on our journey, circling on our way in search of experience and identity”.

That haunting poignant voice of the soul speaks of the search for similarity; a longing for the beloved, for life itself.  It is a desire beyond ego needs, a yearning for what cannot be purchased in the physical world. It is akin to the experience that St John of the Cross described as the ‘dark night of the soul’. Each time that feeling returns it is stronger and deeper like the rising crescendo of Ravel’s Bolero.

The mournful call of the soul pushes through at unexpected and wholly inappropriate moments, reminding us of its enduring presence. “A calling may be postponed, avoided [or] intermittently missed” says Hillman, “It may also possess you completely. Whatever, eventually it will out. It makes its claim. The daimon does not go away.”[2]

When we abandon the soul, it goes berserk and generates a type of distress visited on the world in the form of depression, neuroses and often a level of psychosis. When we ignore the soul perhaps it appears symbolically as three magpies reminding us of its sorrowfulness.

There are of course different versions (I reverse 1/2 and 3/4) of the ‘magpie rhyme’ including:

One for sorrow,
Two for joy/for mirth
Three for a girl/funeral
Four for a boy/birth
Five for silver/heaven
Six for gold/hell
Seven for a secret never to be told OR (Seven’s the Devil his own self)

Sometimes additional lines are added:

One for Sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret never to be told
Eight for a wish
Nine for a kiss
Ten a surprise you should be careful not to miss/a time of joyous bliss
Eleven for health
Twelve for wealth
Thirteen beware it's the devil himself.

[1] Fisher King and the Handless Maiden
[2] The Soul’s Code


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