When I visited Egypt several years ago, I explored many of the temples along the Nile, and after a while I noticed that they had pretty much the same floor plan. Outermost was the public gathering place for worshippers. Then came the courtyard for the priests and priestesses, and deep inside was the inner room for the high priest and priestess only, called the Holy of Holies. This inner room interested me a great deal.
Later, in some deep personal work, I found that I was spending a lot of time in a similar inner room, my own "Holy of Holies" - the place of innermost peace and power deep inside me. When I was in this place I was safe, I was at peace, I was restored. I found that my inner allies and teachers would meet me there, and show me things. I watched scenes unfold that felt archetypal, on the level of my soul's journey through time, and I knew I was being instructed in who I was at that very deep level.
For a while, I didn't want to leave this room much. I withdrew quite a lot from the world, and I wondered how to bridge the gap between this inner peaceful sanctuary and the outer more challenging world where I saw clients, led groups, and dealt with the mundane details of everyday life.
I mentioned this dilemma to a friend, and after a moment's reflection he said, "Isn't that what you do in your Soul Journeys, take people to their own holy place inside themselves?" Immediately the gap was transformed for me. There was a bridge, a link between my inner most precious work and the guided journeys I do with my clients - and my friends - and anyone who will sit still for them.
Then I realized that my retreats into my inner sanctuary, that inner sacred temple space, were starting to be restorative. The more easily I could access that place, and the more I learned about my own soul there, the less I was thrown off center by the challenges of the outside world. Gradually, the peace and teachings of the inner Holy of Holies started to rejuvenate my everyday life. Instead of needing to separate the two places, to stay in the inner temple in order to be whole, I found that I didn't get so tired, so split in my energies when I was "in the world." It was as if a stronger center was being built in me, and the strength of that center was gradually rising to the surface of my skin and radiating around me.
I found that pieces of myself were being restored to me. I felt like I was building a stronger base, which seemed to me to resemble a pyramid, with a strong foundation and a focused peak. It was a double pyramid, reaching down to a point in the earth and drawing up vitality, and reaching up into the cosmos and bringing in the spark of the Divine. As I incorporated this double pyramid shape, I felt more balanced, more stable, and more clear. I had more energy, more of a "flow" both inside myself and from inside to outside.
I started emphasizing the idea of inner sanctuary, the sacred inner temple, more strongly in my Soul Journeys with individual clients and with groups. I asked people to find a safe space inside their inner realms, to surround it with a protective light, and to invite their allies, spirit guides and teachers to gather around and support them in what they were working on in that journey. I found that my clients and students liked it a great deal; many of them had been looking for a way to feel safe and empowered and supported in unveiling their innermost self.
It seems to be a frequent experience that this inner self hasn't been greatly recognized or encouraged by many of life's experiences - in school, at home, or on the job. Often the spark of our soul's purpose has been dimmed or hidden because of hurt, disappointment, fear, or the crushing weight of responsibility. Yet that purpose, that spark, has not been forgotten - it calls to us, it wells up inside and wants to be restored to its place in our lives. That soul spark wants a place to expand and blossom, in a community where it can be seen and valued.
As we spend time in our inner Holy of Holies and feel grounded and supported there, the effects of past hurts and discouragements can start to release. As the Soul Self is strengthened in the inner sanctuary, and we honor its place in our inner world, it seems less scary to bring it out into everyday life. Sometimes bringing it out does mean changing some things, such as finding a community of people who value authenticity and who support our power and fullness. The old habits of hiding our inner spark have to be replaced with the courage and will to follow the soul's true direction.
So I have begun thinking of Soul Journeys as great archetypal adventures ... travels to our innermost Holy of Holies to find the spark of the Divine within that inner room, to strengthen that spark, to let it lead every step on our path, and to follow that path wherever it takes us. I love sharing that journey with other travelers.
Marilyn King, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist based in San Francisco. Her private sessions focus on a shamanic-mystical approach to empowering and integrating Soul's essence. She has been leading journeys and teaching classes for over 20 years in the US and abroad. She presents workshops regularly in Portland; the next dates are November 13-14, 1999. Her local contact is Octavia Blissing-Brooks, (503) 234-2096.