Inner Compass

The people I most respect and admire seem to be driven from within by an inner fire, a passionate purpose that focuses and holds them to their life path. Renee Baribeau, author of Winds of Spirit, call this your “true North” – an inner compass that points you in the direction you need to head. Valerie Steihl, whose work is featured in Spirit Speaks, Are You Listening? by Vera Haldy-Regier, tells her story of how she was motivated from a very young age by a strong inner intuition that led her to various spiritual teachers, and eventually to live ten years with the Lakota. I was personally driven by a strong inner compulsion to study G.I. Gurdjieff’s The Fourth Way, which later informed my understanding of the Germanic and Scandinavian Runes, and from which I receive revelations every day. I believe that all of us have an innate intuition, and that if we learn to trust and develop our intuitive capacity, our personal lives become richer and fuller than they might otherwise be.

I work in the field of psychic awareness, but every field is open, as every human being can be open, to intuition and creativity. A scientist unlocking the mysteries of the universe is every bit as creative as an artist passionately splashing paint on to his or her canvas, the author lost in formatting words into the expression of her next book, or a mother patiently tending to her pre-K child. Society glorifies what it values, therefore the wealthier professions such as doctoring, lawyering, or computer tech, receive more attention than humbler professions. Society deems the rich to be better people than those who are less wealthy, and envies their luck. However, I think this is a huge mistake. Many people are not motivated to be lawyers and doctors. Many people come from humbler beginnings. Many artists and writers will not hit the height of wealth or fame, but will work in another field to support a creative passion.

Life holds both suffering and reward. Most people experience both during a lifetime. Suffering is eased with compassion, empathy, understanding, and wisdom. The hubris of success has an antidote in practical humility: “There but for the grace of God, go I.” The simple cognition that we are all born and we will all die contains the equanimity that we shall all experience both joy and suffering, as well as a measure of fortune and luck. Common people can have extraordinary heart, wisdom, and caring. Earth teaches farmers wisdom; necessity forms everyday mechanics into creative, innovative geniuses; and the heart-based humanity of simply caring for one another is met in supermarket cashiers and school bus dispatchers. I know this because at one time or another in my life, I have dealt with or been one of these people.

I have been one who followed my inner compass down awkwardly winding roads, into and out of diverse jobs and even marriage. It was not an easy road, but one that has led to deeper self-understanding and an open heart. The learning of this lifetime has been that the dynamic of relationships is the best teacher, and that the best relationships for deepening soul come out of relationships that have brought the most conflict. I cannot see myself as I am, unless I am willing to see in myself the shadows and chaotic forces that drive humanity. War does not start, unless I – or you – project blame on to another person, place or thing, different culture, country, or religion: the blame which is really the shadow of what I am or you are. What I hate in myself I see the shadow of in you, as what you hate in yourself is the shadow you project on to me.

Gurdjieff’s method of self-remembering enabled me to hold my center no matter what chaos erupted around me or within me. The practice is really very simple and also very hard. I center myself and ground myself, and throughout the process I hold gravity in my own presence. I become the Witness to what is going on within myself, and outside of myself in relation to myself, and I must be brutally honest with myself in relation to what I see. I must understand that there are aspects of my personhood that are conditioned, aspects that are more true to my essential self than others, and I must be willing to examine myself to discern what is the truth of myself as opposed to the life of myself. What is true will arise from my genuine essence. What is not true is probably based upon fear based beliefs similar to “What will the neighbors think?” or “If I displease my parents/spouse/friends/boss I risk losing love/respect/social esteem/job.”

One must also be willing to honest with one’s mentor or guide. This is where the negative aspect of self-love interferes and the temptation to lie to one’s self enters the equation. “I would never do that!” is the self-talk of the ever-changing story and the point at which students break with previously beloved teachers. I have seen students elevated to the point of personal enlightenment and I have seen students break painfully with a teacher because they could not face the discomfort of their own shadows. I have been on both sides of this equation; fortunately for my own work on self, I understood that Life itself is a powerful force that will throw us exactly what we need to grow and it is up to us to make use of it.

Life moves us forward until we hit a block or a conflict with our belief system, then either we react from unconscious motivation or if we are able, we respond from conscious motivation. Much depends on our capacity to see life as it is, instead of as we want it to be. Conscious becoming is dependent on our willingness to step outside of our comfort zones, and allow ourselves to be shaped in accord with the energies life itself hands us. Much gets blamed on the ego, but we need the ego in order to engage with life. I think Shaman Durek defines it well when he writes, “The ego’s job is to make you believe in the world you want to see. The ego gets a bad rap because some people’s egos are based in lower densities, which are characterized by fear, and judgment, and hierarchy. The ego isn’t bad; it’s just misunderstood, which is why the ego in not properly engaged, or evolved.” (Shaman Durek, Spirit Hacking, 113)

Here at the conflict point is also the point at which compassion becomes important both for one’s self and for what others are going through. Compassion does not enable victimhood, but supports the struggle for self-transformation. Empathy does not enable suffering, but offers a modality of strength to those who would survive to thrive.

Life is a force that offers us the opportunity for conscious becoming through struggle with conditioned arising. Memory and the process of how we think about things are important concepts behind the Runes of the Northern Mystery. Odin’s Ravens Huginn (Thought) and Muninn (Memory) fly out of a mythology that is redolent with psychological understanding. In the Northern Mysteries, Odin is the God who holds conscious order in the Universe. In the Northern Mysteries, there is not good versus evil, but the relationship between conscious order and chaos. It was understood that both processes are necessary to life. Life force energies stagnate when Life is too orderly, but with unsettled chaos, the conditions of living can drop from thriving to the components of survival. Odin is the God who Experiences. He is not one to rely on others to tell him how things should or ought to be. Rather he creates the nine worlds from the dead body of the proto-giant Ymir, and later wanders the nine worlds as Gangleri in order to find that which he has not experienced yet. I like to think the same could be true of a humanity that seeks to rise up from the mire of conditioned social values into the nine heavens of self-individuation, but this can only happen when we willingly seek to develop our innate intuition and creativity and become conscious in the true sense of developing our authentic essential selves.

Published by susanofthenorth

Susan Hintz Epstein is an author, Rune diviner, healer, non-academic scholar, and former Methodist Lay Speaker who was called by the Runes in 2013. The time since then has been a serpentine shedding of one skin for another, as Susan's spiritual practice with the Runes and the World Tree, Yggdrasil, deepened. Susan keeps company with the Norns and other like-minded women.

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