…On the Dark Moon & difference between Soul and Spirit
There are some words that are interchangeable, and there are some that are not. The ego and the self could be exchanged in certain contexts, but not the unconscious and darkness — or even the heart and love; creator or god or programmer can be swapped, but never should we use soul and spirit as meaning the same. I hear it a lot though. It seems to be either an innocent mistake or something deeper — a misunderstanding so fundamental that it’s hard to catch.
In the fruitful darkness of this Leo New Moon, a few juicy conversations emerged around the fire the last couple of nights about this. Questions around the origin of the drift, more questions about the consequences, and even some tasty conspiracies as to maybe why this is. Some may say it was the far-from-neutral terms such as “the Age of Reason” or “the Enlightenment,” to be when the separation began; others may point at the soul-sucking nature of the black mirrors we are glued to. Whatever the origin, it’s both a linguistic tangle and an existential chasm that we must address.
Soul is lunar. It flows down and settles in choice ecosystems within our bodies. Whereas, the spirit is solar. When the soul is deep enough, polished, and able to reflect without a scuff, the spirit soars. The former calls the heart home, and the latter dances around the power centers in our heads. Both resist concise classification and detest anything lacking traces of either of them. One is a breath in, the other a breath out.
In an astrological sense, it’s easy to make the soli-lunar connections, yet quickly get confused when we hear about particular planets pertaining directly to the soul — like Pluto and the “soul’s intention.” I feel it safe to say that all the planets have soul and spirit; it may also be right to say it’s our job to grow more of each with our relationships to them. But how do we grow soul — or spirit?
My answer: we do so by making art! Others may feel it’s a discovery or that it occurs by “doing the work.” All can be true, but that creative element is crucial. When we say for example, “that person has soul,” there is an assumption in that statement about what they have been through and ultimately, what kind of substance it has given them. It’s then our job to share it if we have it. By making art, it doesn’t have to deal with paints or instruments or any specific medium, all it needs to be is an authentic expression from the heart. This is what moves people. It’s what touches their souls — and, in turn, awakens the spirit.
It’s a challenging meditation to imagine the world clearly before and after the “Enlightenment.” We can point at science and say its critical lens is why we find it hard to imagine; we can blame Descartes for the cleaver used to split the body and mind; We can point to 108 reasons why we have drifted from a focus on the soul and spirit into something else entirely. It’s not easy to imagine the before. A little thought exercise may be helpful:
…imagine you have come down with a treacherous mutant strain of the virus that shall not be named. We know how a doctor today would treat our case, but if we were alive in the early Renaissance and had the good fortune to have someone like Marsilio Ficino or Paracelsus as our doc, the protocol would look quite different. Our chart might get involved. Plants would be a primary consideration right there alongside the planets. And so would music. Those pre-Enlightenment doctor/magicians knew much about soul and spirit and it was a central consideration in all their approaches to medicine. They knew how to grow soul and awaken the spirit. They knew sound had something to do with it as well. It’s as if they knew a bit about cymatics and Chladni plates. They knew something we seemingly have forgotten. Reasons got in the way.
And so, as we emerge from this dark moon, I encourage you to consider some of these ideas — to track them as well throughout the lunation. The planetary gods are always willing to meet us halfway. We just need to be open; we only need to be interested in knowing our souls and spirits. That’s the moon juice. It will always take us as deep as we’d like to go.
* I’ve taught many classes on working with lunar cycles throughout the years and you can find them all on my website below…