When the ego over-rides the soul...

As Spring beckoned a seidr-kona of the ice lands travelled the lonely roads to seek the counsel of her peers. ‘It is my apprentice,’ she said. ‘He has asked to be excused from the sitting-out rite. He claims he learns enough from me.’
‘You are not alone,’ piped up another voice from the back. A land-witch, wrapped in her warm and intricately embroidered cloak stepped forward. ‘My apprentice asks me to write down every detail of my herb recipes so she can replicate them exactly. I protest in vain that she must progress to her own recipes but she will have none of it.’ A healer stepped into the fire circle and turning, addressed the assembly:
‘My apprentice has been with me only two cycles and will not leave the village they have been serving all winter. They claim the service of this community is their true calling; but my spirit guides indicate this apprentice has a long road ahead.’ All around the fire the Elders and teachers nodded to each other in consternation, reporting similar stories. When all had spoken they began their rites; calling on the spirit of fire to loosen the wintering grip of the still soul.

Two days later the seidr-kona returned to her apprentice. ‘You may be excused from the sitting-out rite,’ she said. ‘If you find a spirit-guide at the tree’s edge by the crest of the hill.’ Thankfully the apprentice journeyed out to where the seidr-kona had instructed. He knew the place well and was sure the seidr-kona intended him to seek the guidance of the spirit of crow. Up, high in the trees above, the remains of last year’s nests could still be seen. As he watched the ink-black crows hopped from branch to branch, inspecting the nests. Many settled down quickly and began repair work: tugging and pulling at the old nests and collecting new materials to wave from. He saw his favourite pair and observed with interest their careful inspections. ‘There’s your nest,’ he whispered, pointing out the perfectly serviceable remains of last year’s nest. They ignored him. Only after inspecting 5 or 6 perfectly sound nests, including their own, did they start to build a new nest from scratch. He sighed and wondered what it could mean. At last as the Sun’s Chariot dipped beneath the hill he felt the spirit of crow descending and he asked his question with a fluttering heart ‘Will you be my spirit guide?’
‘I was today,’ said crow. ‘But I will not be tomorrow.’
‘Then answer me this question,” said the apprentice. ‘Why did you not go back to the nest you made last year?’
‘Our souls need room to grow,’ replied crow. ‘The old nest is full of what we were. We want to know what we will become.’ The apprentice thanked crow and sat quiet for a long time. As the crows settled in their new built nests the winter worked its way out of his soul. He stood as the stars blinked into being and went back to the seidr-kona. Without a word he began to pack his sitting-out kit. ‘Where are you going?’ the seidr-kona asked. ‘To find out what I will become’. He replied.

The land-witch’s apprentice also watched the crows that day and saw how, even the crows who chose to return to their original nests removed many of the old branches and replaced them. ‘We are not the same crows we were last year,” they said. ‘Our hatchlings will not be the same as last year’s brood. You cannot repeat a life already lived.’ The next day the healer’s apprentice began to experiment with her own recipes.

The final apprentice who was reluctant to leave the village they had loved and tended all through the winter deferred their quest all day but finally went out in the late afternoon to consult the crows. Only there were no crows to be found. Only one wizened old bird pecking at an empty shell. ‘Follow me’ the old crow whispered and the apprentice healer followed her out over the horizon where the Sun’s Chariot was turning blood red as it sank beneath the rim of the earth. As the ground glowed pink and gold the crow showed the apprentice a bew nesting ground the crows had found. ‘The old nesting ground was best for us then,” said the crows. “But this is better for us now. See how much farther we can see from this vantage point, all the way to the edges of the sea’. And indeed, the healer realised that the new nesting ground was superior and, when the warmer weather came they travelled not just over land, but over sea, to become one of the greatest healers of their time.

What is being described here is the stilling of the soul trapped within the confines of the ego. The grip of Isa, the rune of ice (according to the northern European ancestors), from which the conscious identity of ‘ego’ is built and from which the word ‘I’ is born. What was once strange and unfamiliar becomes familiar and comfortable. We get lost in the illusion that what we have built – our knowledge, our beliefs, our memories – is who we are. In my last session of this cycle adventuring into the Magician self we looked at the Magician and the Ego. The downfall of the Magician is the cage of the Ego, a forgetting that it is the home we build for our souls in the present moment, not the full expression of our identity. Every Magician needs to engage in rites of passage where the old comfortable and familiar surroundings of the Ego are challenged: drawing an oracle card, investing in a new skill, changing a job, venturing into the wilds, tearing up the old ways, setting out on a new adventure. These forays into the unknown remind us that we are continually re-building the vessel of our identities to keep step with the evolution of our souls.

Learn more about the ego and the Magician in the video below

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