Caveat: I talk about some things with the realization that people who are not ready for them will read through and try to work with concepts before they are ready to. I cannot tell anyone what to do, but the realization of the primal selves is an advanced concept, and is only to be worked with by people who are psychologically stable.
I had a teaching come through recently in response to some questioning in which the thought of how we can operate from a basis of our wounds (and create illusions; and have the wounded parts of ourselves be needy and want based off of their wounds) or a basis of health. This work, and understanding this sentiment, requires the ability to at least see through the wounds (as we all have wounds, it is just a question of what basis we are working from, and if our wounds are creating our reality or if health is) to do this work and consider this concept.
We believe ourselves to be one thing: one personality with a narrow range of likes and dislikes, one identity, one way of being in the world.
But we are not– we are a multitude of selves. Some of these selves are in fact opposites. We may be shy and loud at different times, or have a a part of us that loves monster trucks and another that loves Kierkegaard.
We are both masculine and feminine, dark and light (and everything in between), fierce and friendly, and so forth.
I was thinking about this this past week as I engaged with someone who I would firmly classify as a “new-ager”. I don’t engage or hear much from this crowd any more (although sometimes an occasional Facebook post), but a woman contacted me who was condescending as well as incredibly passive aggressive with me.
I recalled how the difficulty with this group, as a whole, is that they are unwilling to see anything beyond this really puritanical self– a sort of self that is “all light, all the time”, and I recalled how my former interactions with people in this group showed me a type of rage, aggression, violence, fear, and other unhealed and unwelcomed emotions that was quite counter to the “mask”, or front of “peace, love, and light” spirituality that they try to maintain.
As long as we deny any aspect of ourselves, it is not as if it leaves. It is not like we have become superior to it. What happens is that it lurks within us, leading to a bunch of odd illusions and resistance (and, well, passive-aggressive behavior).
The reason that I mention the new-agers is because it is the clear delineation of what happens here when we neglect any aspect of ourselves, when we resist aspects of ourselves, and when we judge aspects of ourselves.
I have yet to meet a new-ager who doesn’t understand how admonishing others for being anything other than this illusory perfected “light” is a form of judgement (a big “no-no” according to them)… and I have yet to meet anyone in that community that really has much capacity for inward reflection and questioning.
Because you simply can’t have awareness if you are neglecting, fearing, or rejecting parts of yourself.
So on to the topic at hand (and my slight soap-box will begin to make sense, I promise).
A lot of our rage, fear, grief, lust (insert emotions we may neglect or cast aside here) are wounded children. What this means is that when we experience any significant trauma, overwhelm (which can happen a lot to kids, as our understanding level and threats to safety are magnified), or huge emotions, that we may be unable to process them.
Basically, we can’t deal with a huge welling of grief from being five (or something similar). What happens is that a part of ourselves “freezes” in that aspect of our timeline.
Flash forward twenty (or fifty) years later. We experience grief, or something that reminds us of the original grief that we experienced as that five year old.
Instead of reacting from a place of being twenty-five, or fifty, our wounded child comes out and we revert to being five.
I could go into a lot of complexity here, but one of the things that I have learned to do is to ask myself when I am reacting to something (or feel “triggered”) is what age I am acting from.
Because it won’t be your current, adult self. It could be an infant state, or childhood, or sullen teenager, or know-it-all twenty something. If those “frozen” parts of our timeline are healed, they unfreeze.
The unhealed parts of us like healing, they want closure. Healing all of these stops on our “timeline”, means that we will no longer be reacting from the place of that inner wounded child.
And this is where a lot of our grief, pain, and reactions to the world (and to ourselves) lie. When we experience trauma, we also create beliefs… and so healing those inner children also heals the beliefs that were created.
The reason that I mention the above (our inner, wounded children) is that when working with primal energies, we have to get our own clutter out of the way. Much of our emotional baggage is our own. By healing it, we let go of much of the reactivity that we once experienced.
In a healing path, we must consider if something is “ours” first. Healing is really about taking more and more responsibility for yourself, and healing and working with (or even considering) what age we may be acting from when we are upset or reactive, and then working and healing that part of ourselves so it is integrated (no longer frozen) is an essential part of the healing path.
But beyond this is our primal selves.
Not very long ago, we had to hunt, kill, take, steal, murder, plunder, be vicious, angry, warriors, fuck, dance, and create havoc… we consider ourselves to be “higher” or past these types of energies.
Much of the modern-day healing path is in fact filled with people who are wounded, or have wounded children, to the extent that they cannot even consider their inner warrior, or are new-ager-esque to the point of considering that a part of themselves once had to be violent would be automatically disregarded, ignored, or quickly admonished.
We also naturally are many things. I am going to use the “ego” word here, but I will explain how I use it, as it has taken on a negative connotation in pop-psychology shamanism and the like.
Our ego is simply our identity, it is our mind. It is, to be brief, our control center. Reality is much, much, much (did I say much) more than we experience. Our egos filter and blind us to greater reality. I recently read an article about how our minds truly filter the world to meet our expectations, or the “tracts” that are already set up in our mind, to meet expected outcomes.
This is how we create our world. This is how we get so pent up, so singular, and experience such a small frame of existence.
This is why, for example (yes, I am returning to new-agers) you find that new-agers only experience a very small part of reality. Nothing is more illusory that someone who won’t listen to certain kinds of music, or eat really anything, or who will judge all of humanity (including themselves, because it would be impossible to meet the perfected standards of the new-ager, which is why a lot of them are really miserable), who won’t have sex, interact with the world (or people different than them).
If our ego so firmly has a grip on us that we consider everything outside of our very puritanical notions of ourselves as “bad”, what happens is that we no longer experience ourselves. Or the world. We stop having fun, and we become sort of sexless, and the sort of wanton destructive, emotional, and just different aspects of ourselves (perhaps the side of us that wants pie for breakfast) are neglected, and become miserable.
They have to react and act some way, and so we become incredibly fractured, and unhappy. And do things like act passive-aggressively towards anyone that crosses our path who doesn’t fit our standards, and act horribly to ourselves because there is no way that we can meet our own.
But back to primal energies. What are they? As we have discussed, we are a multitude of things. We believe ourselves to be “higher” animals, and have contained ourselves into a rather strict ego-based definition of ourselves.
Our egos do not like paradoxes, or really anything outside of what is considered our tightly controlled, dominant personality.
But we are a whole. Not only are we sweet and violent, fiery and calm, and have impulses to take, fuck, create destruction, and crank up heavy metal music (and then, maybe some Deva Premal later)… but these impulses live within us and are often separated and thought of as “bad” or “evil” by us.
All of us has evil within us. We all have inner caged animals and cavemen (even if we are, you know, women).
We are a multitude of things. Part of truly being on a spiritual path is recognizing and working with these things.
Part of inner stability (operating from a basis of health) is recognizing that even violent or abrasive instincts can come up in us that we don’t need to operate from or act our in our physical world.
We do not do this by avoidance, or pretending they are not there, but by greeting and understanding our atavistic selves– those ancient and primal forces within us– as part of ourselves.
This, obviously, requires a lot of balance. Many people on the spiritual path are not balanced– it is why there is so much delusion and obscurity. This is why I mentioned the wounded children, because those must be considered first before even considering the primal selves.
And if you are significantly out of balance, considering the primal selves will create a lot of fear, and misunderstanding. This is how we have people greeting the spirit of violence with outer violence. This is why we have so many people who consider themselves “spiritual” but will only consider a small portion of themselves and will develop a whole host of odd behaviors and requirements for people that we interact with to ensure only “high vibration” people make it into our lives.
I have said this many time, but our spiritual paths should clear away our illusions, they should make us stronger and more resilient. If we are not developing emotional and spiritual strength and resilience, that is something to really consider. If we are not taking more and more responsibility for ourselves, or are creating a lot of illusion so we do not consider within, that is also something to consider.
So how to work with these aspects?
The first thing to do is to consider if what is coming up is a primal impulse or energy… or a wounded child. Chances are, unless you have done loads and loads of healing work, that it is an unhealed child.
You would only continue if you are balanced and stable enough to work with depth spiritual topics.
If this is coming up for you, you would sit with and consider what is coming up. Is it a troll gnashing its teeth or wanting to slurp bones (you can read my blog here about my experience of this) ? Is it a part of yourself that hates someone, or hates yourself? Is it a current of rage, or an experience of wanting to take, fuck, dance, or destroy?
We tend to shove these impulses down, try to ignore them. We deeply fear them, and any occurrence of them will automatically cause our “control” ego to step in and to say that “this is not me”. We are not violent, or angry, or masculine, or aggressive, or fiery, or fierce, or sexual, or primal.
These parts want to be listened to. They want to be heard without judgement.
A simple attitude of “hey, what do you want to say or express” can go a long way.
What may come up is things you do not understand. In your daily life you have no interest in slurping the bones of your victims, you say. This is really not important. I realize that our minds want symbolism, they want everything to be about ourselves, but what is important that things are expressed.
The next thing to do is to realize that we have controlled ourselves to the extent that anything primal cannot emerge from within us. We do not dance, have sex with wild abandon, create, stomp, run through fields, or engage in activities that will allow for expression of these parts of ourselves.
The difficulty here is that to the unready mind, a violent impulse equals a need for outer violence. This is not true at all.
If we were to clue in on this part of ourselves, there is some sort of expression needed. Our creative forces are similar to our primal and/or destructive forces.
The difficulty here is that we control our creativity. We cannot dance, or paint, or run through the woods without our egos telling us “no”, or how we should be doing things, or judging them.
Allowing ourselves to simply be immersed in some form of creative expression including the primal self takes a bit of work. Obviously, safety needs to be considered, as really tapping into our primal selves is really powerful, and often involves a sort of powerful trance state.
Our primal selves is where our magic comes from. The working with the primal self is how we truly come to power. Integrating and expressing these parts of ourselves allows for us to truly know our depths, and have access to deep magic that is otherwise unheard from (and not able to be resourced).
This is why I find the sort of new-age shamanism mostly powerless, because as long as we are fragmented, as long as there are depths of ourselves that we are not acquainted with or are shoved away, we will not find much, if any, power. And spiritual work runs on power.
Doing something expressive to release this energy (to get it flowing and acknowledge it, it doesn’t release… it is more like an old friend once reconciled) often requires a different sort of creativity and expression than you are used to. Listening to this part of yourself and what it might want (for example, it may want for you to take up karate, or kickboxing) and then allowing yourself to experience it can really help.
People often feel more comfortable creating distance from themselves when they first do this work. There are a variety of ways to do this. Everything from creating masks to dressing up as a “primal” aspect of you can be done.
The most common that I suggest is to create a “character”. What would this character look like, or act like? What would it say to you?
Chances are it may express things that you find yourself reacting to. The realization that a part of you wanting to bash someone’s face in doesn’t mean that you actually want to do it. The realization that a small part of yourself may want something that differs from what your ego considers “you” to be, or what a majority stakehold in yourself finds dissatisfactory will undoubtedly arise.
But the more that you sit with this “character”, the more it will be heard.
The more that you sit with this character, there is no separation needed. We do not need to imagine it as some dark thing, or some monstrous force within us, or some primitive something that vastly differs from our outer appearance.
These are all separation techniques, and the last step is to no longer separate ourselves from these energies.
They are simply currents, energetic flows within us. By allowing their expression, and reconciling any hatred, dislike, distrust, or ego-based need for ourselves to “not be” (violent, sadistic, fearful, warrior, masculine, sexual, animalistic, evil) they simply are heard from, integrated energies that are a part of us.
In doing so, we gain access to deep resources of power. Of integration. And of healing. We can use a current of animalistic rage to create a painting, or feel the violent sexual aspects of ourselves rise and be accepted by us.
In doing so, we do not need to act out these forces in the outer world. They may show themselves in what we do, but when we separate these primal energies from ourselves, they will show themselves and have separate needs from the whole.
When we understand them as a small part of the totality of us, they no longer have separate needs or interests… and we can learn to tap into them to understand the totality of who we are… as well as “expand” our ego (you know, instead of “kill”) to include even opposing forces within us as a part of our identity.