When I began my inner journey 20 years ago, I felt very much alone and lost. My marriage was crumbling. My husband was an angry man who often lashed out at me. My creative work wasn’t paying the bills.
Between the tears and the depression, the anger and the desperation, I went to the local bookstore. I told myself if I could define the stages to happily ever after, I could attain it.
My independent study took me into psychology, midlife texts, women’s history and New Age spirituality. But the books I was drawn to repeatedly were spiritual memoirs; stories about women who were taking a journey similar to mine, in unchartered territory. I bought them all. I read them all.
These authors became my mentors. They shared what they knew about the path, personally and theoretically, and showed me where my own path might take me.
They told me I was not alone or crazy or silly, that it was dark and scary at times but that it was also magical.
Several years later, in graduate school, I read Carl Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Here was a man who played with art and sand, who saw the world through the lens of symbols and patterns, who got messages in dreams. I understood his worldview because it was my own. He, too, became my mentor.
In The Soul’s Code, James Hillman talks about such mentors. He calls them “spiritual parents,” found not only in real life but also in authors and historical figures.
Unlike physical parents, who make sure you are fed and clothed and educated, spiritual parents see your unique traits and nurture them. They become enrolled in your fantasies and your dreams—to become whatever and whoever you want—and encourage you along the path. They tell you you’re not crazy or alone, that your unique way of being in the world is what will lead you to your unique contribution to it.
Your Story: Who are your spiritual parents? Make a list of them, and how they’ve helped. And when you feel lost, sit in silence and call upon their guidance.