Dancing to the Laws of Your Own Nature


So if we follow the laws that are in our own nature, they will lead us to the right end….

You have got to trust yourself with your own experience, because, according to the natural law, it will lead to a state of completeness. I do not speak of a state of perfection—that is prejudice—but of completeness, which seems to be a kind of growth and which contains all the spiritual values one can wish for. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 395-411

Who am I under the layers of accrued civilization? Who are you beneath the parental rules, spoken and unspoken? Your ancestors’ expectations. The religious commandments. The school’s teachings. Your family’s political leanings. The laws and standards of your culture.

What are we beyond the roles imposed upon us from outside ourselves?  Dutiful child. Receptive student. Generous host. Polite guest. Observant driver. Obeyer of rules. Returner of favors. Healthy eater. Efficient worker. Responsible parent. Informed citizen. Promise keeper. Subservient wife.

What’s left when you lie naked and alone under the moon and sun? What belongs just to you, the unique soul that has lived in your bones and flowed through your blood and energized your mind and body since before you remember?  What is that special something you were born with; the thing that lights the fire of your passion and urges you to grow into something more than you were trained to be?

“Passion is like a light switch. When it is turned on it triggers a domino effect of other success characteristics.” ~Tom Corley, http://richhabits.net/passion-trumps-everything/

Consciousness takes its origin in passion…. [T]hrough the fire of passion, in the pre-psychological condition when you cannot and do not reason, when you surrender completely and allow your pain or emotion to have full sway, you then become purified, then you become yourself. This is the test of the gold; the true gold will show its quality in the fire. And this is again the alchemistic idea; [one] becomes the true substance. That higher consciousness is the consciousness of the Self. Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 395-411

The evolution of our species and advances of science have bestowed the gift of elderhood on more and more of us. As our physical energies inevitably wane I believe we serve ourselves and our world best by using this time to “follow the laws that are in our own nature.”

Brian Carlin, one of my favorite poets, says it much better than I can in this poem from his book, A Skinful of Dust, winner of the 2011 erbacce prize for poetry. Enjoy the dance.

Dance of the Seven Veils

In the beginnings on cold stone,
inscribed and unmoving,
hard altars of the soul laid sharp
smartly hewn and clear are what we are —
carved hearts of bone.

Veils of obligation and subsequent years
lay in elegant folds,
pastels of tracing papers grazing,
obscuring to greyed intention laced
as nylons glaze the skin,
layer and hazy layer grace the days,
obscuring meaning with style.

Where removal of this is not to strip
or slip to floor but to descale and flake,
to pare and make each sliver of accrued you
rip the skin and yet not bleed,
to part you from the useless mesh
of learned mortality’s flesh
and leave instead in ivory
the you before you learned to speak.

Thank you for the inspiration for this post, Brian.

Image Credit: Dance of the Seven Veils, Pinterest

Paper and E-book versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. The Wilbur Award-winning Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.

Join 5,847 other subscribers


13 Responses

  1. Every day the wisdom of this post becomes more and more evident.

    Now at 87, and having last December lost my husband of 62 wonder-filled years, I am realizing more and more the wisdom of the crone. And the importance of living in the NOW, while peeling away the learned layers of the cultural lessons/assumptions of my past–or at least trying to recognize and appreciate what I do have, where I am, and who I am at this spot in time, even though there is so much in the greater world that seems to be falling apart.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Sally. 62 years. Wow. That says a lot about who you are under the veils. And now you’re in the process of peeling off another one to remember who you are without your husband. Your mention of so much in the greater world that seems to be falling apart makes me think our country and our world is also doing the dance of the seven veils. We in the US are certainly learning a lot about the primitive, instinctual nature that lies beneath our carefully wrought benevolent, civilized veneer!

    1. Thank you, Diane. I don’t know everything that’s under my veils either, but given the variety of paths we’ve both pursued — psychological, spiritual, educational, and artistic — I would suspect you and I have at least two apparently ‘inborn’ laws in common: the need to learn and the need to make things. To understand and create. I suspect we’ll keep doing that as long as we can because these laws are in our nature. I know I never want to stop.

  2. Thank you Jeanie for this lovely post, the quotes and Brian Carlin’s poem. Who am I when I lie naked and open, stripped of all the conditioning over the years and of my ancestors who still live in my bones? A necessary question … does it have more urgency and agency as we age? I think and feel it does. A stripping of the veils brings us at least closer to our essence. Much feeds my passion, sometimes roaring, sometimes quiet and it is to be found everywhere I look – both innerly and in the outer.

    1. I also feel a more urgent need to know the essence that lies beneath the layers and find it in my passions: for self-knowledge, for writing, for bringing what I know into the world in some creative way, for learning how to love and be true to the laws of my soul. Ultimately, I guess that’s what this blog is all about. I hadn’t quite realized that before. Thanks for continuing the conversation, Susan.

  3. Thank you, Jeanie. I resonate with the Jung quotes and understand them. I’ll have to read Carlin’s poem again and again. I can’t find the warmth of a lived life in the words–and that warmth matters more to me than anything. Am I more myself in solitude than in my old life with others, with family and daily contact with other human beings? I feel an urgency to accept what is as this gloomy day hints of coming winter and permeates my mood. So I listen to the rain drops on the window and watch the last chrysalis waiting to eclose and migrate. I have strong passions and find deep meaning in many places, but most are related to the cycles and wonders of nature and human love. Maybe that’s a feeling type speaking or maybe i just don’t get the poem or what it might mean to be who I was before I learned to speak. I’ve felt stripped, so I can guess, but I don’t truly know.

  4. Honest words that feel close to the bone, Elaine, as always. To me, finding out who I was before I learned to speak means to recapture the child’s natural openness, curiosity, excitement, and wonder about the world. To notice and examine everything. To be awed and delighted by everything. To trust with a child’s innocence, without suspicion, fear, or self-doubt. That’s who I keep hoping to find beneath the elegant layers… 🙂

  5. Just to throw an idea or two on the poem
    It came from playing with an idea about Locke’s tabula rasa.
    I wanted all nature stripped from the imagery, the slate/stone to be carved but unreadable/unknowable. Where the inscription comes from we can’t know. I also had images of cathedrals, statuary and gravestones floating around.
    As this is an unreal paper exercise of the mind I wanted the piece to be as dry as the imagined paper it’s written on.
    And the paring away, again, I was aware in writing
    that I was dealing with an arid intellectual exercise which barely scraped the surface of what I was aiming for.
    The futility of using words to dig up a pre-language state, not just as a toddler, a baby, but before conception itself.
    And the notion of how stripped/ denuded we would be by attempting to return to that imagined state.

    1. Thank you for that rare glimpse into the poet’s mind, Brian. The idea of a complex, elegant cathedral being constructed on a blank slate, only to be deconstructed, takes my mind in an entirely different direction. For me that’s the magic of poetry: that one poem can elicit a wealth of new images and take me to places I’ve never been before.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Posts