What is the Soul – Part 8 – Finding the ‘third thing’ of our existence

Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
We keep living anyway
We rise and we fall and we break and we make our mistakes
And if there’s a reason I’m still alive when so many have died
I’m willing to….

Wait for it”
Miranda, from Hamilton

The most important lesson Trickster has to teach us is that Human life is not just a pass-thru. We need to be Human, not just go to Spirit (if you need to recognize your spirit side more, embrace that – but not at the expense of thinking you can leave your human side behind)

If we want wholeness we need to bring the two-halves of ourselves together, or better yet – find the ‘third thing[1]’ of our existence; as humans – we are neither spirit nor body, but embodied spirit and that is more than the sum of its parts.

After all, Trickster’s home is the road – and a road is both a divider and a joiner.

Once we start down this path, however, we’re bound to start wondering – why we are here on Earth at all? If the soul is pure conscious energy – why incarnate at all? I can’t say I’ve found the answer, but I’ve found my answer.

At heart, I believe that God is everything – which is why I usually write ‘God / The Universe.’ For me, one does not exist without the other. If we allow that it might be true that God is everything, we could conclude that God is also made up of both matter[2] and energy. In fact, we might look at a line from the bible, “God made man in his image” and interpret it just this way – God made man to be, like God, both matter and energy.

If so, as wonderful and beautiful as our energetic spirit is, we may actually be closer to understanding God in our human, corporeal form then in our disembodied form.

Almost twenty years ago, I picked up a small graphic novel called Hope for the Flowers at a used bookstore. I do believe in accidents and natural coincidences, but I don’t believe everything that ‘feels’ like an accident or a coincidence really is that. I felt incredibly compelled to buy this little book – but after reading it several times I was perplexed – the book’s message just didn’t resonate all that much.

Twenty years later I finally understand why I bought that book.

The story is essentially about two caterpillars, named Yellow and Stripe, who meet and become friends. All around them are towers of caterpillars stretching to the sky. Periodically caterpillars fall from the top to their death, speaking only about the beauty of what they witnessed at the top in their final words to caterpillars on the bottom. This served to only strengthen the resolve of the caterpillars at the bottom to keep climbing the towers.

The two caterpillars start their ascent of the cater-pillar, which requires jostling for position to climb higher and higher.  Yellow decides that the atmosphere inside the cater-pillar doesn’t feel right and isn’t for her, she makes her way down the pillar. She is very sad to leave her friend, but is determined to honor her own intuition.

As she wanders about, missing Stripe, she meets another caterpillar who is doing something rather strange – climbing up a plant and turning into something new. She walks around and sees more of these little ‘house-type’ structures. She watches in amazement as a beautiful winged creature emerges from one.

Meanwhile, Stripe is making his way to the top of the pillar. When he finally reaches the top he sees what all the caterpillars are marveling at; the beautiful butterflies flying around. Stripe is lucky though, because he meets his old friend Yellow as a butterfly, and she explains the true nature of caterpillars to him.

Instead of climbing pillars to see the butterflies, the caterpillars should have been becoming butterflies.

All of these pieces came together – God / The Universe as both matter and energy, humans as both matter and energy, the disembodied spirit’s experience of a corporeal form, possible reasons for creation / existence, and Hope for the Flowers (which I “found” again recently in my home) to inspire the thought;

Maybe what God wants is more butterflies.

Instead of reaching for the sky to ‘witness’ God – maybe we should be embracing and developing our own God-like nature; and existence of both matter and spirit.

The butterfly is an especially interesting metaphor, because caterpillars essentially dissolve to become butterflies. A caterpillar doesn’t “grow” wings on top of its caterpillar body – its cells completely break down and create something new.

So how does all this relate to the Trickster? If we were to act like Alchemists and distill this character to his essential essence, we would find it to be one that is constantly creating something new by breaking down / through / up the old.

If, as argued in the post Echoes of the Soul <insert link>, the Trickster is a projection of our ambivalence towards incarnated life – maybe it’s time we use our understanding of this character to take a close and compassionate look at that emotion. Maybe it’s time we take an awakened look at incarnated life in both its ugliness and glory.

Hyde titled his book Trickster Makes This World – partly based on creation stories which feature the Trickster, surely, but also referencing how Trickster creates a new world out of the old one just by applying a different perspective. It occurs to me how well that fits with the argument that, at heart, the Trickster represents us – as our fully human selves – because truly we make this world.

Trickster makes this world because we do. Whether you believe in co-creation or you just want to stick to regular cause and effect; the world we live in now is a world of our creation. We make this world of war, strife, hunger, etc. But we ALSO make this world of generosity, love, family, and abundance.



[1] Concept from Lewis Hyde’s book Trickster Makes this World expanded on in the post Trickster Makes this Road.

[2] Matter – as we’ve discussed elsewhere on the blog (namely, the Double Agent of Change) is just a more dense form of energy. But, if we think about the concept from the Dao de jing – in the beginning there was the Dao, then it split into the yin and the yang – I think we can see Matter and Energy that way – as part of the very early distinction of the nature of the Universe.

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