The Soul at the Threshold of Adulthood

The Lion King and the Myth of Horus

Have you ever seen the Lion King? It occurred to me this week that the story is based on the Egyptian myth of Horus. Simba must overcome the challenges his father faced and so also find within himself his one unique destiny. We see between the Virginal Soul and the Soul at the Threshold of Adulthood a certain turn well-characterized in this myth. Let’s look at Simba and his story more closely: his loss of father, exile, and confrontation with the shadow king. For our theme this week, we move our attention toward transition itself. Whereas the virgin soul experiences abundant life, the soul on the threshold of adulthood begins the work of initiation. In the psychology of the virginal soul, the spirit ascends. But what comes up must come down. To put it another way, the fantasy cannot sustain us.

Drawn Toward a Distinct Purpose

Remember in the Lion King when Simba adopts a lifestyle of self-indulgence when in exile? Simba along with his companions live in a nihilistic subjective world apart from any collective meaning or sense of belonging. “No worries” is the motto for those in a virginal state of the soul, living on the wings of spirit and freedom. Something happens, as we can see in Simba’s story, however. The psyche draws our attention toward more distinctive pursuits. This is an exciting time in the life of the soul. Memories re-emerge and existential questions arise. That which we avoid most cannot be ignored and the body feels the weight. Call it karma, the daimonic drive, fate, destiny, ancestors – what we know is that all cultures and all mythologies and religions contain strong evidence that the soul is drawn toward its distinct purposes.

From Selfish Fantasies to Divine Callings

From what began as self-indulgence with fantasies of fulfillment and abundance begins to move toward a deeper mystery. Think of the scene when Simba encounters the wise old monkey and hears the call of a return. Simba speaks with his father among the stars and hears the tug of purpose and meaning unique to his own life path. To put it another way, the soul rises and lives vibrantly in the imagination, but the imagination draws us beyond selfish fantasies toward the divine callings. We belong to something and that asks of us more than “no worries” can sustain. What was at first full with potential and satisfaction turns instead toward a bid for reconciliation. Something beyond our nature draws us in. Why would this happen? Why does the virginal soul life philosophy of “no worries” begin to feel so empty?

The Soul at the Threshold of Adulthood

This week in our image of the Lady and the Unicorn, we see our figure turning. Now, the soul removes her jewelry and, with tied-back hair, she withdraws. Above the tent reads, “A Mon Seul Desir” (to my only desire). Scholars speculate that the blue tent with burning embers resembles the lost souls in Dante’s Divine Comedy, a prevalent work during the time of the tapestry’s creation. If this is correct, we can more fully understand what is taking place in our image. The soul has withdrawn from grandiosity. With less distraction, our depression makes room to listen intently and discover our rightful path. Most importantly, we can see that she willfully hands away her jewelry and enters the tent. The lady giving away her jewelry represents the turn of the soul from the splendid path to the ‘heavenly tent’.

Turning Toward Solitude

In my experience, the pattern is a regressive one, where this feeling of loss for the soul provokes avoidance rather than progression. Instead of turning toward the small dark spaces of solitude wherein the voice of the divine can be heard, some regress instead to the innocent soul, keeping it simple and pretending the world out there and the dreams unlived do not require our attention. The Youthful Soul state may replace the threshold experience in an effort to avoid the deepening maturation. Virginal Soul experiences feel good when often the deflation from them feels terrible. Could it be that the loss and longing is, in fact, the threshold of meaning? Without these deflations, we never quite get to the integration. As we will see next week, the tent experience will lead us to our craft, the soul will move into the hard yet rewarding work of utilization.

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