For the past couple of days I have been sharing thoughts about the points of the Iron pentacle, a meditational tool for self transformation used within the Reclaiming Tradition.
I have spoken of the points of Sex and Pride, and now we move from the bottom, right-hand point up into the left hand point of Self.
Self. Is there even such a thing?
An ancient puzzle poses the question: if all the planks on a ship are replaced, one by one, over the years, is it still the same ship?* And, likewise, we can ask, if every part of our body and personality changes, over the years, are we still the same self when we are old as when we were born?
There is a continuity of memories, of personality, of a body that takes up space through time. This continuity, the combination of our memories, beliefs, personality, energies and body, makes up a whole self. Self shifts and changes over time, growing and transforming.
How can we say, then, that Self could be considered a foundation stone of human existence? Something damaged by our culture and in need of reclamation for many of us?
Self is not some kind of ‘essence’ in this context, I’m not talking of spirits or souls. Self, here, is who we are in the world.
Accusations of selfishness are taken seriously, so seriously that we will often go too far the other way and neglect ourselves. This idea of being self-less is spoken of as though it were the ideal, but to neglect our own needs leaves usless able to help others or to make positive change in the world.
Who you are and who you choose to be are both important.
Look at your self.
What do you do that is by choice? Which roles do you choose for yourself, and which are forced upon you? Which do you fall into, unthinking, simply because it is expected of you? And which are expected of you and you do by choice anyway?
How do you take care of yourself? How do you neglect yourself?
What is in the constellation of yourself? Can you look in the mirror and see yourself for yourself? Can you commit to giving yourself what you need, in body, mind and spirit, wherever possible?
Can you look at the roles you have taken on and see which feel like a good fit, and which you would choose to shed, and which you’d like to grow into?
Take a few moments throughout the day to just breathe and ask yourself if what you are doing right now is good for you, or harmful. And allow yourself to wonder how you would feel if you did what fit you, rather than what you think you should do.
Today is Valentine’s day. Can you give yourself the gift of love? Can you love your Self, who you are and who you choose to be?
*The Ship of Theseus