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Haggling with the Divine over the Price of your Spiritual Evolution

Updated: Jan 23

A watercolour image of a priestess kneeling in prayer, in an open field.

(Image by Juliette Valentina, created in DreamStudio)

Haggling with the Divine over the Price of your Spiritual Evolution

I've recently been struck by a 14th Century poem, penned by the Persian Sufi Poet, Hafiz. I wanted to share it with you . . .

Manic Screaming

We should make all spiritual talk

Simple today:

God is trying to sell you something,

But you don’t want to buy.

That is what your suffering is:

Your fantastic haggling,

Your manic screaming over the price!

It brings up some really compelling questions, doesn't it??

Like, why do we so often resist the gifts that the Divine, or the Beloved, offers us?

The Divine is standing before each of us, holding out the life we yearn to live, the life we were born for . . . Turns out, it's closer than we think. It's right there in the room with us, and it's been there the whole time.

And we could have it right now, if we'd just step into it.

And yet . . . we hesitate. We deny ourselves this gift. We simultaneously long for it and reject it. Why? Why?? Because for some reason, we're afraid of the Divine's gift. As much as we can feel our inner potential; and we can feel the discomfort and pain of that disconnect between who we know ourselves to be and the actual life we're experiencing, we're terrified to step into that gift.

Perhaps we've walled off our strength? Courage? Our capacity for leadership? Our voice? There are parts of ourselves that frighten us; parts that hold ancient soul memories of defeat, despair, rage, grief, and trauma. For whatever reason, we've built internal walls, barricades, and defences to protect ourselves from engaging those parts of our psyche. And we're pretty vested—emotionally, psychologically— in maintaining those walls.

And yet, the portal to every next level of our personal and spiritual growth, is through the very parts of ourselves that we studiously avoid.

Stepping into the gift that the Divine is offering entails relinquishing those barricades—the very thing that we believe protects us. And this can feel like too high a price! We can feel like we'd be left too vulnerable, too open, too exposed.

So, instead of just doing the required soul-work to break through those internal barriers and re-connecting with those parts of ourselves that we've denied and rejected, we can fritter moments and years and decades of our life away . . . manically screaming and fantastically haggling with the Divine over the price of our spiritual evolution.

At first glance, this may seem counterintuitive. Wouldn't we willingly give up anything that obstructs us from living our one true life?? Surrendering the obstacles between us and our future, fully-realised self should be a clear and simple decision. Right??

And yet it's not.

We want it. But we absolutely do. not. want. to touch it with a 10-foot pole!

Even thinking about it can stir up ancient, unsettling memories within us. So, we desperately protect and defend the walls that we've built around us; the ones that block our ability to receive the gift that the Divine is offering. We cling to our fears. To our self-pity. To our false narratives about our worth. To our tendencies to be a people-pleaser. To our inability to follow through on our commitments to ourselves. To our addictions. To our fear of visibility. Whatever our walls may be.

Strangely, as much as we believe we rail against these barriers, our internal narratives and blocks actually provide us with a peculiar, tailor-made sense of comfort and protection. And so we can cling to them like a child to their safety blanket, believing they safeguard us. We've come to accept and even cherish these blocks, believing—at some level—that they shield us from harm. Perhaps, at some distant point in our soul's journey, they did.

And so, we hesitate to let them go.

In fact, we tend and affirm them every single day.

And perhaps we've done so year after year, life after life, for the past 56 or 238 lifetimes.

False Gods

In this light, Caroline Myss' teaching resonates profoundly. Anything we put between ourselves and the Divine, anything that keeps us from living the life we're truly meant for, becomes a form of worship at the altar of a false god.

And this image struck me like a lightning bolt this week.

Honestly, I don't know that I see them as "false gods", but that's a poetic way of describing them and working with them.

I would perhaps reframe them as being the dysfunctional extremes of the archetypes (or the "gods") that we work with in numerology. If you're one of my students (or if you've watched my free mini-lesson on the Birth Path Number), you'll have heard me speak to this concept of an eternal, infinite continuum that each archetype exists on. The might, wisdom, resources, and gifts of each archetype are amplified in the very centre of their respective continuums. And these are the soul gifts and potentials that the Divine is offering us, and beckoning us towards.

But we often insist on clinging to the extreme edges of the continuums, somehow believing that this will protect us from the centre. Why do we feel we need protection from the centre?? It's a fascinating question. What has happened in our soul history that has convinced us we'll be safer if we cling to the edges?  What are the soul-wounds and traumas we're carrying around this gift?

Still, this imagery of worshipping at the altar of a false god gives us much to work with at a symbolic level.

Which altar do you find yourself perpetually worshipping at?

To which false gods do you light candles and offer daily incense and honey cakes?

To which false gods do you repeatedly offer your energy, vitality, and presence?

Deep down, you may recognise that this false god is holding you in stasis, preventing you from moving to the centre of the continuum; from claiming the one life you can genuinely call your own, in the poetic words of David Whyte in All the True Vows.

"There is only one life

you can call your own

and a thousand others

you can call by any name you want."

The Divine is calling us forth, offering us the life that we can truly call our own. Yet we resist the rich potential of our own life. We persist in maintaining that altar to the false gods; in venerating the myriad other lives that hold no real significance for us. And we often find ourselves in that state of "manic screaming" at the prospect of relinquishing our safety—the price required for moving towards the centre of the continuum.

"No, no. If I'm invisible, if I'm in hiding, then I'm safe!" we might say on Number 3's continuum, for example. "So, I'll worship the god of invisibility, and give thanks and praise for my safety."

This fantastic haggling with the Beloved persists. "Become visible?? What?? No, no, no. The price is too high! Can't I have that life you're offering AND remain invisible? Surely that's possible?"

Our heart races, and we feel sick to our stomach. It can feel like our very existence is under threat, prompting us to further batten down the hatches and fiercely defend our limitations and blocks, the walls we've built around us. We make even more offerings at the altar of our false gods.

But as Rumi told us, "The cure for the pain is in the pain."

The only way out is through.

So perhaps, just maybe, we could learn to say, "Thank you for the safety that your invisibility cloak has afforded me all these lifetimes. I've appreciated the gift of invisibility, as it has allowed me to heal, albeit slowly. Now, I return it to you. And I pray for the strength and courage to relinquish my invisibility; to reveal myself to the world; and to fulfil my life purpose."

It sounds simple enough, right? Just stand up, and shed the invisibility cloak. However, we both know it's not that easy. If it was, we'd just do it!

Our fears, our scars, our past traumas—they're part of our soul's journey. We may not recall why we carry these wounds. We may not consciously remember why it was necessary to disempower ourselves in this way, but our soul does. We've come by these soul-wounds, honestly. And the way we've adopted to protect ourselves seemed like the best defence mechanism, at the time. There is no shame nor judgement for this desire to protect ourselves.

But each time we incarnate, we have the blessed opportunity to re-engage these blocks, and to do our deep soul-work. To empower ourselves. And to embrace the life that the Divine is offering us at the centre of each continuum.

You've got to go at the rate you can go

At times, we may feel frustrated by our seemingly slow progress, as if we're trudging through molasses. Personally, learning from my kinesiologist that I've been working on one of my own internal barriers for 56 "evolutions of soul" feels immensely frustrating. "FFS. Come on!! Enough already!!!! DO THE WORK!!" I experience such an internal battle between the intense desire to just step forward, on one hand, and the overwhelming dread, "stuckness," and inertia holding me back, on the other. Sigh. I can't be the only one, right?? Do you resonate with this, too?

In those moments, I find solace in the wisdom of Ram Dass, who encourages us to honour the pace set by our soul:

"You’ve got to go at the rate you can go.

You wake up at the rate you wake up.

You’re finished with your desires,

at the rate you finish with your desires.

You can’t rip the skin off the snake.

The snake must moult the skin.

That’s the rate it happens.”

That's the rate it happens.

Now, I envision myself kneeling before the altar where I've worshipped the god of invisibility for years—offering my life force energy, my dignity, my visibility, and my voice. I light candles and incense daily, as I always have. Yet, now, when I glance up, I see the Beloved standing before me, revealing the life that is truly mine to live. I hear the Beloved's voice gently saying:

"The life you are living is too small for you. You know that. Stop your manic screaming. Stop haggling with me over the price. Stand up, and open yourself to the possibilities of this greater life. You've got this. You can do this. Step away from the altar of the false gods. Trust that you can leave your invisibility cloak behind. Trust that you are loved and supported. Take the next steps toward your one true life. Trust your journey. Embrace your soul-led life."

What an invitation to courageously engage our deep, inner work, our soul-work! To walk away from the altars we've built to the false gods. So that we can move toward our Great Work.

God is trying to sell you something

but you do not want to buy.

This is what your suffering is:

Your fantastic haggling

Your manic screaming over the price.

The work of dismantling these barricades, these false gods is our soul-work. It's the work of moving along the continuums towards the centre, where the archetypes exist in their true strength and wisdom.

Vulnerably showing up and doing this work is how we unlock our soul's potential.

The question is, can we become more conscious of the altars we worship at daily? Can we make the unconscious conscious? For as Carl Jung said, "Consciousness is a precondition for being."

Personally, I turn to numerology and astrology as two of the potent maps of consciousness that reveal our inner work, and our personal relationship with each of these archetypal continuums (or altars). But any self-reflective, evolutionary practise will support us. Some questions you could ponder include:

  • What fears or limiting beliefs do you cling to, as a child to their safety blanket?

  • Do you worship the god of perfectionism, approval, or invisibility, for example?

  • How does this "false god" offer you a sense of safety and protection?

  • How does this "false god" block you from embracing you authentic self?

  • What is the price you don't want to pay? What is it that feels like you'd be too vulnerable or exposed, if you gave it up?

  • How are you fantastically haggling with the Divine?

  • Are you willing to trust your soul-work? To trust your path? To step away from that altar you've built to "false gods", and move toward the centre of the continuum?

This is the work we embrace when we're committed to our path of personal evolution.

And, separately, I invite you to remember that in doing your soul-work, we all benefit, as a whole community. Truly, we are never working solely for ourselves.

We all benefit when we all shine.

Radiant blessings as you continue on your path, claiming the one life you can truly call your own (your Great Work). I hope the various poems, ideas, and imagery shared in this post is helpful in reframing any resistance you may feel to the work you're here to do?

If you have any questions, insights, or epiphanies, I would love to hear from you! Much love.


Juliette xo

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