The ego is sneaky. It likes to think it’s the master of the house.
The ego is like the overbearing party guest who decides they need to be the center of attention, and if no one likes it, they can damn well leave the party.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not one of those people who think the ego needs to be destroyed. On the contrary, when people talk about “transcending the ego,” I will often be the one of the first to defend the right of the ego to have a seat at the table, being, of course, integral to our individual survival.
But I also know the ego isn’t the master of the house (the body, the life). The soul is.
Most of the time, this knowledge is purely intellectual. I can’t claim to have gotten to a point in my life when the ego is never the master of my house. The times that my soul is entirely in charge have too much distance between them, amidst the fears and anxieties of life.
However, my personal intention in my spiritual practice isn’t to cut the ego down to size, as I’ve found this to be an exhausting endeavor; my intention, rather, is to make far more frequent the amount of time the soul is in charge. This takes consistency and a healthy dose of cleverness and awareness, but is far less likely to feel like rowing upstream with a heavy wind to your face.
As I said, though, the ego is sneaky. When it’s not being the overbearing party guest, it’s being the vindictive one; the one that will let the host (the soul) think that they’ve finally got a handle on things, and then they make a few snide remarks that emotionally beat down the host and–sometimes–ruin the party.
The ego is great for taking the piss out of people (as my Australian mother would say), as well as for when a situation calls for strong defenses. Not so great, however, for situations meant to be expansive and wonderful or, at the very least, fun.
On Monday this week, the New Moon, I cleaned my apartment as much as I could. Keeping up with a toddler’s messes is difficult at best, and I lamented that I hadn’t yet been able to buy a new vacuum. Still, I tried my best. After a semi-stressful midafternoon trip to the library with my grouchy Lunabugs, she was sitting in front of a movie as I made dinner. My energy felt scattered, and I felt a sudden yearning for ceremony.
Those are the times I know my soul is clearing her throat and nudging me: when the yearning for ceremony becomes so great that I move without thinking. Ceremony grows out of the moment instead of feeling forced.
I found myself in front of my altar. The lights were out, except for the blue glow of the small TV that Luna watched her movie on, and my mind was already working on tuning out the sounds of Barbie – The Diamond Castle. Smoke curled up from the sage bundle I held over the central candle flame, and I waved the smoke around the room and verbally intoned a prayer of cleansing and blessing (Luna ignored me, being used to me doing this sort of stuff).
By the time I made it back to the altar, the sound of the movie barely reached my ears. My arms were out. Gratitude and love were pouring forth from my heart as I prayed to the directions, to the manifestations of the divine I connect with, to the soul of the land. I barely spoke–rather, the prayer was a feeling, unleashing in pulsing waves from every part of me. I began to caress myself, starting at my feet and working my way upward, sending these waves of love and gratitude to every part of my body as my awareness dwelled in each. I swayed and danced as I reach my torso, sang and touched my tongue and ran my fingers through my hair as I brought myself nearly to the brink of tears (I always am, when I take the time to give myself love).
When I finally reached my head/brain and turned once more towards my altar, I lit the other three candles arranged around it, and picked up my glass of red wine. I poured some into a small glass bowl with a few sprigs of rosemary in it, and held the wine aloft, unexpected words bubbling up intuitively: “To the Original Love, from which came Life.”
The glass bowl I put down, and picked up my own glass again. Luna noticed what was happening, and asked to be picked up. I hefted her onto my hip, and held the glass up. “My intention for this New Moon, for this moon phase, is to stand in the light of the Original Love. I am in the flow of the Light of the Original Love.”
I sipped some wine, then began expressing my gratitude once more to the directions, the manifestations of the Divine in my life, and to the Land. “Thank you, ____, thank you for your presence!”
Luna grabbed my face. “My presents!” She claimed. I laughed, and kept speaking my farewell; Luna kept repeating her own statement. She joined me in saying “Blessed Be” as I extinguished each candle.
I was bathed in absolute pure bliss and gratitude. My soul was the life of the party. All of my inner eyes were on her and she filled my body-house with Life and Joy. I was riding the high of the party…
then Luna “colored” with blueberry-stained yogurt in two of my favorite poetry books.
Suddenly I plunged into absolute irritation. “No!” I cried. “Not okay! You know that’s not okay! Get away from my books!” (I’m very protective of my books.) My ego grabbed the mic and plunged into streams of foul language. “Ugh, if you would just pay attention…I can’t believe you would try to do a ritual with your TODDLER present…and now look, you’ve gone from spiritually connected and love-filled to hypocritically angry…who are you kidding, you’ll never be who you want to be if you can’t keep it together for one freaking hour after a ceremony, why do you even TRY?”
As I started resentfully reading to Luna, I suddenly realized what had happened.
I had just made a very powerful intention for this moon cycle to dwell in the very energy of Original Love, and my ego FREAKED OUT.
Out of self-preservation, it flipped its lid. It went “OH NO. There’s a chance I won’t be needed anymore. Something needs to go wrong. It is going to go wrong RIGHT NOW, and it’s going to happen because you’re riding a HIGH of SACREDNESS and you haven’t grounded properly yet and you’re not paying enough attention…!”
Then when that thing did go wrong, my ego went, “Oh good, now that that went wrong, I can now insult my host so badly that they won’t ever try to be in charge of this party again, and thus my rightful place of Head Honcho will no longer be jeopardized.”
Once I realized the drama that just went on between my soul and my ego, the irritation with myself and with Luna just completely melted away. It felt like such a grand joke to play on me.
In fact, I just had a thought: the situation could even be seen as the Universe playing a joke on me. “Oh look at that, Rebecca is getting too serious again, forgetting that no matter how spiritual-y she is, Life still happens, and Life is messy…so let’s send her a reminder, eh?”
I once read something–I can’t remember where, but it’s always stuck with me–where someone said something along the lines of, “If you’re not laughing with the Universe, you don’t get the joke.”
This time I got the joke. Maybe not in time to not be upset about my poetry books, but at least I laughed at myself in the end. Oh, ego–you’re a sneaky one. And the Universe is even sneakier.
And maybe that’s one of the qualities of Original Love. It’s finding your own mistakes genuinely hilarious.
So I laughed at myself, then kept reading to Luna–this time, with more expression, more comedy, more singing, so that when I was ready to stop and eat some dinner, she was desperate for me to continue.
Think of a time when your day seemed to go from great to horrible, yet somehow you were still able to laugh.
That was your soul, back in charge.