Hello, dear Fellow Traveler. Welcome to full stop.
My intension is that this serves as a space to explore what it means to be human, often (but not only) through tarot. My hope is that this can be an outlet for sharing, creation, and connection with other mystics of the mundane who are also humbly walking the path of the heart. I don’t believe we’re meant to walk alone.
Below is an excerpt from The Divine Milieu by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I invite you to take a full stop with it— to rest in the words that have traveled through time to reach you now.
Teilhard de Chardin was a scientist and a Jesuit priest. I find his language and mystic vision stunning in its depth and beauty. It’s taken months to end up halfway through the slim book I’ve quoted here, but each time I pick it up I feel changed in subtle but significant ways.
Teilhard de Chardin understood the divine from a Christian perspective, and used the word “God” to name it. This word conjures up complex feelings for me, particularly because it is so often weaponized against people.
I do not identify as a Christian myself, but I am being deeply shaped by teachers of Christian mystic/wisdom tradition. Because of this, I’ve been reclaiming “God” as the eternal, unknowable origin & destination of existence; the animating forces of change and Love. I’m experimenting with what it feels like to trust that “God” is the stardust we are made of, the first atoms of the universe, the breath I just took.
If this word doesn’t work for you, try reading the excerpt below using one that does (The Universe, Love, the divine, Goddess, Allah, etc…), but don’t let it trip you up. The same freedom applies with gendered terms— use what allows you to enter the text with an open heart.
I encourage you to read this piece out loud at least once, to hear it in your own voice. Stop and sit with it as you need to. Give it space to breathe. See if it reminds you of anything. I see the journey of tarot all over this quote, but you might recognize something else. Pay attention to what it makes you feel, emotionally and in your body.
I hope you’ll leave a comment if you feel compelled to share what it awakens in your heart. 🖤
Excerpt from The Divine Milieu (1960), by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (emphasis my own):
… We shall be astonished at the extent and the intimacy of our relationship with the universe.
Where are the roots of our being? In the first place they plunge back and down into the unfathomable past. How great is the mystery of the first cells which were one day animated by the breath of our souls! How impossible to decipher the welding of successive influences in which we are forever incorporated! In each one of us, through matter, the whole history of the world is in part reflected. And however autonomous our soul, it is indebted to an inheritance worked upon from all sides— before ever it came into being— by the totality of the energies of the earth: it meets and rejoins life at a determined level. Then, hardly has it entered actively into the universe at that particular point than it feels, in its turn, besieged and penetrated by the flow of cosmic influences which have to be ordered and assimilated. Let us look around us: the waves come from all sides and from the farthest horizon. Through every cleft the world we perceive floods us with its riches— food for the body, nourishment for the eyes, harmony of sounds and fullness of the heart, unknown phenomena and new truths, all of these treasures, all of these stimuli, all the calls, coming to us from the four corners of the world, cross our consciousness at every moment. What is their role within us? What will their effect be, even if we welcome them passively or indistinctly, like bad workmen? They will merge into the most intimate life of our soul and either develop it or poison it. We only have to look at ourselves for one moment to realize this, and either feel delight or anxiety. If even the most humble and most material of our foods is capable of deeply influencing our most spiritual faculties, what can be said of the infinitely more penetrating energies conveyed to us by the music of tones, of notes, of words, of ideas? We have not, in us, a body which takes its nourishment independently of our soul. Everything that the body has admitted and has begun to transform must be transfigured by the soul in its turn. The soul does this, no doubt, in its own way and with its own dignity. But it cannot escape from this universal contact nor from that unremitting labour. And that is how the characteristic power of understanding and loving, which will form its immaterial individuality, is gradually perfected in it for its own good and at its own risk. We hardly know in what proportions and under what guise our natural faculties will pass over into the final act of the vision of God. But it can hardly be doubted that, with God’s help, it is here below that we give ourselves the eyes and the heart which a final transfiguration will make the organs of a power of adoration, and of a capacity for beatification, particular to each individual man and woman among us.
The masters of the spiritual life incessantly repeat that God wants only souls. To give those words their true value, we must not forget that the human soul, however independently created our philosophy represents it as being, is inseparable, in its birth and in its growth, from the universe into which it is born. In each soul, God loves and partly saves the whole world which that soul sums up in an incommunicable and particular way. But this summing-up, this welding, are not given to us ready-made and complete with the first awakening of consciousness. It is we who, through our own activity, must industriously assemble the widely scattered elements. The labor of seaweed as it concentrates in its tissues the substances scattered, in infinitesimal quantities, through the vast layers of the ocean; the industry of bees as they make honey from the juices broadcast in so many flowers— these are but pale images of the ceaseless working-over that all the forces of the universe undergo in us in order to reach the level of spirit.
Thus every man, in the course of his life, must not only show himself obedient and docile. By his fidelity he must build— starting with the most natural territory of his own self— a work, an opus, into which something enters from all the elements of earth. He makes his own soul throughout all his earthly days; and at the same time he collaborates in another work, in another opus, which infinitely transcends, while at the same time it narrowly determines, the perspectives of his individual achievement: the completing of the world.
Until next time,
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Düd. I see what you mean about Chardin taking a long time to read. I bought a used copy of this book when I was last at Powell's Books and dang, now I know why I find it so intimidating. Every sentence is so packed with prose and meaning. I'm going to do a close reading (read it 3 or 4 times) and then come back to this space to share once I have my mind wrapped around it. Thanks for sharing! Let's get "She makes her own soul" shirts made.
this was lovely! and so thought provoking. The final paragraph was the most stirring for me. I keep hearing the words: "She makes her own soul..."
To turn this sort of fixed idea of destiny or purpose on its head. We are not born of or with or for some preordained soul with an already defined destiny. What if we create our soul as we go along.... Evolving daily, in the same slow way the rest of nature does: molding and shaping as we go. Breathing the world, and our very souls, into existence. Breathing our souls INTO purpose. Instead of finding our purpose or fulfilling our purpose
This thought also occurred to me recently after working through a rather rough period of time:
“And then, I remembered who I am. And I felt this sense of power enter my body from all directions.”
But maybe, it’s not that you ever forgot who you are - that being that IS, is always growing and shaping and changing. That will be inherently disorienting. But maybe it’s that you forgot how to keep creating yourself.