I would be the first person to agree with John Lennon that “all you need is love”. I mean, I am a Hippie Witch, albeit with a punk lining.

But all the same, there has to be a “you” there too.

If I think about my understanding of spirituality, over and again, it comes down to love and relationship. But there is that bit that comes down to authentic and separate selfhood. The “separate” bit is ultimately questionable, indeed illusory, but that’s part of what we deal with.

The very crux of separate selfhood is a medicine of which there is but one drop. Too much and its necessarily toxic qualities preponderate. But without it, there is a different kind of problem, a different kind of barrenness. It takes a drop of Nature reversed, to awaken Nature to real life. Though of course it is all a Greater Nature in the end. I don’t know if it’s just me that finds that a conundrum, but a conundrum I do find it.

Without the separate self there can be no experience, no wisdom, no awakening. And in our little lives, we have to deal with this. Which is like dealing with the fact that we are here at all.

Even when we deal with the world in those “little lives” (which is most of everything for most of us), it is obvious to most people that strife and struggle cannot form the matrix of happiness and fulfillment. And separation is a condition of both strife and attraction, struggle and the promise of bliss. But though we may have ideals of non-harm, of harmony, of balance, of mutuality (and even the gung ho have their chosen sanctuaries), we still need boundaries. And while I do believe, seriously, that such boundaries are best maintained positively and with good will, it remains that to have self esteem in practice, you have to be in touch with the part of you that has the potential to “do harm” (which is a whole subject in context). It is a matter of neither pride nor shame, but of embodiment I think. In fact it is the potential to do, and to do differently, at all. To not be in touch with that is to leave it unconscious, unintegrated, and the self psychologically undefended. Not only can this lead to a “victim identity” (and victimhood is no virtue), but also to projection and lack of responsibility. You absolutely need a certain amount of gargoyle in your psychological repertoire. If as the saying goes, “a sword’s power resides in its sheath”, it nevertheless remains that you have both sword and sheath. It’s part of the chemistry of life.

Without this medicine – no wisdom, no art, no imagination, no science. And also, no irreplaceable, unique self.

Having said that, love is all you need. So let your love light shine.

“The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorus” by Joseph Wright of Derby [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



  1. The relationship with the self is for most of us a hard one to work at. I think we are so socially groomed that accepting our not so good aspects in a positive way is made nigh on impossible, after all we can’t just turn our backs on ‘me’ like we can on other people, yet we are conditioned over and over that some aspects are wrong. Acting on some urges may well be wrong but accepting we get those urges is not the same as doing.

  2. Pingback: Chrysalis

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