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Awakening the Mystic Within: A Call to Action for Individual and Collective Healing

Grandmother ThreeCrow, Celt, Nanticoke Lenape/Delaware and adopted Lakota, leader of traditional ceremonies and caretaker of the Can’nupa Wakan Sacred Pipe, shared with me this year that we are born in a “time of prophecy”. A time of great changes, exceptional and unprecedented times. Her wisdom often saved me from falling into the broken narratives and idealistic “solutions” of our world to fix our greatest crisis.

I think most of us can relate that the last five years have been as such. We are facing an unprecedented crisis. We re-act from places of fear, trauma, and known Western belief systems and we ultimately perpetuate the very core of the systems that have brought us into such a mess.

Joanna Macy, a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking, and deep ecology, and a respected voice in movements for peace, justice, and ecology calls it “the Great Turning”. As the root teacher of “The Work That Reconnects”, Joanna has created a ground-breaking framework for personal and social change, as well as a powerful workshop methodology for its application.

Looking at my life over the past 10 years and listening to the experiences of so many I have connected with, it is apparent that there is indeed a great turn occurring in individual lives, communities, and countries. The world as we know it is a crazy spiral turning faster and faster, where most of us are losing our ground and center.

That inhumane speed, acting way beyond the limits of what bodies and minds can allow and receive in healthy ways, is calling an awakening of the mystic within each of us—much like the prophets, sages, and spiritual guides of old-. This awakening makes us keenly aware of our immense challenges, some of which are catastrophically incomprehensible and deeply daunting to our spirit.

I remember vividly the smoke of the Canadian fires this summer touching all of Eastern United States (that are still burning 4 months later…) and feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed by the immensity of their daunting messages. Yet I could hear, and feel, the deeper message of what all this was trying to show us.

Much like the shamans and animistic guides of ancient times, and my beloved elders and teachers, our awakened mystic sees beyond the dread, revealing the wonder of alchemizing our pain and insecurities into profound wisdom. But this transformation can only manifest if we allow ourselves to traverse our trials with undeterred courage and an open heart. It can also truly only happen if we surround ourselves with the necessary elders, wisdom, and practices to hold such a large collective rite of passage.

Our world, bruised by the ravages of war conflicts, separation, oppression, ecological destruction, and resource exploitation, cries for relief and healing. Often, the journey of healing is initiated during the darkest times of our lives, as the story of Saint Francis of Assisi clearly shows us.

Before he became one of the most venerated religious figures in history, Francis was the son of a wealthy Italian cloth merchant who lived a life of luxury and worldly pleasure. His life underwent a profound transformation during the dark times he experienced as a prisoner of war. Falling severely ill during his captivity, Francis began to question the corporeal pleasures he once pursued so fervently, eventually leading him toward the path of spiritual awakening.

It was this crucible that transformed Francis into a mystic filled with boundless compassion, spiritual understanding, and a divine connection with all beings. Francis reminds us that even in the face of the most dolorous, daunting darkness, there lies the potential for a new dawn.

As modern-day mystics within this world, we are constantly asked: what can we do, where should we focus our energies, prayers, and actions?

Witnessing the effects of war conflicts and the rise of oppressive systems, we see our collective reality submerged by fear and suffering. It is the mystic within us who can see beyond the damage, tirelessly seeking harmony in ourselves, our societies, lands, and ecosystems.

Our inner mystic calls out against discrimination on all fronts and seeks to heal the divisions born from our deeply ingrained biases. It longs to bridge the divisions that fear has widened, urging us to bind the fragments of our humanity back into its intended whole.

Our mystic eyes look fearlessly upon our wounded Earth, acknowledging the grave implications of exploiting her bounties unsustainably. It dares to face the pressing threats of climate change and environmental catastrophes, stirring in us the urgency to be responsible stewards of our shared home.

As we awaken the mystic within, we acknowledge our struggles in this interconnected web of existence, and also give power to our ancient wisdom, the ancient instructions we were handed as we came onto this Earth.

Yet, tired bodies, anxious minds, and dysregulated nervous systems overpower our wisdom and deplete our energies. We are called to attend to our shared vulnerability, and our collective suffering, and comfort our tender selves.

In this spirit of collective healing, in reflection of my experiences of cultivating the mystic within me, I offer twelve practices for individual and collective transformation here. These practices are centered on nurturing our awakened mystic and are designed to support us in navigating through our chaotic times with wisdom, clarity, and energy.

1. Mystic Mindfulness: Engage in mindfulness practices - meditation, breathwork, or journaling. This is a way to commune with your inner mystic, gain self-awareness, stress management, and build overall well-being. Cultivating this connection lays a path for mental clarity and emotional regulation.

How can you incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine to better connect with your inner mystic?

2. Nature Connection as a Mystic Practice: Initiating a deep relationship with nature - through gardening, hiking, or spending time in green spaces - facilitates a profound spiritual bond. It's like communicating with the ancient mystics of the Earth, helping to strengthen your physical health, grounding, and cultivating a sense of interconnectedness.

What specific steps can you take this week to immerse yourself more in nature?

3. Empathy and Compassion - Mystic Virtues: Foster empathy and compassion through learning about different cultures, volunteering, or practicing kindness. This practice bridges divides and fosters unity, stemming from a deep mystic understanding of the shared human experience.

Which specific actions will you implement in your everyday life to extend empathy and compassion towards others?

4. Active Mystic Citizenship: Engage in advocacy for social justice and community initiatives. Mystics believe in the power latent in each of us. Acting upon this belief through political participation will bring about meaningful change at the grassroots and global levels, express the depth of our healing, and render service to the world.

What cause or community project could you lend your voice or resources to create positive change?

5. Mystic Creative Expressions: Cultivate creativity and self-expression through arts, dance, music, or other forms of artistic engagement. This aligns with the mystic understanding of expression as a conduit for healing, personal growth, and well-being.

Is there a form of artistic expression you've always wanted to try? How can you schedule it for your upcoming week?

6. Self-care - The Mystic Priority: Prioritize self-care - regular exercise, nutritious food, and adequate rest. Mystics understand the sacred nature of the body as a temple, and ensuring its health is a key to unlocking spiritual growth and resilience.

How will you prioritize self-care this week, and what changes can you make to ensure this becomes a regular part of your life?

7. Mystic Bonds of Affection: Nurture deep connections with loved ones through listening, open communication, and building support networks. The mystic within understands the invaluable nature of unity, bonds, and collective well-being.

Who can you invest more time in this week to strengthen your personal connections?

8. Holistic Mystic Healing: Seek therapy, energy work, or other forms of holistic healing to navigate societal challenges. Mystics value balance; availing professional support helps maintain it across your emotional and mental well-being.

Have you been open to seeking professional help? If not, what held you back and what initial steps can you take this week?

9. Gratitude - Mystic Affirmation: Cultivating gratitude every day aligns us with the cosmic law of abundance. This enduring mystic practice enhances resilience, redirects focus towards positivity, supports emotional well-being, and fosters connection with the self and others.

Can you think of five things you're grateful for today? How can you make this a daily practice?

10. Sustainable Living - Mystic Stewardship: Engaging in sustainable practices, such as reducing waste, conserving energy, and supporting eco-friendly initiatives is a testament to our role as mystic stewards of Earth.

What is one sustainable practice you exert consistently for the betterment of our planet and future generations? Is there one you always wanted to start but have not yet? What could you do to start in the coming weeks?

11. The Mystic Art of Disconnection: The eleventh and likely most challenging practice is to DISCONNECT. In our era of information overload, the constant bombardment of social media, news, phones, and notifications significantly stresses our nervous system. The mystic within calls for solace, appreciating that silence and solitude are fertile grounds for deep self-reflection and spiritual connection.

Simply put, our beings are not naturally equipped to handle this overwhelming influx of information. Muting this incessant noise holds the power to significantly reduce our anxiety, enhance our presence in the moment, and cultivate a deeper and more heartfelt connection with our lives.

Consider this: turn off ALL notifications on your phone, resort to SILENT ONLY mode (allowing only emergency calls to ring), and check your social media accounts sparingly. Invoke the spirit of the mystic living unencumbered by the shackles of distraction, perhaps even trying to retreat from electronics for specific times during the day or week.

This intentional disconnection aligns with the value mystics place on introspection, retreating from external noise to deeply listen to the whispers of their soul. Practice this for a few days, and you'll be surprised by how liberating this disconnection can be in awakening the mystic within.

How can you reduce your screen time this week to make room for more silence and introspection?

12. Mystic Prayer and Divine Connection: The twelfth practice invites the art of prayer, a deeply mystic method of forging connections with the Divine. Prayers, in their numerous forms, represent an earnest dialogue between you and the universe, a sacred conversation that transcends the boundaries of the physical realm.

Turning to prayer provides solace, engenders hope, and enhances resilience. Prayers help us articulate the yearnings of our soul, the requests we humbly present before the Spirit and the gratitude we wish to express -- fortifying our spiritual compass.

The mystic within also encourages Spirit Connection, a profound openness to the whisperings of the universe. This can be sought in moments of solitude, in the heart of nature, or in other spaces that resonate with you the most. This connection nurtures our intuitive abilities and cultivates a deep sense of communion with the energy web that connects all living things.

Embrace this practice and feel your worries recede, replaced with serene confidence that the universe is conspiring in your favor, guiding you along your path and ever-present in your journey.

How can you make prayer and connection to the spirit a regular part of your life, and what spaces allow you to feel this profound link most strongly?

Want to explore and work on those practices? Download a journal prompt PDF to explore this further.

Mystic's Path Exploration (Journal prompts)
Download PDF • 54KB

In light of these practices, I propose The Mystic’s Tenfold Path, ten guiding principles derived from the mystic journey and teachings to help us live as awakened mystics.

The Mystic's Tenfold Path

1. Nurture A Bond with Nature: Develop a strong relationship with nature, acknowledging her wisdom, peace, and interconnectedness.

2. Mission of Stewardship: Honor our role as guardians of the Earth, upholding sustainable practices territorially and globally.

3. Cultivate Inner Awareness: Engage in mindfulness practices that deepen the connection with your inner mystic, promoting self-awareness and overall well-being.

4. Prioritize Self-Care: Honor your body as the temple for your mystic journey, ensuring its well-being through rest, nutrition, and exercise.

5. Extend Empathy and Compassion: Foster empathy and understanding, embodying the shared human connection and experience through the mystic lens.

6. Nurture Relationships: Strengthen connections with loved ones and community, valuing unity, bonds, and collective well-being as fundamental mystic values.

7. Express Creatively: Encourage self-expression through creative outlets, resonating with the mystic path of healing, personal growth, and fulfillment.

8. Seek Silence and Disconnection: Value silence and intentional disconnection from distractions as gateways for deep self-reflection and spiritual clarity.

9. Cultivate Gratitude: Embrace a daily practice of gratitude, aligning with the cosmic flow, enhancing resilience, and nurturing emotional well-being.

10. Prayer and Spirit Connection: Engage in the mystic practice of prayer and divine connection, fostering resilience, hope, and a sense of oneness with the universe.

You can download the "Mystic's Tenfold Path" PDF here

The Mystic's Tenfold Path
Download PDF • 42KB

Our awakened mystic calls us to return to our roots, seeking healing in the ordinary and extraordinary. This, in essence, is a transformative journey that we are called to undertake individually to experience its effects on a collective level. Remember Francis, he was not just “angry” at the injustice and his world, he took drastic steps to change his life and addressing the collective suffering but stripping himself from all the attributes that he saw as counter-productive in his new embodied understanding.

Healing ourselves is indeed the first step towards collective healing, contributing to the creation of a more compassionate, just, and sustainable future. When the intensity of global issues overwhelms us, the mystic within reminds us that enduring changes only come through dedicated self-healing and daily discipline.

Igniting such powerful change is indeed a colossal endeavor, likewise, it is the most vital work of our time.

In the next few months, I will release an online class titled "Awakening the Mystic Within: A Journey of Collective Healing". I am working on weaving content from a broad range of my teachers, elders, and my personal journey. The class will be designed to embody our role as awakened mystics within a world that yearns for healing — because the mystic understands that even the journey of a thousand miles starts within the self.

So, let's keep our eyes on the guiding stars and our tender souls, and let’s call our inner mystic.

With my gratitude and deep prayer,

Angell Deer

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1 Comment

Kevin Henry
Kevin Henry
Oct 15, 2023

This is a great post and very helpful. The feeling of helplessness to be able to create change can be overwhelming at times. I see this as a practical guide. Thank you for making the pdf's as well. I will be printing them out. Both are great to be able to refer to. I love the 12 journal prompts and I very much look forward to learning more about this class when you release it. Thank you!!


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