Higher Self, Deeper Self

I’m wary of the language of ‘higher self’ although it crops up a lot in New Age writing. For me it goes with a sense that things away from the earth and body are superior. Elevation goes with notions of hierarchy, too, which also makes me uneasy.

Talking about deeper self has an earthy sound to it, evoking something more like archaeological layers. Just as the earth is made up of rock and soil layers that represent history, so the deeper self is a vast accumulation of where we’ve been and what’s happened to us. It does not have authority over the everyday self, but it has resources the everyday self doesn’t.

Who we fully are can’t be expressed in a single moment. Who we are will depend on context, and what emerges in response to whatever is going on. We draw on our deeper selves all the time. Intuition, off the cuff decision, inexplicable whim – this can all be rooted in the soil of our deep self. How we understand the world and what we think is normal can also be part of a bigger identity that we aren’t necessarily conscious of. How we react to different things can teach us a lot about who we are.

Spiritual language is often full of hierarchy and authority. It’s there when we talk about transcendence, and enlightenment. It’s there in any spiritual tradition that tells us to overcome the body and worldly things for the sake of the soul. The language of ascending as a spirit to the sky God, permeates our language and even if you haven’t been raised a monotheist, those ideas are everywhere. Even if you don’t believe in it, ascending towards light can turn up as a layer in your deep archaeology. It amuses me greatly to suggest this. Bodies of course tend to go down rather than up in the natural scheme of things. Our earthy parts make their way back to the earth.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

8 responses to “Higher Self, Deeper Self

  • Blodeuwedd

    I like the language of ‘deep self’….a very useful term, I think!

  • Eliza Ayres

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.

  • neptunesdolphins

    Spiritual language of today is steeped in the monotheistic culture. Few have any other concepts for any other spirituality. The Higher Self which started in ancient Christianity and later picked up by Emerson and others involve unifying with the God-head. Later, under the New Age and Jung, it took on the meaning of personal divinity. But still is merging with the other Higher Selves into a monotheistic God-being.

    The Great Chain of Being in Christianity promoted the hierarchy and the single purpose of beings. So Polytheists end up with the sky Gods being “more important” than the earth Gods, and nowhere to put Spirits of the Place. Also, they are left with single purpose Gods in two ways. For example, Mars is only the God of War, and He is the only God of War for the Romans. Neither are true.

    The Higher Self is also an aspect of the Christian war on the Dead and Ancestors. Theology eliminated the multiple soul concepts of Polytheistic traditions. We are left with one soul, instead of the many. So again, the language to recapture multiple souls is missing or difficult to parse out. Higher Self = One Soul. Romans had several souls, some of which existed after death to aid the family.

  • The Other Schell

    We go to the same places
    Use the same breaths
    Deny same hierarchies
    Dwell the same depths

    We travel the same spaces
    You view the past
    Marked with our histories
    Cause of self last

    We self teach our self study
    I view the now
    Marked with our mysteries
    Spirit source wow.

  • lornasmithers

    To be honest I’ve never quite quite got the emphasis on self development in Paganism at all. I’m not too sure I actually have a self although I do believe I have a body and a soul and I am interested in the descent of and the depths of each although up is occasionally good too!

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