Jan 01

Ripley says… Happy New Year!

34415288_10160429581515147_7707758441229451264_nHello. My name is Ripley an’ I am a broken haired lurcher. I’m only two but I have learned one or two things about life an’ I wanted to share them with you. My friend Timmy runs this blog an’ he let me borrow it for a bit.

Have a great year! heart-paw

Ripley’s life lessons . . .

Photo 2019-12-16 14.08.16Live your own style.

Photo 2019-12-02 14.02.33Take time to enjoy the scenery.

Photo 2019-11-24 11.20.45  Life will sometimes bring you strange bedfellows. Embrace them.

Photo 2019-08-04 15.24.32

Enjoy seeing new places.

Photo 2019-11-24 10.47.19  Ignore your critics.

Photo 2019-11-04 13.57.50Always check your friends want to play before bouncin’ all over them.

Follow your own patPhoto 2019-10-25 13.06.27h. It confuses people.

Photo 2019-10-16 14.18.53Always live hopeful.

Photo 2019-10-16 14.16.44 Make sure you get enough chill time.

Photo 2019-10-16 13.39.16Be ready to drop everything to go on a ‘venture with a friend.

Photo 2019-10-11 14.26.34  Be polite.

Photo 2019-10-16 13.28.12Explore everything.

Photo 2019-09-20 20.08.13  Share a laugh with people you love.

Photo 2019-09-10 14.11.41 Have fun.

Photo 2019-11-30 16.59.45 Maintain your boundaries.

Get plenty of exercise . . . Photo 2018-10-22 13.53.25

Photo 2018-10-09 18.33.28 …but know when to stop.

farm 10Always have that one special friend you can be yourself with.

farm 8  Talk to animals. ‘specially dogs.

Photo 2018-09-09 16.47.50

Did I mention getting’ enough chill time?

Muddy Doggy It’s OK to get a little muddy sometimes. It’ll wash off and you may end up smellin’ of raspberries.

Photo 2019-09-20 21.23.04Don’t worry what others think about you.

tuckered Make sure you have somewhere you can feel safe, secure an’ comf’table.

Photo 2019-02-26 19.49.34Learn to listen to good advice

Photo 2019-02-14 13.19.07 If you’re not sure what to do next, have a sit down and listen to what your heart is tellin’ you.

Photo 2018-09-05 14.31.15Sometimes, you just need coffee.

67978066_499483167536949_8660797966086307840_n If it makes you feel good, do it. Even if other folks don’t understand.

Photo 2019-06-20 14.20.59Always be ready to go for a walk in the countryside.

j n r Make lots of time for relaxin’ with a friend.


Eat good food.

Photo 2018-09-05 08.22.30  Devour good books.

Photo 2018-09-04 16.38.34Take an active int’rest in other people’s work.

Photo 2019-02-26 14.21.02 Sometimes, the only thing to do is to just tune out and let the world go by.

Photo 2018-09-06 20.58.59 Remember . . .You be you.

And remember to enjoy the journey . . .

Photo 2018-09-13 18.13.05

Jun 16

Finding my Way

good idea - ogg

I’ve been a bit absent from sharing deeper thought over the last few months – much has happened and I have been struggling to make sense of it, and to work out where I go next. Slowly things become clearer on my journey into the future.. I realise that in many ways I have been hiding out, undecided as to what I want to do, yet conscious that there is a lot that I have wanted to say – and yet unsure as to whether any of that held real value to anyone, whether it was worth sharing. I have found myself of one mind with Rumi when he said “Everyone has been called for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put into their heart“, and yet I was afraid that I had missed something important – or that I was in some way disqualified.

It has been an uncomfortable and uncertain time for me in many many ways, some of which I have written about before – but I find myself in the same situation as Anaïs Nin: “Then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to blossom.”

I have wanted for a while to give some focus to my blogging and writing, to share what I believe – to go deeper into my own spiritual and life journey and unlock some of the secrets of the keys to Life.. to be an agent for Peace, to tread a path of Freedom, of Love, and of Kindness, to be in some way a wayfinder. I don’t claim to have any answers, just reflections on what I feel to be true, and the reason I share them is because those messages are actually intended first for me. And if others find them helpful, then that’s great.

And so much of what I write is intended for me, as I try and make sense of what I believe. I have moved some way from the simplistic Judeo-Christian beliefs of my youth as I find myself embracing New Thought, Buddhism, Taoism and more in my own personal world view.. and so much of what I write is bringing together what I feel. I hope I share it with humility, with wisdom, and with kindness.

As I say on my new blog “I cannot tell you the shape of your faith. I can only tell you the shape of mine, and help you catch the echoes in your own soul.”

I feel very much like Jack Kerouac when he said ” I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion” – in many ways I am simply trying for myself to make sense of what I see – surrounded by my own confusions and conflicts, fears, doubts and weaknesses. This may yet be the most personal part of my journey so far, but as I was out walking today, asking where I could learn more, and where I could find someone to teach me, a still small voice inside asked “and at what point in your life are you going to start to share what you have already learned?” I hope that in some way I shall be a wayfinder – to seek to discover a path that rings true out of all that I find faces us.

For me, it’s time to write and blog again, without any expectation of what this might become, but merely as a vehicle for me to share what’s on my heart: so here’s what’s happening to my on line stuff, as far as I know: and it all starts with a question . . .

Who are you?

I’m conscious that my Facebook friends fall into several groups – those who are part of the dance world, those who have been part of my coaching and personal development journey, those I have worked with or studied with, and those I have encountered as we have shared moments of our own personal spiritual quests. And then there are friends and family and other folk that have gathered round me as the great tumbleweed spins through life. Some of my friends pop up all over the place, disappearing from one part of my life only to resurface, unexpectedly, elsewhere…

Because of the wide range of people on my pages, I’ve often found myself being limited as to what I post on my wall – in trying to be all things to all men and avoid controversy and criticism, I have found myself not expressing myself as clearly, as lucidly or as radically as I want to.

So I’m not going to be publishing everything everywhere – but I know that many of you will want to stay in touch with what I am writing.

Here’s what I am hoping will happen…

My main web page at timhodgson.org will remain as the main ‘go to’ place for my work, including my books and more. Expect to see that grow in coming months.

Remember…You are Amazing will continue to be a place for me to post little reminders of just how incredible, gifted, talented and wonderful each one of us is. I’ll probably carry on posting those on my personal Facebook page as well as on the Facebook page Just to Remind You – You’re Amazing. Because I can. Although I might not.

Importantly, I’m going to be stepping up a gear on my other blogs:

Shape of my Soul will be a very personal blog exploring my own personal take on spirituality and on faith. I am still (and always will be) on a journey to discover what I believe and understand – a draughty journey without the traditional pillars of faith and belief that continues to take me into new territory and causes me to explore new world views and assemble my own statement of faith.

In particular I plan on starting a series specifically exploring my adventures in studying the Tao Te Ching, which has come to life for me in a very real way of late.

I will try and bring that together with more stuff on my main “Tim Hodgson” blog – thoughts and observations on how the world works, and how we can explore our own personal power and step into a new freedom to truly live our lives.

I will be posting updates to my Tim Hodgson – Exploring the Power of You Facebook page so take a trip over there and ‘Like’ that page if you want to stay up to date on Facebook. Those posts are very unlikely to make it onto my personal Facebook page. And I will be wrapping it all up into one little package for newsletter subscribers at timhodgson.org.

That should help me be clearer about who I am writing for, and allow me to go deeper where it matters. These are exciting times, and I’m glad to be getting back into sharing what’s on my heart again. There’s a lot of amazing stuff starting to bubble up as the future becomes clearer and my purpose and mission starts to unfold.

So, Facebook friends.. if you’re happy just to stay friends on Facebook… that’s great. No action needed.

If you want to make sure you get some reminders and inspiration that will make you think.. then hop over to Just to Remind You – You’re Amazing and like the page there.

And if you want to engage with me on some of the other deeper stuff then take a trip to Tim Hodgson – Exploring the Power of You and like that page.

Looking forward to chatting some more . . .



Find out more at www.timhodgson.org



Oct 17

Walking with Heroes–The Whole Story

hearty yes - campbell


When I set out to reshare the Walking with Heroes programme, I had two goals in mind – the first was to get this material out to more people who will find it resonate with them, and the second being to jump start my own adventure. And perhaps it’s important to close the series with a quote from the man who made such a huge contribution to this way of seeing life – Joe Campbell himself.

I have found the insights of ‘Walking with Heroes’ to be hugely beneficial in understanding myself – where I am in life, the story of my life so far – and more importantly, allowing me to write my own story into the future. I’ve literally done that – cloaked in the imagery of a tale that might have been set in the days of Arthur and Merlin, I’ve actually written out how I see my life unfolding in a world of magic, princes & princesses, of dragons, adventures, wisdom and travels. I’m not going to share it, because it’s my story, and it’s deeply personal – as yours will be – but I am looking forward to seeing how it unfolds. You might like to try the same – perhaps you will resonate with mediaeval themes, perhaps yours will be more space opera, or 18th century romance… whatever works in your world.

I wanted to leave you with the contents page so you can take a look at any that intrigue you – you may well find that one leaps out at you even as you read this list. Feel free to dip in and out, to follow what appeals to you.


1. Meeting the Heroes

2. Discovering the Hero’s Journey

3. The Journey Revealed

4. Stuck in the Story


5. Safety and Security-The Innocent

6. Loss and Disappointment – The Orphan

7. Boundaries and Battlegrounds-The Warrior

8. Compassion and Kindness – The Caregiver

9. What moves you?


10. Exploration and Discovery–The Seeker

11. Turmoil and Chaos – The Revolutionary

12. Passion and Tenderness–The Lover

13. Design and Build-The Creator


14. Prosperity and Harmony-The Ruler

15. Creation and Transformation–The Wizard

16. Dragons and Princesses-more on magic

17. Curiosity and Wisdom–The Sage

18. Laughter and Living-The Trickster


19. Putting it Together

20. The Next Steps on the Journey


Above all, though, say ‘yes’ to your own adventure. There has never been a better time to begin starring in your own story – to rewrite the story as you want to see it. The world is full of magic, if we choose to see it. The world is full of possibilities, if we choose to look for them. And the world is full of happiness, if we choose to allow it.

Thankyou for allowing me to share this with you.

With Love


Find out more at www.timhodgson.org


This series is based on the work of Carol S Pearson, Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, among others. I am grateful to each of them for their wisdom and insight.

Oct 15

The next steps on the journey-Walking with Heroes Part 20


So here we are, you and I. A crazy race through the heroes that we encounter every day. We meet and greet one of those heroes in every single encounter that we have.. once we look past the mask of ‘ordinary’ that every one of us wears. Behind that business suit is a Caregiver, or a Seeker. That woman at the checkout is a Creator, or a Ruler of her life or her charity work. That scruffy kid at the mall? Wizard in training. We encounter them everywhere. Some of them know who they are, secure in the knowledge that they are ruling their world, or creating magic for people. Others don’t know just how much the Sage is present in their life – just how wise they really are. Still others don’t see how the fact that they laugh everything off is just the Trickster in them demonstrating their non-attachment to the world.

Each of us is on a journey, you know. For some of us, we haven’t quite begun our next journey. Perhaps we’re in safe harbour, everything seems to be going smoothly. Perhaps we’re feeling the itch of adventure, a sense that ‘anything could happen’. Perhaps there’s a rising frustration in our lives, a sense that life should be more than this, bigger than this, more exciting, more vivid. This is a great place to be – because the adventure is about to unfold for you – if you let it. Say ‘yes’ to those invitations and see what happens. Follow your curiosity. Explore those possibilities.

Others of us are in the midst of our journey. We’re experiencing the craziness of the struggle, the restlessness and rootlessness of the journey. Sometimes it’s exciting, incredible, vivid, beautiful, glorious. Some times it feels like hard work. Sometimes it’s simply painful. There are moments when we’ll experience the dark night of the soul – where we will fall to our knees and say ‘Why me?’ Moments when we feel afraid, or when the life is being sucked out of us. There are dragons to tame, there are fair maidens to be rescued, magic to be created. There are companions to be made, friendships to be forged, partnerships and alliances to be created. There are new worlds to be explored and discoveries to be revealed. There are gifts to be won, new capabilities and strengths to be revealed. There are lessons to be learned, wisdom to be revealed. New worlds to be explored. Kingdoms to be built, barriers to be torn down. There are people to be set free, battles to be fought, wounds to be mended, romances to be found.

Every single story you have encountered contains within it archetypal truth, whether it is Lord of the Rings or Cinderella, The Magic Far Away Tree or Transformers. Look below the surface of the story and see what it is really telling you. Listen to the whispers.

Learn to let go

Sometimes, the stories we create around ourselves don’t serve us well. We find ourselves stuck and unable to go on. “I’m too old” – “I’m too young” – “I’ve failed before and now I can’t get back up”… these are just stories that we tell ourselves. And like all stories they are not real. Sure, you might have lost your business five years ago. You might feel that you’ve failed. You might have had an abusive childhood or marriage. You might have been deceived, stolen from – but whatever they are, they are just stories. How do I know this? Because they are in the past. The present and what we’re experiencing right NOW is the only thing that matters. And in this moment, anything is possible. I’m not denying the impact that those events have had on your life, on your confidence, on your self worth. But are you going to carry on giving room in your head to stories that don’t serve you? Or are you going to let go of those stories and move on? Over time we convince ourselves that that’s reality. And it’s actually just a story that we’re telling ourselves. You can tell a new one – a more empowering one – any time you like. Go ahead. Write a new story. Decide how you want your life to be and step into it.

The short cut

Even as I write the words ‘short cut’ I can feel my resistance rising. ‘Life isn’t meant to be simple’ I can hear myself saying. Sometimes it isn’t. But only if we choose for it to be hard.

We’ve talked a lot about the Hero’s Journey in this series. And I do believe that all of us end up on a journey – from who we are to who we are going to be. Yet that journey doesn’t have to be hard. And it doesn’t have to take years, either. We can become the heroes we want to become without the struggle. You see, we are, actually, already incredible, amazing, wonderful, heroic human beings. And the only thing that’s stopping you being that is you. So perhaps now would be a good time to get out of your own way and begin being the hero you truly are. That might mean deciding who you are – or who you want to be – and then stepping fully into that. You have the power to decide, you know… you’ve been given all the tools you need to make this life and incredible and wonderful adventure. I hope you do.

So.. what now? Well, I’d like to keep in touch. You can connect to me in a whole load of other ways:

Take a look at the blog at www.timhodgson.org/theblog

– and take a look at the rest of the great stuff on my web site at www.timhodgson.org

Connect to me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/journeyintopower

Find the ‘You Are Amazing’ series at http://timhodgson.org/amazing/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rememberyouareamazing/

And I Twitter on at twitter.com/TimothyHodgson

I really do hope that you’ve enjoyed this exploration of the Heroes that shape our lives. I hope you’ve learned something from the programme. But more than that I hope you feel totally inspired to truly live the adventure that is your life… life isn’t meant to be safe… it’s meant to be LIVED.


“Heaven and hell are right here on earth. Hell is living your fears, heaven is living your dreams”

– Bonanza Jellybean, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues


Find out more at www.timhodgson.org


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Oct 10

Putting it together–Walking With Heroes Part 19

planets - picard

Hi there! So, here we are. We’ve finished every one of the 12 heroic archetypes. Perhaps you have recognised yourself in there somewhere. We very rarely have one single archetype operational in our lives, by the way – we’re usually a more complex mix of several different archetypes. Often those are blended at the same stage of development – so I would expect to see someone showing characteristics of both Wizard and Sage, for example, because they are closely aligned at the same level of evolution. But if I saw (say) Ruler and Warrior together, then I might take note of that, because there’s definitely some immaturity about the way the Ruler is governing his world – based on anger and submission rather than justice, perhaps.

Anyway, in a moment I will give you a way of finding out what’s going on for you in your world. For now, though, let’s summarise the 12: as you read these, go slowly, and see which ones speak to you

The 12 heroes

The Apprenticeship – Preparation

The first part of our journey is that of preparation – we grow into who we must become, building our character and learning.

The Innocent: he seeks to remain in safety: to trust someone else to care for him. He is vulnerable and weak, yet in that vulnerability lies trust and a desire to have faith. We all begin as innocents – unable to care for ourselves, we rely on others. The gift is of trust, optimism and loyalty.

The Orphan: as the innocent steps into the world he becomes vulnerable and abandoned: the innocent must step out of safety to grow. In that abandonment comes the opportunity to learn. We step into the orphan as we begin to make a way in the world. The gift is of interdependence, empathy and realism.

The Warrior: soon the orphan learns to fight – to stand up for himself. He starts to conquer, to carve out a life that is truly his own. We become the warrior as we begin to succeed, to dominate our environment. The warrior sets boundaries, defends territory. The gift is of courage, skill and self discipline.

The Caregiver: we begin to step into the power of parenthood, the need to look after others as parents or as leaders. Here the warrior learns the power of sacrifice. The gift is of compassion and generosity.

The Quest – Journey

At this point we are ready to begin the quest of becoming real. Something calls to us and we prepare for a journey to discover what life is about

The Seeker: we begin our quest with the knowledge that there is something more – that what we have is not all there is. For some we will begin a spiritual journey, while others will seek a change in career or a new relationship. For all of us, we know that there is more beyond ourselves – mountains to be climbed, seas to be crossed. The gift is of autonomy and ambition.

The Revolutionary (Destroyer): within each of us is encoded the knowledge that to grow into what will be we must destroy that which is. We clear the ground ready to grow, ready to evolve. The gift is of humility and acceptance.

The Lover: we begin to seek unity – whether with someone or with a group or ideal. We crave connection and long to be whole. We discover passion – perhaps romance, but also passion for truth and for reality. The gift is of passion and commitment.

The Creator: out of the ashes, and out of the passion, rises the desire to build. We inherit the desire to make something new, to create where nothing has been created before. The gift is of creativity, a sense of identity and vocation.

The Return – Freedom

Eventually we become wise. All we have learnt begins to gel into a wisdom and a truth. We are still learning – and yet we know.

The Ruler: we begin to take responsibility for our lives – and for others. Not just our family, but those around us. We take decisions based on what is best for all. We have courage and compassion. The gift is of sovereignty, responsibility and competence.

The Wizard: we begin to align with the power of the universe. The seen, the tangible, the concrete ceases to have as much value as we learn that miracles and magic remain. We begin to step into our own power. We learn to heal. And we learn to name: to create our own experiences. The gift is of transformation and personal power.

The Sage: having sought truth for so long, we cease to become attached to it. We learn true detached wisdom, and can sacrifice for the greater good. The gift is of scepticism, wisdom and lack of attachment.

The Trickster: finally we return to the jester, the joker. Far from being a child, the fool embodies wisdom and embraces life fully. He has learnt to enjoy the journey for its own sake – and to hold all things lightly. The gift is of joy, freedom and liberation.

Now, maybe you have an idea of the predominant archetype that you have running in your life. Take a look at the stories that resonate for you, the characteristics that match.  If you want a clearer test, then there’s a detailed test in Carol Pearson’s book ‘Awakening the Heroes Within’. Carol’s book, by the way, is a brilliant in depth exposition of this. I would suggest you take a look at her site www.carolspearson.com/.

But don’t let yourself be boxed in by this stuff. If it doesn’t feel right (after you have given it a chance to settle) then it probably isn’t right for you. Decide what you would like it to be, and then go about making that true. That’s one thing I like about this test – it allows you to step outside the box.

You know, I think that’s enough for today. Check out Carol’s site and some of the companies and famous names that have their archetypes recorded there, and see if you agree. And I will see you next time for a bit more of a wrap up.

Speak to you then!


Find out more at www.timhodgson.org


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Oct 08

Laughter and Living – The Trickster–Walking With Heroes Part 18

silly doctor fez

Aloha! I hope you’ve begun to see the energy of the Sage in your life over the last week – and begun to understand the wisdom that you, uniquely, bring to the world. Only you can bring that insight and that truth in the way you do – so don’t hang back and hide what you know and the truth you understand.

So now, we complete the cast with the final element in our series of heroes.. and we complete the royal court too, so that the Ruler stands with his advisers. And this is a surprising hero… the Fool, or the Jester – or, to use the name from ancient mythology – the Trickster.

The Trickster is needed to keep us connected to the joy of life – all this questing and heroing can be tiring work, and we need to be able to step back and laugh… to enjoy ourselves for the sake of enjoyment. We need to remember that fun is not something that only happens on our day off – but joy and exuberance need to be permanent parts of our life.

The Trickster keeps us honest as well: the Jester wasn’t just employed at court to crack jokes and make the courtiers laugh – he was there to keep the King humble, allowing him to be the butt of the joke sometimes, or provoking him to make the right choice through simplicity and direct humour.

The Trickster is the simpleton who proves, ultimately, to be wiser than the wisest.. and the magical figure who springs in, dispenses wisdom in rhyme and tomfoolery, and bounces out.

The Trickster is a huge part of ancient shamanistic theology – and reappears in the stories of Brer Rabbit, of Winnie the Pooh (Pooh is the Trickster figure here – not self assured, but completely at peace in Zen wisdom). The Trickster is of course the hero of cartoons from Roadrunner to Bugs Bunny.

In the end, when it comes down to it all, we are all the fools. We’ve been engaged on this huge cosmic adventure called ‘Life’. We’ve seen trouble and hardship, experienced highs and lows, joy and despair. And when we look back at it, we see the humour of it all – how at one and the same time it’s hugely important – and completely irrelevant in the great scheme of things. The Trickster brings perspective to our small little dramas and helps us see them for what they are.

And somehow, in that Trickster figure, everything comes together. All the world’s a stage, and we are but players on it… and so in that inoffensive and humorous exterior we find the Wizard, the Ruler, the Sage, the Lover, the Warrior, Creator, Destroyer, Seeker, Orphan, Caregiver and Innocent. And in the Innocent we find another clue – the Innocence when we set out of ‘butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth’ has been replaced by the knowing Innocence of ‘who? Me?’.

When any martial artist starts out to learn his or her craft, the belt is white. Innocent, untarnished, a clean slate on which anything can be written. As the student progresses, different coloured belts are worn, until the coveted black belt is awarded. But this is only the start of the journey. The student will then continue to develop his or her skill through various levels of black belt – and all the while, the belt will fray from continual use – revealing that, at its heart, it too is simply a white belt. In some traditions, a white belt is awarded as the highest grade. And so our final hero embraces all the others, and we return to innocence. But rather than an innocence born of naivety, we now find an innocence based on understanding and deep inner certainty.

The stage of the journey

This, in a sense, is where it all ends. The Trickster is the point where we can look back at the journey and laugh at it all. All the angst, the discomfort, the fear, the terror, the loneliness.. all of those motions that we felt on the way, all the dangers we’ve faced, the difficulties we’ve endured, the sadness, the pain – we have been through it all, and we’re still alive. We’re still OK.. and none of that can hurt us now.. because even if we experience it again, we know we can make it through. And boy, have we got a story to tell.

There is a sense of completion, here, of understanding the cosmic joke, the knowledge that, ultimately, nothing can hurt us – and yet there’s also a sense that we’re still on the journey – that nothing ever stops. And from this place of knowing innocence – we can start again. The adventure never ends. There are new worlds to conquer, new friends to make, new things to learn – but now we do it with a sense of perspective, and a knowledge not only that we can meet the challenge – but also that we’re safe, in the big great scheme of things.

Next time, when we embark on the great adventure, we take all the wisdom, all the love, all the magic that we’ve learned on the way, and use it to be the wise companion, the guardian figure, the doorkeeper – we’ve seen the journey and we know what it takes.

The nature of the Trickster

Ultimately the Trickster seeks enjoyment. Yet this is not the hedonistic, devil may care enjoyment of the prodigal son, but a deeper, wiser enjoyment. It’s the sort of enjoyment which looks out at the world, breathes deeply and sighs with huge inner contentment. The Trickster feels hugely, absolutely, completely alive in the moment. In fact, the Trickster has learnt that the present moment is the only thing that exists. The past is gone, existing as a memory. The future is yet to be created. The only moment that we can truly choose is now. And the Trickster seeks to wring every last piece of enjoyment out of it. As a friend wrote to me once:

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways – Chardonnay in one hand – chocolate in the other – body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘WOO-HOO, what a ride!!'”

That’s the Trickster spirit in action.

So, too the calm certainty of the moment. It is a truly wise man who can echo the words of Forest Whitaker’s titular character in ‘Ghost Dog’; “There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there is nothing left to do, and nothing else to pursue”

And, really, that is all there is. Now. Will we enjoy the moment, making it count? Will we fill it with as much joy, as much happiness, as much exuberance, as much passion, as much love as possible…?

The Goal

There is one true goal for the Trickster – that sensation of being truly, vibrantly, gloriously alive. Everything else is secondary to this one pursuit. Whether that is found communing with nature, or playing with children (or grandchildren), or hurling yourself off a mountain on a board/skis/luge or with a rope strapped to your ankles… this is the thing that matters most. Is that selfish? Absolutely not – because the Trickster knows that only when he or she feels totally, completely, passionately alive – only then can they have an impact on the world.

The search for enjoyment and happiness isn’t a goal in itself – it’s a moment to be savoured, allowing a demonstration that life is for living…and for living NOW.

Primal Fear

The Trickster fears death – but not pure physical death – for the Trickster it is more a fear of not being alive – of not being able to enjoy life, of not being filled to the brim with passionate excitement. The Trickster fears dullness, sameness, monotony, boredom – they have to find something – anything – to interest them. That can lead to restlessness, to running from one idea to another, never satisfied but looking for interest – whether that is in career or tasks around the house, or in relationships or in their spiritual quest. Often the one who simply can’t sit still is not the least mature, but the most mature. We accuse those who enter relationships and then step out quickly of being childish and unable to commit – but in fact they are in pursuit of something deeper – and they know that they must find it.

Response to the challenge

What’s the Trickster going to do when confronted with a dragon. Only one way to go…. play time! Either the Trickster will seek to play with the dragon, to have fun… or will seek to have fun at its expense by playing tricks on it. In the real world, the challenge is not something to be overcome, but something to be enjoyed as we live in the moment. The problem solving process becomes the goal, rather than looking for the end itself. In the Trickster’s world, everything needs to be fun… or he’s not interested.

A Heroic Task

We’ve already said that the Trickster is looking for the journey itself to have meaning. Every single second has relevance, and none of it can be spent without purpose – even if that purpose is just staring out to sea with a sense of happiness. The Trickster knows that happiness cannot be sought – it’s not something to be attained, but something to be lived. And we can choose to live that happiness in every moment. The Trickster chooses those moment of happiness and makes them happen – moment when we embark on unknown seas, when we choose to encounter strangers, when we entertain provocative thoughts, or choose risky experiences.

The Trickster is a demonstration that we can be happy in whatever situation we find ourselves in – knowing that this wild ride is all about enjoyment. In ‘Along Came Polly’, one of the characters exclaims in frustration “Why don’t you let go – move on with your life. It’s not about what happened in the past – or what might happen in the future. It’s about the ride. No point going through this crap if you’re not going to enjoy the ride. And who knows – something might come along that’s even better than you planned.”

We only have now to experience – and once it’s gone… we cannot have it back.

The Gift

We spend years of our lives creating for others. We suppress our happiness ‘for the children’ or ‘for the sake of our marriage’. We work hard to create wealth, thinking that it will bring us happiness and ultimate freedom. Even when we become more enlightened, we work hard to ‘make a difference’.

The Trickster reminds us that we need to live life for its own sake – day by day, minute by minute, moment by moment. The Trickster reminds us that we can appear too serious sometimes – we feel that we have to be sensible, do the right thing. The Trickster in each of us reminds us that it’s fun to play with Play-Do, that splashing in the fountain is hugely rewarding, that it’s OK to play the fool and look stupid.

Sometimes, the Sage can be a little too serious for his own good… tempered with the playfulness of the Trickster, the Sage is reminded that life is meant to be fun. And sometimes the restraint of the Sage is required to stop the Trickster going that little bit too far.

The Trickster also gives validity to our feelings. Without the Trickster, we are guided by logic. What’s the sensible decision? What makes the most money? What is the safest option? The Trickster reminds us that it’s OK to follow our feelings – that it’s all right to listen to our heart and decide to do what feels good.

And with the Trickster, nothing is predictable. While we might expect a Sage or Seer to behave a certain way, Trickster energy is unpredictable, untameable, rogue. I see these echoes in Jesus Christ, in the Dalai Lama, in Nelson Mandela. C.S. Lewis alluded to it in his frequent comment on the God-figure, Aslan, in the Chronicles of Narnia ‘Aslan is not a tame lion’. Divinity is unpredictable, risky, unknowable. When we become truly powerful we cease to be ‘safe’ – there is a sense that, as they used to say in the animation series ‘Stingray’ – “anything can happen in the next half hour”.

The shadow Trickster

When we live a life based on pleasure, the possibilities for a shadow are enormous – and so it is for all the figures at this level of the journey. The shadow Ruler destroys and enslaves his subjects. The shadow Wizard wields his power to destroy and enslave. The shadow Sage creates falsehood and leads people astray. The shadow Trickster is irresponsible, leading people away in a quest for enjoyment – and potentially into laziness, overeating and addiction.

The Trickster can also become the game player – quite literally – in relationships he is ‘the player’ continually seeking novelty. He can be fun, charming, intriguing… but may well run at the earliest sign of permanence.

Levels of the Trickster

The Trickster’s call is from boredom, from a sense that life must be something more, that there is a party going on somewhere but he or she is not part of it. This dullness becomes a nagging and gnawing sensation until something must be done. Incredibly, it seems that doing anything will work – we just need to shift the energy a little. Yet we get lost in ‘what job should I do’, ‘where should I live’, ‘what church should I join’. The simple answer – do something. Anything. Anything to make a change – because in that change, and in the experience of throwing yourself into it – life will find you.

Initially, the Trickster starts out as the fool – playing the game of life for enjoyment and living only for personal pleasure. As he or she grows, the energy is used to play tricks on life – to cheat, to escape trouble, to find the easy way out of things. “It wasn’t me, guv.” Yet there is a higher calling for the Trickster, when he steps over into being the Wise Fool, the jester. Like Alice’s Cheshire Cat, the answer may come in riddles, forcing the student to unlock them for themselves. They may come in the for of koans, those unsolveable Zen riddles. The Trickster knows that the journey of learning is more important than the knowledge itself.

The Trickster’s story

The Trickster will find himself living only for pleasure – he may be the village idiot, or the who is always found looking out of the window, dreaming. He may be the local drunk, the layabout. Yet all of these are redeemable. Without any sense of belonging, the renegade is able to leave his community – or even step out of his old nature – and share the experience with new companions. Although initially untrustworthy, he shows his true inner resources: it is the irresponsible Trickster figure that fights his or her way through the battle to retrieve his lost friend. It is the devil-may-care Han Solo who materialises when most needed to destroy the Death Star.

Exercises and dreaming

So… what makes you laugh? What do you enjoy the most? Where do you find yourself having fun? Go do it – today, this week at the latest. Play with a child. Watch cartoons or comedy. Play a practical joke on someone. Splash in the fountain. Change your clothes. Change your hair. Buy a water-pistol. Let the Joker out.

Where are you becoming too serious in life? Are you looking to the future – or to the past? Are you trying to be respectable? What one irresponsible thing could you do in the next seven days that would shift you out of this? It might be something huge or something simple.

Find ways to make life fun. Choose, today, to be happy. (It is a choice, you know). And bring a little laughter into someone else’s life too. Make them smile.

Next time

So, there we have it. Our cast is complete. We have met all our heroes. I hope one of them has resonated in a particular way with you. Pay attention to that – it might be a sense of ‘that’s who I am’ or ‘that’s who I want to be’. Either is great. I have a sense in which there are some parts where I am stuck in a story I know isn’t mine – while aspiring to be in a different character. It’s our story – we can change the rules – and the cast – any time we like.

So – next time I’m going to start to wrap it all up into one single piece – to show you some more how these characters fit together.

Until then.. have fun, and enjoy the adventure!

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Oct 06

Curiosity and wisdom–The Sage-Walking with Heroes Part 17

woken up pratchett

Hello there… I hope you truly connected to the story of the Wizard from last time. I really sense that this is a magical time in our world’s evolution, and that many of us are awakening to our supernatural selves – as Richard Burke predicted in his 1901 classic ‘Cosmic Consciousness’ and has been continually echoed in spiritual circles since.

And now it’s time to temper the energy of the Wizard – with the wisdom of the Sage. For me, these two always seem to go together – Merlin has a truly deep understanding of his craft and of the implications of using power. Gandalf has the same true wisdom himself – and we find this in contrast to the younger wizards like Ged from ‘Wizard of Earthsea’ who recklessly endangered himself and the kingdom…or Thomas Covenant, who despite his power either denied it or abused it.

The quote in the picture is from the student witch Tiffany Aching in “The Wee Free Men” who is discovering her power and how to walk through the world.

“The secret is not to dream,” she whispered. “The secret is to wake up. Waking up is harder. I have woken up and I am real. I know where I come from and I know where I’m going. You cannot fool me any more. Or touch me. Or anything that is mine.”

And that’s the secret – to know yourself and so understand others.

The witches that appear in Terry Pratchett’s DiscWorld series refer to this as ‘headology’ – that most of the magic they did was based on creating belief in the other person..

“Find the story, Granny Weatherwax always said. She believed that the world was full of story shapes. If you let them they controlled you. But if you studied them if you found out about them.. you could use them, you could change them. Miss Treason had known all about stories. She’d spun them like a spider’s web to give herself power. And they worked because people wanted to believe them.”

Does that mean that magic and miracles aren’t real? By no means! But what it does mean is that wisdom has power. Belief has power. What we understand, we command… even if we simply understand that we don’t understand it.

Research into the human mind suggests that consciousness isn’t just seated in the brain itself – it’s actually spread out throughout the nervous system – every single nerve cell is part of our conscious experience. Others would say that our consciousness is actually part of the energy matrix that spreads beyond the boundaries of our physical being – our ‘aura’ if you like. And still others suggest that we are part of an infinitely huge interconnected consciousness – that we are in some mystical and magical way connected to everyone (and potentially everything) else – both those that are alive, but also those who have gone before us and even, maybe, those who will follow us.

Is all that true? I have no way of knowing. But I find that holding it as a very real possibility helps me to explain some of the spookier things that happen to us.

We are exhorted, often, not to seek power, but to seek wisdom. For if we have wisdom, then we will understand power – but power without wisdom is dangerous, untamed, wild, feral. The storybooks are full of cautionary tales of those who had their moment of access to power – and destroyed themselves with it. It seems that power held for power’s sake is guaranteed to rebound on the wielder.

So the Sage is needed to ground the power of the Wizard, to allow that power to be used for good. And the Sage seems to be the place where all learning comes together – where everything that has been learned on the journey settles into one place, and everything comes together and has meaning.

For me, I am finding that, having been on this crazy wild journey through my life, everything is coming together and starting to make sense where it didn’t on its own. At some level, the energy of the Sage is making its way into my life. And of course we find this as we become older – while much of our modern accent on ‘youth’ has sidelined the wisdom of those that are ‘not old, just older’ as Jon Bon Jovi put it, we know that age brings its new vantage point of wisdom. We would do well to listen to our elders… we know we have to take that wisdom and make it relevant to modern life rather than revel in ‘the good old days’ – but their understanding helps us to shape our lives with eternal wisdom.

And of course, true wisdom comes from only one source – from Love. The Sage always seeks to bring Love, Joy and Peace – whether that is a wizened old man (or Yoda figure) or a beneficent monk. There is something special about being around these people – not that they have to tell you anything, but that their inner certainty brings a new level of understanding that ‘all will be well, and all manner of things shall be well’ as Julian of Norwich explained.

The stage of the journey

We’re well into ‘The Return’ now. We’ve brought back the magical gift from the Journey, and we’re starting to integrate that into our normal lives. Or whatever passes for ‘normal’ now, because no matter how hard we might try to return to how things were, magic keeps popping up. We find ourselves called back to the journey, and we find that synchronicities and coincidences keep popping up for us. The adventure, having gripped us, will not let us go.

So all that experience becomes part of us, part of our inner beings. Maybe we will be the gateway guardian for someone else about to embark on the journey. Perhaps our own quest will help someone else on theirs – or inspire them to step into it. We have words of encouragement and wisdom to show them at least the first few steps – knowing that, as we did, they will have to take much of that journey themselves.

Yet this wisdom isn’t static. We’re not looking back on what was – we’re drawn toward creating better and more empowering futures for ourselves and for others – because once we have seen, we cannot ‘unsee’. We know that things can be better.. and so we find ourselves part of the sage council of the court – called upon by those who want to know… who want to experience a truly well lived life.

The nature of the Sage

The Sage seeks, ultimately, for truth. There is no point in empty words, in things that sound deeply wise yet ultimately lead us nowhere. The Sage needs always to be grounded in reality – the truth of everything, as we are constantly reminded in Hawai’ian Huna shamanism is ‘does it work?’ If it does, says the kahuna, then it is wisdom (literally, ‘it is Huna’).

So everything the Sage knows – or thinks she knows – has to be submitted to this litmus test. ‘Does it work?’ This is a more powerful test than ‘does it make sense?’ – because as every truly wise being knows – some of the wisest things do not make sense sometimes.

The Sage is voraciously curious, by the way. Everything fascinates him, continually asking ‘why is that?’…’how can that be?’…the Sage will continually be drawn aside by something that draws their attention, that poses a question or a challenge to their understanding.

And of course, the Sage can hold a dichotomy in their heads. It’s possible for them to hold ‘he who hesitates is lost’ and ‘look before you leap’ as both being equally valid. In fact, they find that it’s in the dichotomy that there is power – because it’s at these places that truth is more malleable and that understanding can shift reality. So our great Sherlock Holmes is an example of the Sage – continually striving to find what is ‘true’.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Sage is also the Seer – that an element of understanding of the future runs through our hero. It seems, in some ways, that he or she sits outside of time, dispassionately looking on and seeing how the individual threads weave themselves together – seeing the implications of what has happened, the possibilities of might happen, and the impact of what is happening right now

And perhaps a word of caution here… as I travel through life, and as I learn, the more it seems to me that there is no one single ‘Truth’. Those of us who dogmatically assert ‘this is the only way’ should not be trusted… it is those who have learnt to hold uncertainty in their hands that should be trusted. They are the ones that will point the way for you to discover your truth, not ask you to believe in theirs.

The Goal

If the Wizard singlemindedly looked to Transformation as their goal, the Sage looks for Truth and for Understanding. Knowing that they may never find ‘The Truth’ they still look for models and illustrations by which the world can be understood. In many ways, for example, the ‘truth’ of Newtonian physics has been overtaken by the deeper ‘truth’ of Quantum physics. Newtonian physics still applies for many things – it’s just that it can’t explain everything. Do I think there is something deeper and more ‘true’ than quantum physics? Hell yes. Can I prove it? Nope. But I get the feeling that we really don’t know where the rabbit hole will take us.

It takes movement through a whole series of learning stages to ultimately grasp this – we look for truth, believing that there is ‘true’ and ‘false’. We believe that authority is hiding ‘truth’ from us. We believe that it exists ‘out there’ and when we reach a new level of understanding we become fluent proclaimers of ‘the truth’ (I can remember storming arguments with my parents when I discovered the ‘truth’ of Christianity – it is only now that I look back and see the elements where they were wiser than I… and I remember also being dismayed when one of my friends, staunch fundamentalist Christian that she was, declared that she had moved beyond Christianity and embraced Wicca. Right now, I understand what she meant.. that the absolute truth of our fundamentalist beliefs demands a challenge based on what we intrinsically ‘know’ to be true inside.

Our feelings are a better guide to what is true and what is not than we dare to believe… but we would do better to trust that sense of right and wrong rather than slavishly following someone else’s ‘truth’.

Primal Fear

So what does the Sage fear most? Deception, of course. Whether that is our Sherlock being duped by Moriarty, or the Jedi in ‘Star Wars’ being deceived by Ambassador Palpatine – we fear that we are being led down the garden path. Sometimes, of course, this is the only path to wisdom. We have to learn what is not true in order to understand what is. It has taken me many years within a Christian framework to decide what I do hold to be true about that model – and what I fundamentally disagree with. When deceived we become wiser… but it would be better not to be deceived at all.

As well as the stories that tell of deception (Gandalf being deceived by Saruman the White in ‘Lord of the Rings’ (he must be a good guy – he wears white)), or Gerda being duped by the Ice Queen, we also have those that speak of being deceived by illusion. Red Riding Hood initially fell for the illusion of the wolf impersonating her grandmother – the familiarity of expectations allowing the illusion to last way beyond when sanity would have noticed the lupine features of ‘granny’. Edmund is deceived by Jadis the White Witch in the tales of Narnia. Often falsehood disguises itself as truth and places itself above challenge – it is the child who sees beyond ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ and declares the truth.

We fear these things rightly, as illusion and deception go to the heart of our wisdom – and yet, it seems to me, by examining our hearts and understanding how we ‘feel’ about these things, we can better find truth. Our feelings are better guides than we imagine, and are truer signposts to discovering our own truth.

Response to the challenge

So, confronted with a challenge, what will the Sage do? When faced with a dragon, what will the initial reaction of ‘the wise one’ be? Fairly unsurprisingly, the Sage is going to be curious – seeking to understand the problem – to study it, to look for how it can be used and exploited, how the problem or the danger can be transcended. Hmm. Fire breathing monster? Hmmm. Useful for heating villages or defrosting ice bound castles. Problem solved.

Of course, sometimes we also need the wisdom to act – to know when studying has done enough, and when we need to make a decision. Our Sages can sometimes get caught up in ‘what if’ when our Warrior beings dispatch the threat with a single sword to the heart. Sometimes we need to trust the wisdom of our response, rather than examining it from all angles first. Again, our hearts can provide a truer and more instinctive wisdom. Simple cerebral knowledge is not enough – we need to feel that wisdom deep inside ourselves, so that our wise response is immediate.

A Heroic Task

As Sages, we are called to understanding. Sometimes that quest will lead us to libraries, to books, to studying. Sometimes it will lead us to wise mentors – or to others around us whose experience we trust. Sometimes it will lead us to action – to learn through doing, from experience – and sometimes, of course, it will lead us to learn through failing. And failure, often, is the best teacher of all. We all know the legend of Edison creating the lightbulb and responding (allegedly while standing in the remains of his laboratory after a particularly spectacular failure) ‘I haven’t failed – I have just found a lot of ways not to do it’. And that’s likely to be the way we learn. Sometimes we can learn from what’s gone before. Sometimes we will instinctively follow our inner leading… and sometimes we will leap feet first into a spectacular ‘learning experience’. (There is a story of a newspaper publisher who, after one of his juniors made a disastrous judgement call and cost the paper several million dollars, decided not to fire the errant reporter, figuring that he had just invested several million dollars in his employee’s education).

The Gift

The Sage has within himself the gift of wisdom – to recognise truth when it appears, even if it comes in a form that is not familiar – or even if the truth is unpalatable, or even rocks his world view. While he may stumble, he will be wise enough to take that new understanding on board. The Sage also comes with a healthy sense of scepticism – new truth will not be automatically accepted and will have to prove itself. The Sage will sift through what he finds – even that which seems to be untrue – looking for the embers of truth that can be fanned into flame – and even so is not afraid to pour cold water on errant ideas (I cannot find out the name of the statesman who, when he was accused of pouring cold water on everything, retorted ‘Cold water, my esteemed friends, is what naturally results when a load of hot air gets on thin ice’. Sometimes our Sage must challenge conventional or trendy thought – a quick poke with a sharp stick can often burst the balloon.

The shadow Sage

Our shadow Sage is not so much the one who has embraced falsehood as the one who has shut himself away from others. ‘Ivory tower’ thinking or building themselves up beyond where they can be corrected – isolating themselves from other thinkers, or being critical of other traditions or thought processes. The Hawai’ian kahuna have a saying ‘not all wisdom is found in a single school’ and openness to new frames of thought, even when they challenge our own thinking, always lead to stronger and more coherent understanding.

Levels of the Sage

They say that curiosity killed the cat – and yet it is curiosity that invites our Sage on the journey. It was curiosity that led Alice to follow the White Rabbit. It was curiosity that led Edmund into Narnia. It was curiosity that led the youthful Luke Skywalker to explore the mysterious message from a princess displayed in R2-D2s hologram – and ultimately led him to discover the power of the Force for himself. We seek to know truth – we find ourselves doubting what we have already knows. It was the sight of an elderly beggar that first prompted Siddhārtha Gautama to set out on the quest that would lead him to the wisdom of the Middle Way and let to his recognition as the Buddha.

At some point, we find the stories we have been told to be ultimately dissatisfying. We find ourselves adrift in a sea of confusion and lacking clarity – and so we seek to discover ‘The Truth’ – and our journey has begun.

Initially we are convinced that there is ‘The Truth’ to be discovered. This is often where religions find themselves – convinced there is ‘one way to heaven’ and that all who do not follow it will either be damned for all time, or at the very least miss out on the blessings that attend the enlightened. We seek to be objective, to stand dispassionately outside our truth – and yet that objectivity can yield us to follow any path that seems sufficiently ‘different’.

As we progress, confusion sets in – if we remain open, then we become aware of the multiplicity of ‘truth’ and recognise that all truth is relative and that no-one has all the answers. We recognise that truth without grounding can never be valid in our human experience.

And that leads us to our own ‘ultimate truth’ – something that satisfies us intellectually and emotionally. Recognising the subjective nature of ‘truth’ we are able to dispense wisdom to others without dogma or regulation – what we have to say is offered without conditions or demands, able to be integrated into the listener’s own belief system to encourage them on their own quest for wisdom.

The Sage’s story

The Sage will always find himself needing to let go of everything that was considered ‘true’ in order to step into the new world. Often he will look back at the old world and attempt to make new wisdom ‘fit’ – but as Jesus pointed out, new wine cannot be put into new wineskins or else the wineskins will burst with the energy of the new… we must remain flexible and open. The Sage finds himself bewildered by the new truth – and ultimately, letting go of the old, steps into the new.

Exercises and dreaming

It’s time to be honest now – where does your own wisdom lie? If you truly own up to everything that you’ve learned on your journey since you were born… considering that huge resource of wisdom that you’ve gained – what is the gift you bring to others? And if it doesn’t seem easy to find that gift… what do other people tell you you bring? What experiences do you have? What have those experiences brought to you? And if you can’t think of anything – make it up. Because in making it up you will get closer to what’s true than you can imagine.

What have all the tough experiences been in your life? What have they taught you?

What interests you? What are you curious about? What would you like to find out more about?

Next time

So… we have encountered Wisdom in the shape of the Ruler: using his wisdom to rule… in the shape of the Wizard: using her wisdom to transform: and the Sage: using his wisdom in the quest for truth… and so underpinning the Ruler and the Wizard and allowing theme to function from a basis of Truth. Next time, we’ll discover the energy of the Fool – to look back at life and see how we can laugh at it all.

Until then.. have fun, and enjoy the adventure!


Find out more at www.timhodgson.org


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 30

Dragons and princesses–more on magic-Walking with Heroes Part 16

magic earth

Bonus! I thought I’d add an extra episode in on the Wizard, simply because I do believe it’s the place we’ve got ourselves to at a cosmic level on this planet, and because so many of you seem to resonate at that level too.

For me, the Wizard is the great connector – able to draw on resources far and beyond himself. That might mean physical resources – the Wizard is magical at bringing people together with the right skills. Or it might mean channeling of healing energy – whether that’s a massage therapist, EFT practitioner, hypnotherapist or Reiki Master. It might mean those adept with technology – some of us navigate technology and computers like it was second nature.

We’re seeing a huge new understanding of science and the physical world – the deeper we go into the rabbit hole of quantum physics, the more we seem to uncover – and the more mysterious it gets. Some people have gone so far as to say that discoveries in quantum physics enable the concept of ‘God’ and ‘miracles’ – I’m more of the school of thought that suggests that if we are as powerful and as divine as I believe – then physics is going to have to adapt to us, rather than our abilities being defined by physics.

New discoveries such as Vortex Based Mathematics seem to point to more magic in the Universe than we expected. Rather than the old view of entropy – that the Universe tends towards disorder over time – it seems that a force of negative entropy exists in the Universe that creates order through living cells.

And there has been such a huge interest in magic over the last 15 or so years. Books like the Harry Potter series have captured our imagination, while magical movies like ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Eragon’ and ‘Stardust’ have opened our hearts and our minds up to a new dimension of possibility. Books like the late Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series somehow seem more real than what we call ‘the real world’. It’s as Richard Bach put it in “A Bridge Across Forever”:

“We think, sometimes, there’s not a dragon left. Not one brave knight, not a single princess gliding through secret forests, enchanting deer and butterflies with her smile.  We think sometimes that ours is an age past frontiers, past adventures.  Destiny, it’s way over the horizon, glowing shadows galloped past long ago and gone. 

What a pleasure to be wrong. Princesses, knights, enchantments and dragons, mystery and adventure … not only are they here-and-now, they’re all that ever lived on earth!

Masters of reality still meet us in dreams to tell us that we’ve never lost the shield we need against dragons, that blue-fire voltage arcs through us now to change our world as we wish.

Intuition whispers true: We’re not dust, we’re magic!”

It seems to me that the world is crying out for a return of the magic inside each of us. The success of movies like ‘The Secret’ and ‘What the Bleep’, along with the box office breaking records of  magical movies like the Harry Potter series draw out our own inbuilt magic. While from the other side, movies like ‘X-men’ that look at the potential evolution of the human race beguile us with the possibility of power beyond our imagining.

What if those movies were real…?

It’s my belief that we stand on the edge of a new era – an era where the true power of the sons of God (that’s you and me) will begin to be revealed. I have no way of demonstrating the truth of that… but I do fundamentally believe it to be true.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ― Roald Dahl

We’re going to start to see an increase in the gifts of the Wizard – of magic and miracles. It won’t be through the waving of a magic wand, but as we get more and more in touch with our true nature as incredible, powerful beings. This will be a world where intuition, healing, insight, vision, prophecy and supernatural peace will become pervasive. I suspect that this unlocking will bring with it answers to the climate crisis, to energy futures, to world famine and more.

With Wizard energy comes peace – a sense that everything is going to be OK. With a wizard around – what can go wrong?

So here’s my challenge to myself – and to you . . .

– Live Spooky! –


I’ll be back next time with an exploration of the Sage… until then… enjoy the adventure – and be magical!


Find out more at www.timhodgson.org


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 28

Creation and Transformation–The Wizard–Walking With Heroes Part 15

impossible - clarke

Hello there… I hope you’re having a truly magical time… and I have a feeling it’s about to get even more miraculous and amazing. If you remember, we’ve now stepped into the realm of ‘The Return’ – that moment on the journey when we begin to stand in our power and begin to experience the transformation that the Journey has created in our souls.

Last time, we looked at the Ruler – we looked at how we need to take responsibility for our lives, allowing us to heal the wasteland and create prosperity and peace for ourselves and for those around us. And yet the pragmatism of the Ruler hinted at the need for someone else to stand alongside them. The Wizard.

One reason that I get excited about the appearance of the Wizard is that I know that’s the life story that I relate to the most. You will have to forgive me then if this becomes a little deeper this week! Not only that, though, the Wizard seems to be the archetypal element for many of the people drawn into my life and attracted to my work – and so, if you’re reading this, there is some element of the Wizard at work in your life too.

And more than that, it seems that this is the space that the world is moving into. We have gone through the moments of Warrior power, through the love and romanticism of the Renaissance, through a time when we destroyed the world through terrible wars, and rebuilt it. We’ve experienced the Rulership of the Industrial Revolution and of the scientific discoveries of the last hundred years and more – and we are beginning to see us shouldering the responsibility for the world. And that all releases a magical power in our lives, where spirituality and science meet and agree – and forge something new out of that alliance.

Perhaps a word on names. You can call this archetype ‘The Magician’ with all the baggage of top hats and rabbits. Or you can refer to it as ‘The Wizard’ and we’re into robes, pointy hats and stars. Or perhaps ‘The Sorcerer’ – but that sometimes seems somehow dark and twisted. It is, however, my favourite term, meaning ‘of the source’. But for now, let’s use the word ‘Wizard’. Let’s agree that it includes men and women. And let’s get beyond words and into meaning.

The stage of the journey

We’ve found ourselves exploring the power that we’ve brought back from the journey. We’ve begun to take responsibility for our world, and we’re beginning to see the results of our labours. Yet there’s only so much that the Ruler can achieve on his own – and that’s why he needs the court of the king – The Wizard, the Sage and the Jester.

The Wizard brings true power into our lives. The wizard focuses the primal creative energy of the Universe into creating change on this earth. The wizard shifts the focus from us – to something beyond us. The Ruler looks out on the fields and mountains of his land and smiles with contentment and peace. The Wizard looks out at the stars and wonders. The Ruler has spent his life creating order, prosperity, peace, calm. The Ruler has reinforced the borders, created structure. The Wizard knows that with one touch of the unruly energy of the cosmos, then all this could be unmade.

On his own, the Ruler will lead consistency and constancy in his people – creating peace and tranquillity. In an effort to block out magic, a Ruler, trying to do the best for his family, hides away all the spinning wheels and sends the wizards into exile… and sentences the country to years of sleep – for which read ‘stagnation’.

A wise ruler will listen to the voices of his councillors and confidantes, and will make wise and considered judgements. The Wizard will listen to the voice of the Universe, and magic will scythe across everything that makes ‘sense’.

The nature of the Wizard

Arthur would never have existed without Merlin – his wise mentorship created a king who was sensitive to the mystical and magical. The Wizard brings energy and power into situations that seem ‘stuck’ and hopeless. While the Ruler creates through rule and decree, the Wizard creates through changing consciousness.. by bringing heaven to earth.

Some of these Wizards are truly magical – the shamans, the ones who are connected to the land, to the sky, to Creation itself. They are the energy healers, the miracle workers.. but they are also the technologists creating a new level of magic. They are the spiritual leaders, opening doorways to another realm. They are the doctors and nurses, healing through knowledge. The writers, creating new and incredible worlds. And they are the enlightened entertainers, bringing magic into our lives through their gift. Unsurprisingly, we can recognise magic when we see it.

Magic – miracles – transformation – signs – wonders – these are all the same things, to those that recognise the real thing when they see it.

The Wizard has a unique gift of bringing both certainty and uncertainty. Nothing around the Wizard is predictable. Reality shifts, nothing is quite what it seems. Anything seems to be possible – they have a unique connection to everything that is going on, and can move in unexpected directions on a whim. And yet, strangely, in that sea of uncertainty, there is calm. Though the storm may whirl around them, they are not themselves moved – around them, all seems calm. The Wizard knows that he or she is the source of the storm, that we have called it into being and that at a word we can make it recede.

The Wizard is truly connected – as the shamans across the world understand, with a deep connection to the earth, to animals, to the sky, to stars and planets – and to humanity. They seem to be at the centre of a spider’s web of interconnectedness.

The Wizard has begun to step beyond fear. As Carlos Castenada says ‘The task of the sorcerer is to face infinity’ – once we have faced infinity, then there is nothing more that can hurt us. Now there seems to be a reason for everything we might have lost on the journey now – because having faced that loss, and having been confronted by our own deaths… then we are truly free. This is what enabled Obi Wan-Kenobi to give up his life to allow Luke and the crew to flee – and what enabled Gandalf to face the Bal-Rog – both emerging transformed having passed through their own death.

The Goal

The Wizard has one goal. Transformation. She seeks to transform lesser into greater realities – by her presence, she makes things better. Possibly simply by being there, the energy shifts. Or perhaps there is something that she does – by subtly shifting the energy, then the situation begins to heal. Each one of us has known the calming ‘hush’ of a parent that causes our tears to stop and our beating hearts to quieten. That is no less magic than healing a broken leg. As ‘A Course In Miracles’ says ‘there is no order of difficulty in miracles’.

Sometimes the Wizard will transform things – changing one reality into another. Other times, she will make things disappear – something which causes pain will disappear and (probably) be replaced by something else. Or perhaps the wizard will make things appear – creating beauty, love and peace where none existed. The fairy godmother in Cinderella took that which already was – a pumpkin, mice, a tattered dress – and made something of beauty out of it.

Primal Fear

We have been on this path a long time now, and we have become wise. The true Wizard knows that, living this close to the boundary between worlds, the danger is greater. The true Wizard knows that it would be all that simple to step over to the dark side of magic, as Saruman in Lord of The Rings and Darth Vader in Star Wars found to their cost. Yet others will resist that temptation, and emerge stronger – SparrowHawk in ‘The Wizard of EarthSea’ and Gandalf himself faced this temptation and defeated it, as did Jesus in the wilderness. Every instance of magic carries its temptations to use power wrongly – and the wise Wizard will be aware of his or her own weakness.

Response to the challenge

What else would a Wizard do when confronted with a dragon. They will work with it, transforming it from a threat to an ally. If healing is needed, then as Androcles with the lion, healing it will surely have. The Wizard knows that a ferocious being is only ferocious when we do not understand it…. by seeking to understand, and ultimately to heal and help, then we gain an ally of immense power.

A Heroic Task

Ultimately, the Wizard’s task is strangely personal. Theirs is the quest to align themselves with the cosmos – to learn the secrets of creation and of transformation and to become one with them. The Wizard knows that as he seeks to align himself more with the Universe, as he seeks to become less so that power may fill him more, then out of that alignment will come purpose, expressed through magic and miracles that serve others. The Wizard will begin to lose his or her worldly agenda, choosing to surrender to the principles of the Universe instead – knowing that ultimately they will be cared for and protected.

The Gift

To those that are willing to empty themselves go the riches of power. The Wizard has learned to empty himself of everything he has learned in order to understand something more incredible. For the Wizard, everything is to be traded in the search for cosmic power expressed through him. Wisely, the wizard knows that power does not come from within – it is not ‘ours’, it is simply a higher power expressing itself through us. Each of us will have known that moment when we were ‘in the flow’ and things came easily – for you, that was a moment of magic. You may have known it as making your task easy, or you may have felt the finger of God trace its way down your spine – but if you have been paying attention, you will know it.

The shadow Wizard

The shadow form of the Wizard is easy to spot – an evil sorcerer, wicked witch, deceptive leader creating negative experiences and sucking energy and life from those around. This may not be conscious, but for those of us who are open to these things, we learn to trust our instincts and recognise that which doesn’t seem quite ‘right’. That shadow form must be integrated within each of us – recognising our weakness and knowing that power can be used for good, we bring the dominating force of the shadow Wizard under control, embracing ambition and calling it good where it serves us to do so.

It is often easy to start to use magic for our own ends, when in truth it was never meant that way. We are in the room to heal the room – there is no other reason to be there.

Levels of the Wizard

The Wizard’s call is often painful – frequently a physical or emotional illness, or a psychic distress. If we open ourselves up at this point, we will find our healing nearby (most tribes know that the cure for an illness lies near the thing that caused the illness, much as dock leaves grow near nettles). It may not be a physical illness, but perhaps a weakening of our defences, allowing fear and uncertainty to consume us – or poverty to befall us.

Alternatively we may start to experience serendipitous events, or psychic occurrence. We do well to pay attention to these as those events are signposts to something greater and more magical. Remember never to venerate the signs themselves – there is the story of a Buddhist monk who, encouraged into daily meditation started seeing visions of the Buddha- he crossed many miles over many months to tell his teacher, who replied ‘Oh, yes, don’t worry about those, keep meditating and they will go away…’

Initially we start out to follow those healing experiences and choosing to listen and be aware of the extrasensory world. We are receivers from another dimension it seems. As time goes on, we learn to take control of our experience – we find ways to centre our experience, taking our visions and acting on them to bring them into reality, finding ways to make our dreams come true.

Over time, we start to consciously use our power – aware that everything is connected, we begin to become masters, taking time to work on our own physical, emotional, spiritual and emotional beings to allow us to work through the cosmic interconnnectedness of everything to navigate healing.

The Wizard’s story

We’ve already said that the Wizard will often experience debilitating illness, or devastating loss – somehow, that will be deeper and more acutely felt than others. Yet that illness or loss becomes the catalyst to discovering the ability to heal others – physically, emotionally, spiritually – and to transform their experience. Often, too, the Wizard, caught up in her power, may experience the effects of her pride and rash behaviour. deep heartbreak.

Eventually the Wizard emerges from trials that will test him to extremes, and through a process of tyring and failing to get it right, or using powers for his own ends (remember Mickey in ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’), learns to use them for what is right and true and good.

Exercises and dreaming

Where are you starting to see magic appearing in your life now? The beginnings of synchronistic events, or co-incidences? What intuitive nudges are you beginning to experience? Can you think of a time where something unusual and unexpected happened – that you might call a miracle? How do you feel when you look up at the stars at night?

What would it feel like if you were able to connect with animals – with nature – with other human beings? Can you sometimes read how they are feeling? Do you sometimes wonder why you feel a certain way, and realise that it’s someone else’s feeling – their fear or their uncertainty – that you are experiencing rather than your own?

Next time

As we journey on, the sense of power and of magic, of a Universe in balance, begins to increase. We see that previous experiences begin to slot together – we find the caregiver and the warrior find their full expression in the Ruler, while the Creator and Destroyer find their reality in the Wizard. Our next hero is the Sage, the wise one… although I might just have a bit more to say about the Wizard before then!

So until next time – enjoy the journey of your life… and be magical!

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

Sep 25

Prosperity and harmony–The Ruler- Walking with Heroes Part

be right

Hi there and aloha – we’re getting to a truly exciting point in our exploration as we start this week to begin to look at the four final heroes. It’s at this point that we start to see where al this has been leading us – where each of the characters in our lives has been starting to weave a pattern that leads us here – The Return. Because there is a point to all this – there’s a reason for all these patterns showing up in our lives – all these explorations, these adventures, these trials – these moments of difficulty and hardship, of uncertainty and doubt, of soul searching and inner angst – they all lead us to this point – into power.

Last week, we looked at the Creator – that archetype that sweeps up the old, and forges something incredible and amazing out of it. The raw creative force at the heart of the universe that cries out ‘Behold, I make all things new’. This week we begin to look at the power of the Ruler – putting the order and discipline back in our lives.

Back in 2005, when I was debating whether to leave my globe trotting job in an international organisation, one of the things that spoke to my heart very deeply was a poster for the film ‘King Arthur’ with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley – on it the words were ‘Rule Your Destiny’. Ruling is a choice that we make – to choose to take the helm and lead – or to abdicate our responsibility. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…

The stage of the journey

The Journey has gently and insistently been stripping us of the comfort of our ‘normal’ life. We’ve been learning to take difficult decisions, to live from our inner beings, to live for others, and to look at the adventure and the journey, rather than where we came from – or where we are going. The Journey equipped us for a bigger role in the world. We’re not the weaklings that we once where. The fat has been stripped away revealing muscle and sinew, honed by the challenges that we have faced. We have stared into the searing agony of our own dark night of the soul – and been transformed. We are tougher, smarter, faster, more dangerous than when we started out. We live lighter. Only the important things truly matter now. The journey has made us something else, deep down inside. And now we return to share the gift – to return to the ‘ordinary world’ with a precious gift – the gift of ourselves and who we are.

I went through an agonising heart shredding experience on the Journey, as I found myself stripped of everything that brought me comfort and happiness – or at least so I thought. My spiritual life ended up decimated by doubt and uncertainty. I got divorced – losing some of the day to day connection I enjoyed with my sons. The business I created ultimately failed, leaving me with considerable debts, and I ended up taking a simple call centre job just to pay the bills. At the end of that I was wrung out, exhausted and heart broken. I spent hours staring into the abyss, trying to work out ‘what next’? (There’s more on this story in my blog over at exploretheadventure.com) I took a year out to travel and then to work out what life was really all about – for me.

But at some point I had to return from this journey back to the real world. There was a huge part of me that felt I was a failure – and yet the spiritual and emotional muscle that I had built up, the understanding and the wisdom that I’d developed throughout that process allowed me to bring healing to others who were going through the same process.

For each one of us, the experiences that we have had, good or bad, equip us to bring a gift to the world… if we choose to bring that gift. And the first part of that is to experience the power of the Ruler.

The nature of the Ruler

We were born to rule our lives – not to be at the mercy of fate and circumstances, blown about by the wind of events and ‘what happened’. We were born to take command and enforce our will over our lives. So the primary message of the Ruler is ‘Responsibility’. Until we reach this point, we have dealt with each day as it comes, ready to deal with the experience as it arises. The Ruler needs to plan. The Ruler needs to see that all aspects of his or her kingdom are being cared for.

The Ruler seeks to create a healthy and well managed economy, taking charge of the kingdom’s purse strings and using the resources wisely. The Ruler will defend the boundaries of his realm, ensuing that no intruders can disturb the peace of the realm. In fact, the Ruler’s primary goal is to promote peace in the kingdom.

A wise Ruler will allow each part of his kingdom (each part of his life) to have full expression, but not at the expense of another citizen. There is balance and harmony. Sometimes, difficult decisions must be made for the overall wellness of the community, but those decisions are taken with love and with wisdom.

The story of the Fisher King is one of a kingdom that is a wasteland – the king desperately needs healing, and it is our hero that goes on a journey to find aid. And often that aid is found in the power of magic. The Ruler needs his Wizard along side him to provide the magical energy for change, and the voice of wisdom and connection to Divinity (of which more next week!).

And of course the myths and legends are full of stories of the unknown ruler, the lost prince, who lives out life as a commoner, unsung, unknown, waiting for the cataclysmic life events that will propel him back to his place as ruler. Think here of Luke Skywalker, hidden away unsuspecting his true origin. Or Harry Potter, living a life of separation amongst the muggles, unaware of his true origins as one of the most powerful wizards (there they go, wizards again, always poking their noses in). Or Moses, the adopted son of the Pharaoh and heir to the legacy of Israel – herding sheep in a foreign land. And what of the story of the great Ruler, Jesus, living life as a carpenter’s son in the back end of beyond?

Often we find that our lives have become wastelands – uncontrolled, unruly, without purpose or mission. The Ruler takes control of all that. The Ruler builds a safe and stable foundation. Sometimes that will be through taking hard decisions – the possibility of austerity measures to provide the basis for future growth. Sometimes that will be through taking control of our lives, placing restrictions that will bear fruit later. And sometimes that will be through expansion, through conquering new lands and finding new boundaries (remember that this is myth and story, and here, as in life, expanding our own boundaries does not mean that the boundaries of others are eroded).

But the Ruler knows that problems don’t just go away. The Ruler will take responsibility for failure and then find solutions that work. Always he or she will have a vision of a new world order, of how things should be – and then put in place a plan to move towards that in a controlled and logical fashion.

The Goal

The Ruler has one goal – a peaceful, harmonious, effective, prosperous kingdom. The Ruler will always seek harmony – not perhaps the peace of stillness or inaction, but the harmony of a world that works together for good, supporting each other in a plan to create prosperity. The Ruler knows that peace without prosperity is a world of dullness and vapidity – whereas prosperity without peace is chaos. So the peace that the Ruler seeks is always a peace that beats with a heartbeat of energy and urgency. The Ruler takes the wisdom and experience gained on the Journey, and uses that to forge a peaceful kingdom.

Primal Fear

What does every Ruler fear? Insurrection, anarchy, chaos, loss of control. The Ruler will resist anything that threatens the harmony of the kingdom, often avoiding change for that very reason. Yet without change the kingdom will never grow – and the Wizard will step in at this point with the crackling fire that disturbs and transforms..

The Ruler seeks always to be in control. It’s Ruler energy that will create systems and budgets, discipline and rules to avoid ever losing control of his domain. There’s nothing wrong (and everything right) with these rules, by the way. They bring stability and tranquillity, and ultimately a state of harmonious existence.

Response to the challenge

Everything within the kingdom has value and can be used and put to gainful and useful employment. So a wise ruler will not be fazed by the appearance of a dragon in the royal court… rather than seeking to have it destroyed, a resourceful ruler will find a way of putting that dragon to work – finding its constructive use: whether that’s by using it as a source of heat – or by referencing its magic.

A Heroic Task

Your task as a Ruler is to take responsibility for your life. Increasingly we are being told by quantum physicists, metaphysicians, psychologists and counsellors that we are responsible for the outcome of our life. No-one else can be held accountable for our failure – we are the Rulers of our lives and no-one else can rule in our place.

Yet once the Ruler has established peace within his borders, a wise Ruler will seek to express that wisdom elsewhere through international diplomacy – sharing the lessons learned with others less fortunate.

And sometimes, the Ruler will need to go on a further adventure – to reconnect to that visceral life where danger is real – the search for excitement that led the Pevensie children onto a hunt that led them back from Narnia – or that led the Black Prince to try his hand at jousting competitions in ‘A Knight’s Tale’.

The Gift

The Ruler’s task is to take responsibility for his Kingdom – which may be a huge task filled with difficulty and hardship. And yet the gift the Ruler brings is exactly that – responsibility. The Ruler will step up to the challenge, and cannot slink away to consider it ‘too hard’ but will dig deep into his or her resources to create something that works. Along side that ability to step up, the Ruler has the gift of wisdom – the understanding not just of what needs to be done to rule – but also the common touch, the touch that keeps him in contact with the people. It’s that common touch that caused people to love Princess Diana – while undoubtedly regal, she also had an interest in everyone she met.

And of course, the truly wise leader does not rule alone, Always, she is looking for those that will help her, or those she can mentor into positions of responsibility.

The shadow Ruler

The storybooks are threaded through with stories of the wicked tyrant, the evil despot who lives off his people without mercy or kindness – often awaiting the return of the rightful king to take his place and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity (have you noticed how often those two words go together?). The shadow Ruler allows fear to overcome them and results in a tyrannical grip over the kingdom. Resources are strictly controlled, and the scarcity mentality rules all.

Or the strain of trying to do good leads us to force the hand of fate. Anakin Skywalker sought to do the right thing yet ultimately his inexperience and lack of wisdom led him to fall to the ‘Dark Side’ and led to his reincarnation as Darth Vader. We seek to find the secret of our soul, and find ourselves corrupted through fear and temptation.

Or we are tempted to use our power for wrong – both Jesus and the Buddha were tempted in this way. Those that have amassed huge amounts of power can use them as gifts for good – or to enforce our control on our worlds.

Levels of the Ruler

The Ruler energy in our lives will always be activated by a lack of resources, or a lack of order, discipline or control in our lives. The kingdom, left untended and unmanaged – unled – will always be a wasteland. It takes one man to step up and show leadership to turn that around – it may not be an easy journey, but it is certainly one that is possible – one step at a time.

We begin by seeking healing and wholeness within ourselves – the Ruler needs to be emotionally well and balanced to deal with the responsibilities of rulership. Once healed, the Ruler will then seek to heal any scarcity or lack of structure in his life – in his kingdom – putting in place measures that will ultimately yield peace and harmony, prosperity and plenty. Initially, the Ruler will focus his or her attention within the boundaries of their own kingdom – themselves, their family, their immediate life.

Eventually, a wise Ruler will seek to be a player on a bigger stage. Learning the rules of diplomacy, he or she will find ways to help others take responsibility – and of course by so doing guarantee their own borders.

Beyond that point, a truly visionary Ruler will look beyond his immediate borders and see himself as a truly global player, seeking health and harmony for the planet as a whole. The wise use of all resources will result in limitless possibilities and an opportunity to transform the face of the planet.

The Ruler’s story

Without the Ruler in his rightful place, the kingdom is a wasteland. The Ruler may be sleeping (as in ‘Sleeping Beauty’), sick at heart or having lost his mind – or may have been lost in an attempt to protect him or her from harm – sent away, as was Moses – for safety, and now unable to step into Destiny. Yet the storybooks know that always there is the opportunity for reconciliation and healing – the true Ruler cannot be hidden for long and will step up to claim his or her domain.

The end result of the story is always the same. The kingdom is restored, the land becomes fertile and prosperous again, and peace reigns.

Exercises and dreaming

What areas of your life need the ruler’s touch right now? Where do you need to take control to create peace, harmony and prosperity?

Where do you need the power of diplomacy to forge better relationships? And where do you need to reinforce your boundaries so that no-one can jeopardise the peace of your kingdom?

Where do you need to relax your grip and allow events to unfold?

What wisdom do you need to rule wisely? Where could you find a wise counsellor to help you? What does your inner wisdom tell you to do anyway?

Next time

Can you feel the sense of power and strength becoming clear now? This part of the adventure is threaded through with one thing – wisdom. The wisdom of the Ruler allows him to rule and not to react. Next week we’re going to discover the wisdom – and the power – of one of my favourite characters – the power of the Wizard.

Until next time – enjoy the journey!

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org


PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS