Pagan Studies

Presenting the eight Festivals within an archetypal framework and connecting that framework to personal development and inner transformation.

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The Question of Soul

Recently I was asked a question that gave me pause. It was a simple question that opened up whole worlds of inquiry which have echoed through many hundreds of years. The question was, “Do birds have souls?” This is not such an unusual question. For a very long time in history, we have been told that only humans have souls. As God gave mankind dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:26), this seems to imply that, though animals have the ‘breath of life’ to animate them, they are not connected with the Divine in the same sense as mankind. They do not have souls nor do they go to heaven. We have come a long way in appreciating that animals have thoughts and feelings. Anyone who owns a pet (and this implication of ‘ownership’ becomes interesting language itself) can attest to the different, particular personalities that come through. Many of you reading this likely have already answered the question of animal’s souls in your own minds. For me it was an invitation to a more expansive question, “What exactly is a Soul and does it differ from Spirit?”


Understanding the energies at play in the celebration of Beltane has helped me gain clarity on this question. This ancient festival with the Maypole Dance at its centre acknowledges the coming together of two energies imperative for the continuation of life. The spark of the Masculine must enliven the receptive Feminine in order for new life to occur. For the ancients, this was connected significantly (and understandably) to the vision of the harvest to come. Beltane celebrates the activation of seeds in the Earth which will ultimately hopefully result in a bountiful harvest that will sustain the tribe.

The Masculine Spark

Any process of creation or manifestation starts with an idea. The creative process is the movement from conceptualization to actualization. This is an extremely simple but very key universal law. To think something does not mean it has happened. A concept has an energy, but it is an energy without shape and form.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) A concept, an idea, or ‘the word’ points to the direction of a thing, but it is not the thing itself.

Spirit can be seen as that formless Divine energy that permeates all things. Otherwise known as Chi, Qi, Prana, Orgone, or, of course, The Force. It is that which animates a thing into life. When one looks at this alchemically, we find the first Hermetic Principle, The Principle of Mentalism. This Principle presents that The All is Unknowable and Undefinable, but that it can be thought of as a Living Mind (Initiates, Three. The Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008, pg 9) The All is akin to consciousness, intent, potential and The Principle of Mentalism is not that far removed from “In the beginning was the Word”. In fact, Alchemy presents the idea of the One Mind as encapsulating the concept of Spirit (“THE ALL” is the Infinite Living Mind  - the Illumined call it SPIRIT!”, The Kybalion, pg 33) and much of the study of Alchemy is concerned with the relationship between the The All and that which we experience in the world around us.

The Feminine Form

Manifestation is the process by which we transmute Spirit into Matter - the stuff of the physical and material world. Matter is what we experience around us in tangible form. If the Masculine Spark is the idea of a project, the Feminine Form is the actualization of that idea into something we can see, hold, and touch. Without the concept (Spirit), the form has no life. Without the form (Matter), the concept has no shape. Without the two together, weaving themselves in a beautiful, intricate dance, nothing can be created.

Soul can be seen as the presence of Spirit in material form. Soul is the Spirit that moves through us. It is how Spirit has imbued our shape in this world of form with the Divine. Our own particular facet of the Divine that we are here to share with the world emanates from our Essence – the core of our Being which is our own song to share.

When Spirit and Soul are considered through this lens, it is unquestionable that birds have souls. In fact, everything we see around us in the material world carries the Divine Spark. It would be impossible for anything to exist without it. This then brings up another interesting question, as I sit here at my dining room table, typing on my laptop. Does my table have a Soul? Does my laptop? In the strictest definition, the answer would be yes. There is a reflection of The All in everything that we can see and touch. (Although, there are some choice comments that can be made about the laptop’s Soul on certain days!) We don’t tend to concern ourselves with connecting with the souls of ‘inanimate objects’, but that does not mean the souls are not there.

There is an ongoing dance between Spirit and Soul, Concept and Form, The All and its reflection in the world of Matter. At Beltane, the traditional Maypole Dance brings this timeless movement into our bodies and we are able to joyously reflect the Dance of the Cosmos with our feet and our hearts. The Feminine Form is represented by the Earth into which the pole is placed. The pole itself acts as a lightning rod to bring the Masculine Spark through. When we dance the Maypole, we acknowledge our Soul’s connection to The All and can harness the power of the dance to spark life into that which we choose to manifest in our own lives.


“While All is in THE ALL, it is equally true that THE ALL is in the All.

To him who truly understands this truth hath come great knowledge.”

(The Kybalion, pg 54)

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Tiffany Lazic (BAA, RIHR, RP) is a Registered Psychotherapist and founder of The Hive and Grove Centre for Holistic Wellness. She has developed numerous courses in the psychological application of intuitive tools and is author of The Great Work: Self-Knowledge and Healing Through the Wheel of the Year (Llewellyn, May 2015). "Be both of the Earth and of the Stars."


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