It’s Ash Wednesday. Many Christians go early to church on Ash Wednesday to have a cross of ashes drawn on their forehead to declare their penitence and mortality. Dust to dust. Here’s a brief history of Ash Wednesday. 

The image of dust-to-dust bothers me because it only addresses one aspect of the human being – the physical body. There is so much more to each of us…our breath, our energies, our thoughts, our deeds, our spirit. These never return to what they were in the beginning. They live on in ways of great meaning and purpose. As human being we strive to heal and to evolve. 

This is why Inner Lent and the esoteric task of revisiting each year our inner wilderness to tame the hungers and threats to selfhood and to seek a greater capacity to vanquish the three temptations of addictions that will never nourish, fantasies that will never be real, and prejudices that will never allow us to be unfettered and free. 

Our inner year can be very different from the liturgical year. In each inner year, there are nine 40-day seasons!  Yes, nine opportunities to choose what you will tame and what you will vanquish. Jesus Christ shows us the way, the inner, individual way.

With self-compassion and good humor, take out your journal and write down all your untamed  egotistical, instincts and desires and all your addictions, fantasies, and prejudices that take you away from love and freedom.

I suggest good humor because the forces behind our temptations lack the capacity for humor (such a gift the gods gave human beings). My list would be so long, but just writing them down strengthens my will to tame and vanquish.  Read this list to your angel and to a friend. 

Then read the list every evening for 40 days. Out loud is powerful. Don’t forget your good humor. At the end of the forty days, let your angel minister your soul. Revisit your list and see what has been tamed or vanquished…you will be surprised and you will laugh. 

Of what remains on the list, choose one to focus on for the next 40 days. Don’t ever tackle more than one hunger, threat, addiction, fantasy, or prejudice.  Never!  To think you can tame or vanquish more than one in forty days is a failure of inner wisdom and self-compassion. The devils in your soul love spiritual and material grandiosity and any intention to tackle more than one at a time is grandiose. The devils also love procrastination and urgency…so just begin with the list, please. Healing and inner evolution will happen.

In every decade, there are 90 forty-day seasons. Imagine 10 years from now how free and strong your soul could be. It might be that two stages in Self-Initiation are The Tamer and the Vanquisher.

Let me know your thoughts. Email me.