Return to Eden: Healing the Mind-Body Split

The world is a living spiritual being. The ancient philosophers and the alchemists referred to the spiritual essence of the world as the anima mundi or the “Soul of the World,” a pure ethereal spirit inhabiting all nature, the divine essence that embraces and energizes all life in the universe, the Divine Spark in matter. According to these ancient beliefs, there is no separation between matter and spirit. The world and everything in it is alive, conscious, dynamic, interconnected, and responsive.[1]

In the biblical story of the Garden of Eden, Eve, representing the feminine principal, got Adam, the masculine principal, to eat fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This act, which had been prohibited by God, caused Adam and Eve to be expelled from the garden, resulting in the Christian separation of spirit and matter and our separation from nature itself where spirit, mind, and man begin to be seen as superior to nature, body, and woman. The story of the Garden of Eden fundamentally underlies this separation of spirit and matter.

The Cartesian model sees reality as a dichotomy of matter (extended or spatial substance) and spirit (thinking substance, including God) creating a mind-body split. According to Cartesian dualism, the rational mind is superior to the emotional-body roots of human nature. The prime mover is God, whose directing intelligence is continually manifesting itself in the rational mind, and it is the mind, and only the mind, that has soul. This dualism removes spirit and soul from matter and the body.

Cartesian dualism assumes that the rational mind alone has the knowledge and power to know what a person should do in regards to nature while denying the ancient belief “that Nature, including human nature, contains within itself a directing intelligence (soul) which is the source of all knowledge concerning the nature of a person’s being and becoming.”[2] Consequently the concept of the ego has, for all practical purposes, become synonymous with the rational mind.

Cogito, ergo sum: I think, therefore I am.” While some have traced our modern sense of the isolated ego pitted against an alien and external world to Descartes, others prefer to see the moment of disjunction in the twelfth century with the triumph of the Aristotelianism over Platonic and neo-Platonic cosmology. The defeat of that cosmology resulted in the disappearance of the anima mundi and the loss of the soul of the world.[3] Author and professor Tom Cheetham in his book Green Man, Earth Angel points out, “[i]n any case it is an archetypal break—it happens in all of us sooner or later, to one degree or another. In our culture it is so much a part of us that we do not readily see it at all [italics mine].”[4] This assumption that humanity exists as a unique entity only because of our capacity for rational thought is still the metaphysical base which prevails in much of our culture.

I agree with Robert Stein who says “When the rational mind [with its connection to God] is cut off from its connection to the body [and all matter] and is functioning autonomously, basic human needs are abused and distorted. So long as twentieth century humanity continues to approach this dilemma with the assumptions of Cartesian metaphysics [that spirit and soul reside only within the rational mind], there is little to no hope of reestablishing a new, harmonious and meaningful connection with basic human needs.”[5]

However, there is a memory of this ancient time in the far reaches of the psyche. The memory of this ancient time is a call from the soul to correct our one-sidedness and heal the wounds occurring from our rejection of spirit in matter. The energy field of the soul connects us to other energy fields that match its energies and brings us back into relationship with nature herself, which is none other than our own nature.

Shamanic journeying is the inner art of traveling to “invisible worlds” beyond ordinary reality. Through shamanic journeying we can step beyond the mind and the body and enter a place outside of time where archetypal forces shape and inform our lives. Where we go will depend on the purpose and intention of the journey. Through such a journey we can reconnect to this ancient time, this forgotten place in us and move toward restoring our connection to our own Garden of Eden.

Return to Eden Journey

Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. You may sit or lie down. Read through this guided meditation several times to familiarize yourself with it. Or you may wish to record this journey and let your own voice guide you. Either way, take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to relax. In this relaxed state, read through the meditation again or play your recording, allowing yourself to be carried on the journey to your sacred garden.

As you continue to breathe in a way that feels natural to you, allow your attention to turn inward. Imagine that you are surrounded by a luminous energy field. It may be a white light. Maybe it’s a golden or a blue light. Imagine it however it comes to you. This is your luminous energy body. Now image that you are walking on the earth and you come to an opening in the earth. It might be a cave or the burrow of an animal. Maybe it’s a tree with large roots. Now imagine that your luminous energy body is descending into the earth, past the roots of the trees, past the bedrock, past the great boulders, down, deep down until you come to an underground stream. When you come to the stream, lie in it, and allow the cool, cleansing waters to wash over and through you. When you’re ready, allow the waters to carry you down deep into the belly of the earth, into the belly of mother. The water washes you onto the shores of a sacred garden. 

Feel the green moist grass. Hear the gurgling stream. Feel the cool breeze. See the forest in the distance. See the meadow before you. Walk onto the meadow to a giant boulder at the center of the meadow. Look about you. You are back in your primordial Eden.  When you come to this boulder, call on the gate keeper of the domains of the soul. “You who are known by a thousand names, I call upon you. Allow me to enter your domain. Guide me as I come to discover that which will make me whole once again.”

 Sense the gatekeeper approaching you. This is an angelic being, a luminous being that is the protector of the soul, the protector of the region of the belly of the earth, the belly of the mother. Look in her eyes. Look into his eyes.  Feel yourself being welcomed. “Welcome home, my son. Welcome home, my daughter.”  Let the gatekeeper show you around your sacred garden, your Eden, a place you can come to anytime for healing. Where you can come any time for renewal. Let her show you the sacred stream where you can wash away any hurt, any pains, any afflictions you carry with you. If you want, you can lie in the stream and let its healing waters flow through you. Stay there as long as you want, releasing the pain, the hurt that you no longer need to carry around.

Then ask the gatekeeper to show you the way to the forest, to the woods. Hear the sounds of your sacred garden. Is there music? Are their birds singing? Notice the vibration of the environment. How does it feel?  Ask him to show you the sandy shores of the sacred river. Ask to see your sacred garden, your Garden of Eden and just notice and experience this connection to your soul, this connection to the Divine in you……(allow time to experience your inner sacred garden however it might show up).

            As you prepare to leave the sacred garden, ask the gatekeeper to lead you back to the meadow where you entered and take your leave from her. Thank her for allowing you to experience your sacred garden. Walk back to where the waters brought you. Dive in the water once again. Allow the waters to take you back to the place where you rested and rest there again. Allow the waters to wash away any energies that you may not bring with you from the domains of the soul, from the lower world back into our world.

And when you are ready begin your journey up, up through the bed rock past the giant boulders, past the roots of the great trees, back up through the earth and back into your room and into your body. Take a deep breath and another. Wiggle you toes and fingers. Open your eyes. Welcome back, knowing that you can visit you Garden of Eden anytime.

Notice what has shifted for you. How does your body feel? What did you notice about your journey? Record your experience in a journal.




[1] Crockett, Stone Age Wisdom, 36-40

[2] Stein, Betrayal of Soul, xxxvii.

[3] Cheetham, Green Man, Earth Angel, 20.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Stein, Betrayal of Soul, xxxvii.

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