Joseph Hakim Anderson

Soul Cartography, Part 3

The Process

This is Part 3 of a series.  Take a look at Part 1 and Part 2 first. This is all related to a class on Soul Cartography I am teaching on March 8, 2016. (NOTE: The sequence of class activities has been updated since this post was written.)

The first step is probably the hardest because it does involve looking in the mirror: making a pretty thorough Inventory of the important happenings in your life.  It's necessary to do this in some detail because there are many insights revealed in the later steps that will be uncovered through the detail.  Of course we will not capture every single detail given the time we have, so it can be helpful if you have some themes or particular interests: if you are really interested in exploring your work life or your relationships or your creative activities, then those can occupy more of your attention.  But it's good to think a little more broadly too, since of course those spheres of life intersect and influence each other all the time.  I'm reading a great (long!) biography of the poet W.B. Yeats and it is so interesting to see how much his personal and political and creative lives overlap and inform one another. Of course all of our lives are like that too and it's worth becoming conscious of it. We will look at four dimensions of life, and construct a year-by-year inventory, like this:













(gains and losses)


Inner changes




(birth year)



































…and on through the remainder of your life so far.

This is not easy to do! But it's incredibly rich and rewarding, and you will likely find insights and identify patterns just by allowing yourself to look at your life in this thorough and multidimensional way.

Equipped with the raw material from the inventory, we will then apply that to three cartographic templates:

  • Patterns
  • Directions
  • Centering Points

The Patterns will help you see how your life breathes in and out; when you move out into the world, when you retreat, when your creativity flows and when you tear everything down and build it up again from scratch. There's an inductive and a deductive aspect to this: the inductive part involves reflecting on the specifics of your life to identify themes and patterns; the deductive part uses one or more pattern-recognition tools (there are three we'll be working with: one involves simple geometric and organic shapes; the second is Tarot growth cards; and the third is astrological solar progression).  What is really great about the Tarot and astrology tools is that they open up insights into deeper patterns that may not be so apparent on the surface, and that are also quite unique to you as an individual. But there are other patterns you will identify on your own as well.

The Directions template will help you see ways in which your life has a continuity and an aim.  You started at Point A and you are working your way, in some fashion, to Point B. We each start and end up in different places and get there in different ways, and the purpose here is to sketch some possibilities of what the pathway looks like for you.  There are two parts to this: the first is to play with making a line of a somewhat random shape across the page, sort of a personal intuitive labyrinth, and then populate that with material from the inventory. The second part involves bringing the elements of the natural landscape into interaction with inventory material: where are the perilous mountain ranges you've had to cross? When have you gathered with others at the inn? When have you been slogging through freezing mud for miles and miles? By engaging your imagination in thinking about your life path in this way, you can start to see how the environment within which your soul journey is taking place is really a sacred world; in this world not just the landscape but all sorts of other amazing resources are available for you in this space.

Depending on how the class goes we may stop here - that's a lot to cover in 4 weeks! If we have time we'll look at the last one - otherwise it may have to wait for another class...

The Centering Points template will help you see how you can experience your life as a balanced ecosystem of interdependent parts.  This is less about movement and more about centeredness, less about a destination and more about present-moment awareness.  This is really valuable because directions can change a lot and be quite dislocating; we need centeredness and stability, and this template will give you some insights into what's in play and how to keep things in balance. We will work with circular diagrams of various kinds: labyrinths, mandalas, concentric circles. The key word here is "coherence": how do you make sense of the various fragmented parts of your life? How do you marshal all your resources, all the aspects of yourself, and bring them into service of Purpose?

That's an overview of what we'll be doing in the class - what an adventure it will be!