Vocation: When Soul Calls


Vocation comes from vocare which means “to call” as well as a proto-Indo-European root which means “to speak”. This tells us that vocation is a call-and-response—it includes our participation.

To be called is a numinous experience – it comes from the divine, the unconscious, god, goddess, the anima mundi—the world’s soul. When we are called, we are being summoned by something greater than who we have known ourselves to be.

Being called often appears in the form of desire. It can also come in sideways in the form of un-asked-for life circumstances that force a new path upon us.

Usually we are called when Life has brought us to our knees in some way. Experiences of immense pain or pleasure are often how the larger psyche finds its way into our lives. In Jungian psychology this is when our “threshold of consciousness” is lowered enough that what has been unconscious comes through.

When we are called, a response is asked for. It is not enough to brush a calling off until the timing is right, when our lives magically open into a convenient moment. We might feel compelled to push away a calling until the money is right, the weight is right, until we’ve worked through all our shit, or whatever else we might hook onto to prevent the obliterating risk and excitement of following something that feels real to the Soul.

Do you know this feeling?

Haven’t we all had the experience of feeling a call to become more of ourselves, to live our lives in a more authentic way, only to say, “It’s not a good time” and then, as though it’s a surprise, find ourselves dealing with depression, anxiety, or a sudden onset of existential boredom?

But a calling can be so deeply terrifying; why in the world would we put our precious lives in the hands of something that sounds so irrational?

We would do such a crazy thing because this is what we are here for. When we are called, we are being invited to make contact with something far greater than our rational ego. We are being offered the chance to connect with the ground of our own being. To fasten ourselves firmly to the center of our lives. To be in real relationship with ourselves, god/dess, and the soul of the world.

A vocation is not a job in the traditional sense of the word. A vocation is an invitation from the depths of our own soul to re-imagine what we are living for.

Is there something calling you? It might be a vague feeling of something missing or a clear utterance that breaks through the mind saying, “I want to leave my job.” Listen to what is calling. A response doesn’t have to occur immediately and does not have to be a large demonstration. Sometimes the most courageous response to a calling is to simply write it down. This says, “I hear you and I’m practicing being courageous enough to say so.”

My own calling is now in the form of writing about calling.

So this is where we are.

With love,

Kathryn Holt