Janet Conner (author of Writing Down Your Soul) remembers a time when deep soul writing was once banned/frowned upon.
In 1310, a woman was burnt alive because she wrote a book. She had the audacity to write a book about the mystical life, in the vernacular no less. In plain French, she helped her readers discover how to access the voice of the divine for themselves.
This was a radical idea, so radical the bishop had the book burned in the square, a gut-wrenching precursor of what he could, and would, do to her.
Why was he so afraid of Marguerite Porete?
Marguerite was in so many ways inconsequential. He could have simply ignored her.
She lived a very simple life in a quiet community of other simple women. They dressed in plain grey clothes and filled their days with song and prayer. They made a living, no mean feat for women in the 1300’s. With their money, they served the poor and the sick. They ministered to anyone who needed them. And, from all we can decipher, they were happy.
Sounds like a lovely group of women, don’t you think? Women who should, by all rights, have received the blessing and support of the church. After all, they were doing the good work the church supposedly promotes.
But these women, plain and simple as they were, were seen as radicals. Wild dangerous radicals.
How dare they live outside the bounds of marriage? How dare they live beyond the strictures of the church? How dare they make their own money, build their own community, and answer to no one.
And—this was the last straw for the church officials—how dare one of them, Marguerite Porete, speak the radical truth that no intermediary is required to connect you with the divine. No church. No priest. No professors. No politicians. No rules. No dogma. No requirements.
No one stands between you and a personal, intimate relationship with the Divine. And, furthermore, no one can tell you that that divine presence is angry with you, or judging you, or demanding you parrot dogma and obey countless rules.
Quite the opposite.
Marguerite and her community, the Beguines, taught people that the Divine loves you unconditionally. Always has. Always will. This Divine is Love itself. Pure, ecstatic, glorious Love.
And this voice of pure ecstatic unconditional Love is waiting, in this very moment, to speak with you.
Does that sound a tad familiar?
Listen to the opening paragraph in Writing Down Your Soul, written not in 1300, but in 2007:
“There is a Voice inside you. There is a Voice inside everyone. Whether you hear it or not, the Voice is there. Whether you acknowledge it or not, the Voice is there. Whether you ask it for help or ignore its guidance, the Voice is still there. Waiting. It is waiting for you to stop, if just for a moment, and listen. The Voice is always there, guiding you, encouraging you, loving you. This book is about connecting with that Voice.”
I wrote that paragraph as I was starting the manuscript for Writing Down Your Soul.
I see now that that paragraph was a magic spell that called the book into form.
Those opening lines clearly knew the book that wanted to be written, even if I, the so-called “author” didn’t yet know what I would write.
All I had to do was listen. Very carefully. And the words and ideas and resources would come as if I had called them.
My job was to learn to listen.
- I would listen every day in my deep soul writing of course. The book took shape first in my handwritten soul pages.
- But I also learned to listen in the night. The book edited itself by waking me up and showing me the pages on which I was to make edits the next day.
- I listened in the shower. I received so many brilliant ideas in the shower that I bought AquaNotes, a small waterproof notepad you can clip to the tiles.
- I listened on walks.
- I listened while staring out the window.
- And I quickly learned to listen lying in bed in the morning. It sounds strange, I know, but the Voice is alive and active in that magical space between night and day, sleeping and waking, the mysteries of soul dreaming and the stark clarity of daylight.
And no one came to get me. No bishop burned by book.
Marguerite Porete’s book Mirror of Simple Souls was a best-seller 700 years ago.
Writing Down Your Soul was the #1 book in the journal writing category for four years, something no other book has achieved.
And still no one came to get me. No one burned my book. No one knocked on my door.
When I read what Marguerite Porete wrote in Mirror of Simple Souls, I recognize a lot of it. She sets her book up as conversations between the Soul and divine Love, between the soul and the internal relentless negative voice she calls Reason. As these three characters debate, Marguerite shows her readers how to find their own path in the mystic.
In Writing Down Your Soul, I give you four very simple steps to activate and listen to that delicious voice of love inside you. And I say it in pretty simple English, I guess you could say, the “vernacular,” leaving all the complex theology by the wayside.
In a closing dialogue in her book, Marguerite shares an intimate conversation with her divine Voice of Love. The Voice calls her “beloved,” and says to her:
Beloved, what do you wish from Me?
I contain all things which were,
And are, and shall be,
I am filled by all things,
Take from me all which pleases you:
If you desire from me all things, I will not deny.
Say, beloved, what do you wish from me?
I am Love, filled with the goodness of all things:
What you will, we will.
Beloved, tell us plainly your will.
What a thrilling invitation!
Show up and ask the Beloved, by whatever name or nature feels right to you, for your heart’s great desires.
I asked for Writing Down Your Soul to flow through me in words that would open people’s hearts.
And that’s exactly what came to pass.
Each day I show up in my soul pages and have another conversation about what is happening, how I’m feeling, what is unfolding, and the help I need to bring my calling to life.
Without fail, this Beloved, who for me has the names “Beloved Vibration of Mother Sophia!” and “Our Lady of the Thresholds,” opens Her arms and carries me where I need to go.
And the wonder is, it’s always a surprise! I am not directing the conversation, I am receiving it.
Put “in the vernacular,” I am not writing, I am being written.
Mysteriously held in that shift from active to passive voice, is everything you need to know about soul writing and everything for which Marguerite Porete was murdered.
Don’t you think it’s delightful that “voice” is both an English grammatic structure that confuses the dickens out of people AND voice is that Voice–The Voice, The Extraordinary Voice within!
And, then, there’s one last twist on the word “voice.” When my soul is in dialogue with Beloved Sophia, She give me the courage and guidance I need to use my voice–written and spoken–to change the world. To seed more Love. To do what is mine to do.
Voice to voice to voice.
I’m using my voice right now to declare how much I love this book and how grateful I am that it was given to me to birth into the world. And, wonder of wonders, I didn’t get killed this time.
If you are one of the 160 people who clicked on the link last Sunday to get all the gifts and goodies for the relaunch of my book, you’ll be happy to hear that the link is fixed! Please visit again. I want everyone to have all my new teaching videos and guides.
The gifts include videos on:
- How to enter the theta brain wave state
- Where and when you can experience theta
- How to recognize the Voice
Plus two PDFS
- fresh update of the 30-day Guide to Writing Down Your Soul
- two of my prayers as a prayer artist
It’s all yours at:
And, save the dates!
I will be leading an intensive on deep soul writing in September! First time teaching deep soul writing in years!
Tuesday September 7, 14, 21, 28. Details and registration soon!
to diving into the radical practice of writing down our souls and living to tell the tale!
How to Activate and Listen to the Extraordinary Voice Within
Transform journal-writing from self-reflection into divine dialogue. Janet Conner is a writer, poet, and spiritual field guide, but first and always a deep soul explorer. Since she discovered how to activate a divine Voice by slipping into the theta brain wave state (the border between the conscious and the subconscious) while writing, Janet has dedicated herself to exploring and sharing what it means to live at the vibrant intersection of the visible and the invisible.
Your healing inner voice. After hitting rock bottom while escaping domestic abuse, Janet’s inner voice told her to start writing. As she wrote, she gained clarity and strength, and felt an incredible connection to the divine. Miracles began to happen. Today, research scientists are providing peeks into consciousness and how it works. Their findings give intriguing clues about what is happening in and through our bodies, minds, and spirits as we roll pen across paper. Writing Down Your Soul explores this research and instructs how to access the power and beauty of our deepest selves.