As a species, we humans are very intrepid. Ever since we first arrived on this planet, we’ve found the courage to survive the elements, overcome the challenges of nature that threatened our survival, and explore our world in order to make our lives better.
However, we have far more potential for courage than we think. Even at our bravest, we only draw on the most primitive form of it. This physical form of valor (known as serpent courage) is useful, but in the West we overlook other forms that are far more needed today – that of Spirit (eagle courage), soul (hummingbird courage), and mind (jaguar courage, also known as intellectual, moral, or emotional courage). Each type of courage is rooted in an awareness, or level of consciousness, that informs our actions, and all four types affect our ability to change the world for the better.
Serpent consciousness is much lauded by our culture. Our practical “can do,” “tough love” attitude; our insistence on “calling a spade a spade” and “telling it like it is,” – all come from serpent consciousness.
With serpent awareness, we undertake the actions and deeds that will keep us true to our journey. We identify a problem, do what we have to do, and achieve our directive – period, end of discussion.
In jaguar consciousness, we can access courage of the mind and emotions. This is sometimes called “moral courage,” and it’s what allows us to speak up about what we believe is right and just to people who aren’t receptive to our beliefs.
Moral courage requires that we be willing to admit to our failings and neuroses. We’re able to experience our emotions even as we put them in perspective. It allows us to weigh both sides of the issue and recognize that other people’s behavior is usually the result of their own psychological issues.
With jaguar consciousness, we select the situations, partnerships, and endeavors that will allow us to wholeheartedly explore our soul maps.
In hummingbird consciousness, we engage life from the level of the soul; we discover the courage to perceive our lives as a journey of growth and discovery, of spiritual maturation.
Hummingbird courage empowers us to rewrite our stories to be mythical ones of heroism. Thus the story of a failure can become one of rebirth and rediscovery; the saga of a loss or illness can now be one of initiation into the tribe of survivors who can wisely guide others through this passage. Even when we’re suffering greatly, we can access hummingbird courage and begin to tell a tale that eases our pain and reminds us of our resilience.
In eagle consciousness, we understand why we were born into the families and lives that we have, as well as what we came into this world to learn and discover. We’re plugged into the divine matrix, aware that we’re at one with the infinite force of the universe.
We don’t collude in the nightmare of powerlessness but instead trust that we will find the resources we need to manifest our dream. Eagle gives us the nerve to enter the unknown and trust that possibilities will present themselves.
To be truly creative and draw inspiration from this level – that of Spirit, of genuine originality – is the highest form of courage.
Just as each of our energy bodies encases the ones within it, and each of the four levels of consciousness incorporates the others, the highest forms of courage encompass those that are below it. So you can’t have the courage of Spirit (or even that of the heart and soul) if you’re lacking moral, intellectual, emotional, and physical valor. They all operate together. When you truly have the courage to dream, you have the courage to act as well.
Learn more about courage in my book, Courageous Dreaming.