Melissa La Flamme, MA

Jungian Psychotherapist  |  Shamanic Counselor | Author & Poet
190 East 9th Avenue, Denver, CO 80203

720.253.5138  |


by Melissa La Flamme

Love and radical intimacy is the deepest, most expansive invitation to every human. Love asks everything of us. Every thing. And returns far beyond that which we can imagine before we accepted love's invitation. Like every numinously, terrifying encounter, if we just let love happen to us, Mystery shows the way. Trouble is, our culture teaches us to resist most numinous, sacred, mysterious encounters. Until we learn not to.

Hang on, though; this is not really about you or me.

We are vessels, channels. Rivers. We're being used, baby! Used by love itself. By the gods, the forces, the cosmic winds, by all things natural and Other-than the everyday. And so, a commitment to wild loving and deep intimacy is necessary to turn the corner that beckons us from the edge. The earth needs this way of loving and being from us. Now. And we will flourish in the midst of this sort of love-making, in the way of the creatrix. It's what we're for. If only we let it happen to us. That's what the poets, the mystics, the mad ones say. How about you?

Will you risk your name for love? Will you go out beyond the encounter with, and yet, right through the soul-center of romantic love -- of authentic, sacred sexual love (Yes; you're at the grown-ups' table, here. Take a seat.)? Out beyond every sort of love we encounter; every warp and weave of love-- a polyvalent look through the kaleidoscopic eyes of love? Will you? Will you draw on a way of loving that asks us, one and many, together, to drop down into into our depths and simultaneously out into loving every thing, every one, rapturously? Rapturously, in a way that lets us come together to carry infinite potential to heal the soul of the world and the earth mother. These many loves include caritas love; filial; familial; anam cara (or soul friend) love; ancestral love, other love, like your love of and with your dog, cat, fish and the more-than-human-world of the wilds, transpersonal, universal, divine and humanitarian love, and on it goes.

From this place, self and Self-love is essential. Falling head over heals in love with your Sweet self and Self--the whole of you-- is, well, seminal. Unquestionably. So, ravish your self/Self. Go on. It's good for the world!

To be unabashedly, wildly in love with your Self/self is essential to the depth of power you have to heal and to transform your Self, an other, others, the world soul, the earth. This life asks that of us. We find, once in it, there is always more love from this core/ coeur, the open heart center within us. It's the balm.

My own journey reveals to me that the sort of soul encounter embodied on the path of romantic love, sacred sexual love is in the heart of soul's essential journey toward individuation and through soul initiation to deliver my soul's gift of service to the world. I walk other paths that work me hard too, but they don't burn and purify, come at me wholly holy-- by way of shredding old outmoded egoic ways, tearing them up and taking me down, and out to blow me open and ravish me, mystery-ously--quite like the tumult, floods and fires found on this path of authentic, sacred, sexual love--the path of soul encounter in the realm of romantic love. This path, for me, is inextricably woven into soul encounter in the wilds, wilderness-- all at once beautiful, awe-inspiring, sacred, tender-izing, gods-invoking and absofuckinglutely terrifying, requiring surrender and death (of old ways, egoic ways ) at many turns along the way.

So we've heard the one about "really loving a woman," yes? Lovely, for sure. So while I am intimately, as well as academically/ theoretically familiar with the deep wounding of the sacred and archetypal Feminine throughout the millenia, I am right out there with telling you that there is also a deep wounding of the sacred and archetypal Masculine.

Both must be confronted.
Both must be radically healed.
Both must be integrated within our souls and bodies.
The Way is love.
The healer is YOU.
And not by way of tough love. No.

Instead, by way of a conscious, tender, fiercely compassionate, vulnerable, adult, receptive, present, let your heart tear open, throw your Self into loving, and know you can save your own heart and soul whenever you need to. That kind of loving! Wild and holy. Scared sacred. Like that.

Remember: this is not really about you or me. We are the vessels, the channels, the rivers. We're being used. By every thing. To walk the power path of the Deliciously Alive, Broken, Open Heart™. To learn to love, serve and care for our selves.. For everything. Everyone. So when we commit to fierce loving and deep intimacy through radical vulnerability, we listen and we engage deeply in what the poet, David Whyte calls, "the central conversation" — the one that matters and informs us on how we belong with this world— with each other and with the earth. The earth needs this sort of soulwork, this dangerous way of loving from us. It's past time for each us to let our hearts break and step into what we are for. The earth is screaming for it. You can hear it in the cries of each new-born day. You can feel it when you touch your forehead to the ground. And you can know it in your belly, through your intuition when you dream at night.

So let's get to it. Love 'em up. Love, with those culture-bound hinges they welded to your heart, unfastened now. Flung open. Prepared to risk your name. Ready to inhabit your deepest fears, and your most delicious longings to ravish the world and be ravished right back, as you are taken deeply into the tender wilds of your heart.

© 2014, 2016 Melissa La Flamme

Image at top of article: ©Jo Goede, photographer. All rights reserved.

by Melissa La Flamme

For the last decade, in private practice as a Jungian psychotherapist and shamanic counselor, I've seen this tangled issue, more than any thing else, arise to wrestle with my clients' psyches. Mine too, of course. It's how I've come to know this terrain. So, this article on authenticity became the prologue to my book,
What You Are For: Inciting A Revolution In Your Soul. Available on Amazon.
... ... ...
When you live from your intuitive core, your belly, your heart, let your soul lead and spirit guide you, your words and actions will be naturally subversive.

You will go to your edge. You will soften. Become wildly tender.

Question is, will you wholly inhabit your own revolution? In beauty? This inner revolution is a perpetual ceremony of the heart. It's what you are for.

When you are real, cooked down to essence, rather than half-baked to get approval, to look good, the projections from others may fly, seek you out and try to stick to you. Don't let them. Instead, let your authenticity support you in carrying on whole-hearted, vulnerable conversation to resolve whatever arises. It is hard work. Uncomfortable. Deeply human. Can be harrowing. And often downright delicious. Intimate. Naked. Courageous work marked by your solid presence. Here. Now.

I'd rather be whole than good, C. G. Jung said. And by whole, he meant real, messy, ensouled, deeply human, heart-broken open with compassion flowing first to ourselves, to resource and prepare to let it flow widely, to others.

Being too comfortable, amenable, pliable to the point of contorting yourself — is a ticket to selling your soul right up the river. Don't buy it. When you live from your own knowing-ness, from your gut and your wildly-rooted intelligence, you feel alive. Genuinely, madly, creatively alive.

Being real — true to your Self, your soul — is gritty. And grit causes friction, makes fire to clear the way for living a revolutionary act. This act is marked by action that the earth and the soul of the world are crying out for. And the cry is going to get louder, more pain-filled, and grievous before enough souls answer wholeheartedly.

When you get real, it is actually not about you. Your individual program is only the ground from which you step. From which you step and choose whether you will make this life of yours a walk of grit and beauty, or one of accommodation to the forces that insist you do it their way, be well-behaved, produce, consume, make nice, and as the poet, Mary Oliver says, "barely breathing and calling it a life."

Thing is we're not talking a self-improvement project; that's only the gateway. We are being used. By Spirit. One way or the other: we go consciously or we are abducted — individually and collectively, now. So it's a great time to dive in.

When we realize we have no choice but to offer ourselves up — like a sacrifice — to the mystery of Great Spirit's guidance, this guidance insists on shaping us as a soul-centered contributor. And we're in it! Soul's got us. And Spirit carries us along. We're goners to those egoic, mechanistic, competitive ways; the ways that have undone the earth and so many souls who walk the earth, swim her waters, send roots down into her and watch from the skies.

To inhabit your own core, your vital, knowing center and a soul-centered way of being, you need to do the inner excavation. What we call, in Jungian psychology-speak, Shadow work and in shamanic-speak, Underworld soul work, including ego-dismemberment work to heal old wounds and retrieve parts of your soul you had otherwise disowned or split off. We need these pieces of our souls, as well as aspects of our bodies, and our connection with Spirit, and with the earth, along with the Other-than-human-ones and wild intelligent forms of life — to feel deliciously alive, ready to roll, to serve this crying earth and love 'em up.

This is real adult work, asking everything of you. And will alter your world completely, but before that happens you'll be met with severing old ways, dismemberment, metaphoric death, dreams, visions — both lovely and horrifically heart-pounding, yummy, gut-wrenching, Beauty, raging tears, sweet snot, broken open heart, blue-shimmering darkness, warm, comforting light. Rebirth. Love. Hope. A deep sense of connection with it all. And a palpable knowing of what you are for.

So it's a slow dive, a conscious descent into the depths of your soul, the dark ground of your being and your dreams: the Underworld of your psyche. This is vital work — no way around it — to discover what you've tucked away in the archetypal Shadow of your own psyche. If you're lucky you will unearth what you had otherwise disowned to adapt to the egoic, mechanistic, competitive, earth-ravaging ways of modern Western culture. And most often, these pieces of your otherwise whole psyche that you had disowned are what makes you utterly You. Beautifully. Creatively. Wildly alive. Authentically so. You. And you are needed here.

Your essential soul's powers — what you were born with before you lost track of them and they, you — are to be found there, in that excavation into your dark depths, awaiting you to carry them home, like mama leopard carries kitties. With a fierce tenderness, knowing that all life — yours, your beloveds, the earth, humans and other than humans — is at stake. The world needs you to be fully alive. Real. The world needs you to find, bring home and embody your soul's gifts and healing powers. It's messy work. It's what we are for.

When you are transparent, you will stand out as you are truly seen. When you are transparent, others can "see through" you into you as your heart and true essence shines. You are clear, direct and kind. You are not an enigma; you don't leave people scratching their heads wondering what you just said and did.

You do not hide. You are honest to the bone. You are courage enfleshed.

When you are congruent, you are wholistically aligned. What you think, say, feel in your heart, feel in your body and the actions you take line up to support and reflect each other. You know it in your body, often in your gut, when you put your attention there.

Congruent. Authenticity happens in the guts and bowels of your life. Being authentic is the grunt-work of the soul, of any deeply human, spiritual path. Being half here, half there, half-hearted, faking it to look good, strategizing to make things easier for your self -- that's the common way of the unconscious clotted middle, driven by our egoic, addicted culture. It's a way that lacks wholeheartedness. Lacks real courage to let the heart break. Shatter. Broken whole and holy open to finally know compassion for self, others, earth. To live and love — on-fire, fully alive, juiced and ready to serve.

Being authentic and soul-centered costs you your ticket to ride from the collective mainstream to the illusion of safe and secure. And opens the door to your bloody and glistening, broken whole heart -- reveals to you the honey of this wildly delicious, messy life. Leaves you and those you touch, feeling radically free. Without choice now. Solid and light. Authenticity strips away all that is NOT real. All that is not made from love, to love. All that is of enriched soul and in-spired Spirit remains. There is no living a soul-centered life without being authentic — without mustering the courage to do the excavating in the dark: the Shadow work.

Again, C. G. Jung: “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.”

What will you do?
© 2014, 2016 Melissa La Flamme

This article on authenticity became the prologue to my book, What You Are For: Inciting A Revolution In Your Soul. Available on Amazon:

Image: © Derinsart, Old Lady With Her Pipe. Original artwork, drawing.

Soulwork Articles & Excerpts

from the new book,

What You Are For: Inciting A Revolution In Your Soul

by Melissa La Flamme


by Melissa La Flamme

With heart splayed open, glistening to serve this one throbbing life, you are fully here.

If that calls to you — by way of allurement, bewilderment or something else altogether — walk with me.

"Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on, I’ll be mad," Rumi said.

Seems that life invites us to conceive the impossible. Life asks us to let our heart break. Yes, mad, right? But it's okay. Listen.

It is astonishing how much energy we expend trying to keep our heart from getting broken, poet, David Whyte reminds us. So in the desert of southwestern Utah, where these things are said to happen, where winds whip up a hot springtime and sand sticks to sweaty skin, I, instructed by Dream and flanked by guides, offered up my heart to be broken again and again. Best thing I ever did.

This tremulous move dropped me to my knees. To the place where we are met by no choice but to be wholly, messy human, ready to serve others, including the more than human others --those enfleshed and incarnate and those intelligences who are not. On our knees, this is the place of sacred reciprocity; the place of an archaic, upwelling of grief and life-force that opens the door to a deliciously alive, life-giving way of being. We land in this place when we turn down the chance to invest one more drop of vital attention in any attempt to avert the inevitable — to avert heart break.

Think about it. How much energy have you invested in trying to protect your heart from breaking? It's wasted energy. And worse, it keeps you distant from your depths, your core, your animal humanity. From every one. Every thing. We're meant to be broken. To shred. Melt. Burst open. Come into compassion and exquisite empathy for every thing.

The world is screaming for you to let your heart break. To be fully human is to let your heart break. And open. Over and over. To not deny it when it happens. To mend it when you can, when the blood stops flowing. I know; that's bewildering. And I invite you; be beWILDered. Be deliciously human. Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke suggested, “let everything happen to you — beauty, terror; just keep going.” And Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron tells it like this: “Lean into it...Let the hard things in life break you. Let them affect you. Let them change you. What is the lesson in this wind? What is this storm trying to tell you? What will you learn if you face it with courage? With full honesty and -- lean into it?”

Let it rip you open. Tear your eyes away from distraction, and turn you toward the thresholds that beckon you. The ones that matter because they know that grief is the doorway to Love; the step into crystal. Into expansive, generative, natural, sweaty, more-than-human-including- human love and purpose. Don't ask me how. Mystery knows how. I am a servant. I will tell you, you may come to a no-choice place. And there, you may find utter freedom in that no-choice.

I think the world, now, is begging us to let the breaking happen. Within. To mirror and heal the breaking happening all around, without. We are being asked to break. Break Up. Break down. Break out. Shatter. Bleed. You're on the right track now. The right track to break into radical loving like a thief hungry for soul, ready to serve sweet, dark humanity and the earth's tangled questions that insist we return her urgent call to let our hearts break into compassionate action.

So what about joy, right? Doesn't joy break our heart, open? Well, not really. You see, the heart, body, and psyche are often (but not always) fabulously receptive to joy, open to receiving joy, naturally. And yet, here's the rub: It is a more apt metaphor regarding joy and heart break to say, perhaps, that joy melts the heart. And still, the heart has to be radically opened -- often as a result of having been torn open -- so that it can, like a raw egg -- become soft, runny and transformed into nutrients for the soul. Melting, along with heart break, especially melting down, is also not something our egoic-"just-get-over-it-culture" will tell you is "good for you." Then again, nearly unutterable grief will melt our hearts as well-- but usually only after the grief shatters the heart into kaleidoscopic shards, like the shell of the life-giving egg.

The heart-break and ensuing grief induced by loss of loved ones, beloveds, health, work, homes, capacities we once had but have no longer, for example, is enormously powerful as it tends to be wildly psychologically transformative by way of often (but not always) bringing about an ego-level shattering; a drive-us-to-our-knees shake-down, drops us hard and packs the velocity that produces the impact that affects a "break down." Stay with me, now; we're almost through to the other side: and so, with our full attention and grace, the break-down may become break-through, and shift us from outmoded and no longer enlivening ways of encountering and reacting to life into a wholly reorganized (if we do the heart-breaking inner work, that is) way of being and belonging in the world that is generative, creative and organically wild — juiced and ready to go.

This sort of heart-break is a wholistic psyche and soul re-organizer. It tends to be transformative at the depth psychological-level of the psyche — the unconscious and archetypal layers of the psyche on the individual and the collective levels.

The way of the deliciously alive broken open heart is radical; it's not what we might expect when we talk about heart-break. Turns out, heart-break is a portal to aliveness, to living a life with freaky artistry, to Mystery, to raw, wild creativity in-born in each of us. An intelligence rips through our heart, invades our lives, giving way to a ravishing and natural way of thriving in reciprocity with every thing that moves like a river in and through the soul of the world, on the earth, not forcing and not holding back.

© 2014, 2016 Melissa La Flamme

*Excerpt from the poem, Bewildered, by 13th century, Persian poet and Sufi mystic, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi Translated by Coleman Barks.

Image at top of article: Stock photograph of Canis Lupus, Grey Wolf.

Jungian psychotherapy shamanic healing shaman psychotherapist denver