‘Time is the speed at which the past disappears.’
– From Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
My story, by Fritz Loest
The teachings and practices that are still shaping me, daily; the traditions I have immersed myself in for more than twenty-five years; the spirit of forces that have stripped me bare and spat me out many times over, are fundamentally ‘anti-credential’. In other words, there is something essentially dubious about ‘trying to sell myself.’
But the world we live in is full of paradox, which contributes to it being so rich and interesting! So, I do understand that you who read here, have an appropriate need to be given an image, preferably in the least amount of words possible, of who I am. Except of course, ‘who I am’ cannot really be conveyed in words. Just as ‘who you are,’ cannot either. Nor is ‘who we are’ something static. So in writing this, I do not condone the culture that believes otherwise.
My career was never really a ‘career’. In fact, like so many other people, my real journey began only once the life I’d lived started disintegrating inside and around me. I was twenty-five years old and fundamentally lost. On the surface of life, in the world of appearances, I was on the verge of completing my second law degree. After which a career as a lawyer would be within close reach. But my Inner Truth was calling me in other directions. Which I had been side-lining for as long as I could recall. A habit that came crashing down along with the rest of my world, when soul demanded from me to ‘get real’ by confronting me with a serious crisis.
Except ‘getting real’ was not something I could simply ‘do’, in an instant. Despite the fact that I was fortunate enough, eventually, to experience a miraculous awakening amidst this disintegration, I remained hard-wired in habits, perspectives and psychological realities that could not be undone without some process that penetrated to my core. Even a significant spiritual awakening was not enough. And so I learned that ‘following my Inner Truth’ was not as clear a path as one may think.
So truly, I was still lost. But I was clear on one thing: I was no longer free to live a life that went in against the calls from my heart. At the time I felt a profound urgency about this. But painfully, I had no idea why it was so important. It was as if ‘the fee the ferryman demanded from me’ to enter on this journey, was to follow something I could not prove to be true. Only years later did my being root more solidly in the kind of knowing where the ‘why’ started making sense. Just one example of this kind of knowledge was when I firmly felt the truth of John Keats’s statement that human life can only be meaningful when our entire existence is dedicated to ‘soul-making’.
At that time, at the age of twenty-five, I did not know these things as I do now. Which meant I was in constant conflict between the person I used to be and the person I was becoming. A conflict that paralysed me from living coherently in any real way, for many years. More often that not, the line between ‘what is real’ and ‘what is self-deception’ was nowhere to be seen. If I’d gone to a psychiatrist, I’d no doubt have been classified, at very least, as psychotic. And would probably have been given a good supply of pills. Only later did I discover how certain kinds of madness are in fact what opens us and shapes us. The processes that penetrate us to the core, that undo those parts of us preventing us from living soulfully, are often not acceptable to the mainstream.
And so, the path of learning to follow my heart ‘undid me’ again and again over a long time, rather than give me any firm ground to stand on. I ended up wandering through several countries, jobs, relationships and endlessly shifting inner landscapes for many years. Yet at the same time, I was also deeply blessed. For example, I gradually became aware of ‘something’ that was guiding me. Even though ‘it was not there,’ more often than it was! Just one example of this guidance, is the synchronicities that brought me to encounter and study the I Ching, Taoism and Buddhism during this early time. They were simply too unlikely to have been ‘mere coincidences’.
And yet, still, I fundamentally remained stuck in old habits. As I firmly believed that ‘no-one else would understand,’ I could not accept the essential truth that the kind of deep transformation required of me, demanded that I had to have a human teacher. This truth is one of those ‘mystical qualities,’ like those white pebbles that Hansel and Gretel needed to ‘find their way back home.’ Essentials without which we don’t arrive. ‘Mystical,’ because we cannot really ‘prove’ why they are required. And so, around the time I turned thirty-three, the sacred river of my life brought me to another major crisis. And through the tumult of this time, that ‘something’ guided me, quite beyond my control, to meet three people who would become my first teachers.
It is interesting to notice what we only see when looking back. Only afterwards did I see that the kind of change I needed, required more than meeting these teachers. So that soon after I met them, it happened that I was diagnosed with an ‘incurable’ illness. Many good teachers claim that true transformation can only happen when we are forced to surrender completely to someone or something greater than our own will. Today, I know without any doubt that this illness was the thing that facilitated for me an embodied transformation of who I was.
Hindsight creates the illusion of inevitability. For, in the midst of this illness, for more than two years, I received no hint that I would be healed. I knew that I could not accept mainstream medicine’s prescription to take chronic medicine for the rest of my life. Gradually my body weight declined to 70% of where it had been. I was being stripped away quite literally. It was another profound synchronicity that this illness came only once I had teachers who could guide me through. Six year later, this multi-faceted and intricate journey culminated in my being completely healed. I emerged from it with some of my core psychological ‘wounds’ simply gone. A very dark paralysing presence that had been there all my life, had upped and left. I felt so much lighter! I felt alive for the first time in my life.
A teaching from Alchemy says that our journeys of transformation happen in each of the four elements. Maybe this one was in water. Next up may be air, fire or earth. Each time it takes about ten years. I’ve since realised that even though I experienced a fundamental healing, I have by no means arrived at ‘the final destination.’ (It took me some time to realise this!) Just when I think I ‘got real,’ I wake up to the necessity to ‘get real’ on a deeper level. As long as we are here, our soul-making is ongoing. So, the work I feel myself called to do, is simply to assist fellow travellers with their own individual journeys.
I ended up studying with those teachers and two others, for twelve years until 2015. I spent thousands of hours with them and received intensive training in all the fields mentioned on this website. I did many workshops, underwent numerous rituals of initiation, did many hours of communal study and practice, travailed through dense inner forests for many years and spent hundreds of ritual hours in a just as dense and wild actual forest. I had lots of fun, both ‘naughty’ and simple fun. I laughed gutturally until the tears flowed; and cried deeply, shudderingly. I experienced close and intimate friendships and felt what it is like to truly ‘be where I belong’. I started doing imaginal therapy in 2005 and did so under close supervision for seven years. And started practicing as a full-time therapist, teacher and workshop facilitator in 2008.
I’ve been married, got divorced, made beautiful homes many times over, fell head-over-heels in love and lost that love, been in three long-term serious relationships, lost my beloved home and was forced to ‘start over again’ several times. I worked as a paralegal for Lawyers for Human Rights, a barista in small cubicles at train-stations, a sommelier in a five-star restaurant in London, a sales consultant of financial products winning a four-day trip to Paris ‘for excellent service’, started what was to be a successful wine export business in the United States, studied some English literature and Psychology, studied and did Java programming, studied Journalism, worked as an assistant publisher and commissioning editor of trade books, and as a managing editor of educational books. I also edited, proof read and ghost-wrote several books, and worked as a bookkeeper and financial manager for many years.
This previous paragraph is a quick version of my ‘case-history’. But my real journey is the story of ‘my soul-history’. Some years ago, I discovered the tremendous value to my imaginal and soul-making work of remaining involved in the business world, which I continue to do. It keeps me in touch with ‘life in the world’ in a way I feel is vital to my ability to assist others with their soul-journeys. I am currently based in Cape Town, South Africa and continue to work, study and write daily on imaginal philosophy and soul-making.
For any inquiries, please contact Fritz via the form in the sidebar.