Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)



Invictus, is a poem written in the 1800’s by William Ernest Henley. He was suffering from the loss of his lower leg due to tuberculosis of the bone (courtesy of Wikipedia). The same poem inspired this mandala.

Henley proclaimed himself the captain of his soul, the master of his fate. I can draw a thread of light from this writing of the late 1800’s all the way to now. How many bookshelves (and digital files) do we have filled with instruction on positive thinking and manifestation?

Henley speaks of fearlessness. He is ready to focus on life, not dying. He lived to be 53, not a bad stretch back then, with illness and handicap. (For you Glee watchers: handicapable.) Was Henley’s circumstance karmic? He mentions the punishments of scroll. How many of us are living within our karmic creations? Are we fighting them?

Invictus is a reminder that we are not planning a creation—we are living it. Each unique circumstance that hails our attention is a responsibility we can explore. When you have the opportunity to complain, take a moment to consider that you may have devised a situation to teach yourself  something. Why not use your innate strength and cunning to figure out the intentions of your soul, instead of projecting blame onto others.

We are incredible teaching tools. Complicated, maybe, but still incredible. There are no rules of engagement here, create a team to assist your explorations! Henley used illness, a hospital, doctors, maybe even a pretty nurse to inspire his being. How are you inspiring yourself? What tools do you lend your unconquerable soul?

Remember, we can all use an affirmation in the morning and positive thinking in the afternoon, but they are bandages for something trying to heal. Henley speaks of discipline, diligence and inspiration. Despite handicap, he plans to walk, no matter how straight the gate.

You, you divine expression of life embodied, are perfect in your creation. No matter what form, height, weight, ethnicity, health or place you are an expression of your soul. Each moment is an opportunity for us to love what is within, created from memories we may not be able to retrieve, attempting to heal on this amazing planet and… doing it!

Blessings on your perfect road, with your amazing soul,


1 comment to Invictus

  • Holly Burger

    By the way!!! If you would like to explore making your own Mandala, please come to my class on June 17 in Arvada, Co. Thank you! Blessings, hb

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