The spiritual awakening journey is the shortest and the longest journey that we all will take. One of the most powerful ways in which the journey of spiritual awakening has been shared is through myth, fairy tale, parable, and storytelling.

As a storyteller I love sharing stories of spiritual awakening such as The Four Treasures of Ireland, The Wizard of Oz, and Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.

Here I am intent on sharing with you the spiritual awakening journey by way of the Hans Anderson story The Ugly Duckling.

Let us explore this awakening journey by way of the following map.

Spiritual Awakening Journey Menu

So let’s begin to open the story of the awakening journey to the inner self through the spiritual story that is the Ugly Duckling.

Spiritual Awakening Stories

awakening journey

There are individuals searching the internet for the term “spiritual awakening stories” or “stories of awakening.” Admittedly the number of people is few but that has always been the case.

However, there are two ways of looking at this search term.  Are the individuals searching for stories about spiritual awakening related to an awakened individual?

Or are they looking for stories that share the journey of spiritual awakening either in whole or in part.

In this article on the awakening journey, I share with you a specific story about the journey of awakening rather than a story about an awakened individual such as Mooji, Sadhguru, Osho or Eckhart Tolle.

Spiritual awakening stories are important because they are told in the language of the soul and not the language of the intellect. The Master Jesus spoke in parables. Fairy tales speak in riddles.  Zen teachings practice Koans. (What is the sound of one hand clapping).

The reason for this is because no one ever became enlightened through the intellect. The language that guides the awakening journey includes the language of: –

  • Mystical poetry.
  • Mythological tales.
  • Fairy tales.
  • Metaphor and especially paradox.
  • Symbols

The reason for a lack of understanding of the truths of wisdom teachings is that those who teach them do so from a literal point of view.

They read the words and think they understand the guidance for the journey.  Thus, the mystic poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake wrote: –

They read their Bibles Day and night where they read black, I read white – William Blake (1757-1827)

William Blake understood the language of spiritual awakening from the direct experience.

Without such an experience you have no real authority to teach the journey of awakening.

You are the blind leading the blind. Such is the history of hierarchical religion throughout history. This is the history of wisdom teaching taught by literalists.

Awakening Journey Stages

awakening journey to the inner self

I think it helps to recognize the journey of spiritual awakening is in three stages.

The way in which I share them within this website includes the following.

DevelopmentalConsciousnessJourneyStage of Life
Level 1PersonalLower 3 ChakrasOrdinary World1st Half of Life
Level 2TransitionalHeart ChakraThe UnknownMid Life
Level 3TranspersonalHigher 3 ChakrasExtraordinary World2nd Half of Life

For the most part, this is a linear journey in the sense that you move from one stage to the next.

However, you can and do move back and forth through the stages. Everyone who enters the transpersonal doesn’t stay there. They return to do the work of personal integration at Level 1.

While this is the journey of awakening on three levels most people never progress beyond Level 1.

This is the case even with the Stages of Life.  You can enter mid-life and the 2nd Half of Life and remain uninterested in self-realization or revelation.

Level 1 is about the development and maintenance of the personality and the separate sense of the personal self.

Most people have no idea and no wish to move to the second stage, which is to surrender the personal self.

The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it. ― Carl Jung

The father of Yoga: the Indian Sage Patanjali said of this journey of spiritual awakening.

Yoga is the journey of the self (personal) to the Self (transpersonal) through the self (unknown) – Patanjali.

So spiritual awakening stories are all about the journey of leaving, adventure, and return.  Let’s look at the key spiritual awakening story that is The Ugly Duckling by the Dutch author Hans Christian Anderson (1805-1875)

Symbols of the Journey of Awakening

symbols of the journey of awakening

To understand this story of spiritual awakening (The Ugly Duckling) I will take you through the stages and what each stage symbolizes.

I will also include some personal storytelling.

  1. The Ugly Duckling.
  2. The Ordinary World.
  3. The Road of Trials.
  4. The Breakthrough.
  5. The Awakening.

To understand this story of spiritual awakening (The Ugly Duckling) I will take you through the stages and what each stage symbolizes.  I will also include some personal storytelling.

  1. The Ugly Duckling.
  2. The Ordinary World.
  3. The Road of Trials.
  4. The Breakthrough.
  5. The Awakening.

The above can be viewed as stages of the awakening of the soul. So, let’s take the journey together.

The Symbol of the Ugly Duckling.

This story is not just a children’s story. It is your story about your birth as a soul who forgets their essence. The poet William Wordsworth writes about this experience of forgetting our magnificence in Intimations of Immorality

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,

But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length, the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

The ugly duckling is each and every one of us who has forgotten where we come from as an emanation of Divine intention.

This happens to every one of us because we all must make the unenviable choice between attachment and authenticity.

In this way the shades of the prison house of a personal identity detached from our authentic inner self closes around us.

Attachment versus Authenticity (The Loss of the Inner Self)

The way I invite you to understand this spiritual story is that the Ugly Duckling is symbolic of each of us who has suppressed our authentic nature (which is all of us).

In this way, we lose touch with the beauty of who we are created to be and express as symbolized by the Swan.

We live in the ordinary world (symbolized by the farmyard) and we don’t know who we are.  When someone asks us, “How do you feel?” Our reply is “I have no idea.” (Gabor Mate)

Journey of Awakening the Inner Self

The story of the Ugly Duckling is the story of the outsider.

This is the story of one who feels they don’t belong (at least in the beginning).

This is my story as someone born into a family where I felt I didn’t belong.

I lived the archetype of the Orphan which is the other side of the Archetype of the Innocent.

awakening journey to the inner self

An archetype is a universal symbolic pattern. Examples of archetypal characters are the femme fatale, the trickster, the great mother and father, and the dying god. There are archetypal stories as well. … Archetypal myths explain the nature of the world and life.

The journey of the Ugly Duckling begins when we choose attachment over authenticity.  In this way, we get to belong to the group, but we get exiled from our inner self.

We are not ugly, but we do not match with the others in the group.  Such was my journey into alcoholism.

On the level of the spiritual journey, the birth into exile represents our birth into the sense of the separate personal self.  We exile ourselves from our Soul. We all do this.  It is a necessary part of the spiritual awakening journey.

Many of us never move beyond identification with the personality.  It is who we think ourselves to be. We make compromises and we become further and further exiled.

Though her soul requires seeing, the culture around her requires sightlessness. Though her soul wishes to speak the truth, she is pressured to be silent. – Women Who Run with the Wolves – Contacting the Power of the Wild Woman – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Leaving The Ordinary World

  • The Ugly Duckling – The Farmyard.
  • The Wizard of Oz – Gray of Kanas
  • Harry Potter –  World of the Muggles.
  • The Hobbit  -The Shire.

This is the everyday world where we go through different stages of personal development from child to adult.  This is the ordinary world of growing up, working for a living, raising a family (or not), and being identified with our personal sense of self.

For the few, there is the Call to Adventure which means they are called to leave the ordinary world for an adventure into the unknown. Many refuse the call and settle for what is known.

Morpheus: – You take the blue pill…the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill…you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes – The Matrix –

Journey of Awakening – The Road of Trials

story of spiritual awakening

Leaving the known of the ordinary world takes you into the unknown. Very often the reason you leave the ordinary world of the known is because you come to a point where it isn’t enough.

This is the call of the Soul. It often happens at midlife when you have had some degree of life experience but not always.  It happened to me when I was in my early twenties.

I was graced to choose therapy over suicide.

If you plan on being anything less than what you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life. – Abraham Maslow

The Road of Trials is different and the same for everyone. It is the willingness to feel what you avoid feeling and integrating what the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung termed the Shadow.

The Shadow is all those energetic aspects of ourselves that we denied because of our need to be attached and to survive. Until this energy is processed and acknowledges you will live your life from the dynamic of your Lessor Angels (Abraham Lincoln)

  • Harry Potter – Harry worries he will turn out like Voldemort.
  • Star Wars – Luke Skywalker feels he will be drawn to the Dark Side.
  • Jesus of Nazareth – Tempted in the desert by the Devil
  • Silence of the Lambs – Clarice is intrigued by the dark side of humanity as Lecter Hannibal

The Spiritual Breakthrough Experience

spiritual breakthrough
spiritual breakthrough

The journey of awakening involves what has been called The Breakthrough Experience. In the story of the Ugly Duckling, this is symbolized by the contact with the Swans.

The glimpsing of the Swans is where you glimpse the nature of the Inner Self.  This changes everything. It is an experience beyond conceptual belief.  It is the entry into INNER KNOWING.

This is a mystical experience.  You move from someone who is a believer or non-believer into KNOWING. This glimpsing of the swans is always a grace experience.

You KNOW that it is a grace experience only after the breakthrough.

Following the breakthrough, you are aware that what has been revealed to you could never be earned.  It is just too glorious.

When a swan is mentioned in fairy tales or legends it always refers to the heavenly part of the human being – The Wisdom of Fairy Tales by Rudolph Meyer

For the Ugly Duckling, the breakthrough experience is a glimpse of their true potential.  However, for others who are deeply attached to the personal sense of self, the breakthrough experience can lead to a breakdown.

This has been called a spiritual emergency and some don’t make it.  This has happened to people with a deep attachment to religious beliefs.

Why one person experiences bliss and the other breakdown is a mystery.

The Awakening Experience

spiritual awakening experience

While one may get a glimpse of what it feels like to be awake the process of spiritual awakening is to integrate that experience into your everyday world.

This is the continuing journey of surrender and revelation.  You move from the dynamic of the lower-level chakras (personal development) to opening the heart to the energy of the higher chakras and the higher heart chakra (Divine Revelation).

You move from a focus on “My will be done” (personal) to “Thy Will be Done.” (transpersonal). You learn to live from the imitations of your soul rather than from the dictates and prison of the overthinking personal mind.

You arrive at the Lake of Revelation.  You arrive at the deep pool of stillness (link to daily reflection) where you see your true reflection. You SEE who you are, and you KNOW who you are becoming.

You begin to live as a Presence beyond the personal.  This lights up your personality.  You become truly attractive, but you KNOW this is not your doing.

You are a willing channel for the fulfillment of Love’s Message as it is designed to come through you.

You are no longer exiled from your True Self – your soul. What was always potential within the Ugly Duckling is now revealed as the Beauty of Self.   You don’t earn it.  It is always available.

The Inner Presence has likewise become an Inner Power. From an occasional experience of (glimpsing swans) it has become the constant awareness (Swan). There is a constant joy within those needs no outside stimulus – Our Real Existence – The Infinite Way – Joel Goldsmith

After Awakening

after spiritual awakening

You have been graced with the revelation of your INNER SELF.  Nothing will ever be the same.  So what now?

The reality is that you only get to live as a Swan to the degree you live from Presence rather than ego.

Most of us go back to being the Ugly Duckling, but this is out of habit and because we are still part of the collective that is the farmyard (human consciousness).

However, there has been the spiritual breakthrough and the experience that was the revelation of your Swan Nature is never forgotten.

Before Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water, after Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. – Zen Proverb

Now you KNOW that there is more to who you think you are.  Where before you felt you did not belong, and you felt exiled.  Now you know why you felt exiled, and you recognize that there is the experience beyond exile that is your birthright.

Like that story of the Prodigal Son (that applies to all daughters) you begin to make your way back to that state of Being that allows you to be in the joy of your Self. (Enjoy of yourself).

Most myths and fairy tales are not simply made-up stories about fictional characters. They are stories about you and the journey of your soul.

These are stories not to be taken literally.  They are to be understood symbolically and metaphorically. Take them literally and you miss the invitation. (Jonah and the Whale).

I hope that this article on the Spiritual Awakening Journey and the story of the Ugly Duckling becoming the Swan (Soul Revelation) has given you some insight into the magnificence of who you are created to become.

More stories to come.

Spiritual Awakening Resource/s

spiritual storytelling

Simply put, here is the best spiritual storytelling program ever produced.  I say this as a professional storyteller myself.

I hope you are encouraged to begin to explore the language of spiritual awakening that is invited by way of storytelling.

Here is a key resource that I have loved and explored on my own journey that are a constant source of inspiration.

Here is one of the most inspiring audio programs that I have ever been graced to listen to. It is by the wonderful storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estate author of the international best-selling book Women Who Run with the Wolves.

Presented in her one-of-a-kind lyrical style, the Theatre of the Imagination storytelling and poetry program seats you in the front row at these performances of a lifetime.

As a storyteller myself these really are the performance of a lifetime. These are stories that guide you on the path of the awakening journey.

More than seven hours of signature stories, plus earthy and wise advice, archetypal insights, poetry, and much more.

stories for the spiritual awakening journey

6 Stories for the Spiritual Awakening Journey

Learn More About:

  • The cycles of life and death
  • How the language of symbols translates into everyday life
  • Community and healing the homesickness within the soul
  • How to stop your destructive inner critic
  • Reclaiming the bodies we were born with
  • Facing the cycles of change in a relationship
  • Agelessness and the aerial view of the elder
  • How to awaken the 1,000 eyes of your intuition
  • Transformation through the four vital steps to forgiveness
  • The power of the Divine Child
  • Finding courage and the sacred centre of the psyche
  • When others try to silence you: how to claim your strength

As part of your commitment to leave the farmyard and return from exile from your TRUE SELF, you owe it to yourself to learn from the best.

This is an Affiliate Link - I Earn a Small Commission if You Purchase this Product.  I only recommend products I love and use.

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awakening journey to the inner self
symbols of the awakening journey
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