Inner Michael » Michael and the Soul- a shapeshifter

Michael and the Soul- a shapeshifter

Shamans live and work in more than one dimension. Shamans keep one foot in both worlds—the mundane world of everyday life and the world of non-ordinary-reality. The outer planes and the inner planes hold different realities but they echo in many ways. “As above so below” can describe that interplay as well as the interplay of the microcosm with the macrocosm. For all our evolution, it is still a world of duality.
There are the leather and buckles that seem dark, brooding, sensual and Bad; there are the white shirts and suits that are the color of purity and innocence. There is the bad-boy and the darling. There is the Michael who spanks his singing partner while she’s freeze-frame in dance, and the Michael who cradles female fans in a tender and intimate embrace. There is the dangerous male dancer with the grinding movements that can mimic the sex act and depict the rise of Kundalini spiritual energy at the same time. There is the crotch grabbing Michael who seems to gesture a need to hold in the creativity in the place it is birthed so that it doesn’t leak out from his being; and the Michael that assumes spiritual poses like supplication and crucifixion.
There is the white skinned yet black African American. Obviously African American in Thriller, Michael begins to show symptoms of Vitiligo sometime after that music video is made. The Vitiligo gave him large areas of pasty white skin from de-pigmentation, the hallmark of the disease. Once gone, the pigment never returns and eventually more white than black, Michael submitted to the recommended and subscribed treatments of lasers and cream to even his skin tones. Michael begins to look more like a Caucasian by the time he makes “Black or White” where he dances with people from a variety of racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Toward the end of his life, Michael begins to appear Albino- someone with no pigmentation at all, no discernable race or ethnicity. In the light spectrum we know that white contains all colors. Was Michael himself truly a man for all seasons? Was he a visible example of a human without race, without color or with all colors, all races?
Michael, in childhood, was a sophisticated performer from the moment he took the stage. Dick Clark remembers Michael’s savvy well and thought of him as a middle aged man in a child’s body. As Dick began to introduce and interview the Jackson 5, Michael took the microphone from him introducing his brothers himself. Dick knew then that this was a child destined for greatness.

The human soul holds the dichotomy and dualities in perfect balance. It is not exclusionary. It does not favor holding one manifestation superior to another; it does not choose; rather than the either/or of the dualistic world, it holds both/and in harmony. It is whole, holistic—a kind of hologram that includes the blueprint of the Divine—the original impulse of creation. It is a thing of great beauty. The human who engages the soul in the work or has a soul-infused personality is that same reflected “thing of beauty.” Some people just are beautiful, their beauty almost ethereal. Michael was intimate with this beauty.

Both Michael himself and certainly his work, seems to embody or hold in balance the essential soul qualities. One reader put it this way: “I’ve thought that Michael has been an amazing reflection of the soul which is both yet neither aspects of our Universe’s duality: male and female in appearance and voice; black and white; sexuality and non-sexuality; threatening and non-threatening; identified with a country and culture yet global; child yet adult; the essence of innocence yet accused of the unthinkable.” [paraphrased-edited]

I’ve been looking for an answer to this contradiction that was Michael Jackson and have come to the conclusion that Michael truly was/is the ultimate soul mirror. How and why this is the case is still a bit mysterious but its unfolding continues. Michael reflects everything about the human condition and seems to do it on many levels, in many dimensions, many languages, and in mythological and mystical terms. Michael is alchemical. Michael is a shape-shifter. Michael is a shaman.

There is the sexy or naughty Michael juxtaposed with the wholesome and innocent Michael:

There is the black and white Michael:

There is the man-child who is Michael.

Michael was always soft-spoken with a quiet voice yet it is reported that he was a consummate manager who knew how to motivate his staff with few words. His business acumen is legendary; his skill as a manager and leader was respected. Michael was a perfectionist who demanded his own excellence and recruited excellence in others simply with simple expectation or encouragement.

Yet Michael loved the “elementary things” that he talked about in Have You Seen my Childhood? Neverland Ranch, before defiled by accusations and invasion, was a sanctuary and magical place that nourished the child in everyone who visited. Michael hosted many guests there: children, adults and families. Gregory Peck found it rejuvenating; McCauley Culkin found it exhilarating and Elizabeth Taylor thought it enchanting. Michael had a special tree that he liked to climb where he became inspired, writing many of his lyrics cradled in its boughs. What adult among us has not longed to climb trees to find safe haven again? Neverland featured a magical theme park atmosphere with movie theatre with candy and snacks, a train, golf carts and a zoo filled with all kinds of animals. All visitors were expected to participate in water fights. Although adept with a Super Soaker water gun, Michael’s preferred ammunition was water balloons. Football was another favorite especially of Shawn Lennon, John Lennon’s son who visited and stayed often.

Michael’s home featured life size figures and sculptures of real characters and the characters of legends. A life-size cookie butler held a tray of Neverland’s legendary chocolate chip cookies. Dolls, knights, angels, cherubs, children, animals and fantasy characters graced the halls and grounds of the mansion. Neverland was built partly for Michael himself to recapture the childhood lost at the hand of a stern taskmaster father determined to catapult his musical family to fame and fortune. Michael loved Disneyland but could not go out in public without being mobbed. He built a scaled down model of his own Disneyland behind the gates of his estate. But Neverland was also a place for hosting children who might never otherwise visit such a place or who were sick, many whom expressed a dying wish to meet Michael and visit Neverland. Thousands of children romped at Neverland—Michael’s way of gifting them Disneyland style. Inner city youth, kids coping with cancer and other diseases, at risk children, reform school incarcerates, disadvantaged children, handicapped and special needs kids all were welcomed to Neverland. Far from the predator some painted him to be, Michael was a father to all those children. Michel knew as Hillary Clinton did, that it takes a village. A global village.

Contrast that Michael with the polished performer, the star quality stage presence, the adult themes in lyrics and certain songs, some sensual costuming and the appealing adult male persona. People wondered how this man could embody both the child-man and polished star who commanded the stage and the audience. A shy person in public, Michael shape-shifted the moment he hit the stage. He was comfortable only while performing, felt safe only on stage; he didn’t like interviews or conversations. He preferred to let his music and art speak for him. Michael Jackson was literally hiding in plain sight.

Many wondered who was this man… really? Most people had never seen anything like him and struggled to define and to understand. Michael was a visible example of the melding of the duality. An embodiment of the duality itself, he was the personification of an interplay of opposites, puzzles and contradictions.

The angry Michael and the tender Michael.
At times when he is performing, Michael appears to set his jaw and looks angry. More than once he has been labeled with the cliché` description “angry young man.” Michael found the injustices of the world painful and once he identified them, he would often take them on in lyrics. He was especially sensitive to the exploitation and destruction of the planet for profit.

A sensitive senses the magnitude of the emotion. An empath feels the collective of those things. Empaths feel the onslaughts and assaults that affect the world, that impact humanity. There are those people who feel the world’s collective pain, humanity’s collective pain. Michael was one of them.

Michael’s body itself was an instrument of the music, the song, the performance. His body was like the flute through which inspiration blows—a portal thorough which to enter into existence and birth itself in the world. Michael was gifted and he always said his gift was God-given. If God was the author; Michael was the book. If God was the composer; Michael was the score. In Michael’s very first album he talks about the Force, a reference to the Force from Star Wars– the same Force that animates the Universe. He says about the Force: “don’t stop ‘till you get enough.” For Michael, that Force was always more than enough. Instead of the wind that blows through the flute to express the music, the wind that blew through Michael was gale force. And it was that kind of sustained force with everything he did. Michael’s Force was forever amplified.

That kind of force in creativity can appear angry because its’ power is so unexpected, so awe producing. A river can have pools, ripples, rapids and waterfalls—it’s the same water but different intensities. And always the source is the river. The power of the river cannot be stopped. When you are in the river, you are going where the river takes you. There is no way to swim against the current; resistance, as they say, is futile. When in that kind of swift force, there is no way to reach shore; there is only the careening downstream. Better to peer ahead for the next passage and perhaps obstacles than to fight a current that can’t be stopped. There is no way to get out of the way of the river; the only thing to do is get self out of the way, and go where the river takes you. You are going anyway.

When white knuckles and white water takes you, it’s good to know the source of that force. Hopefully it’s the river of life and not destruction. Hopefully it’s the River Jordan that cradles you and sweeps you along and not the River Styx.

The Masculine and Feminine Michael:
While often appearing androgynous and embodying traits of both the masculine and feminine, there were times when Michael was blatantly masculine in his features and presentation. His maleness oozed at times and at others it was quietly understated in the background. His interpretations of a Bad gang member and Smooth Criminal highlights a more hard driving maleness of the characters while the Egyptian magician in Remember the Time and the Greco-Roman androgynous youth in You are Not Alone are more feminine interpretations of the male we see despite his ministrations to women in both films.

Michael wore makeup, lipstick and eyelashes which today are accepted as part of the trappings of “show biz” but at his popularity peak, some thought it evidence of his being “gay” which was a much more highly charged issue then. It’s no longer considered too feminine or a product of “gayness” and is more widely accepted as “art.” Everybody tries to find their “shtick” that will stick. Celebrities must necessarily re-invent themselves to stay contemporary and relevant. Michael knew how to be not only relevant and contemporary but endearing, daring and enduring.

The Dangerous Michael and the Innocent Michael:
In Thriller, Michael morphs into a werewolf and threatens his partner. In Ghost he loses his human flesh and becomes a wraith bringing death into the conversation. In Smooth Criminal he is a mafia-type who dispatches his enemies with a machine gun. In Rock My World he is the slick male womanizer and seducer. In Come Together Michael is the vinyl clad sexy and dangerous Rock Star you don’t want your daughter around. Have You Seen My Childhood finds Michael sitting alone in the forest dreaming of holding onto his inner child. He looks every bit the child uncomfortable with the world adults have created. The boyish charm of Michael in the Greco-Roman setting of You are Not Alone with his wife Lisa Marie Presley, speaks of charming youth and budding love. In Will You be There Michael is the human asking for Divine companionship through the trials of life and the stumbling of the man and mankind. At one point in the dance, Michael is lifted by the dancers—is this gesture about the resurrection of the soul?

The Showman Michael and the Waif:
Michael Jackson was a student of P.T. Barnum and he understood the value of surprise, juxtaposition and startling your audience with the unexpected. He also understood the value of creating anticipation. Michael deliberately placed subliminals and startling images in his work. He knew how to raise eyebrows, get attention and then deliver the message. The impact and unforgetability of the outrageous was not lost on Michael. He caused both murmuring and loud outcry. He knew how to tease and “simmer” before delivering the sizzle. Some called that genius. He also had the appeal of the lost and alone little boy. The one mothers wanted to adopt and women wanted to hold. That is the waif who becomes the forbidden secret lover in the heart. The cynical might think that manipulation; the worldly would call it savvy and showmanship but the majority of women would call that endearing and appealing.

The Human Michael and the Spiritual Messenger:
Michael speaks of human failings in his work—those of himself and those of humanity. In Will You Be There he says that a man is expected to stand and walk even when not able; his is expected to find inner strength in the face of whatever trial or tribulation befalls him. In anguish Michael cries “But I’m only human!”

Michael’s lyrics throughout, talk about human feelings. These feelings always appear in relationship—with a love interest, with the Divine, with the Earth, with humanity. It is all relational, all relationship-speak.

Many of Michael’s songs and the body of his work is prayer, a global plea to humanity to make the world better, to care for the children, to save their planet, their future. This Spiritual Messenger who is Michael has a message… sometimes loud, sometimes subtle, sometimes subliminal. He knows how to grab attention, makes sure everybody is watching; then he creates the tension of anticipation (“you have to let it simmer!”) and WHAM! The message is delivered.

Michael says in his work “seems like the world has a role for me.” Michael knew. And he knew that he knew. And he knew that somehow we knew. We did and we do.

(c) B. Kaufmann 2010 and beyond


  1. 9sassylove said . . .

    I wish Michael could have had someone like you at his side to capture the true essence of him instead of those so called confidante's who only wanted to exploit him for sensational fodder. It is always a joy reading your spiritual insight of him.

    Posted January 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Permalink
  2. Anonymous said . . .

    I agree with the above – please keep writing. Wish you would eventually publish a book of these writings.
    If I am ever in a place where I can help you do that, I will.

    "Michael is a shaman." – Amen! Last week I presented him as a shaman to my drama class – I think they saw it. He certainly is a spiritual teacher and healer to me – among other things – "my" shaman.

    love to you

    Posted January 28, 2010 at 1:17 am | Permalink
  3. marga1961 said . . .

    Oh, how I love your articles, they keep spinning round in my head. Your words are so beautiful, I L.O.V.E. it. Thanx so very very much. Greetings from the Netherlands.

    Posted April 28, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

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