The Descent

DESCENT INTO THE UNDERWORLD

Who am I?


My very existence raises this question,
and it drives my descent into the underworld of the psyche,
into the unconscious mind
to make the unconscious conscious.


We are all so multidimensional that it is impossible to fully describe ourselves.
Certainly, I am not one thing,
so which aspects of myself have the passion and commitment needed to undertake a journey deep into the self?

The thought brings to mind the archetypes who populate dreams,
representing various aspects of ourselves.
They seem likely candidates for a trip into the underworld of myth, imagination and magic.

So who comes with me?

The Dreamer?
The part of myself that wonders ‘What if …?’

The Contemplative?
Who ponders the nature of mind and reality.

The Ageless Mystic?
Who exists beyond time.

The Artist?
Who is compelled to create.

The Author ?
Who expresses herself in words.

The Carer?
Whose heart aches for all who suffer.

The Adventurer?
Who is willing to risk self-shattering realisations.

The Soul Seeker?
Who seeks the truth of ourselves and existence.

The Spiritual Warrior?
Who forges forth with strong resolve,
knowing the rightness of her actions.

All these aspects of myself lend their strengths to the quest.
For I am all of them, and more,
and yet, I am also none of them.


I cannot be defined by labels.

Preparation

Before beginning my journey I must clear all preconceptions from my mind.
If I am to make discoveries, I cannot go with expectations of what I might find.
Rather I must go fully open to whatever may arise.
So I meditate to allow all concepts to drop away.


I must not be in a rush to descend.
Preparation is important for me to build courage for a descent
that must go deeper than ever before.
To look back on a life characterised by rejection is not easy,
but I must do it
because something is standing in my way.
I’m hoping that my newly discovered nuerodivergence is the key to banishing it forever.

Maybe.

What awaits me, though somewhat known, is never always known.
After all, anything can arise, leap out at me and threaten to send me scurrying back to the safety of the known.

For some a shaman’s ritual will provide inspiration and support.

Others may wish to commune with their ancestors to seek their guidance.

Some will prepare through prayer.

Others may call upon a deity such as Gaia, Mother Earth, and request their blessing.
Like other deities, she has many faces, different in different cultures but with the same role.

Some might call on an angel and ask for their guidance.

I call upon noble beings, imaginative manifestations of my wisest self,
and take courage from the knowlege that they are facets of myself and only ever an invocation away.
Their energy is my energy,
and visualising them empowers me.


Gender matters not, for noble beings are beyond gender.

I imagine my own representation of compassion,
set her in the sky before me and visualise her sending warm loving light into my heart.
I feel the light fill me, and I know I am loved.
I am love.
And love will protect me.


I can do this.

When I’m wide open, vulnerable to the revelations of the self, I’m finally ready.

Now I am ready for my guide.

The Guide

When I think of a guide to the underworld of my psyche, Persephone comes to mind.
She is not just a goddess from ancient Greece,
she is also a symbol for our own descent into the dark recesses of ourself.
Who better to be my guide than the queen of the Underworld?

Every autumn she descends into the Underworld where the dead reside,
and every spring she returns to the world above,
representing the cyclical process of death and rebirth,
of shedding the old to make way for the new.
Persephone’s journey is essentially one of growth and transformation.

Journeying into the underworld of ourself is not easy,
for it can uncover what we might prefer remain hidden,
but it is one I must take if I am to fulfil my deepest potential.

I meditate on Persephone and become familiar with her story.
She showed that from the flames of struggle can come creative solutions
and great strength in a new vision of ourselves.
That is what I seek.

I see her in my mind’s eye,
and imbue her image with power, wisdom, and mystery,
never forgetting that she is a manifestation of those qualities within myself.

‘And what talisman do you bring with you?’ Persephone asks.

I frown. ‘Talisman?’

‘A magical item of power and protection’

‘I have no such thing,’ I tell her.

‘A crucifix perhaps?’ she says.

I shake my head.

Though I appreciate the beauty of such lovingly crafted objects,
I left what they symbolise behind decades ago.
Theology had no answers to the questions I asked.

‘Some who pass this way carry a ritual knife or dagger,’ Persephone says.

I shake my head.

The closest I got to that was my Tibetan phurba
and I left that with the abusive gurus who espoused compassion
while unable to recognise the harm they caused
in the name of teaching wisdom.

‘Then something you crafted yourself over time,’ she says,
‘each adornment a mark of your learning and experience.’

I laugh. ‘I have crafted many things,
but though I wish it were so,
none of them are truly magical.’

She tilts her head and regards me anew,
with an astute, penetrating gaze.
‘What do you wear at your heart centre
to amplify the power of that sacred portal?’

Now I feel bereft,
as if I ought to have such jewellery.

‘It is not jewellery of which I speak,’ she says with distain.
‘Not something to beautify, but to provide protection
and amplify spiritual power.’

Protection and power?
The words inspire a torrent of imagery.
None of them relevant.
Or are they?

Perhaps I don’t wear such fine armour,
embossed with symbols of power and protection,
but I feel the strength wearing such arraignment would invoke.

But that is in some other reality,
not this one.

I imagine many possible candidates for the role of talisman,
but were I to make them,
bring them into manifestation,
I would find the weight of such creations a burden.

‘With what do you truly adorn yourself?’ Persephone asks.
I know she isn’t asking about my clothes.

We stare at each other for a long moment,
this goddess of eternity and I.
My mind falls away in her gaze,
and deep within, I find my talisman.

‘I wear the necklace of wisdom,’ I reply,
‘set with precious stones of knowledge,
carved with the chisel of creativity,
and the hammer of fortitude,
polished with the brush of love,
draped with chains of understanding,
engraved with runes of experience,
all sparkling with awareness.’

‘But my real talisman sits not at my neck,
but in my mind and spirit,
a diamond unseen by human eyes.’

‘I see it,’ the goddess says.
Her eyes sparkle with amusement.

I laugh.
‘Awareness is my power and my protection.
That talisman I carry with me always.
I uncovered and polished each brilliant facet
through thousands of hours of contemplative practice,
over decades of dedication to unravelling the mystery and majesty
of the mind, and of the very nature of reality itself.

Persephone smiles.
‘That’, she says, ‘is the most powerful talisman of all.’
She steps up to the gateway to the underworld and gestures me to enter,
‘May you find that which you seek,’ she adds as I step across the threshold.

The Descent

My descent into the underworld begins.

I follow Persephone into the depths of myself,
hopeful that this aging mystic and newly discovered neurodivergent
may finally release the chains I sense holding me back.

The way appears dark, and I must rouse the courage to descend,
to look at what I keep hidden,
locked behind closed doors.
But if I am to grow, this is a journey I must make,
not just once, but many times over my lifespan.

Courage is not the absence of fear.
It is recognition and acceptance of its existence
and the willingness to do what must be done despite it.
My spiritual warrior – in her many incarnations – embodies my courage,
and it is ultimately she who descends into the depths of myself.

Landscape of the Psyche

And what do I find as I pass through the first gate
and begin my exploration of the underworld of my psyche?
The remains of old beliefs previously examined, dead now and stripped of power,
but their echo reminds me that I have taken this journey before
and achieved much freedom in casting aside unhelpful beliefs I adopted in childhood.

I know that from the ruins of the past, I can build a new future.
Growth comes from understanding.

The psyche is timeless, its landscapes unfathomable.

What time is it in our mind?


No time.


All time.


No time and all time.


And neither no time, nor all time.

All four are true.

In this inner world of the psyche are worlds within worlds.

I could wander endlessly across vast tracks of timeless expanse in search of my elusive self.

But these are merely passing glimpses,
as if seen through a transparent wall,
tantalisingly there, but out of reach as yet.

I must continue my descent.

So into the labyrinth I go along a path walled by concepts.
Dead-end beliefs block my way,
and I must acknowledge and relinquish them before I can find a way through this maze.