Descent to the Underworld

Inanna’s response to her dark sister is very different from the dark brother stories I have been telling, where the dark brother is betrayed or killed leaving the hero divided and incomplete.

Innana intuits that there is some need to visit Ereshkigal. Something in her doesn’t feel right. The adapted self may well have helped the personality through tough times…

but some way-of-being has become time worn or redundant.

Because its too narrow, constricting…

and yet its what she knows of herself,..

so the shedding of it can feel like death itself.

”The hallmark of the transpersonal is its capacity to act upon you” S.B. Pererra.

Innana’s tread into the Underworld is reluctant. Each garment relinquished at the successive gates are a wrench. Finally she is naked and her vulnerablity  is complete. But still she presses forward knowing instinctively that she has to face her sister.

”The truly responsible people of the world are those who accept the fact of their own nastiness, cruelty, things that co-exist with their capacity to love and construct.”D. Winnicott. 1958.

This is death to any conviction in one’s own riteousness. Unfortunately, the alternative is one form or another of narcissistic adaptation.

one that compensates for vulnerability rather than facing it..

It invites us to turn our backs on  ourselves in favour of ever decreasing circles of selfhood the maintainance of which soon chokes off aliveness.

”There is nothing more dangerous than a mild man.” C.G. Jung

And why? Not just because he is liable to project his shadow onto you, or some other neighbour…

but because he who is very determined to live out just a single corner of his psyche wants you to do the same. He’s not just shut down. He wants you to be shut down together. For your own good.

And so the politically correct solar hero becomes a narcissistic bully ramming his truth down people’s throats and sees no contradiction in promoting all kinds of fine ideals whilst preventing the deeper life inside himself and others from flowering.

I grew up in an extreme version of that world. The back end of Empire. Everyone was very polite and carried sub-machine guns. It was all exaggerated sunshine and bonhomie until you failed to respond correctly to a deprecatory joke or were somehow outed in your dissonance.

And suddenly the sunshine falters. You didn’t say the right thing, or use the magic words in the right order. And if you are not with us..

then you are against us..

And either way, growth grinds to a halt.

Thank goddess for Innana!

My sixteen year old son was mighty upset about some images depicting animal cruelty on his facebook feed. He went on and on about it, getting angrier and angrier. When he got to the point where he began making physical gestures demonstrating what he’d like to do to the people concerned I was able to point out that his solution was very similar to the problem.

Innana descends to Ereshkigal and has a mirror held up to her that kills the identification she has with her fine adapted ideals. Her sense of self is deepened. She’s initiated into her complexity and, to paraphrase Hillman, propelled forward into multiplicity.

Ereshkigal is also bought into increased consciousness by the encounter. The feelings she embodies are humanised and made more bearable. Suffering finds its context.

Paradoxically, Ereshkigal…

 gives special hope to those who come to her. She is able to encourage and sustain those who seek her certain solace precisely because of her darkness. Within the nature of her being, she holds the paradox: in and through darkness lies a fertile resurgence of life. ” -Cedrus Monte, The Dark Feminine

Innana and Ereshkigal need each other.

Sometimes things need to die. The trick is for it to be a symbolic death.

”If you are going to kill yourself, try not to harm your body.” J. Hillman

Something has to die and it feels like you but its what you thought you were….

And being hung on the meat hook of not knowing what happens next and not being able to do anything is precisely the ground that fresh consciousness needs to seed itself….

“We don’t cross into the ‘sphere of rebirth’ by power but by descent, by being swallowed.” Sue Monk Kidd

We are generally not very good with things that won’t be surmounted by our own efforts. Sometimes it seems as if our very integrity depends upon having the answers. But we are not healed by having answers. We are healed by providence  having asked the right kind of question.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”  C.G. Jung

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Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

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