Journeying to the Underworld
This is a subject which I have had a lot of experience with, the journey to the underworld, but what does this actually mean? There have been many stories over the millennia, Inanna’s journey to the underworld being one of the oldest, the story of Hades and Persephone being another, Psyche and Eros, Orpheus and Eurydice, these were stories of change, of change so drastic that these people or gods returned changed . The Greeks had many stories on journeys to the underworld this was actually a fairly common theme especially among those who made the journey to Eleusis to partake in Demeter mysteries, those who did partake in the mysteries were oath sworn to keep what they saw and experienced there, secret and were not to speak about the mysteries to those who were uninitiated.
For the past Thirty years there has been a group of pagans in the USA who have put on the mysteries of Eleusis, Spring Mysteries had become a yearly pilgrimage for me until finances prevented me from going. This was a transformative experience and one I recommend as I am oath sworn not to talk about my experiences of the spring mysteries with those who are not initiated as it would lessen your experience should you go. I am going to talk about other journeys to the underworld and how it can change a person for the better.
A little while ago I read a book call “Journey to the Dark Goddess” By Jane Meredith, this book, based on the journey of Inanna, a Mesopotamian goddess whose story was only discovered in the last seventy-five years, as she goes through the seven gates of the underworld to reach her sister Ereshkigal, queen of the underworld, to be at her side during her birthing. Now the author who experienced this journey first hand during a camp experience, emerged changed which seems to be a common theme when it comes to journeys to the underworld, one cannot die and remain the same, you must change to be reborn, This is a fabulous read and I highly recommend it.
We all tend to go through these kinds of things in life that forces us into a new way of thinking, such as illness and near death experiences. Over the years I’ve had many life changing experiences such as the ones I had when I attended Spring Mysteries but nothing approached the scale seen in the stories of the ancients. At least not until a few years ago, a lot had been going on in my life, my relationship at the time was under so much stress from an unfaithful partner, the emotional and mental abuse was causing me to have anxiety attacks in my sleep, I would wake shaking, my heart pounding. At the time I didn’t think any thing would change ever, I was scared and I didn’t know how to change things.
One night on my way to my art history class, which was one of my fave classes, I was nearly hit by a car, the scary part about that was that I was walking, crossing the street as I had taken the bus that day. Two feet, the distance between my legs and the car when it stopped. I had been half way across the intersection in the right of way, he was turning left. Honestly, it’s true what they say, your life does flash before your eyes, it felt like eternity before I turned my head from the car to the walk light. I broke down crying on the corner after that, the driver just continued on when I was out-of-the-way.
That’s when things started to change for me, I had been in a rut and from that point on I felt like I was leaving the underworld so to speak. You see you can journey in a ritual setting but most people will journey in life, they will follow the maze down into the underworld until something drastic happens and they are forced to change. I knew the theory of this from my work in shamanism and also my yearly pilgrimage but until that point I didn’t even know I had been travelling down that path. After this I decided to do a ritual of release, I worked on a lot of things over the course of a month and I did a daily ritual letting many things go. After that month I felt less weighed down and able to focus better, I began working on things I had neglected or didn’t realize I needed to work on.
You see when you initiate the journey to the underworld, you can control to a point how to release things in your life, things that are holding you back, the stories about other people’s journeys only serves as examples or templates for your own. Without releasing that which is painful or that which no longer serves you then you become stagnant, this is spirit’s way of helping you to grow and flourish. That is what it truly means to journey to the underworld, this is a spiritual journey to help yourself to grow.
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~The Wyrding Wytch