While delving into Deena Metzger’s Writing for Your Life as I sat to write my morning pages, I ran across this statement:
The underworld, the realm of soul making is the site of the chthonic creative forces. One descends to the underworld in order to gain wisdom through encountering the dead and the most primal powers.
Deena’s work continues to inform me; not only the book, but also the workshop I went to in October. You can tell that a workshop has been worth your time when it’s still working on you several months later. I feel as though there are a number of puzzle pieces that are starting to fit together for me(and, boy, that always feels good).
One of the exercises Deena gave us (after doing a lot of other writing) was filling in this blank, “ I am the woman who______________.” What came for me was: I am the woman who lives with pollution and beauty. Nothing like sitting in the tension of the opposites! (There’s a lot I could say about this, but this is a blog and that would be a long discourse.) Another piece Deena had us consider was: What is the story you’ve been given to carry? Well, the Persephone story has been with me for most of my life. And who is she but the one who must travel between realms and find some balance? She certainly lives in the tension of the opposites. Puzzle pieces fitting together.
And here is another one. My dream group periodically invites Jeremy Taylor to come and speak and work dreams with us. He came in December, and it was my privilege to be the one whose dream we focused on. I won’t relate the whole dream, but it had to do with potential travel in small boats, a deep lake in a quarry, and a talk with a friend about our sadness over Angeles Arrien’s death. Jeremy eventually interpreted the dream as my being in the borderlands and receiving an invitation to visit the land of the dead. Not a literal death for me, but rather a shamanic call. I’ve been chewing on that one ever since. Of course, it relates to Persephone, but otherwise I couldn’t really get a grip on it until I went for a psychic reading and asked about it. She said that that we might call it death or simply a different reality and transition point, that I am able touch it to get some of its wisdom and also to connect with some of the brilliant beings that have left the physical world, who are still there and who have wisdom to offer. It is an invitation to find a different way to connect to that place, not just look at it from afar, but be close enough to it to sense what it is trying to offer me. Now this is beginning to make some sense.
Then, this morning, I began to write about this idea – and the name of the blog – of hanging out with Hecate. Hecate is certainly a borderlands figure, the only one close enough to hear Persephone’s cries as Hades took her down. Hecate is the one who eventually chooses “to precede and follow” Persephone as she travels between the worlds.
Hecate has three faces in Greek artistic representations. She stands at the crossroads. Ever since the move to Oakland and all the big changes in my life, I’ve used this image of hanging out with Hecate as one of waiting, of not knowing which road to take next. Today, I thought - what if it isn’t that at all, at least not now? What if it’s an image of hunkering down in the borderlands, of being okay with staying there? Maybe hanging out with Hecate isn’t waiting to choose a path. Maybe sitting here, in the tension, IS the path. In other words, I don't need to wait for the time when Hecate gives me the sign to go one direction or another. It is perfectly okay to be in this place, with her.
If Jeremy is right and I have received an invitation, I need to decide whether or not to accept it. When enough pieces of the puzzle come together that the picture begins to come into focus, it makes sense to acknowledge the aha.
Okay, here’s an aside. This work, this writing, really bespeaks the mythopoetic to me. Barry and I got into an interesting discussion the other night. He had just come back from a storytelling house concert that he thought was wonderful. We love going to storytelling festivals and events, but one thing we’ve noticed is how little overlap there is between attendance at storytelling gigs and mythopoetic ones. We enjoy both, but apparently we’re in the minority. Both forms fall into the category of oral tradition, so why do proponents tend to gravitate towards either one or the other?
One of the answers we came up with is that storytelling, although it may be instructive or inspiring, is meant to entertain. Nothing wrong with that! The intention of mythopoetic work, on the other hand, is to deepen, to take us into the realm of soul-making. I should probably define what I mean by “mythopoetic.” It’s not in common usage, I realize. I could say that it’s what Michael Meade, Robert Bly and Clarissa Pinkola Estes have given us, and what we will be doing this weekend at Rumi's Caravan, but that doesn’t define it. What I mean by it (others may have their own definitions) is the use of myth, story, poetry to open and inspire the imagination for the purpose of inner exploration and soul-making. As Deena says, to gain wisdom.
(My Hanging Out with Hecate SoulCollage® card)