Two weeks ago, people from all over the world joined hands to confront the First Stage of Endurance: The Bargain Without Knowing.
From Milan, Italy to Miami, Florida.
From Karachi, Pakistan to Ukiah, California.
From Albany, New York to Semarang, Indonesia;
we all had the courage to look within our deepest dark memories. We woke up to the “devil’s bargains” of the ego in this lifetime and in others. We learned incredible things about our selves, and we made the first steps on a 7-Part Healing Meditation practice based on Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ work in her soul-opening book Women Who Run With the Wolves, and the story of the Handless Maiden.
So, welcome to Part-2, the Second Stage of Endurance –
If you havn’t already done so, or would like to refresh your memory, please read the short story HERE: http://completehealthcircle.com/2014/07/21/new-moon-blessings-of-the-first-stage-of-endurance/
In the story, the Handless Maiden is called the handless maiden for that very reason: the dismemberment of her hands. Psychically, or psychologically speaking, when we do take the devil’s bargain to enlarge our egos, we cut off a very vital part of ourselves. In a sense, we dismember ourselves. We cut ourselves off from the world of our hearts and souls, and step towards materialism and fake promises.
In shamanic circles, dismemberment is a part of initiation. Not a physical dismemberment, but one where the entire body is stripped down to the bone. Where all that you were, all the traumas, all the levels of the ego disappear for a moment, and then you are re-built. Put back together in order to be stronger, to merge with your guides, and take on their power.
Oftentimes we need to go through dismemberments. We need to learn the art of letting go.
We begin a numb phase where we learn to strengthen ourselves as much as we can, to use all one’s psychic resources for oneself, to become as conscious as possible. That means stepping outside our suffering and seeing what it means, how it goes, what pattern it is following, studying others with the same pattern who have come through it all, and imitating what makes sense to us. If we listen to dream voices, to images, to stories, and to our art, to those who have gone before, and to each other, something will be handed out to us, even several somethings that are ritual, personal psychological rites, that serve to steady this stage of the process. This is why we draw a circle of chalk around us. This is why we bathe ourselves. We prepare ourselves for the descent.
In the story, after the three-year period of waiting for the devil to come collect his dues, to take the young maiden away, having purified and drawn a chalk circle around herself, an unseen force throws the devil across the yard. Unable to touch her, he orders her not to bathe. She devolves to an animal-like condition, and again the devil returns. However, with this wild primal energy, she weeps on her hands, and again the Devil cannot touch her. He orders the father to cut off the maiden’s hands. Not only is this a complete example of the definition of over-kill, but this is just another test, another fool’s promise of the ego stripping away the vital power of both the father and daughter. Another ploy of the dark ego. Once her hands are cut off, the maiden’s life as she has known it is ended. She is initiated into the realm of the Otherworld. And now, having this unknown connection, she is slowly learning the lessons of living life without Seeing, without Knowing. Again the Devil comes to collect, but again, the devil cannot touch her at her very core, and gives up.
This is a testament to the life of the Wild One. The one that lives inside all of us. We all go through relationships and tests of the ego. We make bargain after bargain, compromise after compromise; and instead of being a compromise of equality, the only thing that is comprised is ourselves, our hearts, and our souls. After a while in unhealthy situations, we chip and chip away at our vital nature, until all that is left is nothing worth keeping. We become numb. But we realize what has been done to us, and what we have allowed to be done to us. How we have surrendered to the will of the predator and the frightened father so that we wound up being made handless, powerless, and broken.
“After this, our spirit reacts by moving when we move, by reaching when we reach, by walking when we walk, but it has no feeling to it. We are numb when we realize what has come to pass. We are horrified to fulfill our barter. We think our internal parental constructs are supposed to always be alert, responsive, and protective of the flowering psyche. Now we see what happens when they are not.” Now we see when our parental constructs fail us. When we fail ourselves. Or have we?
“This three-year period is the same for many myths and legends of the past. It is a period of mounting energy, three years of something occurs, then comes a destruction, then from that ruin is born a new world of peace.” This is symbolized by the old saying, three-times a charm. Because we have been waiting and wondering and worrying about the inevitable day that will come. Twice the devil has tried, and now the third turn, there, now something has happened. Our hands have been taken away from us. And it is a difficult loss.
In that moment we feel all is lost. That we have hit rock bottom. We curse to the sky, and plead and ask, “WHY ME?!” We didn’t want this to happen, but we did. Underneath it all, subconsciously, in our deepest depths of our psyches the father in our minds knows that it will be a great heartbreak, but that it is necessary if we are to wake up. This is why we set ourselves up for disappointment.
Soon, the part of us that battles the ego on a daily basis knows, that enough energy will be stirred, enough soul-wind will be raised to cause the psychic vessel to sail far and away. Lao-tzu taught us, “Of the one comes two, and of the two, three. And from the three come ten thousand.” By the time we get to three, to the “three” power of anything, we reach a transformative moment. Our atoms leap, and where there was lassitude there is now locomotion.”
And so this descent into the Underground Forest, the La Selva Subterranea, is something lovely, dark, and bittersweet. Just like my favourite chocolate. And like my favourite chocolate, it is often accompanied by a great swell of emotion.
We wait and we sit in this darkness and we weep.
And weep we should, our innocence has been slain and will never return in the same way again.
The cutting has occurred.
Our descent has deepened.
All of our dearest values, which mean everything, the loss of vantage point, the loss of horizon lines, the loss of one’s bearings about what one believes and for what reasons has been severed.
And we weep.
“Tears, in mythos, melt the icy heart. All through history, tears have done three works: called the spirits to one’s side, repelled those who would muffle and bind the simple soul, and healed the injuries of poor human bargains.”
Tears are part of the mending of rips in the psyche where energy has leaked and leaked away. The matter is serious, but the worst does not occur – our light is not stolen- for tears make us conscious. There is no chance to go back to sleep when one is weeping. Whatever sleep comes then is only rest for the physical body. Sometimes we say, “I am sick of crying, I am tired of it, I want it to stop.” But it is the soul that is making tears, and they are our protection. So we must keep on till the time of need is over. It will not last forever, only until the soul is done with its wise expression.
I am amazed how little people cry, or people who do not allow themselves to cry.
It worries me when shame or disuse begins to steal away a natural function. “To be a flowering tree and to be moist is essential, otherwise you will break.”
Crying is good, it is right.
It does not cure the dilemma, but it enables the process to continue instead of collapsing.
And so, with the weeping, with the crying we follow the maiden down to another level of the underworld. “We continue on in her footsteps. We go onward, even though we are vulnerable and so peeled of ego-protection, like a tree skinned of its bark. Yet we are powerful, for we have learned to sling the Devil across the yard.”
This is a time we see that no matter what we do, our ego-plans slip from our grasp. There will be a change in our lives, a big one, no matter what nice plan the little temperamental conductor-ego has for the next movement. Our own powerful destiny begins to rule our lives – not the mill, not the sweeping, not the sleeping.
Your Life as you once knew it is over.
We are desirous of being alone, perhaps being left alone entirely. We can no longer rely on the fatherly dominant culture; we are in the midst of learning our real lives for the first time.
We go on.
It is now time to flow backward, more than a regression into the personal unconscious, letting go of all our lilting values, and into a heartfelt return to workable ancient values, and even more deeply held ideas. If we understand this stage of endurance as a step backward, it must also be considered a step ten leagues down and back into the realm of Wild Woman.
This is the real reason why the Devil loses interest and leaves in frustration. Because even though we may feel that we have lost our touch, and our usual way with the world, we are still powerful in our pureness of soul, and strong in our insistence on our sorrow. This is what causes the thing that wishes to destroy us to withdraw.
The psychic body has lost its precious hands, yes. But the rest of the psyche will compensate for the loss. We still have feet that know the way, a soul-mind with which to see far, breasts and belly (hearts and guts) to sense with, just like the exotic and enigmatic belly Goddess, Baubo, who represents the deep instinctual nature of everyone… is it ironic that she too has no hands?
With this incorporeal and uncanny body we go forward. We are about to make the next descent.
So Beloved, meditate. Meditate with us during the Full Moon.
What needs to be let go and dismembered? What will you weep for?
And what new power is waiting for you in the depths of your psyche?