Tuesday, September 9th, will mark the Harvest Moon. Join us in meditation at 11pm EST.
Two months ago, we began a journey towards wholeness by diving deep into our psyches. Through calm reflection and meditation, we have explored the foolish “devil’s bargains” that we have made in our past, and what we have given up or what has been taken away from us. We have discovered and continue to discover the things and people which no longer serve us and have learned to healthily cut and break free from them, and have begun to learn to wander with instinct and eat that which feeds our minds, bodies, and souls.
At a fundamental level we all crave love and intimacy.
But what most of us fail to realize is that love and intimacy is not something that can be found or purchased outside of ourselves, but rather is must be found and cultivated inside. If we cannot learn to love and nurture our True Selves then how can we expect others to do so? Especially after we have survived a great wrong, hurt, or trauma.
We have come this far. Now, we strive to experience something a bit more, something a bit more deep and personal.
We have learned and continue to learn incredible things about our selves, as we take the steps on this 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-4, the Fourth Stage of Endurance –
Finding Love in the Underworld. (Finding Love Within)
If you havn’t already done so, or would like to refresh your memory, please read the full short story HERE: http://completehealthcircle.com/2014/07/21/new-moon-blessings-of-the-first-stage-of-endurance/
In the story, after the Handless Maiden walks away from the life she once knew, she discovers a place within her where she can find nourishment. The orchard of knowledge that is within each of us. There she meets a gardener, magician, and king. The king tests her with deep psyche questions, “Are you of this world or not of this world? Are you human or spirit?” She replies in honesty: “I was once of the world, and yet I am not of this world. I am both human and spirit.” And the king rushes to her, pledging his loyalty and love: “I shall not forsake you. From this day forward, I shall care for you.” They marry, and he makes her a pair of silver hands.
The gardener is the inner watcher, the sentinel of our deep psyche who waits for us to arrive and always keeps an eye out for danger. He is the “cultivator of soul, a regenerative keeper of seed, soil, and root. His function is regeneration. Our psyche must constantly sow, train, and harvest new energy in order to replace what is old and worn out. He keeps track of the need for change and replenishing. Intrapsychically, there is constant living, constant death-dealing, constant replacement of ideas, images, and energies.” The magician too, who is not only a keen observer but an emissary – the delegate or ambassador of our inner depths – he is charged with the task of communicating between us in our current awareness/consciousness to our higher Self, the King. The magician represents “the direct magic of a woman or man’s power. Such things as the split-second recall, the thousand-league vision, the hearing over miles, the empathic ability to see from behind anyone’s eyes- human or animal- all these belong to the instinctual. It is the magician who helps to maintain and enact them in the outer world. The mage/magician always has crossover potential especially in dreams. He can be male, female, animal, or even mineral. In conscious life, the mage assists our ability to become whatever we wish to portray ourselves as at any given moment.”
Now, the King is the chief watcher of our unconscious. “He watches over the botany of the growing soul- his (and his mother’s) orchard is rich with the trees of life and death. He is of the family of the wild Gods. Like the maiden, he is able to endure much. And like the maiden, he has another descent ahead of him.” (BUT that is another step.) Our King Aspect of the Psyche carries the “ability to take inner knowing out into the world and put it into practice, without mincing, muttering, or apologizing. He is involved in the mechanisms of vital process of failing, dying, and returns of consciousness. Later in the story, he will undergo a kind of death that will transform him from a “civilized” king” to a wild-knowing and even more wise one. It is only a natural process that we must learn to accept that in order to progress in our lives and on our spiritual paths that “old central attitudes of the psyche will die as the psyche learns more. Old attitudes will be replaced by either new or renewed viewpoints concerning just about everything in our lives. This is why the king represents renewal of the ruling attitudes and laws in our psyche.”
The King is the catalyst for trailing the maiden, for trailing us. “The psyche always shadows its own process. This is a most sacred premise. It means that if you are wandering, there is another- at least one, and often more- who is seasoned and experienced and who waits for you to knock at the door, rap on stone, eat a pear, or just show up, in order to announce your arrival in the underworld. This loving presence waits and watches for the wandering seeker. Women are especially well aware of this. They call it a little flicker of light or insight, a presentment, or a presence.”
Psychically, this is cohesive with concepts in Jungian psychology, theology, and the old night religions that the Self, or in our parlance, the Wild Woman, seeds the psyche with perils and challenges in order that the human in despair drives herself back down into her original nature looking for answers and strength, thereby reuniting with the great wild Self and, as much as possible thereafter, moving as one.”
“In order to discover the ancient ways of the unconscious, we often find ourselves fighting off the Devil in the form of cultural, familial, or intrapsychic injunctions that devalue the soul-life of the wild one.” Of our True Selves without distortion or masks. This process is how we uncover our truest authenticity, and by doing this, by going through this process we learn self-love, self-nurturance, self-acceptance, intimacy, and true self-esteem.
“Holy figures throughout the ages assure and reassure us that on the transformative open road there is already “a place set for us.” And to this place, by scent, by intuition, we are dragged or spirited by destiny. We all arrive int he king’s orchard eventually. It is only right and proper.” However, we must beware of the moat.
“Beware then the sensation of repose and accomplishment that can seduce humans into feeling that a spiritual cycle is a point where one may stop and rest on his/her laurels forevermore. The moat is a resting place for the dead, a completion at the end of life, but the living woman or man cannot stay too long near it, else we become lethargic in the cycles of soul-making. We must NOT lie down and go to happy sleep over what has been thus far attained in our work. Neither should we jump into the river in a crazy attempt to hasten the process. There is death with a lowercase d and there is Death with a capital D. The one the psyche seeks in this process of Life/Death/Life cycles is la muerte por un instante, death for now, not La Muerte Eterna, Death For a Long Time.
Here are a few questions for you to answer Beloveds to help begin to clarify your journey in the underworld. They can be answered individually or collectively. The asking of questions creates a luminous net that is woven as we talk among ourselves, and they drop this net into their collective minds and raise it filled with the glimmering, the streaming, the inert, the strangled, and the breathing forms of the inner lives of women and men for all to see and work with.”
- How does one live in the topside (outer) world and the underworld (inner world) at the same time and on a day-to-day basis?
- What does one have to do to come down into the underworld on one’s own?
- What circumstances in life help women and men with the descent?
- Do we have a choice about going or staying?
- What spontaneous help have you received from the instinctive nature during such a time?
When men and women are in this state of dual citizenship, they sometimes make the mistake of thinking that to go away from the world, to leave the mundane life, with its chores, its duties that not only beckon but irritate beyond reason, that this is a sterling idea. But this is NOT the best way, for the outer world at these times is the only rope left around the ankle of the woman or man who is hanging, wandering, working upside down in the underworld. It is an EXCRUCIATINGLY IMPORTANT time, when the mundane must play its proper role in exerting an “otherworldy” tension and balance that helps lead to a good end.
And so we wander on our way asking ourselves- if truth be known:
- Am I of this world or the other?
- Am I both?
On this journey we must be. We MUST be both. “It is the wandering in such a manner that helps to wring out every last bit of resistance, every last possibility of hubris, to flatten every last objection we might think up, for wandering this way is tiring. But this special kind of fatigue causes us to finally surrender ego fears and ambitions and just follow what comes. As a result, our understanding of our time in the underground forests will be deep and complete.
The pattern is this: In all dying there is uselessness that becomes useful as we pick our way through it all. What knowing we will come to reveals itself as we go along. In all livingkind, loss brings a full gain. Our work is to interpret this Life/Death/Life cycle, to live it as GRACEFULLY as we know how, to HOWL like a mad dog when we cannot, and TO GO ON, for ahead lies the LOVING underworld family of the psyche that will embrace and assist us.
Know this: “even though we wander about in an unwashed, forlorn, semiblinded, and handless state, a great force from the Self CAN LOVE US, and holds us to its heart.”
When we welcome this force, when we find it, that self-love, self-acceptance, self-etc. etc., our Higher Self gifts us with new silver hands. When we become open to this, when we become even aware of the simple possibility something inside of us clicks. Our awareness expands. Our minds and hearts expand. Our compassion for self and others expand. Our entire consciousness and vibration expands.
To be given this insight, this awareness is to be given and invested with the “skills of spirit hands – the healing touch, the ability to see int eh dark, the ability to have powerful knowing through physical sensing.” In a way, this awareness begins our own journey towards becoming our own healers and healers for others. One could even say it is the beginnings of becoming a Reiki Practitioner. But I digress.
These hands “carry an entire medica with which to nurture, remedy, and support. At this stage the maiden is invested with the touch of the wounded healer. These psychic hands will cause her to better grasp the mysteries of the underworld (her inner world), but they will also be retained as gifts once she completes her work and ascends again.”
It is typical of this portion of the descent that uncanny, odd, and healing acts occur that ocme from outside the will of the ego and that are the result of being given spirit hands – that is, a mystical healing vigour. In olden times, these mystical abilities belonged to the old women of the villages. But they did not gain them at the first gray hair; they were accumulated over the years of this work, this WORK of ENDURANCE. And that is what WE too are about.
“These hands are a coronation into yet another role. She is thus crowned, as queen of her underworld. Like Persephone, she has endured various torments in the “apple-land” of Elysium, or in the Arthurian Avalon, the Island (and orchard) of Apples. This is why the handless maiden is directly associated with the blossoming apple/pear tree. This is ancient cryptology.
When we learn to read it, we see that Persephone of the apple-land, the handless maiden, and the flowering apple tree are the same sojourner to the wildlands of the soul. In all these, we see that fairy tales and mythos have left us a clear map to the knowings and the practices of the past and the way for us to proceed in the present.
Now, here at the end of the fourth labour of the handless maiden, we could say the maiden’s work in the descent is complete, for she is made the queen of life and death. She is the lunar woman who knows what passes in the night, even the sun itself must roll past her underground in order to renew itself for day. But this is still not the lysis, resolution. We are only at the midpoint of transformation, a place of being held in LOVE, yet poised to make a slow dive into another abyss. And so, we will continue…
So now, let’s consider our centering though, “There is love within.”
Now, let’s prepare to meditate. Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes. Become aware of your breath and breathe slowly and deeply. With each breath, allow yourself to become more relaxed. You may wish to use a mantra with this meditation like “I love myself.” Repeat it silently to yourself. “I. Love. My Self.” With each repetition, feel your body, mind and spirit open and receive just a little bit more of this nurturing and innate ability that is within you. Connect with it. Allow the moon in all its fullness to pull it out from your depths, and OWN it!
- Photography courtesy of Jody Roberts,
- Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes pp. 416-429