Once upon a time, Dark Goddess called my name. Silly me, I answered with childish curiosity and followed her to the Underworld, where I got lost for several weeks. This is a story about losing everything, going mad, finding the truth, and eventually gaining a greater understanding of the meaning of inner light! And even if this true tale has a happy ending, it feels like the spectacular ending was only the beginning. When I embarked on the Journey to the Dark Goddess, I didn’t know what I was signing up for. Thank Goddess I did not!
This is my “written assignment” given by the Dark Goddess – she wished the astonishing transformation we undertook together to be shared however I feel appropriate. After all, I’m the only witness of our journey and possibly a voice of hope and guidance for those who just like me got stuck in the Underworld, maybe even a long time ago, unwillingly, without a clear path out, looking for the great exit door.
The concept of the Journey to the Dark Goddess is not new. Many therapists, guides, priestesses and women’s circle facilitators use the mythological descend of Inanna, Persephone and Psyche into the Underworld, as a tool to access deeper psychological realms, to bring on healing and closure. My personal calling for the journey was triggered by two books:
In my previous post, I have described the rituals required before meeting the Dark Goddess. I have incorporated shamanic journeying and plant ceremonies. I have made sacrifices as it is called for; I made altars and decorated them with flowers. I made art, graphics, mandalas, I journaled and recorded my dreams. I started to get up at 5 AM to prepare for rituals and to map out stages of my experience.
Lastly, before I go into the “juice” of my story, I want to explain that “dark” does not mean bad, but rather unconscious, hidden, mystical even, and yes…scary. It is scary in the way that when we’re presented with the depths of our own inner truths, we might be shaken up because it is something we have been avoiding, hoping it will never see the light of the day. Yet, the truth is liberating and the clarity unmistakable. If we are to change our predicament and grow out of the old worn-out patterns, total action, or total inaction has to follow, with true acceptance and full responsibility. That’s why the journey to the Dark Goddess can be a liberating and magical experience.
It was April 2020, soon after the Covid19 surprised the world. I lost my job, and therefore gained a lot of extra time. Venus just went retrograde – astrologically rare occurrence often compared with Inanna’s descend to the Underworld. Energetically it seemed like perfect timing for this journey. So for better or for worse, I decided to meet the Dark Goddess. My intention? To find a map out of the Underworld, where I seem to get lost a lot, to find my true source of power and simply learn more about myself.
The Journey is based on a famous Sumerian myth of Inanna’s descend into the Underworld. It goes like that:
Queen Inanna, a powerful ruler of the world is not happy with her life. She has it all: the glory, the men, the looks and great wealth, but something is missing. Is it a middle life crisis, a dark night of the soul that prompts her to leave her kingdom and seek a deeper meaning of life? We don’t know for sure. Her Sister Ereshkigal is the Queen of the underworld. And that’s exactly where Inanna is determined to find her answers. No one ever returns from the Underworld, so Inanna leaves behind her trusted friend Ninshubur with instruction of her rescue in case she does not return within 3 days. On the way down to the Underworld, Inanna must past through 7 gates. At each one, she sacrifices one thing that symbolized her life: her crown, jewels, breastplate – the power, talents, ambitions, and even her gown, leaving her completely naked and vulnerable.
As we reenact the descend, we also leave behind the attributes of our lives. I drew and cut out 7 differently shaped pretty leaves. I painted them with gold paint on one side leaving the other blank so I could write the name of an offering I was to place at each gate.
What am I going to sacrifice to Ereshkigal? Truth to be said, I didn’t feel like I have much to offer. I knew that the two most important things in my life are my husband and my sons. Other than that I could easily part with everything else. At least that’s what I thought. So I decided to leave 5 empty leaves for Ereshkigal to choose a sacrifice for me. On the remaining two, I scribbled: “my husband“, and “my children“.
At the Gates.
I was slowly and joyfully preparing for the ceremony, waiting for a perfect time, assembling my altar, and eagerly awaiting this wonderful meeting with the queen of the Underworld. But things didn’t go as planned. The night before my scheduled ceremony Ereshkigal suddenly called me – “You must cross the gates now!” I was mortified. I was in the middle of making dinner, chilling out with my family. I told her we need to wait. “You are going through Gate One. I’m taking away your partnership with your husband” – her voice was solemn and intense. Wait! What? – I’ve pleaded. “Let’s wait till tomorrow, ok?” Instead, I heard her demanding –“YOu must cross the gates NOW”. I saw flashes and strange images before my eyes, I felt the energy shift, I heard her voice so clearly it could not be my imagination. I dropped everything and rushed to my room. I lit candles and incense, took a deep breath, and pulled my golden leaves out. “OK, let’s do it” – I said.
The First Gate
I knew the second sacrifice will have to do with my children. They are always under my protection and I love them very much, but they don’t have to go with me everywhere, even if I love to have them around. Letting them stay behind was a natural and healthy thing to do in this situation. I pulled a second golden leaf – “Children” written on the back.
“I’m taking away your children” – Ereshkigal spoken.“I will control them, influence their minds, I will go back in time to amend all you have messed up. I will be the ideal mother, I will be the one watching them grow, giving them hugs and keeping them close to me. While you watch from the Underworld! Oh silly Inanna, maybe you shouldn’t have come here to the Underworld.”
Oh wow, so Ereshkigal is going to be a bitch! At first, she tells me she is to control my husband, and now my children. My insecurities grew, as I sometimes wondered about things that I could do better as a mother, reviewing past times and missed opportunities. I didn’t want to get lost in those emotions, so I have placed the leaf on the altar determined to move on.