I have just completed a weeks retreat at Glastonbury, exploring the myths associated with that area, of Joseph and Mary, Arthur and Guinevere. We also explored the ancient myths of Iron John and the oldest recorded of all, the Sumerian story of Inanna and her descent to the underworld.
There were many deep learnings that came out of this for me, but they all showed the relevance of these mythical stories to our world today. They create a framework that holds our society; that explain the heroic journeys we are all invited to embark upon, if we hear the call and choose to answer it. As we pass these stories down the generations, we invite our children to live courageously and explore how the basic structure of each myth plays out in their lives.
One of the most beautiful connections for me was embodying the pure masculine, the powerful and playful energy that is strong and direct but by no means savage. This pure energy has been partially lost in society these days where we are ruled by the shadow masculine, where competitiveness, greed and hierarchical thinking set the rule-base that we are encouraged to follow.
The off shoot of embodying this pure power for a while was feeling how damaging the opposite of this power is. If we deny it or are afraid of it, we bring out the shadow aspects in those around us. In other words, we all set a tone for our environment and any weakness on our part leaves a space that will bring out shadow qualities in those around us. Have you engaged with someone avoiding their true power, perhaps lost in addiction of some sort, and felt your frustration rising to the surface? That is this effect in action, it takes a very balanced person not to succumb.
Another way of looking at this is that if we don’t own our issues, we pass them onto our loved ones to hold them for us, and reflect them back. When we take back and release our wounds, we free our loved ones from the burden of holding them for us, of being our mirror, and allow them the freedom to embrace what is genuinely unresolved for them. Relationships can then become healthy and supportive rather than ‘woundships’ where both parties are stuck in co-dependency and negative reflections.
The other major learning for me comes from the legend of Inanna and what this represents about the descent of the feminine. I know so many people who want to stay on an even keel all the time, to be constantly happy and balanced. If they slip into sadness, they try to come back out of it quickly through distraction or engagement in the many addictions and titillations life can offer us.
It is a bit like running around in the autumn trying to stick the leaves to the trees so that they will not fall. It just doesn’t work; the leaves naturally want to fall as a prelude to the winter and then to spring when the leaves will return, and the tree will have everything it used to have and more besides. This is the key point for me, shown in this myth, that when we allow ourselves to be part of the death and rebirth process that permeates all of life, we become stronger. When we try to cling to what we have, whether that be money, our children or happiness, we become weak. This is a life paradox, we are most likely to lose what we try to hold onto the most. In contrast, when we are truly prepared to sacrifice everything, to die to who we are in every moment of our lives, then we will be ‘rich’ beyond our wildest imaginings. This death and rebirth is the essence of the feminine energy in us all, not just in woman where it is most visible through the monthly menses.
Ironically, by not attaching to any particular state of being such as happiness, wealth, or comfort, we allow our deepest emotions to emerge and we have the courage, as the true heroes we are, to descend to our inner underworld to embrace and release all that we have locked away down there. We then emerge stronger and more balanced. We can even learn to welcome those depressive or difficult moments because we know that they are doorways to growth and higher states of love and happiness. We can then be at peace all the time because we no longer resist those temporary emotions and difficult feelings. We can find joy in all our emotions, this is the true gift of understanding and embracing the paradox this concept represents.
If we try to cling onto happiness we lose it, if we allow it the freedom to fly like a butterfly on a gentle summer breeze, we can even enjoy watching it fly away.