Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Descent to the Goddess"

This weekend I found this unfinished painting of Natalie's in Lees garage and rescued it.
I have manipulated it in PicMonkey and BeFunky.

Yesterday, at Lane's I found a book I first read in Zurich in the 1980's.  I had lent it to a young woman in the Monday Night Girls' Group and she had given it to Lane to return to me.

The title of the book is DESCENT TO THE GODDESS: A WAY OF INITIATION FOR WOMEN by Sylvia Brinton Perera.  (This post and probably several others following will be excerpts from that book.)

DESCENT TO THE GODDESS is based on an ancient Sumerian myth of the goddess Inanna-Ishtar.  It describes her descent into the underworld.

 Inanna, Queen of Heaven,  "... abandoned heaven, abandoned earth--to the Netherworld she descended."

Here she meets Ereshkigal, "queen of the Great Below," and is stripped of her regal garments.  "...one piece of Inanna's magnificent regalia (is removed) at each of the seven gates."

"Ereshkigal kills Inanna and hangs her corpse on a peg, where it turns into a side of green, rotting meat.  After three days, when Inanna fails to return to earth, her assistant sets in motion Inanna's instructions to rouse the people and gods"  to initiate the return of the goddess to the upper world.

For women who have grown up as "daughters of the patriarchy" (and this must include several thousand years of women) the story of Inanna provides a "paradigm for the life-enhancing descent into the abyss of the dark goddess and out again."  "She descends, submits, and dies.  This openness to being acted upon is the essence of the experience of the human soul faced with the transpersonal.  It is not based upon passivity, but upon an active willingness to receive."

"There is a gate into and out of the underworld later called Inanna-Istar's door.  Through it others who make the journey to become conscious of the underworld are advised to pass."

"The process of initiation in the esoteric and mystical traditions in the West involves exploring different modes of consciousness....The necessity--for those destined to it--forces us to go deep to reclaim modes of consciousness which are different from the intellectual....It forces us to the affect-laden, magic dimension and archaic depths that are embodied, ecstatic, and transformative."

"In those depths...we are moved, and taught through the intensity of our affects that there is a living balance process.  On those levels the conscious ego is overwhelmed by passion and numinous images.  And, though shaken, even destroyed as we knew ourselves, we are recoalesced in a new pattern and spewed back into ordinary life."

"Connecting to these levels of consciousness involves a sacrifice of the upper-world aspects of the Self to and for the sake of the dark, different, or altered-state aspects...(it offers) the hope of gaining rebirth wih a deeper resonant awareness.  And...returning with those resonances, adding them to mental-cerebral, ordinary Western consciousness, in order to forge...integral consciousness."

A mouthfull, and there's more, for..."the patriarchal ego of both men and women...has fled from the full-scale awe of the goddess....But it is toward her--and especially towards her culturally repressed aspects, those chthonic and chaotic, ineluctable depths--that the new individuating, yin-yang balanced ego must return to find its matrix..."

(To be continued.)

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