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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Autumn Equinox: Roots Deepen

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Dorrie Joy (Somerset, UK) is a mother, grandmother and lover of the wild earth, an artist and traditional craftswoman creating sacred space for her woman and girls.

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Reclaiming the Goddess Mysteries of the Hera Path

Change is in the air. For millennia, humanity has rejected the ways of the Goddess and the mysteries of the sacred dark. We’ve lived a half-life, cut off from our deep roots in the Divine Feminine, the primal powers of Nature, and the profound beauty and magic of our body, shining soul and authentic Self.
 
Yet the season of humanity is turning, and a great awakening is upon us. The Goddess reaches for us, as we reach for Her. It’s time to reclaim Her hera path, and retell this sacred, transformative tale for these modern times. Here we’ll find the very things we need to guide our spiritual journey and quest for self-discovery, personal growth and spiritual evolution that can truly mend our soul and make our life, and our world, anew. 

The Goddess and Her hera path are foreign to our contemporary sensibilities. The original Goddess hera tales have been mostly lost to us. What remains are fragments of myths, like those of Persephone and Inanna, whose deeper meanings and transformative teachings have been relegated to the fringe of our human society and psyche. 
 
Instead, our mythic storytelling and meaning making are dominated by the powers and perspective of God and men. The hero’s journey — that comes to us through the comparative-mythology writings of the late, brilliant Joseph Campbell — is the prevailing mythic storyline of our human quest for personal and spiritual growth.
 
In its basic structure, the hero’s journey is a quest where outer trials and treasures fuel our spiritual adventures and personal growth: the hero begins in the everyday world, where he is given a quest or call to adventure; he sets out on a journey where he faces greats trials, usually with the help of an ally; he fights his biggest battle, and through his victory he achieves his quest and claims his treasure; and then he returns to the ordinary world as a reborn or changed man.
 
If this storyline sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been telling this hero-journey tale for thousands of years. Joseph Campbell found this story structure in important, surviving myths from around the world, including those of Buddha, Mohammad, Jesus and Moses. Frodo, Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter are contemporary examples of our continued reliance on the hero’s journey to tell big stories of spiritual adventure and personal growth.
 
But something is missing in these mythic stories. The hero’s journey is presumed to be a universal spiritual journey for humankind, when in reality it only speaks to the masculine, outer- and action-focused aspects of our human nature and spiritual growth. The missing mythic storyline is the hera path, with its inward-focused, Goddess-based tale of descent and return from the Underworld.
 
In its basic structure, the hera path has four phases: the Goddess descends into the Underworld realm of the sacred dark, leaving behind Her known world as She begins a new cycle on Her journey of self-discovery and spiritual evolution; She travels the ways of this realm, suffering its trials and embracing its mysteries of death and rebirth: She dies to Her old Self, and is reborn anew; She returns to the sunlit realm of light and life, transformed by Her travels into Her full maturity and powers: Queen and Goddess of the realms below and above, who bridges the primal powers of darkness, death, light and life; She walks the sunlit realm, at one with Her Goddess power and presence, leaving a trail of blossoming life in Her path.
 
When translated to your personal journey of soul, the hera path directs your spiritual quest inward to the sacred dark of your inner psyche and the mysteries that underlie waking reality. In contrast to the hero’s journey, there’s no outer enemy to battle, but more the imperative to brave the trials and challenges of your own life story, and to be present and empowered in the face of the raw truths of your experiences, both the beauty and wounding, and the light and shadow.
 
To reclaim the hera path is to embrace a Goddess-based conception of personal growth and spiritual evolution. You’re not trying to reach a rarified state of enlightenment that’s often associated with spiritual evolution, nor are you trying to emulate the qualities of someone or something outside of your Self. Instead, your journey of soul is about becoming a more evolved, whole, powerful version of your Self.  You show up to your life and spiritual pathwork with wisdom, love and self-acceptance,  knowing that darkness, death, trials and suffering are inevitable parts of human existence and your life story, and the very things that drive your spiritual growth and evolution. 
 
The hera path has always held these transformative mysteries of the Goddess on our behalf. Persephone has been making Her journey of descent and return from the Underworld over and over again in the mythic realm, waiting for the time when we would once again seek Her guidance and wisdom on our journey of self-discovery and spiritual evolution. Her story, along with the more ancient tale of Inanna, are as potent and relevant now as they were in the distant days when they were first spoken, and maybe even more so given how long we’ve strayed from the life-giving, soul-nourishing ways of the Goddess, and how lost we’ve been from the deep roots and mysteries of our own Self and soul.
 
What is lost can be refound and reclaimed. As the seasons turn to Fall, Persephone waits for you at the edge of the known world, where the everyday gives way to the deeper Mysteries that underlie human reality. Her hand is extended, reaching to you with an open invitation to join Her at this edge place where the ancient hera path of the Goddess begins.

Photo by luizclas from Pexels

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  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    I checked out your website and oracle deck. Very cool. Yes, we share the same passion. I write about the transformative mysterie
  • Dver
    Dver says #
    Wow, you've hit on something very close to what I've described as the Girls Underground archetype - something that begins with Per
  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    Thanks for the positive feedback Tasha. I'm so glad the article speaks to your Truth. Blessings.
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    This is an interesting piece of writing, and I experienced it as very true, or should I say a veritable Truth. Thank you for your
The Goddess and the #Metoo Movement: Mythic Tales for these Modern Times

Something essential is shifting in the foundations of our world as we witness others tell their long-hidden, #metoo stories, and tell our own stories in turn. We’re speaking truth, and being heard. We’re saying: you’re time is up, and holding male perpetrators accountable. We’ve woken up, en masse, and we’re not going back to sleep. And we’re not alone.

The Rape of Persephone

From the long ago of Greek civilization, comes the #metoo tale of The Rape of Persephone.

Demeter's trim-ankled daughter whom Hades rapt away, given to him by all-seeing Zeus. Apart from Demeter, lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits, she was gathering flowers over a soft meadow, roses and crocuses and beautiful violets, irises also and hyacinths and the narcissus, which Gaia made to grow at the will of Zeus and to be a snare for the bloom-like girl--a marvelous, radiant flower. And the girl was amazed and reached out with both hands to take the lovely toy: but the wide-pathed earth yawned there in the plain of Nysa, and the lord, Hades, with his immortal horses sprang out upon her. He caught her up reluctant on his golden car and bore her away lamenting.
(Source: Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter (abridged) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.)

Let this piece of Persephone’s story sink in. Persephone is a Goddess. Her Mother Demeter is a Goddess. These are big, powerful, feminine beings that bring life, abundance and beauty to the Earth. Yet the God Hades, with the help of the almighty Zeus, can do want He wants to Persephone.

Hades desires Persephone so He abducts and rapes Her, and makes Her his bride.  Persephone is taken against Her will, and Demeter can’t protect Her beloved daughter.  Later in the tale, Persephone is returned to Demeter, but the damage has been done. She’s eaten the fruit of the Underworld, and is forced to be with Hades, Her abductor and abuser, part of every year.  

Here we are, some 2500-plus years later, and Persephone’s tale still speaks truth to women’s experiences of male power and sexual violence. Rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and the pervasive sexism of everyday life find their deep roots in this ancestral, mythic negation of our feminine divinity and sovereignty. As the Gods do to the Goddesses, so men do to women.

Our #metoo stories are this old, and older still.  We modern women are the latest manifestation of the suffering of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and the long, long female line that went before us. And the Goddess stands with us in our suffering, and our awakening. 

Persephone’s story is our story. We didn’t write or choose this story. It was written by men in power with the intention of usurping and subduing the sovereignty and powers of the Goddess, and we, Her earth-bound daughters. The purpose of this story was, and still is, to make us forget and fear our vast, mysterious feminine nature, and to make divine and normal our powerlessness in a male-defined reality.    

As ancient as Persephone’s story may be, and as entrenched as sexism and misogyny may appear in our current, status-quo reality — this is just one story and one version of reality. It’s not truth, not inevitable, and not even original.  The Rape of Persephone is an abomination that debases and distorts a much older tale of the Goddess and Her descent to the Underworld.

The Descent of Inanna

Dial back another 3000 years to ancient Sumeria and the tale of The Descent of Inanna:

From the Great Above She opened Her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above the Goddess opened Her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above Inanna opened Her ear to the Great Below. 
Inanna abandoned Heaven and Earth to descend to the Underworld.

When Inanna arrived at the outer gates of the Underworld, She knocked loudly.
She cried out in a fierce voice: 'Open the door, gatekeeper! Open the door, Neti!
I alone would enter!'

Neti, the chief gate keeper of the kur, asked: 'Who are you?'
She answered: 'I am Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on my way to the East.'
Neti said: 'If you are truly Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on your way to the East,
why has your heart led you on the road from which no traveler returns?'
Inanna answered: 'Because of my older sister Ereshkigal, Her husband,
Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, has died. I have come to witness the funeral rites.’
(Source: Wolkstein, Diane; Kramer, Samuel Noah (1983), Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer)

Let this fragment of Inanna’s story sink in. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven and Earth.  Ereshkigal is the Goddess of the Underworld. This is a story and reality where Goddesses, not Gods, reign in the Great Above and Great Below, and hold between them the primal mysteries of life, death and rebirth.

Later in the tale, we discover that Inanna, like Persephone, suffers the trials of the Underworld. But She does so by Her own choice and great courage. Through Her descent, She submits to the transformative mysteries of the Dark Goddess Ereshkigal. She is stripped bare, and dies to Her old self in order to be reborn into Her full powers and beauty. When She emerges from Her journey in the Great Below, Inanna is whole, holy in the full spectrum of Her Goddess powers and wisdom – Queen of Heaven, Earth and the Great Below.

Inanna’s story is also our story in these #metoo times. By our own choice and great courage, we are turning our ear to the Great Below, and embarking on a journey into the Underworld that underlies our everyday reality. Here, in the dark, shadowy places in our inner psyche and shared society, we are seeking out the lost and repressed stories of sexual violation and gender discrimination that have scarred our lives.

The Great Below isn’t the realm of Hades and male power. The dark isn’t a place of rape, violence and domination. These are lies and distortions that block us from the wild, raw depths of our women’s power and mysteries, and from the very things that can mend our lives and world: our pain, grief and rage, and our truth, beauty and sovereignty. And, like Inanna before us, when we emerge from this journey, we can become whole, holy in the full spectrum of our feminine powers and wisdom, transforming not only our personal lives but also our shared society.

Our Modern #MeToo Tales

Feel the power of Persephone’s and Inanna’s legacy. Your #metoo story is a part of these ancient Goddess tales, and the lived experiences of the long line of women ancestors that have gone before you. Your voice is part of a world-changing movement of women speaking truth that can unravel the past, and reweave a collective reality that returns women to their rightful place in our shared society.

We’re in this together — Persephone, Inanna, you, me and the countless others braving their #metoo tales. Our lives, truth and stories matter. Safety, respect and honoring our feminine nature are our birthrights. It’s time for a new myth and collective reality, guided by the tales of Persephone and Inanna, and yet fresh and inspired by our personal stories and lived experiences.

Hades, Zeus, the male ancestors who wrote these mythic tales, and the men who continue to abuse and dominate women: their time is up. Whatever comes next will be of our writing and choosing, in service of our greater womanhood and sovereignty, and beauty, love and justice for all.

PHOTO CREDIT: Rupert Bunny, Rape of Persephone, via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Judith Shaw
    Judith Shaw says #
    Great look at these two stories and the differences they reflect. I've often thought of Inanna as the original Whole Goddess of t
  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    You are welcome Judith. And thanks for the great comment. I too love Inanna in Her wholeness and sovereignty, and find the parall
The Rites of Eleusis - A Continuation

 

“You should come see what we do.” this Archpriest “Pete” guy said to me.  “We work with Demeter and Persephone.  I think you’ll like it.”  So, here I stood on this beautiful, warm sunny Friday morning, wide-eyed and excited, waiting to see, to experience, what promised to be nothing less that a trip to Eleusis itself.

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A Fall Equinox Story: It’s Time For Your Awakening

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Demeter and Persephone: A Mother-Daughter Tale of Spiritual Evolution

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Τhe Mysterious Pomegranate, the Goddess and the New Year

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