Monday, June 6, 2011

The Heroine's Journey

I've been working a post about The Hero's Journey as illustrated by the lore of Proserpine and Demeter. However, you don't hear much about what happened once She descended. There are clues in the tale of Inanna, and a lot of talk about it lasting 3 days, during the dark of the moon, her ordeal, but most of what we have of Kore's tale involves the Greek Mysteries where Demeter is searching for her lost daughter. I think this whole thing is bunk and more about the relocation of the mysteries to Greece and the insertion of the Patriarchy into what began as Women's Mysteries. I also find it interesting that Hekate is associated with Ereshkigal, who appears as Queen of the Underworld and "older sister" of Inanna and eventually releases Inanna back to life, and Hekate escorts Proserpina back to the surface, in some portrayals it seems like Hekate is facilitating an escape.

  There is so much out there about The Hero's Journey, especially since Star Wars was modeled on the steps, that I don't really want to recap it here, so I've linked to the wiki basics. If you don't want to surf over, there's a fun graphic illustrating the trip there and back again:

ie: Luke Skywalker is called to adventure by Leia (hologram message on R2D2), he's aided by the droids, mentored by Obi Wan, it goes on and on. The Matrix follows the formula too as does The Lord of the Rings. Actually, most movies and legends follow this archetypal formula.

Back to my Goddesses: There isn't much written about Kore in the Underworld because it is the crux of Initiation itself: It's removing each earthly accoutrement, confronting your dark side/your shadow self and surrendering yourself to transformation. It's also so much more, and despite it being incredibly individualized, initiates, true initiates- not the ones who are socially promoted for reading 10 books and making an origami tree of life- will recognize each other. There is a knowing, an understanding that you come to that cannot be imparted to someone who has not been through it, and need not be imparted to someone who has. Mothers understand this. Motherhood is an initiation.

In the Descent of Inanna, we see the steps she goes through to get into the Underworld, but we still do not know where her essence was when she was "dead" for those three days. Where did her spirit go? Since she's in the Underworld why didn't she just appear there and haunt her sister? What did she face? What did she do? What did she see? Perhaps the same thing every initiate sees: what they need to.

I feel like I've been on my own journey tonight, examining the similarities between the descent of Inanna and the descent of Proserpine. Funny how I've known both of these epics in great detail for so long but have never put them side by side and compared. In the Greek version she's taken against her will, but as per the link above to the Women's Mysteries, I don't believe it. I'm of the school that, like Inanna, Proserpine went of her own accord to learn the Mysteries and return to Her people with knowledge thereof and her dual role as Goddess of Spring/birth/fertility and Winter/death/barren is because She, as Innana did, merged with Her Shadow self and returned the wiser for it.

However, we also have Ereshkigal, who is established as the Queen of the Underworld. Wouldn't she be the appropriate counterpart here? Are Proserpine and Demeter sisters instead of mother and child? Does it matter? What does the familial relationship imply?

All very interesting, but now that it's after 2 am, I'm going to sleep on it and I hope you do too. I hope you ponder The Mysteries and ask the questions and challenge your own perceptions.

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