Somewhere in the last couple of weeks my fictional character Misc morphed and became re-absorbed into my being. When she was last heard from Misc was using the Tarot to shed light on her experiences. The Tarot deck she used is The Mythic Tarot Deck, a deck that interweaves the symbolism of the traditional Tarot with a psychological interpretation of Greek Myths. There is a Jungian tone to these interpretations.
In her readings Misc frequently upturned The Four of Swords – the commentary accompanying the card urged her to seek out quiet places and reflect. As she became re-absorbed back into my psyche I found myself exploring my neighbourhood looking for somewhere quiet. This is a big ask. A freeway intersects the town I live in and major arterial highways run off it. Much of the surrounding area is industrial and the electricity for the State is generated here in vast coal fired power stations.
In my quest for a quiet place I explored possibilities and drove out to a lake 5k. from town. This lake is manmade and is the water reservoir for the cooling towers of a power station. When I first moved to this area I’d gone out there and was disgusted to see two huge cooling towers squatting on the lake shore. I’ve only been there once since. On that visit I discovered the lake is also a local recreational area and is abuzz (or is that aroar) with jetskis and speed boats every weekend.
Not holding out much hope I drove out on a weekday morning last week. It was a perfect autumn day. Blue skies and a gentle breeze. I took a road that led away from the cooling towers and discovered the unexpected. The drought has dried out the lake to such an extent it can’t be used for boating right now. Instead it has become an illusory space suggestive of wide sweeping sandy beaches (it is actually dried mud).
Water birds wing their way across the blue expanse and fish plop in the water. That morning the breeze blew from the north. As the freeway is in the south I could not hear it. Bliss. The white noise coming from the power station was subdued enough for me to mentally compute it as the sound of distant surf. Misc, myself and I breathed deep and stayed awhile.
Another card that came up several times for Misc was The High Priestess. In the Mythic Tarot this card symbolises going within and delving into the subconscious. The High Priestess corresponds with Persephone, the Greek Goddess of the underworld. Misc wasn’t too happy pulling this card. She thought of the subconscious of a highly suspect place full of dark shadows and unresolved conflicts.
For myself whenever I looked at the picture on the Tarot card I thought of that very strange and very ancient poem from Sumeria where the Goddess Inanna goes down into the underworld. As she goes down into the darkness Inanna must strip away layers of clothing. By the time she gets to the deepest level she is naked. There she meets her dark sister Ereskigal who kills her. After some time Inanna’s followers go in search of her and come across her dark sister giving birth. Here’s some of what Wikipedia has to say about this poem.
the myth can be described as a union of Inanna with her own “dark side”, her twin sister-self, Ereshkigal, as when she ascends it is with Ereshkigal’s powers, while Inanna is in the underworld it is Ereshkigal who apparently takes on fertility powers, and the poem ends with a line in praise, not of Inanna, but of Ereshkigal. It is in many ways a praise-poem dedicated to the more negative aspect’s of Inanna’s domain, symbolic of an acceptance of the necessity of death to the continuance of life. It can also be interpreted as being about the psychological power of a descent into the unconscious, realizing one’s own strength through an episode of seeming powerlessness, and/or an acceptance of one’s own negative qualities, as it is by Joseph Campbell.
Visits to the underworld are not high on my list of preferred activities and I decided to avoid the experience. The next day I went out to the lake again. The wind direction had changed and the freeway roar was ever present but nevertheless it was still a nice little excursion away from town.
Escaping a confrontation with my own dark side proved to be impossible though. When I got home I got some news that threw me right down into my own shadow self. My father died last month and since then I have been embroiled in a crazy argument over dad’s estate with my brothers and sister. I’ve been trying to ignore it and withdraw from the whole situation but I came home from the lake to find myself dragged back into battle. Somewhere in the midst of the all the blah, blah, blah between my sister, brothers and myself I tripped up and pummelled headlong into a deep, ragged grieving for my father, my mother who died some years ago, my childhood and the messy situation I was now in. I could also see how and why I had contributed to the current mess. Like Inanna I felt stripped of all my clothing.
Somehow in that dark space something new was born. Like Persephone I am unable to fully account for what occurred as I journeyed through the underworld of my own subconscious naked of all artifice. It was both difficult and cathartic. I came out of the experience with a deeper understanding of myself and the beginnings of a new idea as to how to move forward.