Spring has come as a burst of light and fresh air for me this year.
As alongside the rise of the waxing sun, have I too made my ascent.
In the months leading up to Samhain, my life had taken a downturn.
My marriage was crumbling, my self-worth alongside of it.
The strong flow of creative and physical energy that I had embraced throughout the year had come to a halt.
A gradual slowing down is natural, coming into autumn, but this felt like I was being dragged down to hard and fast.
After a long period of good fortune, everything seemed to be going wrong.
I had read a book a while back about ritual descent.
Descending to The Underworld.
This is heavy work, the Dark Goddess is no joke.
She strips us of all we are, all the things that make you you.
She strips, she flays, she sands us back to our essential selves, to our very soul.
I read this book and instantly felt a deep connection.
I have always been drawn to the Dark Goddess, it was she who called me, on that long ago Samhain Eve.
Now, I felt as if I had been given a map, I had found my path.
My work was that of the Dark Mother, Hekate, Ereshkigal, Dark Persephone.
At the time, I read the book, but I didn’t act upon it.
Truth be told, the whole concept was a little scary.
To willingly go down there, to that dark and mysterious place, a place that people will usually do anything to avoid.
This is the place of death, despair, anguish, fear and the depths of depression.
To come before Her, to bow naked and helpless before her, totally at her mercy, knowing she shows no mercy.
At the time, I didn’t have the courage.
I knew my marriage had gone wrong, I knew I would have to face this.
I knew also, that I would not return as the person I was.
This is not a bad thing, change is a huge part of life, but it is also the part that scares us most.
It is terrifying to let go, to give oneself over to another.
To let go of all those we love, all the things we own, to let go of who we are.
But come Samhain, I began to hear her insistent call.
Like Inanna, who went before me, I could hear Her call, rising up from below.
It was time, I could no longer put this off.
It was time to descend.
I bought a large book, a journal in which I would document the process in its entirety.
This was to be the longest, most involved ritual that I had performed to date, and I wanted a record of everything I was to experience.
I knew this ritual would be cataclysmic, change me irrevocably.
I admit that it frightened me.
But I also knew that fear was a part of it, this was something that had to be faced.
I knew that did I not go willingly, I would be dragged down there by force.
The lead up to the actual ritual of descent was intense work.
I documented my past hurts, the things I had carried around with me all these years.
I performed smaller rituals of listening, laying in a darkened circle, my ear to the ground, hearing Her call.
I performed rituals of devotion to the Dark Mother and my Matron Goddess, Hekate.
I listed the things I most loved, the people and possessions I treasured.
These things I would need as I descended.
For to pass into The Underworld, one must pass through the seven gates, giving up a part of the self at each one.
I wrote to myself, a letter to remind me of the reasons I had to return to the surface, for a danger of The Underworld is of becoming stuck down there, mired and bound by the pain and darkness of the soul.
I wrote letters to my loved ones.
My daughter wrote to me as well.
I made a mandala, a representation of my life so far, my earlier ‘descents’ through difficult times were very clear.
I found patterns of the Dark Goddess in my life.
I drew, I wrote, I did a lot of appraisal of my life up to this point.
I gathered together all the hurt I had carried along with me, and accepted it.
Accepted that this pain had made me me.
I listed, too, the most joyous times in my life.
I charted, I accepted, I discovered the events and people who had shaped me.
During the period of the waxing and waning moon, I prepared for my descent.
The night of the dark moon loomed.
I was afraid, but I was ready.
My dreams were filled with dark doorways, caves of pure blackness leading down.
My journal at this time is also filled with this imagery, dark and imposing entrances, entrances that lead to the very bowels of the earth.
In meditation and journey work, I walked pitch black caves and caverns, I crawled along on my belly through tiny spaces, I found treasures in the dark.
My descent had begun, I was becoming one with the dark depths of the earth.
At this point, I knew there was no going back.
I stood at the mouth of the entrance to The Underworld, and I was ready to descend.
I was ready to kneel before the Dark Goddess.