In the Fall, the energies of the sacred dark begin to stir in your inner landscape — calling you to a new cycle on your journey of soul — compelling you to seek within the secret desires, dormant potential and lost stories that can guide your spiritual pathwork in the weeks, months and seasons to come.
As the seasons turn from Summer to Fall, the days become shorter and colder as the powers of light give way to those of darkness, and the living world draws ever more deeply inward to rest, to quiet, to stillness. Nature abandons outward activity in favor of inner gestation, returning to the belly of the Mother Earth, the sacred dark, where the sleeping potential of new life resides.
Your life too is woven of these primal powers and cycle. The deepest roots of your journey of soul — your life’s purpose, true nature, best gifts, core healing and personal transformation — find their origins in the still, sacred darkness of your inner landscape.
This sacred dark of the Mother Earth, your inner landscape and the mysteries that underlie everyday existence can’t be easily described or comprehended. By its very nature, the sacred dark is the great unknown of hidden powers and knowledge, and the lost parts of our personal stories and collective humanity. It holds both the seeds of new beginnings and the composting decay of death from which life emerges and returns to at the end of its days.
In all these ways, and so many more, the sacred dark is the realm of the Dark Goddess whose death-rebirth magic rides the raw, transformative edge between life and death, light and shadow, beauty and wounding, and joy and sorrow.
Our modern-day sensibilities, locked on the external, material, light-filled world of the things we know and understand, don’t teach us about these deep roots of our spiritual pathwork. We’re conditioned to skim the surface in our life travels, seeking outward for direction and guidance. We’ve forgotten and fear the primal ways of the sacred dark, of Nature, of soul, of the Goddess.
Yet this was not always so. Ancient tales of Inanna and Persephone gift us with the myth of the hera’s journey. In this myth, the Goddess chooses to leave the land above and descends to the realm of the Dark Goddess, the Underworld; She travels the ways of this realm, embracing its mysteries and suffering its trials; and She dies and is reborn, returning to the land above in Her full maturity and powers.
The hera’s journey provides invaluable teachings that can help you navigate the deepest roots of your journey of soul, and source the primal, transformative powers of the sacred dark.
Here are four lessons from this potent myth to guide your spiritual pathwork in the fall season.
Your hera journey begins when you step beyond the world you know, and turn your awareness toward the unknown mysteries of the sacred dark, both within you and in the greater world.
Inanna chooses to turn away from the land above and travel to the Great Below to visit Her Sister, the Dark Goddess Ereshkigal. Persephone leaves behind the sun-bright realm of Her Mother Demeter and descends to the Underworld. Both step beyond their known, secure world to enter the unknown of the sacred dark.
Our busy minds and cultural miasma are chock full of stuff — beliefs, thoughts, rules of conduct, theories, and the general noise and attachments of everyday existence — that bind and block us from the deeper truths that underlie our life story and journey of soul. It takes an act of conscious choice and a fiery will to step beyond our mind and culture, and brave the great unknown of the sacred dark.
Begin your own hera journey. Follow Inanna’s and Persephone’s lead. Call up your fierce courage and determination. Lessen your grip on the things you hold true and dear. Like Nature in the fall season, become still, empty and inward focused. Turn your awareness to the wide, wild world of what else is possible. Then open to the primal mysteries of the sacred dark, within and without, and let them guide your spiritual pathwork.
What you hunger for waits for you in the sacred dark.
Why does Inanna take this risk and sacrifice so much to stand before the Dark Goddess Ereshkigal? Why does Persephone forsake Her Mother Demeter’s world of sunshine and green-growing things for the Underworld realm of darkness and death? A soul hunger drives these Goddesses to seek out their greater becoming — to discover and reclaim the lost parts of their whole/holiness.
There’s so much hunger in our human society. Excessive consumerism plagues our personal lives and planet home. We voraciously grab and consume things outside of ourselves, and yet we’re never satiated, perpetually starving. What do we really hunger for? What have we lost, repressed and denied that can nourish and replenish our soul?
Heed your soul’s hunger to seek out your greater becoming. Whatever you truly need to be whole/holy waits for you in the sacred dark of your inner landscape. You’ve never lost these essential parts of your being; they’re waiting patiently for you to reclaim them, and to follow their lead in the healing, transformative pathwork that can nourish your soul and make your life anew.
Suffering and sacrifice are integral parts of your spiritual pathwork.
Inanna is stripped bare of Her royal accoutrements as She makes Her way to the realm of the Dark Goddess. She sacrifices everything, including Her life, in service of Her soul’s journey. Persephone lives in the land of darkness and death, traveling its ways and suffering its sorrows. These Goddesses understand that suffering and sacrifice are the price of admission to the Underworld, and the very stuff of the death-rebirth magic of the Dark Goddess.
Don’t expect your spiritual pathwork to be pretty or easy. Honor the lessons and experiences that come to you, especially those that challenge you the most. Know that this is how life is meant to teach and grow you. Great beauty, wisdom, complexity and resilience emerge from the depth of your struggles. And sometimes things have to end, to die, for something new to be born.
It’s the journey itself that transforms you.
Inanna emerges from Her descent as the Queen of Heaven, Earth and the Great Below. Persephone returns to Her Mother as the Queen of the Underworld and the Goddess of Spring Growth. Both have come into their full power and maturity, bridging and containing the opposing forces of life and death, and light and darkness.
We grow and mature by consciously engaging our life experiences. Descent pathwork requires that we fully embrace what life brings our way: the sweet and the bitter; the opportunities and the challenges; and the life and death moments; and that we show up and do our spiritual pathwork, no matter how gritty or unpleasant. It’s this very toil of sweat and soul that changes us. Life is the crucible of our greater becoming.
Like these Goddesses of the hera-journey myth, you’re a complex weaving of light, shadow, beauty, wounding, joy and sorrow. These polarities within you and your life story are the sacred threads of your whole/holiness. The journey itself, where you experience and reclaim the lost pieces of your deepest nature and life story, grants you your full maturity and power. Do the work and you’ll naturally change.
Your Hera Journey
Close your eyes; place your hands on your round, warm belly; turn your awareness to your inner darkness and sense the stirring hungers and gestating forces within. Your hera journey beckons you to a new cycle on your journey of soul. It begins here, in the sacred dark within you and in the descending powers of darkness of the fall season.
Remember that, like Inanna and Persephone, you travel these ways by your own choice and freewill. Set the intention to seek out what’s next for you on your journey of soul, in alignment with your highest good and deepest becoming.
Heed the lessons of the hera’s journey: step beyond your known world; descend into the sacred dark; let your soul’s hungers take you as deep as you’re ready to go at this time; embrace the trials and experiences that come to you; call on your courage, strength and wisdom to help you accept and navigate the hard parts of this pathwork, knowing that this is truly your soul’s work; trust that this pathwork is transforming you, even if this change isn’t readily obvious or understandable.
With this powerful pathwork for the fall season, you can source the deepest roots of your inner landscape as you embark on the next cycle on your journey of soul.
Though you travel your hera journey by your own courage and determination, and the unique dictates of your life’s purpose and story, you’re not alone. You walk with the Goddess and the wisest of our ancestors who have carved this path since the beginning of humanity; you walk with every sincere seeker that heeds their soul’s hunger and the call of the sacred dark; and you walk with all beings of the living Earth in their dance with the descending darkness of Fall.
Let The Path of She Book of Sabbat: A Journey of Soul Through the Seasons guide your journey of soul in alignment with the powers of Nature and mysteries of the Goddess. Available on Amazon and the Path Store.
The Path of She is published on alternate Saturdays; follow it via RSS or e-mail! If you like Karen’s work, like her page on Facebook or maybe buy her book, Tale of the Lost Daughter, a fictional spiritual adventure into the life-changing world of magic and the sacred feminine.