InannaI have always been frustrated by the hero’s journey as described by Joseph Campbell and by Greek mythology which seemed so out of touch with or misogynist about women and goddesses.  I never understood or had any connection with the Persephone myth.  It’s this really weird rape fantasy piece where she is the perfect and unspoiled girl, there are no positive male characters, an adult male kidnaps her, forces her to live in a place against her will, the whole ‘eating of the pomegranate’ is a metaphor for sex which somehow binds her to live with him forever, as if she has no free will or common sense or ability to make judgements and decide her own fate, and as if, for some reason, he’s not good enough to have a woman without his ‘magic sex’ somehow enslaving her.  It’s all really twisted for all the characters and in the end she returns to her mother.  *shakes head*

This was never a paradigm that seemed healthy or that brought any enlightenment or encouraged appropriate behavior.  It seemed to be an excuse for bad male behavior and yet it’s really sad for guys too.  If you are not worthy of having a woman in your life, if you aren’t good on your own merits, then who are you?  Time to throw out this idea of what it is to go inside and find out about yourself.  No more rape and resignation and thinking sex is some magic lasso that will capture the girl and make everything all right.  So let’s look at some different ways of journeying within.

Susan Griffin wrote Woman and nature: The roaring inside her in 1978 and it’s an amazing look at women’s perspective on the world and women’s experience that still resonates today.  Although it’s a very good read, it’s best when read aloud and even better with a group of people, mixed company or no.  The 3rd chapter is entitled “PASSAGE: Her Journey Through the Labyrinth to the Cave Where She Has Her Vision”  It’s the internal journey to personal source which she paints not as a descent into darkness but a spiral inward to the center of self.  Also as a return, a return to ancient wisdom and ancient knowing which she likens to finding cave paintings left behind by those who have gone before.  So in this sex is neither the point nor involved, yet sexuality in healthy balance with all other things is and being female includes being sexual and sexy.  There are no other characters other than the explorer and yet she is surrounded by community.  There is no fear, just the unknown to be explored and as spirals move in both directions, when she has discovered herself she returns to the sunlight refreshed, renewed, and more fully herself than ever before.

Another way to look at this is the ancient myth of Inanna.  I recommend the translation by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer:  Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. This tale is older than the Persephone myth and historians believe that the Greeks used it as a basis for their story.  However the emphasis is very different.  Inanna is not a girl, but a woman with a husband and is lusciously sexual.  In fact the first part of the story is full of hymns to her full womanness including praise for her sexuality and a call for her husband to come and pleasure here, which he does.  (Good on both of them).  But she feels the need to go into the underworld and so, not being forced or abducted, she chooses to go into the underworld where her sister lives.  Her sister Ereshkigal lives there in pain and suffering of her own making, for she is trapped in her emotional pain and taking no steps to heal it or change her situation.  Inanna travels to her, going through an amazing transformation in the process, helps her sister to break through her emotional jail cell, and then returns.  Ereshkigal is able to free herself and heal, Inanna returns changed, and both begin to work to improve their world.  The striking part of this is not only the self-empowerment of the female characters, but the fact that community, connection, and interaction are the focus of the journey, not fighting through some wilderness to find a hidden object or some lofty goal.

During this first Mercury Retrograde of 2016 you can choose what your journey looks like and how you participate with it.  Spiral in and see where the journey takes you.  You may be surprised as how much wonder awaits.