(Essay) The Descent – Another Initiation by Bridget Robertson

B RobertsonI would say that my heart has been breaking but in truth it actually broke. It was the third story this week. Stories of another woman murdered. Each one was senseless, marginalized, disowned and disregarded. In any given week I am sure that I hear thousands of these stories. But those numbers become too large to make an impact. They get rolled and curled into statistics, the greatest lies of all. No, it is the ones about an individual that have the most affect. Leave a mark.

The way out is an old one, a descent. A journey into the Sacred Cave of Darkness once again and each time is unique. There are a few things in common with the descent of Goddess Inanna/Ishtar. At each step I must give up something. My defenses, comforts, protections, rhythms, righteousness, certainty, and finally my beliefs and values including my Cronehood are taken from me. I am laid bare, alone, wounded and exposed. All of my tears have already been shed. What is left is emptiness, the final price of entry. Having been here before will not matter. This is not a place of comfort. Nor is it a punishment. It is another initiation, held in a place of complete darkness.

My hand finds a wall of stone. They are ancient record keepers of everything. Its language is measured and slow, almost imperceptible. Now I wait. Stillness is essential. The secrets of this Womb will require that not even a whisper is uttered. The hurt and pain are gaping. I will not be offered relief until this initiation is complete.

Darkness has a time all its own. My roots are the first limb I feel. And they have sunk deeper. Depth is always honored and cherished. It brings weight, gravitas and true substance. I have never found depth in the light. As time stretches and drags, the memory of an old fable winds it way back to me. I know it well. It has many versions and outcomes. This is the one I remember. And it is my version.

The Princess With a Glass Heart.

 “A princess was born with a fragile heart. The queen and king were certain it was made of glass. She was sheltered from the world. Her parents were always afraid that anything sad would break her heart and she would die. She grew into a lovely women kept within walls. Orders were given that nothing bad was ever to reach her. Only kind, happy, cheerful, carefree stories were to be shared. One day, a small bird flew into her room and after a few minutes it stopped chirping and suddenly dropped and died. The shock and strain on her delicate heart was too much.  There was a  sound of glass breaking.  She fell as if she was dead.

Her parents frightened and horrified sent for the healer. After the wise woman examined the daughter, she smiled.  The  young women was not dead. Her heart had broken completely. But it had done so to make room for her larger heart that had been encased in that glass all her life. A stronger heart. One even capable to live within the whole of the world. She will become a just, loving,  powerful, queen.”

A stirring began.

A hand reached out to mine. A very old and familiar one. The emptiness became tears again. I reached back to join mine with Hers. She has always walked with me, wherever I go. I have known Her to be many things, mostly direct, firm, lovingly fierce and She expects no less of me. Words formed from Her…

 “We haven’t been here in some time. A  heart that has always been open. Especially for those who are vulnerable. A larger heart is a great gift. It is richer, feelings are deeper, stronger and at times overwhelming. I have called you my own. A formidable protectress and defender. Taking the time to grasp and dance within the many shadows of life and fearlessly entering into the dark.  When protection or justice is needed — when a call is made, taking up a shield each and every time. Wielding  a sword  to cull out harm. Wounded and scarred entering  the chosen ground with your life in the balance.”

I felt her arm gather around my shoulder.

“Now carry this as well. A larger heart holds the memory of being a fierce sister, friend and one who loves so passionately  you are at ease being vulnerable. Not every  battle can be won from the front. Remember that you are fluid and formidable from every part of your heart.”

We journeyed together back up each step. I collected very few things. Only what was essential to my living within the whole of the world. 

Thank you Freya.



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