Facing the Apocalypse: A Call for Outrageous Courage, Love, and Compassion From the Foreword of Facing the Apocalypse: Over a decade ago I opened a lecture I was giving by recounting a dream I had during a crisis period in …
As we wander on these journeys, we find that just like in the stories, we often begin in shadowy places, dark forests of the heart or lonely castles that reflect some of the gloomiest wounded and denied places within the kingdom of ourselves. Along the way, we will meet monsters, strange animals (even talking ones), and extraordinary people like dwarfs, witches, beggars, old hags, and even the devil. Some of these figures are helpful; others try to hinder us or even destroy us. But if we want to follow the maps laid out by these stories and to be transported by the stories, we must remember to embrace the world of metaphor because, in reality, the story is within us.
One of our greatest longings is to have our own voice, one that speaks of our greatest values with strength, clarity, compassion, and understanding. I want a voice like that and more.
Women, over the centuries, have been unfairly victimized, misused, belittled, and considered to be inferior human beings. This blaming and belittling of women, and also of the feminine principle, still goes on in this century and in some countries is a common way of dealing with women. Unfortunately, this is our modern form of the plague.
Where the Death Mother lives, “love is lacking,” and in fact, an understanding of love is rarely even present. Yet “love is lacking” describes the denied conditions of our collective world.
I have worked with woman after woman who was intelligent, capable, even professionally trained, and yet was still paralyzed when it came to pursuing her life with a sense of authenticity and security, grounded in her own ability. I am even more saddened to see how our ability to love and be loved, and to be whole people in relationships, has been frozen by the Death Motherʼs influence in our families and in our society.
Every myth represents a treasure-house of wisdom regarding the world and our personality. And, the way to these treasures is difficult and tangled. All too often when it seems like the mythic map is clear, we suddenly discover that there is a whole new level of the myth before us. Myths are meant to take us beyond ourselves, beyond the ways we have looked at life and particularly at our difficulties and struggles.
Part of our devaluation of the feminine results from our loss of the art of thinking symbolically. To lose this art is to lose the kind of grounding that enables us to experience the beautiful depths of love and the Divine presence that is potentially within our capacities.
The myth of Medusa is an extraordinary mythic story from our collective past. What it can tell us today is as sacred as any religious parable. This myth is a symbolic story of how the patriarchy has abused and banished the feminine, how it can be redeemed, and the tremendous healing and instinctual power that can be freed in this process.
As we are touched by the feminine and are able to step outside of our traps of rationality, efficiency, and “things that have to be done,” we become more open to our innate wisdom. An awareness of our innate wisdom helps us understand the language of love, the mystical, art and poetry—the language of symbolism, metaphor, meaning, eternity, and, most of all, the real language of stories.