“The risk-taking leap into the void is a theme common to many heroines who, through a whole lot of trouble, work, and grace participate in the creation of Eros [feeling] bridges between the old and the new, transforming the cosmology. Legends and fairy tales weave these patterns of the maiden able to take the risk necessary to transform culture.” ~Jungian Analyst Monika Wikman
Whereas hero myths emphasize ascending to the heights as the proper guide to a successful life, heroine myths often employ the theme of descent. These symbolize two different ego orientations: toward the outer world of physical reality or toward the inner world of our soul’s reality.
Every young ego’s deepest desire is to prove itself worthy by attaining success in the outer world, and unless it is denied this path for some reason, this is the one it will inevitably choose. Most families encourage the outer way because it is the universally sanctioned model for the first half of life. Even the East with its five-thousand-year tradition of inner exploration knows that young egos need to find safety, develop their skills, and establish intimate relationships before they’re ready to wholeheartedly pursue the inward path. Since this is the standard, usually only the most sensitive and introverted of souls, or those with the deepest pain or strongest spiritual longing, risk leaping into the inner darkness.
“It is the honing of the longing for the divine that reaches for the living water beneath the surface of our lives. It teaches us how to tend the living spring, to differentiate and live in such a way that sweet healing water arises from within. And when the water becomes muddy and troubled, the water also can become clear and healing again as we take the directive of the spirit of the spring. Often in individuation, tremendous refinement of love is required over the course of our lives.” ~Monika Wikman
The inward path has a different set of rules and it takes time and experience to learn them. Because this way is far less well-understood in the West, and because it requires detaching from the spirit of the times, it inevitably entails confusion, conflict, self-doubt, pain and suffering. What will happen if we leave the safe familiar way? Will we be punished? Will anyone still love us? Yet, diving into the depths in search of We-Know-Not-What, is our hope of satisfying our spiritual yearnings.
“Without a growing process of experience and differentiation, we risk lapsing into a dumb animalhood in which either the inner music of the soul may be so repressed that it seems nonexistent or a substitute may take its place in the form of regressive or sappy derivatives. It requires tremendous patience, honesty, and cultivating an ear to hear the complexity of what is constellating. There is a time to leap and a time not to leap, and these are completely individual fates and responsibilities.” ~Monika Wikman
The risk-taking leap is a leap into Love. Eros. Feeling. Every religious tradition says this is the Sacred Mystery. And if we relentlessly pursue it, we can incarnate it in ourselves. For the soul that yearns to transform culture, nothing else will do but learning to love ourselves, our work, others, the world, and otherness of every kind, including life itself.
Why is it usually a maiden who leaps into the void? Because our feminine sides live for relatedness and love. Without it we risk living without passion and meaning. No one can give us these gifts for they dwell in us. It’s that simple, really. We can nurture what awakens our passion, or we can wither. And we get to choose.
Quotes from Monika Wikman. Pregnant Darkness: Alchemy and the Rebirth of Consciousness.
You can find Jean Raffa’s Healing the Sacred Divide here or at Larson Publications, Inc.