Sunday, December 29, 2013

Darkness and light and the belly of the whale.

I've been thinking a lot about darkness and light, death and rebirth, and the journey into the belly of the whale.

In writing about the monomyth, Joseph Campbell described three overarching stages of the journey: departure, initiation and return. The last step of the departure stage is the journey into the belly of the whale, where the hero seems to be swallowed up by death.

Campbell says, "The idea that the passage of the magical threshold is a transit into a sphere of rebirth is symbolized in the worldwide womb image of the belly of the whale. The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown and would appear to have died. This popular motif gives emphasis to the lesson that the passage of the threshold is a form of self-annihilation. Instead of passing outward, beyond the confines of the visible world, the hero goes inward, to be born again." The hero has to face "who and what he is, namely dust and ashes."

I wept over and mourned the ruins of my marriage and have had to accept that this is my life now, this alternate universe I was flung into with no say in the matter. Now close to six months after my former life was blown up, my marriage is legally over. I got news that the divorce was finalized just before Christmas. The only things in the apartment now are mine. Booboo is gone.

It is winter.

But I find myself surprised by discovering beauty even in death. I can see rebirth already present in the dying. And I now know that snow glitters sometimes.

It is possible to survive the death of what you most loved and cherished. Rebirth does come. It comes slowly, after excruciating pain that can't be described to anyone who has not lived through it. There are new beginnings to be had and new dreams to dream. The light will conquer the darkness a little more each day. And there is a sort of fearlessness that comes from surviving the worst that can happen..."freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live."


  1. I'm so happy to hear that you're thinking of the possibility of new beginnings and new dreams.
    A very, very close friend got divorced this year, and after almost a year of living through the new reality, she has said to me that surviving this terrible thing is now empowering because living through that means she can survive so much.

    1. Hi Meghan, I'm so glad 2014 is here. I hope it is a great year for you, and I wish your friend all the best as she keeps rebuilding her life. Empowering....I like that....

  2. Glad you posted. Wishing you happiness and new beginnings and a Happy New Year!

    (Any chance you might get a new kitten?)

    1. SewTypical, Happy New Year to you too! I am thinking about getting a kitten or cat... I will probably wait until I get a feel for how day-to-day (non-holiday) life is without a cat first, and make sure I want to and am ready to make the commitment to having another cat. And of course, waiting on the right cat... Anyhow, I guess I'll see how it goes? Kittens do seem pretty intimidating though. Like...I would want to be able to raise it really well...