The great halls gleamed with white sparkling light, too bright to make out all the forms that surrounded me. Finally, my eyes focused on some sudden flourish movement before me – a clock whose hands spun round and round.
The hands of time, I thought to myself. And holding this clock was an ancient being that appeared to be one of three. Not one of them spoke. But the clock and their presence told me all I needed to know….
The following day I found myself once again in the great hall. The three forms stood before me, the clock they held spun round again. Only one difference did I notice: this clock spun backwards. The past, I considered.
“Meet us in the Underworld,” they said. “Meet us there….”
I knew their summons could only mean one thing – a part of my ancient past sought resolution.
I spent the 4 years roaming the Underworld. It was there I learned to dance with my own shadow. Not to scare her away, but to make peace with her. This process does not entail negotiation. It cannot because conditional clauses won’t work in this world: “if you behave, then I will love and accept you…”
Nay making peace with her was about meeting her on her own terms and accepting her for who she is.
Many traditional theologies would have you journey into the upper realms of heaven, or rather they’d have you pray that upon your death you be sent there. For too long we have avoided and shied away from the “below” for fear of what lies buried.
Demons and torment. Fire and brimstone. These, they said, awaited us in the worlds below.
But what if I told you hell isn’t real?
Oh sure – you could argue that each person creates their own heaven or hell. That’s true.
But as an actual place of torment and eternal fate… it doesn’t exist.
“Hell,” like so much of our history, is one of those words that began with a little manipulation, a dash of mistranslation and a whole lot of misunderstanding.
Before we get down in the trenches, let’s first answer the question you’re probably scratching your head over: why the heck am I talking about hell?
Because usually what we fear the most may also point to our greatest opportunity for transformation.
It was for me. And I’ve even lived to tell about it 😉
More on that later.
So what does hell mean? And perhaps most importantly, where does it come from?
Well, there were two words that often got translated as “hell” from Hebrew and Aramaic: Sheol and Gehenna.
Now without going down too much of the Faery Light rabbit hole (you know this girl loves a good year or three of research, especially of the ancient world), I can assure you that neither of these words referred to a place of eternal torment.
However, the actual word “hell” was borrowed from the Old Norse word “hel” that meant hidden, and it referred to the Underworld – a place of mystery, death and regeneration in Norse Mythology. Presiding over this realm was a mac-mamma goddess (or giant or guardian power, depending how you interpret it), and her name was…yep, you guessed it: Hel.
Unfortunately, and like all things the early church fathers didn’t understand (or perhaps they understood all too well), they deemed the underworld a place to be feared, avoided and ultimately demonized.
The truth, contrarily, is that it is a place of mystery, memory and regeneration that can be accessed in vision, and it holds the keys to unlocking your deepest questions like “Who am I?”
Not only that, the underworld and its spiritual forces act as bestowers and initiators of your power, wisdom and truth.
Well, truth can only be seen once all that is false falls away. And the energies and powers of the Underworld help you dissolve the illusions. But it requires your willingness to explore what lay hidden within all those emotional pockets that many dare not touch. Fear, rejection, shame…these are your doorways.
Like gateway guardians, the scary feelings are all that lay between you and your deepest truth. If you can move beyond their clutches, you will be rewarded with magic and wonder.
However, to pass through their doorways, you must NOT turn away, nor must you try to avoid them for fear of getting “dirty.”
You must instead face them head and heart on. See them for what they REALLY are. Acknowledge their pain and neglect. Witness their power. And only then do they become allies that offer a key to your own holy space within.
For years I’d spent my time floating, traveling, exploring the upper worlds of stars, angels and devas. In fact, like most of you, I was quite comfortable there. It felt light, free and like an escape.
But as destiny would have it, what goes up, must come down.
Looking back, I had plateaued long before I ever made my descent. I was only half experiencing the world and all its magic. And without the added depth, understanding and belonging of the “below,” I would never really know who I was or why I was here. I would never really live up to my full potential.
So down, down, down I went. Into the darkness of the underworld. And into the muddied waters left behind like a trail by my shadow.
Before my journey into the Underworld, I had resisted “being in my body” and feeling deeply into my emotions. Perhaps I was afraid of all the stories I’d been told about demons and hell. Or perhaps I was just afraid I wouldn’t like what I found lying buried there in the darkness.
So if you find yourself being overly aloof, ungrounded, entrenched in overthinking, without a deep sense of belonging and wanting to escape, then I can assure you that no amount of working with the heavenly realms will help you heal and transform.
Of course that is not to say that the upper realms don’t hold value for you. Indeed the gifts they carry for you are as myriad as the stars in the sky. But you can only access, recognize and wield those gifts once you’ve traversed and plunged the depths of the underworld and the darkest forests of your own heart and soul.
For it is only the contrast of shadows that gives the light its definition, form and color!
So what about you?
Have you been drawn to the upper worlds and starry realms? Or have you taken a plunge (headfirst or kicking and screaming – both count!) into the depths of the inner Earth and Hel?
Let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group. Can’t wait to hear more about your journey.