Yesterday, I was told a most beautiful story by my friend Ann. She told me the story of the goddess-queen, Inana, who hears a calling and abandons the comfort of heaven and earth where she rules, to travel to the underworld, which is ruled by her sister. During her descent through the passageways of the underworld, all of her protections are taken from her - her staff, her cloak, her shoes, her breastplate, her food. By the time she reaches her sister's lair, she has nothing, not even the certainty of her own identity. Her sister kills her.
Back on the surface, one of her father figures sends two creatures to bring Inana back. They find her corpse and bring her back to life. As Inana ascends through the passageways back to the surface, she finds each of her protection items. Some of them no longer seem useful, no longer fit her. Some of them are like old friends that she readily picks up. When she reaches the surface, she is forever changed. She has heeded the calling of her own growth, and she has left behind those things which no longer serve her. When she reemerges, she is still queen, but a different kind of queen than she was before.
There is much more to this story, and it is very powerful told aloud, as Ann told it to me. This story offered me a new metaphor for my current life experience. I am being called to grow. That means leaving behind some things that I have thought I could not live without - images of myself, patterns, beliefs, fears. Who I have been is dead, in a sense, and I no longer know myself. But as I rise up again, and I do feel certain that I will, I will be a different kind of queen than I was before. This story offers meaning to the dark, fearful, annihilating journey of grief.
My dad loved the following quote from Bob Dylan:
Well, I am busy being born.
"Who's not busy
Is busy dying."