Deep Work: the In-Between Time

by Vivian Hadleigh on December 8, 2014

From Samhain to Winter Solstice
Your Underworld Journey: the In-Between Time

Art by Pamela Simonton

Art by Pamela Simonton

If you cast your imagination back to ancient times, it’s very easy to understand why the cycle ushered in by Hallowe’en is viewed with fear.

Even without its association with magick and the dead, Samhain can cause deep, subconscious shudders. This is because it marks our entry into the darkest part of the year, and a time when our ancient, subconscious selves begin to worry, again, if the light will ever return.

The amount of time we spend in darkness increases visibly, and daily from Hallowe’en on October 31 (people who use astrology to determine the correct Samhain date place it at 15 degrees Scorpio, which occurs usually between the 5th and the 7th of November) until the Winter Solstice (which occurs in the Northern Hemisphere between December 20 and 23, when the Sun enters Capricorn).

In mythology, Samhain marks the time of the Dark Goddess. Whether you call her Kali or Cerridwen, Lilith or Medusa, Hecate or the Morrigan or Baba Yaga or Badb or Ereskegal or Crow Mother, or simply the Crone, this fearsome deity is usually seen either brooding over a cauldron, surrounded by faint forms of ghosts and goblins and owls and snakes, or dancing on the corpse of her consort—certainly images to strike terror in hearts of those who don’t understand her purpose.

Even more terrifying, the Crone, of all the mythical characters and deities, is the one who tells it like it is.

When it pleases her, and she’s in the mood to tease the mere mortal who dares her presence, she’ll speak in riddles. But whatever she tells you, it will be the bare bones truth, no waffling or polite phrases. If you’re being an idiot, that’s what she’ll say. If you are on a collision course with something unpleasant, she won’t mince words. And to prove her point, she’ll show you things you’ve spent your entire life trying to forget. Because she knows that there is power for good buried beneath the fearsome memories, just waiting to be released.

But what’s probably scariest is that in order to speak to the Crone you have to literally or spiritually enter the dark, go into the cave, descend into the bowels of the earth or your own psyche.

So it’s not surprising that today’s psychically disconnected western culture tries to whistle away the dark by hanging tinsel and lights earlier each year, and populating the world with tots in superhero and princess outfits, cutesy pumpkin carvings, and frantic holiday busy-ness.

…so we won’t have to look into the Crone’s face, and hear what she is saying.

The Dark Goddess rules the crossroads, the decision point in individual and collective lives, and the time She rules from Hallowe’en to the Winter Solstice is also called the in-between time. It is when the veil between consensus or everyday reality and those other worlds is very thin. It is when we can confer easily with the dead, our ancestors, the ancient gods and goddesses and faerie kingdom, and the spirits of nature and the underworld.

In some versions of the Samhain myths, the old god (associated with light) mates for one last time with the goddess, who has now evolved into her Dark Mother form. He willingly dies, because he knows that his seed of rebirth has been planted in her infinite womb. There he will be nourished and sustained until it is time to spark to life again as the awakened seed of the new god, her son and consort, at the seasonal new year of Winter Solstice.

What meaning and value does this mythology have for you? Dark Goddess stands at the cave entrance inviting you into your own psyche, the place within you that sits quietly, waiting for you to get out of the car, turn off the TV and music, turn off the lights, and simply BE.

As she stands over her cauldron, the Dark Goddess shows us all how to use the natural cycles of Earth to annually re-examine our inner and outer lives, how to discard into her cauldron for recycling those elements of our lives and psyches which no longer support and nurture us. And she invites us draw from that same cauldron things which will give us strength and creativity (clothes, tools and weapons) to make the most of the new cycle. It’s also a time when each of us can look at and, yes, question the current values of our culture. And question even the bones of our individual beliefs about what constitutes reality.

When you allow your own energies to flow with Nature’s cycles, you begin to realize that there’s something skewed in the belief that only progress is good, that expansion, production, growth and plenty are the only things of value. You can remember the importance of quiet and simplicity, of inner focus, and the strength that is developed when you’ve journeyed into the Underworld and re-emerged, honed down and full of the Dark Mother’s gifts of insight, wisdom and primal magick.

Transpersonal psychologists believe that each person’s Shadow, the unacknowledged part of their psyche, can undermine an individual unless it is invited to participate in the person’s conscious life. The subconscious fear of winter extinction, the fear of the dark, is definitely a part of the Shadow’s realm. And as long as your Shadow and your Shadow’s fears are behind you, you can’t see what they’re up to, and they can (and do) undermine you easily.

However, when your Shadow is invited to sit at the table, so to speak, with the conscious elements of your psyche (your work self, your relationship self, and so on), then it can contribute wisdom from your deepest, most primal consciousness, rather than defeating the efforts of your conscious mind. This is the depth teaching of the Tarot’s Moon Card (XVIII), because your Shadow selves live in that dark pool in the foreground of the traditional images.

Meditation

Pick a quiet, undisturbed space, and darken the room completely, or burn just one candle if you prefer. Have note taking materials on hand. If you don’t have a favorite routine to prepare for meditation, try the one in the final chapter, which is also a free download at www.Vivian-Hadleigh.com.

Once you’re comfortable, grounded, and breathing calmly and deeply, imagine you’re standing at the entrance to a cave, at the top of stairs carved out of stone heading down into the darkness. Imagine yourself holding a candle or torch, warmly dressed, and filled with excitement and a bit of trepidation at the prospect of meeting the Dark Goddess.

As you descend the stairs, observe the walls and ceiling of the rock tunnel, because there are often pictures or symbols there, ones which could add meaning to your journey.

At the bottom of the stairs you will find the opening of a cave pulsing with powerful energy. Enter the cave, and find a place to sit. You may decide to blow out your torch or candle if you feel brave enough.

Now sit quietly and wait for the Crone to approach silently on owl or bat wings, or with a shuffling gait and a rap of her staff. Listen with all your senses while she speaks to you, and don’t be put off if she seems abrupt or impatient…it’s just her way, and the magnificence of her gifts more than makes up for her prickly personality.

When she is ready to leave the cave, the Dark Goddess re-lights your candle or torch, and the light reveals before you three beings or symbols. They represent parts of the past, present and future, possibly Shadow elements, which you are to take with you and work with during the in-between time, which lasts until the Winter Solstice. Examine or speak with each of them while you’re still in the sacred cave of the Dark Goddess. Her energy will help you reach even more deeply into your psyche, as you use her owl-like ability to see in the dark, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

When you feel complete, take your candle or torch, gather your past, present and future tasks and return to the stairs. As you ascend, look again at the tunnel walls to see if they have changed at all, or if your experience has helped you interpret them.

When you emerge from the stairway, and are back outside, you will find an additional gift from the Goddess, a magickal tool to help you navigate the in-between time, and the tasks she has set for you, with greater ease.

This meditation journey, along with ones for Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain, as well as the Solstices and Equinoxes, is available in my book Sacred Cycles: Ancient Doorways to Inner Space, available on Amazon.com.

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