Saturday, May 24, 2008

Darkness my old friend

These are scary times. That picture of the burning man can never be taken away. Its out there now, on the internet, in the Akashic records, in the friday newspaper for any child to page through. Before the province that I live in erupted into a seething nest of hate crimes, I was doing quite well. Starting to do quite well, inspite of winter pending. This year the month of May has been good - if only because January to April was particularly gloomy.

In January I came back from a glorious Tanzanian holiday all fired up to change the world. My 2008 list of to-dos was heady and ambitious - plays to finish, cross continental marches to organise (more on that later). But I was coming back a to a country in confusion - who's really leading us - the fat faced guy with the (to my mind) sheepish grin who may have been acquitted of rape charges but still refers to a woman's vagina as her father's kraal. (more on that later); or the grizzled bearded denialist. Ok this is not going to be a political blog. I'll leave this line of thought. Point is, like the load shedding that plunged Joburg into benign confusion, I went into a deep darkness myself. Scheduled or not, the lights went out on my mood and I was seriously unplugged from energy source.

I have a good therapist. She's a Jungian, and wouldn't flinch if I spoke about messages from the pleiadians. (more on that later). One particularly morose morning she got a strange look on her face and pulled a book out of her shelf and said I should read the story of Inanna. And stop trying to be happy.

There are those who say you create your reality. I agree with them. The law of attraction. positive thoughts = positive reality. etc. "Combat negativity" they say. But there's also something about that bit that I'm not so sure about anymore. If there is darkness in me I want to see it. If there is pain in me I've got to look at it, be with it, stroke it a little. Some people call this wallowing. Or indulging. And I've spent more energy than Eskom's annual output trying to keep those demons pushed just on the other side of waking mind. You know the drill – red wine, (gin for some, whisky for others) keeping busy, etc. Trying not to wallow. Coz that leads to bellyaching. And we'll have no bellyaching here.

So Inanna. A four-thousand year old story from the Sumerians. That's Iraq, people. And you gotta know the muses decamped from there some 5 years ago already. Inanna – Queen of Heaven and Earth. Its a beautiful text, lovingly translated and pieced together from cuneiform tablets. We meet her as an adolescent. We see her receive the gifts of queenship -
...the noble sceptre
the holy measuring rod and line...
...the incantation priest
the libations priest...

...the perceptive ear
the power of attention
...the kindling of strife

and some other jolly useful things like
...the kissing of the phallus, the art of speeding, the holy tavern, the plundering of cities.

And then she is ready to marry. She sings:

"Make your milk sweet and thick, my bridegroom.
My shepherd I will drink your fresh milk.
Wild bull, Dumuzi, make your milk sweet and thick
I will drink your fresh milk."

After a brief spot of bliss, she decides to go down to the underworld. Inanna opened her ear to the underworld. She went down below. As she descends, she is stripped of every one of her queenly attributes. She must remove the crown, the lapis beads, the breastplate, the gold ring. You have to enter naked.

And she is told:
Quiet, Inanna, the ways of the underworld are perfect.
They may not be questioned.

And she is turned into a corpse, hanging from a hook.

Luckily, before she embarked on her descent, Inanna instructed her consort to go and petition on her behalf should she not return. We all have a part of us that wants to heal. And it knows where to go. So the same father that invested her with the glories of her office now brokers a deal with the queen of the underworld so that Inanna may return. She has to sacrifice. Someone can go in her place – will it be her son? No, anyone but that. Her other son? No, anyone but that. Inanna returns to her palace and who should be revelling on the throne with no thought of her absence – the stud of a husband. Ha. You. You will go down in my place. He flees. Oh you betcha, he runs from the pursuing demons that will take him underground forever. They catch up him tho, of course they do. He is lucky, he has a sister who loves him ans she offers to do half the sentence for him. She will do six months underground, he will do the other half of the year. A neat arrangement. Sun and moon can never meet, winter and summer will be separated forever. But Inanna has ventured into the depths and returned, and so she is now queen of heaven and earth.

What's the point? Well, as my therapist so neatly put it, don't label your emotions as positive or negative. You have pain and suffering. You must be with it. Its there. Go into it. Be stripped of all your worldly selves. Descend. Tis the only way to resurrect.

There's a school of conflict resolution that I hope to be getting more involved in soon. It teaches that you cannot hope to resolve a particular conflict without going deeply into it and allowing it to be - to flourish, even. And perhaps these weeks of horror that have erupted now are, on a psychic level, the anguish that our rainbow nation never got to express. In the blush of post-94 Mandela harmony speak we papered over our cracks and sealed our apartheid demons into the underworld. Otherness, labelling. A base-chakra sense of insecurity and survival-threat.

SA's leaders are hoping that we can start a reintegration process for foreigners in the next few weeks. That we can hold workshops on tolerance and teach people how exiled South Africans were embraced by their neighbours during the struggle. But methinks South Africans are tired of hearing about how things were in the struggle. Its not over. New ones are blooming, old ones haven't been won. The apartheid style hostels are as festering as they ever were.

Until this government really descends, really goes into the depth of where we are now, right now, and faces it, they can't hope to fix a thing. And they must go in naked. But not just them. We, the privileged have got to stop pushing away the images that slap us daily. We the fat cats have got to stare these demons in the face.

And you, dear gentle reader, please bear with me. Not all my posts will be gloom and doom. Nor will they all sound so preachy. Its just that there are 25 000 people who have lost their homes, belongings and safety in the last weeks. And its the second, maybe third time for them and there wasn't an earthquake here. And I know its my problem too.

We do need leadership. Inanna couldn't get out of there without the intervention of her wise elder.

These are dark times. But we gotta go there.

And now the sharks have been hammered by the Worratahs. Bugger. On a brighter note, my cherry tomatoes are still fruiting forth, spinach glowing, and the boys have fixed the water feature.

For a sensible read on the ongoing mayhem:

Thanks for your comments, they are truly appreciated. Plenty more to come on Inanna as the goddesses gather in worship. more on this later.

1 comment:

Janelle said...

loving your writing babes. and with you all the way. all the way. love love always xx j