Since the beginning, human beings have been the storytellers and meaning-makers of planet Earth. This gift of symbolic consciousness has given rise to the very constructed humanity we see around us and interact with everyday. Our personal understanding of our lives, our relationships, our history, our culture - all have mythic dimensions. For example, are you the hero and heroine of your life story or do you always seem to be the unsuspecting victim? Oftentimes we find ourselves unconsciously repeating a mythological motif, especially in our relationships with ourselves and with others.
The Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine and their eternal dance within us all have been illustrated through myths for thousands of years. These enduring patterns, on the one hand, are timeless and on the other a product of patriarchal conditioning going back through history. (Notice even here the patriarch, HIS-story, claiming authorship.) In this current time of awakening, how are we to evolve into a conscious future with new ways of interrelating without also re-imagining the archetypal motifs that weigh so heavily on the subconscious? It is time to re-write our myths about ourselves to empower our divinity as well as activate our agency within ourselves, our relationships, and our world. In a phrase, “It is time we claim our birthright as myth makers of our own life stories and liberate ourselves from the oppression of HIStoric patriarchal oppression!”
In psychology, there is a technique known as “Cognitive Restructuring” which refers to the reframing of our thoughts and stories to make them more life-affirming and healthy. By examining our lives through a mythic lens and identifying the archetypes and motifs present, we can increase our understanding of the relational dynamics at play. By restructuring our personal myths, and how we relate to the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine, we are also helping to restructure the cultural myths that impact society as a whole. As you become the hero of your own story, you empower others to do the same.
This past week I had the pleasure of leading a workshop at Om Shala Yoga Studio in Arcata on Goddess Alchemy & Invoking the Divine Feminine. The next night I attended a ceremonial bonfire at Mad River Beach to honor and integrate the Divine Masculine. These events offered me plenty of opportunities to witness and participate in the paradigm shift happening in, through, and around me regarding Divine Union.
At the workshop, I introduced the central Greco-Roman goddess archetypes, shared some of their mythology, and gave participants an opportunity to invoke and embody these aspects of themselves through yoga, visualization and movement. The women were asked to identify these archetypes within themselves and personalize these myths. The following night, I found myself releasing outworn stories into the fire about my own identity as a woman and the qualities that I have traditionally, readily projected onto men. Through this I found myself dropping old myths about being “abducted” or victimized and began to look at my inherited and adopted prejudices towards the Masculine which were ultimately leaving me inwardly oppressed.
Through this process, I harmonized with what I believe is a universal desire to discover within our lives new mythic motifs. These reimagined myths can give empowered meaning to us and simultaneously release old outworn stories keeping us from our true potential. Taking time to re-evaluate and re-write our own myths can be an important part of locating where we are in this process, releasing what no longer serves, and seeing what is newly possible in the potent space created.
Though myths inform how we make meaning in our lives, they need not be lifeless or unquestioned. Myths are living stories and, as such, can and must be reworked to reflect how we are growing individually and as a people. As in my previous article on Sleeping Beauty in which we re-imaged the waking of Sleeping Beauty (Divine Feminine) as an inside job with the support of the Prince (Divine Masculine), we can re-imagine all our cultural myths into ones that seek to balance the Sacred Feminine and Masculine.
We are in the midst of a tremendous paradigm shift, one that is moving us out of the patriarchal ways that have proven detrimental to our planet and geo-culture. Never before have the stakes of redemption been so high. This isn’t to say let’s just throw out all the old myths for they have lost their relevance. We cannot simply tear down our archetypal legacy. We must look honestly at where we’ve come from before we can heal those wounds and carve a new and conscious path into uncharted territory.
Re-Writing my Myth:
I often told the story, to myself and to others, of my marriage, as though it were Persephone’s abduction into the Underworld. My ex-husband of course played the role of the Dark God, and I the innocent victim. For a time, this version of the story served my understanding of the ways I had been manipulated and helped me to be angry enough at my ex to leave him. I also forgave myself my naivety. Even so, that version still left me as Persephone, disempowered by an Underworld Lord, unfortunate and fallen on dark luck. I am now once again cognitively re-structuring this myth and consequently rewriting my role in the Persephone story:
Persephone, ever in love with mystery, had within her soul a desire to know herself better, to understand her deepest yearnings and hidden motives. Her soul’s asking brought forth a reflection, someone to see herself in contrast to and ultimately to more clearly understand her own soul. Hades, God of the Underworld, the introverted recluse, represented all that she believed she was not. Her mirror, however, was also a part of her, her own shadow, that which she disowned and was unconscious of. Hades was knowledgeable of deep desires and hidden motives. He saw all that she, in her youth, could not. He taught her of many things, some pleasant, many unpleasant, yet all answering her soul’s request for self-knowledge to further her growth. Hades himself was not inherently good or bad; actually he and Persephone were but two sides of the same coin. He never forced her to eat his pomegranate seeds. In fact, she loved how ripe and juicy they were. And so she chose to eat them herself to learn the power of receptivity, innocence, and staying true to herself.
I have both within me, the innocence of Persephone and the rich inner world of Hades. In my interactions and relationships, I am not one at the expense of the other, I am both. My ex was not Hades but the underworld itself from which I had failed to recognize my true agency. In re-telling this story this way, I am able to honor and integrate both God and Goddess and bring the Divine Feminine and Masculine back into sacred union.
Steps to Re-Writing Your Myths:
If you have a good grasp of some mythology, be it Greco-Roman, Indigenous, Hindu, Celtic, African, Egyptian or any other, finding a myth or archetype that resonates may be fairly easy. If not, don’t worry! We all intuitively recognize these mythic motifs in the images and icons that inundate popular culture today through movies, television and social media. So even if you don’t know the details of an actual myth, certain patterns and character types should be familiar to you.
Discover. Identify a myth with a character that seems to have parallels in your life, even if only some of the character traits seem to resonate. Oftentimes understanding which God/Goddess/Archetype you are embodying in a particular situation/relationship can help get you started.
Reflect. Ask yourself, what is the outcome of this character? Is he or she more empowered and fulfilled in the end, or has he/she ultimately been victimized in some way? If so, how? By considering the weaknesses of traditional archetypes you’ve been embodying, you can identify where you may still have room to grow.
Reimagine. What other outcomes or processes are possible? Is there an alternate ending or an addition to the story that would be more empowering, offer greater freedom, or just intuitively feel better.
Write it out/Live it up! Re-envision a myth that is expansive and empowering, making you the hero or heroine of your own journey, rather than a victim.
Often we adopt meaning to our life events without thinking if it is empowering, if it is healing? We forget that we are the authors of our destinies, free to choose what an experience means or where to go from here. No one can assign meaning to our lived experience but us. We are the destined author of our own myth.
*Sabrina Ourania is a menstrual, fertility, and reproductive health coach, yoni yoga instructor, archetypal astrologer, and transformational retreat leader. She is the founder of Goddess Alchemist, dedicated to the erotic art and science of invoking the Divine Feminine through myth, movement, massage, menstrual mysteries, and moon magic.