To Hell And Back: A Woman’s Work

One of my good friends recently said how there’s nothing more powerful than a woman who has been to hell and back. And I thought about that phrase, “to hell and back,” and how much it's pertained to my own journey over the past few years…

I’d argue, of course, that for anyone — woman, man — this descent into the underworld is considerably trying, devastating at times. Many don’t make it back. Or in one piece.

In mythology, though, there seems to be a prevailing legacy of women and the underworld and their journeys there:  Eurydice, Persephone, Inanna, to name a few. I’ve been particularly drawn to them over these last years and they’ve surfaced from the ether all around me in my waking life. (There is even a fancy restaurant named Persephone near where I live now after moving last year.)

So why is “to hell and back,” a woman’s work? Is it our inherent, murky yin and our connection to the dark humus of creation? Is a descent to hell necessary for a transformation from naïve adolescence into actual womanhood?

I’d say that it is not necessary, but it sometimes is so.

“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.” –Josephine Hart

Ultimately, life will transform you in its crucible as it needs to, if you let it work through you. And trust that it will bring you back from the depths — often far stronger than before.

  The Rape of Perseophone,  by Rupert Bunny (Creative Commons)

The Rape of Perseophone, by Rupert Bunny (Creative Commons)