Because of the name, “Meeting with the Goddess”, people often misunderstand what the seventh stage of the monomyth is all about, but it can be easily summarized in the word, “healing”. After the hero has been beaten and suffered loss, he needs time to heal his wounds – be they physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or some combination of all four. Often times the hero does not do this alone, but usually receives help from someone else. In ancient tales, this healing aid often came in the form of a woman with some divinity about her, but it doesn’t have to be a divine woman, or a woman at all, in order to meet the criteria for this stage.
The spaghetti western is famous for demonstrating the flexibility of this motif in tales where the heroic gunslinger is run out of town by the bandits, and he is nursed back to health by a rancher or prospector living out by himself. Now, a grizzled old man with a whiskey-drenched knife and strips of cloth does not match the image of a beautiful, loving goddess, but he fulfills the same role. This is especially true when he takes the time to encourage the hero, and/or possibly even teach him a new fighting technique to help him combat the ruffians, bringing another element of mentorship into the tale. Even Campbell himself acknowledged that the stage of Supernatural Aid/Meeting the Mentor was sometimes found to repeat throughout the cycle, and this is a place it can typically show up. I found that this happened for me in both of my own cycles through the monomyth.
In my first round, the “goddess” that helped fix me up didn’t fulfill the esthetic of what one would expect a goddess to be. Never the less, the owner of Guru’s in Babylon, Navi, is an extremely wise, pleasant, and spiritual man who got me to pause, reflect on my loss, and to reconsider my life’s course, so as to prevent further disaster from befalling me. He also held a space for me to talk, without judgment, and sound my problems out, as well as giving me the advice I needed to move forward. This time around, my friend Andrea not only fulfilled the same function for me mentally and emotionally, but she did actually help me to heal physically, as she is not only a great friend, but an extremely caring and competent acupuncturist. (Her links are at the bottom of this blog.)
Acupuncture is traditional medicine, which means it’s based upon ancient wisdom. Our ancestors saw things much differently than we do today. They looked at existence through a wholistic lens, and perceived physical symptoms as expressions of something deeper, and noted that they were often times connected to our emotions. An ancient doctor would observe a patient’s posture, eyes, tongue, pulse, and then they would ask them questions that involved how they were feeling emotionally. It wouldn’t take long for the practitioner to realize that a person who, say for instance, complained of shortness of breath, was harboring unresolved grief for the death of a spouse. This deep sadness was causing their body to hold onto that emotion in their muscles (a phenomenon backed up by modern, Western science), which caused them to slouch, which made it harder for them to draw a full breath. The doctor would spend as much, if not more time helping that person deal with their loss, as they would applying needles to points that allowed for that blocked emotional energy to move, thus releasing that person’s heartache, along with their physical complaints. Andrea worked with me in that exact same caring, thoughtful manner, carrying on a practice that goes back at least four thousand years (that we know of – it probably goes back further), and for that I give her full credit as the goddess on this round of my journey. And believe me, I’m no simple client.
I’m a true extrovert in the textbook sense of the term, as my mind does not work by itself. In order to think anything through, I need to bounce ideas off of other people, or else my thoughts remain a jumbled, non-sensical, and often toxic mess of random strings of data in my head. What’s more, I relate my own internal workings almost entirely to things in the world around me (if you couldn’t tell by now). My inner universe is inextricably linked to the rest of the universe outside of my skull; with my private thoughts struggling to remain private, desperately seeking new horizons to run off to.
Andrea took on this challenge with grace, and held the space for me to talk through my problems, without judgment. Then she helped me release the energetic blockages that my body harbored, freeing me to go even further in my growth and development. What’s more, she planted mental seeds to let run in the background of my mind, like a computer program compiling data, only to have me come to her weeks later with a “sudden” realization. She would then beam as I talked out thoughts which were exactly in line with what she had tried to say, but knew I wouldn’t quite understand until I figured it out for myself. Still, I needed help getting there, and I got it, right when I needed it the most.
As I said in my last blog, there is some kind of abstraction – some sort of ephemeral force that moves us through the hero’s journey from stage to stage – giving us just what we need, right when we need it. What’s more, just as we only seem to face trials that are only as harsh as they need to be, we get the healing that is as effective as it needs to be.
In order to heal through my first round, I needed only a chance to sound things out, to be heard, and then guided towards what was then, my path to success. It stands to reason that since I’ve leveled up significantly from the dysfunctional loser that I was, it would take more than solace and counsel for me to heal from recent loss – I needed to add to that a level of physical intervention. That’s because the problems I’m dealing with are darker, more complicated, and run deeper that before. Darker and deeper than alcoholism? Absolutely, for that is merely the symptom of a disease, one that itself stems from a more complicated dysfunction, and I proved that to myself in the next phase when I was faced with the Woman as Temptress.