I love autumn: As basic as it may be, I’m first in line for freebasing pumpkin-flavored anything come September, with orange leaves in my hair and the cozy socks-n-knee boots combo.
But man, I get sad. An unnerving ennui, a deep melancholy tends to settle in right when the first cooler, overcast days show up. Like right now.
There’s a Mesopotamian myth that comes to mind: Inanna & Ereshkigal. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven & Earth, and her sister Ereshkigal is the Bad Bitch of the Underworld. They’re not enemies, per say, but they don’t see each other very often and they’ve drifted apart in recent millennia. Inanna decides to visit her sister in the Underworld, and dresses to the nines in gauzy robes, heavy, ornate jewelry, and of course, a bejeweled crown.
She makes her way to the first of the nine gates of the Underworld, where she is told by the guard there that she must surrender an article on her person, on orders of Ereshkigal herself. Inanna rolls her eyes and takes off her bracelets, tossing them to the guard before he lets her pass. So she goes through every gate, getting more and more uneasy as she takes off scarves and jewelery off at each one. Finally, she arrives at the 9th gate, shaken and nervous, completely naked except for her crown, and she has no choice but to take it off to see her sister. She enters her sister’s throne room, and stands before her, naked and vulnerable, but with her chin held high.
And then Ereshkigal turns her into a corpse. Surprise.
Here I am, sun-kissed Inanna in my finery about to descend to the Underworld. But instead of meeting Ereshkigal, autumn is when we become her. Night-skinned and denuded, powerful in her vulnerability, she embraces and celebrates the rawness, the heartbreak, the unrelenting ache of being human.
She lovingly, exquisitely breaks us; burns the falsehoods we hold, destroys the bullshit rules we and society have manufactured, all in order for us to refine and grow into our truest Selves.
She works with our mothers and grandmothers to feel our ancient wounds and then heal them. She is lusty, the relentless huntress, the shameless seductress. She feels the bitterness, the rage, the hate and transmutes it into healing.
This is who we can fully become in the fall and winter.
Resistance is futile: it hinders the process of growth and makes it a whole lot more painful. Flow with melancholy in its waves, notice your heightened sensitivity and intuition. Pay attention to your dreams and journal like the world is ending.
Herbs: Hawthorn, Mugwort
Ereshkigal Meditation (have your journal nearby):
Imagine your are in a clearing in the middle of a forest. Be here for a few moments, listening to the sounds around you, noticing the light if it’s daytime, and any animals that appear.
Eventually, you notice a hidden hollowing in a tree trunk, and realize that it’s big enough for you to crawl through, and that once you do, it opens up into an earthen tunnel, with gnarled roots serving as steps to lead you downward. Notice the air as you descend, if there are lights guiding your way, what the ground feels like beneath you.
Go deeper and deeper, down and down, noticing a sense of calm wash over you as you descend.
When you are ready, the tunnel will open up into an underground cavern, large and echoing, shimmering stalactites hang like icicles from the ceiling. In the center of the cavern is a dark body of water, and in the center of the body of water, a small island. A throne of rock and roots sits there, and in it, reclines the Queen of the Underworld, with dark skin and glowing eyes.
Feel what it’s like to be in her presence. Breathe here. You may have a question you’d like to ask her.
Feel into this for a few moments, being open to any messages that come.
Eventually, you suddenly find yourself on the center island, but the throne has become empty. Carefully, with reverence, take your throne. Feel yourself transform into the Goddess: powerful, soft, unrelenting. The eye of the storm.
What needs to be released?
What constructs and beliefs need to be broken?
What needs to be felt before it is let go?
What is not serving your highest purpose?
Hold these things in your mind, and imagine they are dry tinder in your onyx Goddess lap. Begin to feel a heat in your belly, fanning the flames with each breath. The flames get bigger and bigger, until your entire form is engulfed in flames. But you do not burn–you are merely caressed by these healing flames. Only these old constructs ignite and turn to ash.
Once they are fully incinerated, allow the flames to recede, still feeling the warmth in your belly. Sit in your throne, purified.
Eventually, find your way back up the tunnel, emerging into the forest clearing.
Embrace this transformation. Come spring, we will emerge into the light, blinking and disheveled.
For now, you are safe in your descent.