rebirth

STEP 2: COMPLETING THE HERO’S JOURNEY

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Step 2: Completing the Hero's Journey follows Step 1:  Conceiving the Heroine's Journey.

Over the past seven years I’ve gone alone. 

For my twenty-first birthday, my dream was to go to New York City to celebrate. I spent months planning the trip and invited my best friends at the time that said they were "IN". When push came to shove for many reasons whether it be money or time constraints, they couldn’t go. I was left with a choice, go alone or stay back with my friends. 

I chose to go.

I knew a couple people in New York and on my birthday itself I had planned to meet a friend of a friend. For some reason, her phone went straight to voicemail and no matter how many times I tried, she just couldn't be reached. We had planned to go to the Museum of Modern Art and by noon I finally stopped waiting. “I’m here. I’m going.” 

Through that experience and many others over the past several years, I've learned that pursuing your dreams often requires a solo journey. 

Biography drawing depicting my life in seven-year stages 0-7, 7-14, 14-28 etc.

Biography drawing depicting my life in seven-year stages 0-7, 7-14, 14-28 etc.

A psychologist friend recently took my colleagues and I through a powerful exercise called “Biographies” (above) where you chart your life in seven year stages. In each stage you record the significant events and then examine it for themes and unfolding patterns. What I discovered from looking at my "going alone" stage from twenty-one to twenty-eight is that it strongly correlates to the “Hero’s Journey”

After decades of studying ancient myths and stories, Joseph Campbell, developed the “Hero’s Journey” to describe the “monomyth” or universal storyline present in each. The general arc of this story unfolds where the hero (often male) hears a “call to adventure” and leaves the “known world” of home and family to undertake the “unknown world”. Whether alone or with the assistance of minor characters helpers, the hero conquers adversaries, obtains treasure and returns home with greater status or goods where he is welcomed and validated as a new leader and master of two worlds. 

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What Campbell also discovered through his studies is that we can apply this same storyline to our own lives and that each of us is experiencing our own hero’s journeys.

For me, my hero’s journey has been one of growth, learning, and exploring. I’ve traveled across twenty-five countries from the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia. I’ve held over twenty-four jobs ranging from serving in restaurants to managing graphic design firms to leading coworking spaces and doing global culture consulting.

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Through these adventures, I've been blessed to meet many mentors, helpers, and friends and though it's taken many forms, I can see that the Hero's Journey is a cycle I’ve repeated over and over and over again. I answered every call. I went all in. I threw myself into the ocean and became a “Yes woman” or “Yes-mad” a digital nomad that says “Yes” to life. 

As I round out this last year working and traveling in Southeast Asia, I see my hero's journey coming to an end. While it has been an incredibly insightful and useful framework, I’ve made a new discovery.

 “The Hero’s journey is a search for one’s soul and is chronicled in mythologies and fairy tales throughout the world. This quest motif does not, however, address the archetypal journey of the heroine. For contemporary women, this involves the healing of the wounding of the feminine that exists deep within her and the culture.

In 1990, Maureen Murdock wrote The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness as a response to Joseph Campbell’s model. Murdock, a student of Campbell’s work, felt his model failed to address the specific psycho-spiritual journey of contemporary women. She developed a model describing the cyclical nature of the female experience. Campbell’s response to her model was, “Women don’t need to make the journey. In the whole mythological tradition the woman is there. All she has to do is to realize that she’s the place that people are trying to get to” (Campbell, 1981). That may be true mythologically as the hero or heroine seeks illumination but psychologically, the journey of the contemporary heroine involves different stages.

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The first part of the heroine’s journey is propelled by the mind and the second part is in response to the heart. The heroine has been working on the developmental tasks necessary to be an adult, to individuate from her parents, and to establish her identity in the outer world. However, even though she has achieved her hard-earned goals, she may experience a sense of Spiritual Aridity. Her river of creativity has dried up and she begins to ask, “What have I lost in this heroic quest?” She has achieved everything she set out to do, but it has come at great sacrifice to her soul. Her relationship with her inner world is estranged. She feels oppressed but doesn’t understand the source of her victimization. (Article: Heroine's Journey, Maureen Murdock)"

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

The Heroine's Journey describes with absolute accuracy what I am experiencing now. I’ve achieved a “successful life”. I’m doing work that I love, traveling around the globe with the support of a community of family and friends but in the process I’ve sacrificed much of my body and soul.

Though the soul is eternal and cannot die it has still suffered and been silenced beneath the noise of my mind. Additionally, my body has struggled to do all the things I demand it to do. My inner man has been in control with lofty performance goals and ambitions to live a life rich in life experience. And while this journey has been enriching it has also left me quite exhausted.  

The body is an amazing vehicle for the soul and at a young age, I’ve found tools that allow me to heal just enough so I can keep going. That said, this isn’t sustainable. One mentor has said to me, “the biggest reason brilliant people fail is they burn out.” I know I have an inner journey of healing to surrender to do. My soul needs me to slow down, to listen. 

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Though I've been offered a full-time role with an amazing innovation company in Southeast Asia, I've decided to shift my focus from "doing" to "being" by taking the next three to six months off. 

Sounds easy but keep in mind, I've built my entire identity on what I do. In making this decision my spiritual teacher asked me, "What feels like the hardest thing you would have to push yourself to do?" I replied, "Letting go. Letting go of "what I think I know" and "who I think I am" to explore my undiscovered multitudes, my "unknown unknowns" asking gently, who am I?" 

As I step into my next seven-year stage from 28 to 35, my sense is carving out space to reset the currents of my life is timely. 

“Finding out about being instead of doing is the sacred task of the feminine. Being requires accepting oneself, staying within oneself and not doing to prove oneself. It is a discipline that is accorded no applause from the outside world, it questions production for production's safe. Politically and economically it has little value, but it's simple message has wisdom. If I can accept myself as I am, and if I am in harmony with my surroundings, I have no need to produce, promote, or pollute to be happy. And being is not passive, it takes focused awareness." (The Heroine's Journey, Murdock, 1990, pg. 128)

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia | Jamen Percy Photography

So here’s to the next stage, a time of going inward, of healing, recovery, and rediscovery. 

With gratitude and grace,

Kelsey Lotus Wong

READY TO BE A WATERFALL

Anna Maria Magdalena at the base of Les Waterfall in Bali, Indonesia

Anna Maria Magdalena at the base of Les Waterfall in Bali, Indonesia

A waterfall doesn’t hold back.

At her peak, she is powerful and mighty. Pouring down with full force, she doesn’t worry about whether she is too much or not enough. She radiates. She cascades. She overflows. Her liquid light reflecting the sun.

At her base, she is nurturing and healing. Running like a river, she is fluid, momentous, and abundant. She doesn’t judge, edit or criticize. She surrounds. She embraces. She gives life. Her unconditional love flowing freely from the Earth.

For so long, I've held back.

Afraid of stepping into my full power. Owning my whole truth. Expressing the immensity of my darkness and my light. Like so many of us, I have been contained and conditioned, repressed and restrained. Whether explicitly or implicitly, externally or internally I've been under control and made to play small.

In January, I was guided through a powerful clearing session when I had a vision. I saw myself at the bottom of a well, rain pouring down, in tears. I saw my father looking down at me, not able to understand my emotional waters. Not sure what to do, he walked away.

I saw others pass by, some filled their cups to the brim while others ignored me entirely. I felt an urge to bring them inside, express myself, share more of me, but I was afraid of being too much. I was afraid that if I showed them who I really am I might drown them or that if I gave them everything I might still not be enough. So for protection, I contained myself in a well. 

Fast forward to May, one of the lead facilitators who had guided me through the clearing session invited me to her women’s retreat in Bali, Indonesia.

The word facilitator does not do this woman justice. This super soul is a divinely appointed Shamanic Earth Priestess, Spiritual Guide, and Bringer of Light. Her name is Anna Maria Magdalena and through her Shamanic Shakti & Tantrika Arts women's retreat, she led 14 Women on what I like to call the "Shakti Embodiment Ship", a collective Goddessy to discover the divine feminine within. 

While the inner work was challenging, all in all, the entire retreat was like the 12 days of Christmas, gift after gift after gift. But the most generous gift Anna Maria shared was bringing us to her home on the sacred land at Les Waterfall in North Bali.

The intention with the Waterfall excursion was to release what is no longer serving us, creating space for calling in and manifesting our dreams. At the base of Les Waterfall there’s a large lingam shaped rock, which they call the “Pillar of Light”. When letting go, you face the Pillar, holding on for dear life. When calling in your dreams, you turn around with the Pillar at your back towards the light.

It was a deeply moving experience watching each woman go under the waterfall one by one. Some screamed, some surrendered. I didn’t know what each woman was going through but I could feel and see the transformation transpiring.

During catalytic moments like these I usually come in with a crystal clear intention. I am strongly attuned to what needs to clear and what I desire to invite in but this time, nothing came. Imagine, a woman who loves words and no words arrived.

I was the last Shakti to go underneath the waterfall. As I walked towards Anna Maria, she took my hand smiling and said, “Welcome to the Ship.”

When I went in, the waterfall engulfed me. She didn’t stop to ask what I wanted, what temperature I liked or how much pressure felt good. She beat down on me relentlessly. She didn’t hold back. I was so struck by her power, all I could do was lean into her and feel her full force.

As I did, my mind started racing, what should I be letting go of? This is an important moment, what do I have to say? I struggled. It was so intense. My mind went blank. The waterfall was so strong that my swimsuit nearly came off. I finally realized there was nothing I could do, nothing to achieve. Slowly, I surrendered.

Minutes felt like hours as I stayed still and listened. Then I heard a soft whisper, “I am done being a well.”

I heard it again a bit louder, “I am done being a well.” Again and again. “I am done being a well.  I am done being a well. I am done being a well.” As this happened, I began to play out all the micro-moments where I had been a well. Contained. Constrained. Repressed. Afraid of my femininity, my sexuality, my sensuality, my power. I felt the pain of holding myself back, controlling myself for years and I wailed.

Then the time came to turn around and face the light. Boundless water continued to beat down and I felt like I might drown. But rather than fight it or fear it, I drank it in and received it.

It was in that moment, drinking in her liquid light that I heard another whisper spring from inside of me,“I am ready to be a waterfall." Another time, clearer, "I am ready to be a waterfall." Again and again ringing, vibrating through my body, "I am ready to be a waterfall. I am ready to be a waterfall. I am ready to be a waterfall."

Les_Waterfall_Bali

Then it all came together.

I bellowed from the center of my womb to the top of my lungs:

I AM DONE BEING A WELL. I AM READY TO BE A WATERFALL.

Declaring my power. Owning my truth. Overflowing in love.

When I came out of the waterfall, Anna Maria was there. I looked into the ocean within her eyes. She held my feet to ground me. She blessed my body and received me into her loving arms. We laughed out loud.

And that’s when I finally understood, I was never a well, I have always been a waterfall. 

Stunning photography by Eva Kroes, Creatress at Orgone Knights

Stunning photography by Eva Kroes, Creatress at Orgone Knights

Infinite gratitude to Anna Maria and the Shakti's aboard this Goddessy. Thank you for your bravery in crossing the chasm of this epic voyage together.

We are all light. We are all love. We are all beauty.

AHEY SISTERS,

Lotus