From Hero to Elder – a Thousand Faces By Ann Moir-Bussy

Over the centuries, and across almost every culture, we find ancient myths, and fairy tales, that relate stories of heroes and their journeys. The journey begins with a call to move beyond what is familiar and safe and known to us, to an unknown and seemingly dangerous adventure. And of course, there is a choice to follow or a refusal to listen.

Do you remember the beautiful princess who wandered into the forest where there was a cool spring, to play with her golden ball? As she tossed it higher and higher it suddenly fell into the deep spring and as she could not see into the depths she began to cry louder and louder. Hearing a voice above her tears she turned to see an old fat frog asking her what was wrong. She sobbed, and he said he could recover it for her only if she would become his friend and take her home with him. ‘Anything” she responded, but when he gave her the ball she ran off and ignoring him, raced back to the palace.

The appearance of the frog is the beginning of the call – the call to awaken the true self within, and it comes in thousands of different ways. Initially, we want to remain in the safe secure life or role we have known just like the princess who was accustomed to her lavish lifestyle. To become an elder, we must undertake the hero’s journey.  It is a profound rite of passage and does not happen overnight.

We must first hear the call and then cross the threshold. Along with the gradual, physical transformation, we must undertake a deep spiritual transformation. Becoming an elder is not just putting on another role like a change of wardrobe. It is rather a deep interior shift to soul-living, to living more consciously and with deeper awareness.

The Call

How often the call is unanswered? Have you met women who are stuck in their roles?  Continuous work, boredom, living as a victim and complaining about everything, yet continuing to live a life that has little meaning?

Refusal is essentially a refusal to grow, to give up what we are so accustomed to.  Remember another princess who was pricked by a needle or a rose, resulting in falling asleep for a hundred years along with all those near her?  Do you want to be a woman who spends the rest of her life asleep, afraid of answering the call, or afraid of journeying into the unknown?

The Guide

In the myths, the first encounter is usually with a protective figure – a person who is there to support us because they have already faced their dragons and the winding paths and perils or whatever it is we need to confront. The guide comes in many forms – a teacher, a mentor, and one who responded to the call.

Remember it is again a transition, another threshold, this time one where you are the hero. Remember in an earlier column we talked about the night sea journey. Or it may be a journey into the underworld or a journey where one is given seemingly impossible tasks, but always there is someone to support us.

Inana – the Sumerian Goddess and her journey to the Underworld

One powerful myth for us as women on the journey to being an elder is that of Inana – the goddess of the skies. The goddess of love, beauty, sex, fertility, and war, she undergoes a profound transformation through her descent into the underworld.

This is a long and powerful story, of entering the underworld to visit her grieving ‘dark’ sister Ereshkigal. The underworld has its specific rubrics and as she passes through its seven gates, she is stripped of her finery and finally brought naked before Ereshkigal, who orders that she be killed and hung on a hook. She is finally rescued by her loyal servants and returns, transformed because she has been initiated into the deep feminine mysteries, and learned to connect and reclaim a deep level of consciousness and awareness, wisdom, and power, understanding the balance between life and death.

So too, we as modern women must descend from our old role-determined behaviour into the depths of our instinct and connect with the inner Goddess who will enable us to restore her values to the modern world.

A Thousand Faces

The journey from hero to elder has a thousand faces because no two women ever have the same journey. We don’t replicate someone else’s journey. Becoming an Elder is unique for each one of us, but there are thousands of stories and myths to encourage and guide us.

Alan Chinen, Jungian psychotherapist, uses fairy tales in his book In the Ever After, to help us understand the numerous expressions and examples of this journey to an Elder. And he warns us:

“If elders don’t release conventional beliefs, they can regress to rigidity and bitterness. If they don’t release past social roles, they can regress to grief and depression. If they don’t release identification with the body, they can regress to hypochondria. Finally, if they don’t confront their shadow and connect with soul, they can regress into childishness, rather than becoming childlike”.

This is very brief and if you’d like to learn more Join our Fabulous 50s and more Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/fabulous50s) and you will have access to a free Ebook – The Hero’s Initiation into Becoming an Elder

Ann Moir-Bussy

Ann is a highly experienced counselor of over 30 years, a transformative life coach and empowerment leader, enabling professional women in their journey of transformation and initiation to becoming an elder who leads from the soul.

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