Saturday, July 23, 2011

BWJ continues: SEVENTH GATE and the DRUMMER

Dear Birth Peeps.

Today you see the SEVENTH GATE, an ascending ladder, ascending toward personal freedom and a place that allows for far-seeing  (on the right half of the circle, you may recall, there is a descending ladder into  the unknown); a RED PATH, and a DRUMMER, calling the storyteller out of the underworld.

After the storyteller’s dialog between her wounded or prideful Victim and Judge has been heard deeply by herself (and possibly by a story-listener),  her mind,  exhausted and relieved, experiences a pause in  thinking and searching.  This blessed pause is often filled with a new question, her Heart's Question.

Until this point on her journey “home,” the earnestly seeking-storyteller was seeking  answers, approval, apology, or forgiveness from others. She has been gnawing on a moment in her story where she was caught in the polarity of right and wrong, fair and unfair, expectations and failure to achieve her expectations. Her ego could not begin to entertain the thought of letting go or “forgiving” herself or others for what happened or did not happen.

On one side of the revolving door are the first five Story Gates. If she steps out of the Sixth Gate on one side, she will keep telling the Medical. Relationship, or Social stories, or try to have no story, try to forget it.

If she steps out on the other side of the Sixth Gate, she steps toward the Seventh Gate where she will get a glimpse of that something new that she is seeking: the embracing, the "forgiving," the new story. 
I am trying to find the right name for this Gate.
Clearly the Victim Child and Judge Child  cannot forgive or find new words for her story. So something has to happen to allow the storyteller to step out of the revolving door story, some inner shift that allows a moment of "forgiveness." For some, forgiveness is a loaded word, so I hesitate to use it. And yet, for "forgiveness" to occur, there has to be a moment where the subject-object story dissolves (e.g., that Someone did something wrong To Me or If I had not done [x] this wouldn't have happened).  In this moment of openness or the absence of subject object, cause and effect, the ST has a glimpse of something new; she can see the humanness in herself an others.

When the subject object mindset is suspended, the storyteller can "forgive" or embrace the positive intention, or the fallibility in herself and all humans and systems. It is a profound clarity of acceptance. Not the acceptance of defeat, resignation, or saccharin spirituality. Something else.

After this glimpse, she is never the same again. Her story finds new words, often metaphor. Thus, the Poet.

After spinning around int the Revolving Gate, after a tiring battle with the ego, finally the storyteller climbs the ladder out of the underworld of her Story, rung by rung, she begins to see her story in new “light.” She is experiencing a lightness of being, a true change of heart.

What happens if the Storyteller does not pass through the Seventh Gate?
If she does pass through this Gate, a part of her will remain in the underworld. This is true whether her Descent is in birth, divorce, illness, or any injustice or hardship in childhood or life. She can always find the company of others who also suffered a similar Descent with whom to commiserate (incomplete) wounded stories.  But the fruit of personal freedom and true wisdom she earned through her Descent is not accessible to her until she passes through the Seventh Gate. One of the things she has to leave behind at this Gate is the old desire to "be right" and blame.

When does the Storyteller get through this Gate?
No one can Make someone be at, or pass through,  the Seventh Gate, no therapist, Birth Story Listener, or loved one can talk someone into forgiving or embracing what happened. The storyteller cannot make herself get there. Perhaps it is a moment of Grace after a long search for new meaning, even truth (if we can define truth). Her heart may long for this Gate, but her ego cannot pass through it.
   When a storyteller is seeking for a way out of the underworld and the revolving door, she may be more receptive to the solution-focused questions and the Medicine of metaphors and Great Stories.

* Remember, this is an organic process, it is not contrived or forced upon ourselves or another, especially not your trusted Story-Listener! If so, then it is the Judge doing the “encouraging,” not the Love Warrior, and we are back at the Sixth Gate of Shoulds and Shame.

Did you notice the white and yellow path has turned red? The red path represents the path with Heart, the way of the Love Warrior.


What Calls us to the Ordeal? What Calls us Home again?
Is it the ego or willpower?
Why do some people get stuck in the underworld of their Ordeal for a decade, a life-time? Why do others find their way “home?
Ponder these Questions with me.

In the myth of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, a story from ancient Sumer… we are given an image, an idea. I will introduce you to the Warrior Queen in the midst of her Ordeal: Inanna is hanging on the Hook in the underworld. She is dying, she is in a great soulful transfiguration. Her feet cannot touch the ground, she cannot walk away from this. She is so far in the underworld, no one can hear her cries. A woman of power in the upperworld, she is now in need of Grace. In mythology, Warriors are often sent Allies; two Allies come, take her down and give her the Water of Life and the Food of Life. Inanna is a woman of power… and here she might be tempted to take up the power of the underworld, to rule the underworld. We all face this temptation.

This story is not only about Inanna, it is about human nature; it is about us! After a profound Ordeal, it is tempting to continue identifying with the trauma, the injustice, or the triumph. Living in the past, retelling the story, trapping others to respond in a certain way (pity, shared-anger, guilt, awe, etc,) or to engage in the “get even” or “get it right next time” games. Almost everybody has one Story thread still tethered to the underworld; keeping it tethered makes you feel safe (a reminder so you don’t do That Again!), or allows you a reason not to move forward…
So here the human being has a struggle. I do not call it a choice. I don’t think the human being “chooses” to stay in the underworld. In fact, I do not think she has a choice based on what she has experienced, learned up to that point. So how does she get out?

The Drummer might represent the Heartbeat of the Mother, comforting and calling us “home.” She might represent Ninshubur, Inanna’s maidservant who drummed around the temples of Sumer while finding help to bring Inanna back (another story, not for today!) As a woman (myself) who loves and trusts her independence a little too much, I love this part: Inanna, a woman of power required assistance to get “home.”
In this image…. You can see the Drumbeats represented by white dots penetrating the underworld, passing through all of the Gates of underworld… reaching the Ear… our inner-Ear. When we Hear the Mother’s Drumbeat we are compelled to keep moving our feet, to continue finding our way “home.”



  1. Pam,

    Your story of the seventh gate has so many similarities to plateau in a laboring woman. She often will stall around 7 centimeters and find herself silent and wondering what will happen next? It is also the stage in labor women are frequently given the title "Failure to Progress".

    This parallel is potent. It highlights the patience needed during the natural rhythm of the entire Birth process -and- the endurance needed to maintain that grace throughout not only your Ordeal but your Return.

    The strength women posses is undeniable and deserving of all of the Love we can give. How much pride and relief one must feel pulling themselves from the Underworld. Just like the relief we feel when laboring and finally feel the urge to push. You see the end of the long process right before you, and with just a bit more hard work, you will be on the other side of it all.

    Thank you for this post. It was a wonderful thing to meditate on.


  2. Danielle,
    I am sitting here in Albuquerque with Pam, reading your comment. Wow. We are in awe of your response-- very thoughtful and articulate. We hadn't thought of this parallel before, so thank you for sharing.
    We hope you keep reading, and keep commenting.
    Thank you.
    ~Virginia, with Pam

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