Sunday, June 26, 2011

BWJ Continues: Meet the GateKeeper of the Descent

Dear Birth Peeps,

This week I painted the GateKeeper of the Descent. She is not quite finished, but close enough. Today I am uploading two images. First, a small updated image of the center of the mandala so you can see that Asclepius, a Greek healer and Masculine seated figure, occupies the “Gate” on the Ascent, or Return (left side). So, the GateKeeper of the Descent on the right, had to be Feminine, standing, and not “human.”

I don’t know her name. The GateKeeper of the Descent emerged from layers of loose paint. … and we “talked” as she made her appearance. She kept moving her hands, she was a difficult "model" to paint! She said,

My Eyes are wide open, to See you, to See through you, to See Who You Are and what you don’t need any longer. My Mouth Sings to you the Deepest Questions in a Golden voice, ever-asking, “Who Are You? … Why have you come to this place at this time? ... What must you do? .... What price are you willing to pay?

My Hands are big because their Job is to Give and Take. Sometimes they will Give you a Gift you need on the Descent. Sometimes they Take from you an old habit, a burden, a belief … My Feet are big, they have wondered all over the worlds and underworlds… it’s a long Way. I have a Key. But you do not need My Key. The Door is Open whenever you are ready…

We need to prepare innocent, trusting, planning parents (if their labor/birth is meant to initiate them)--before they meet their GateKeeper in Laborland--that Life and Laboland GateKeepers don't bargain with you or let you "choose" or trade what will be Given or Taken. When it is time, it is just taken. Poof! Then you get to find out Who You Are Without that thing, relationship, belief...

The inverse is also true: we don't always ask or beg for the miracles and gifts that suddenly appear. (Yet we like to take credit for these!)

The GateKeeper concept part bothers a lot of people who want to believe that they will be in-control if they just believe the right thing, and believe deeply enough, or if they eat the right food, or whatever! In examining my own life and important Descents, I must confess I did not consciously, willingly, or graciously Give Up what was to be Taken; it had to Be Taken from me. (I did not "give up" my natural birth; I did not "give up" my Dream of Marriage; I did not "give up" my kidney!)

If you live long enough, you are likely to make at least one Great Descent in your life (and it may not happen during your childbearing year). I hope Life will Gift you with an eye-opening, heart-opening Descent. Many women experience a profound descent between the ages of 28 and 30. Sometimes this First and profound initiation comes in childhood, or much later in life. When it comes, we are in a battle between ego and soul, and it is often the fight of our life. The following passage from Robert Bly, The Winged Life, (with minor changes to fit our audience):

When we fight for the soul and its life, we receive as reward not fame, not wages, not friends, but what is already in the soul, a freshness that no one can destroy….
This soul truth (which is inherent in young people) sustains them. It assures the young man or woman that if not rich, s/he is still in touch with truth; that their inheritance comes not from their immediate parents but from their equals thousands of generations ago; that the door to the soul is unlocked; s/he does not need to please the doorkeeper, but that the door in from of [her] is his, intended for [her], and that the doorkeeper obeys when spoken to


Tomorrow I will tell you more about the GateKeeper within you, and the ones in your life.

Happy Summer Solstice (this week)!


  1. You should write your third book based off of the hero's journey. I love reading your writings...going deeper is never easy, but oh so interesting and dynamic. So glad that the gatekeeper listens. It is the kind of listening that I strive for in my classes and my life. Love to you.

  2. Betsy,
    Birth as a Hero's Journey, as a book, is in the works! Thank you for your interest and encouragement.