Monday, January 20, 2014

Hecate, the Crossroads and Letting Go

An archaeologist unearths the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...

Hecate is often referred to as the Goddess of the crossroads. As part of the Persephone myth in which Persephone is the Maiden and Demeter the Mother, Hecate represents the Crone, the elder woman, the sage who has lived long enough to silently witness life without becoming overly emotional about those things that come to pass. Together these three Goddesses represent the three major phases of a woman's life.

This midwinter season is a time of turning points, in which we let go of the old year and welcome in the new. Often it is a time of literal cleaning out of things, such as closets, and understandably the physical clearing out and letting go of the old corresponds with a psychological letting go. 

After my mother passed away some twenty plus years ago, I inherited some of her clothing. I wore them lovingly for years, but in the past few years I realized I had not worn them at all. As I get older, my clothing needs have become more and more Spartan (a product of my convent school girlhood) to the point where I basically wear a regular wardrobe of jeans and t shirts. My being a writer (as well as a field archaeologist) allows for this - I don't work in an office with others where there is a dress code, and I appreciate this ability to not have to focus so much on my outward appearance. 
Mom and me goofing around
Yet something about donating my mother's things struck a chord of fear in me. I felt as though it was a final link to her, and giving those things away would break that link. Even though I realize it doesn't make sense logically, feelings do not follow the rules of logic. In exploring these feelings of being afraid to let go, I found solace in the words of Joseph Campbell:

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. 

The point of intersection of a crucifix is symbolically a crossroads between the vertical axis (which is spiritual, active and masculine) and the horizontal axis (which is earthly, passive and feminine). This represents the dualism of our world and the union of opposites. It also signifies the leave-taking that is inherent in any journey where we must drop off those energies that have served us but are no longer necessary as we move forward into a new and unknown field. If we don't leave those things behind, it creates a kind of entropy. Without cleaning out space, we cannot open up the space to welcome something new into our field. 

Donating my mother's old clothes has prompted me to reflect on Hecate's lesson of the crossroads, teaching me to let go and to trust. I love this quote that I found on my friend KJ's blog: 


And another quote from my friend Lucinda's blog

In the process of letting go
you will lose many things from the past,
but you will find yourself.
It will be a permanent Self,
rooted in awareness and creativity.
Once you have captured this,
you have captured the world.
~Deepak Chopra

Joseph Campbell and many other wise people have said that in order to change the world we must first change ourselves. Hecate's intersection teaches us that hanging onto things is a form of death, and it refers not to just things but behavior patterns. As humans we make mistakes, that is how we learn. Letting go also means letting go of perfectionism, embracing our shadow self and being willing to make those learning mistakes. Without first emptying your space, you cannot receive. When you are willing to freely give away those things you no longer need, you create a sacred space for those things that are meant to come into your live. When you are willing to let go of behavior patterns that no longer serve you, you can welcome behaviors that are healthier and more spiritually fulfilling. What we do in our outer physical world is a direct reflection of our inner spiritual world. 

As I stand at the intersection and cross the threshold into this New Year, I look forward to embracing the lesson of Hecate. 

18 comments:

  1. A truly wonderful post, Amanda. I love that split path, which looks just like the upturned sickle moon on the picture but one below it.

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    1. A keen observation Robert, I wouldn't have noticed that - thanks :))

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  2. Amanda, the picture of you and your mom is so incredible. It feels like treasure you unearthed to share with us, with me. Thank you for that.

    I feel myself at a crossroads, turning 40 in a month. I may send you a more detailed email about it. Suffice it to say, your post left me feeling very deeply and intensely. Thank you for that, too.

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    1. Milestone birthdays inevitably bring up a lot of stuff, some of it shadow stuff. The metaphor of a crossroads is very real at these junctures and it is our privilege to stand there and choose what to keep and what to leave behind. I will be thinking of you as you gaze down the different roads that stand before you.

      xoxo

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  3. Perfect post Amanda. I enjoyed it so much and scribbled much of it down to share with my daughters.

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  4. A truly wonderful post, Amanda. To pack so much thoughtfulness in a small space is touching.

    Since we moved to our new home, I have been thinking a lot about all the stuff I have carried with me. I thought I would part with a bit of it. Now, I'm more inclined to want to part with a whole lo of it. i was just thinking about that earlier today.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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    1. I understand that tendency of hesitating to throw anything away and then chucking it all in a moment of exasperation. I have a table in my basement where I stack things in preparation for donating to Goodwill. It's sort of a staging zone that helps me begin to separate from this stuff and makes it easier to collect and bag when the pick up date arrives. Good luck with your 'spring cleaning' dear Bear. xoxo

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  5. I think I am very lucky in that possessing stuff has never meant much to me. I was never into owning a home or having lots of clothes, but I did cling to certain things from my mother after she passed away. When I was getting ready to leave Oklahoma I needed to let go of some of her clothes and it was hard. Still, I have a couple of paintings that I will wait awhile to let go. Never say never. They are merely attachments to the material more so than attachments to my mother.

    I agree with you about our transitions in life. Letting go of youth was not so easy for a time, but now there is no way I would no back. There are too many rewards that come with each change and I find that old age is where I am reaping the most of what truly matters. It is really so sad that our society doesn't recognize what is good about aging.

    I like this post Amanda. Your writing always stimulates my mind to go places different from the norm.

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    1. "They are merely attachments to the material more so than attachments to my mother" - so true, Rubye, and well worth reminding oneself, as I have had to do as well.

      I agree that our society is sadly focused on youth and materialism and often tends to see aging as negative. So many other cultures know that the opposite is true, but they are cultures more deeply connect with nature and rooted in tradition that reveres the wisdom that comes with having lived a long time. Such cultures understand the larger rhythms of life and tend not to be so frenetic and acquisitive.

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  6. First of all; yes I sm your friend, gladly and proudly

    I agree this is a wonderful post, kind and thought provoking and freeing. I welcome it tonight, and thank you

    I would guess you are weighing some choices, Amanda. You can't go wrong....

    Love
    kj

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  7. Letting go, I find that so very hard to do but I know it's necessary and therapeutic.

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  8. i think you're doing beautifully:)

    is there a more telling photograph in the world than the one of you and your mother? i brim with love of it and for the two of you)))

    the other evening my son and i looked at photographs of him when he was little. there was a shot of him in the bathtub shaving with a little blue and red razor. he lamented that i didn't keep that razor for him in his mementos box. i had no idea that it had meant anything to him until then.

    but it was only an emblem of what he really wants to keep, his childhood.

    over the christmas holidays i encountered two words absolutely full of meaning which i had never heard before, saudade and querencia. i think of my son, you, and myself in terms of these words just now and wonder on the nature of living, time and love))))

    xo
    erin

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  9. Being on the verge of another international move means I have to let things go again. It's so difficult, but thankfully gets a bit easier each time. I'm relying on memories to get me through x

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  10. Thank you for the lesson my friend.Letting go is something I am working on,but it's hard,so very hard.Reading your beautiful post has inspired me and given me a new way of looking at "Letting go".I never looked at it that by letting go I was making room for the new.Thank you soooo much for that.And I love the picture of you and your Mom!! xoxo

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  11. Amanda - wonderful post. I still have my mom with me, luckily, but seeing as she is 91, the inevitable looms somewhat. One of my biggest fear is going thru her clothes, with her smell and perfume clinging to everything. It is truly something that I dread facing, yet don't need all that stuff. I guess I'll worry about it when it happens...but oh my - it will be so hard.

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  12. Wonderful quotations! We're getting our house repainted inside and it's been a good excuse to purge and to simplify. At this time of year jeans would be dressing up for me. I often spend the day in my cross country ski clothes. A good perk of writing that you pointed out.

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  13. as always here,, you write, I read, I learn...but in order to let go to make room for new, why are the shed things so sticky, sometimes? thanks, glenn

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