Click here to read Part One
The Great Round of Transformation ― Part Two
By Thea Euryphaessa
See the diagram above? Well, it’s a rough roadmap for personal metamorphosis also known as the Hero’s Journey (or Monomyth). My first book dealt primarily with my personal experience of the first two stages ― Separation and Initiation ― finishing up around stage nine; my follow-up, concluding book will deal with the third and final stage ― the Return (stage nine through the top of the circle). I don’t wish to expound on each of the above stages in this blog ― again, that’s for the next book. But that it’s so far taken ten years and counting to complete one full round, shows what’s required should you wish to embark on any aspect of personal transformation ― that it takes time.
Long-term readers from back in the mists of MySpace will know I used to share my life out loud, babbling away as I rushed along. Since writing my book, however, I’ve mostly kept schtum. These days my journal provides the backdrop for my kaleidoscopic thoughts and dreamscapes.
I also got a little lost as to where I was on the above cycle, often forgetting about it altogether; after all, just because I’m aware this archetype currently circumnavigates my life, doesn’t mean I rigidly orient myself to it. You can’t make it happen ― all you can ever do is remain alert to the signs and cues that tend to accompany each of the stages and, if you’re committed to living out your essence, ride the wave as best you can.
In fact, it was only a flurry of synchronous dreams and events last summer that alerted me to the fact that the Resurrection stage (stage eleven above) was constellating.
Now, I know this is stating the obvious, but Resurrection consists of two parts ― death and rebirth. Only thing is, it’s one thing knowing that conceptually ― it’s quite another living through the actual, real-life ramifications of it.
This stage is difficult ― damn difficult. I’m talking ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’, bring-you-to-your-knees difficult. No doubt about it, this is Dark Night of the Soul territory. In his book, The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler says that if the Ordeal (stage eight above) is the mid-term exam, then the Resurrection is the final, end of year exam.
Because ― and here’s the thing about personal transformation ― if you’re committed to going the distance, even if you’re not sure where the hell it is you’re going (I still don’t have a clue), there’ll come a final test to see just how serious you are, see if you really did learn from lessons and mistakes made along the way; see how serious you are about this metamorphosis malarkey; see if ― and this is what it ultimately boils down to ― your old self has died.
You see, whatever it is you’re destined to do, you have to be strong enough to do it ― mentally, emotionally, and physically. You have to prove yourself equal to and worthy of it; that you’re willing to do the hard yards; that you’re able to face into it with the strength, grit, and determination required; that you want it no matter how high the odds; that you’re not going to bail out at the first sign of trouble. Trust me, at this stage, Life’s gonna throw just about everything it has at you. I’ve a half mind to rename this stage Canyon of the Wrecking Balls.
Based on my own experience and that of those around me who are also being mentally, physically, emotionally, and psychologically stripped to within an inch of their sanity, this is the place sacrifices have to be made whether we like it or not; where businesses fail and jobs are pulled out from under us; where the knives come out and gossips, detractors, and naysayers seize upon us with a maenadic frenzy; where relationships are stained with tears of disillusion and disappointment; where money dries up along with our motivation; where our health falters and illness descends; where pets die, homes are downsized, and court cases brought against us. And on, and on, and on it goes.
In fact, there’s a hexagram (23) in the I Ching ― the ancient Chinese divination system ― called, among other names, Stripping or Splitting Apart that corresponds with this stage. In Tarot, it’s the grim reaper himself ― Death. During this period, dreams (nightmares) may consist of death, unflinching brutality, dismemberment, great floods, fires, descents to the underworld, and bodies stripped back to the bare bones. What you no longer need will be taken away. This includes material belongings. Relationships, too. After all, we need only look at autumn to see nature stripping back in preparation for the greatest Dark Night of all ― winter.
If, however, you manage to keep from drowning and re-emerge on the other side of this Dark Night (which, by the way, has a tendency to drag its miserable arse out), you will experience rebirth. This is the moment you feel a burgeoning warmth swell deep in your psyche. You may even, perhaps, manage what poet William Stafford describes as, “a breath without pain”. Not everyone makes it this far, though. Many stumble, others give up. Some spend years, decades even, vacillating back-and-forth between Separation (stages one through five) and Initiation (stages five through nine). But that doesn’t make their attempts at growth any less heroic.
I should also say that, for those grappling with terminal illness and disease, rebirth may not necessarily be experienced on this side of Life, but across the veil. Or so I like to believe.
Anyway, what’s the point of me sharing all this? Well, for one, I’m thinking out loud, committing myself publicly. I always knew there’d be a second book ― I just didn’t know what it would consist of as, even while writing my first book, my life felt pretty pedestrian in comparison to my previous globe-trotting escapades. When a client asked me, after reading Running into Myself, “Aren’t you a bit disappointed that, after doing all that, you ended up back in Manchester, back at square one?” I got defensive, saying it hadn’t all been ‘for nothing’… before wondering if he was right.
After all, this was among the criticism levelled at the author of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, regards the fact that she, too, ends up near enough back where she started (at the other end of the Lincoln Tunnel). Readers of her follow-up memoir, Committed, will no doubt be familiar with her grappling with the consequent Return stage of her journey and its attendant trials and tribulations, before her final, triumphant Return with the Elixir (stage twelve above), which, unbeknown to her at the time, would manifest as a No. 1 New York Times best-seller.
Back in my own life, barely had I pondered such thoughts when the shit hit the fan and the Resurrection stage kicked in throwing a harsh, clarifying light on events leading up to that moment. A year later and the aftershock of those events are only just subsiding and my Dark Night lifting.
And so, in much the same way as the story of the Handless Maiden snaked its way through my three Marathons in Running into Myself, my five-level Tantra journey and personal relationship will provide the backbone for my follow-up book, around which the myth of Psyche and Amor will sinuously coil. Psyche, you see, is a woman who goes the distance despite overwhelming odds. I believe both men and women can learn from this courageous figure who isn’t so far removed from our modern-day lives as we may think.
I also plan to go back and expand, correct, and update some of the thoughts, ideas, and concepts I raised in my first book. In fact, it’s with gleeful relish that I welcome the opportunity to edit myself publicly, as it highlights the often thorny, far-from-straightforward path that is human growth.
This next book will provide me with the opportunity to Return with the Elixir and, finally, close the circle on this particular, ten-year long cycle of personal transformation.
To buy a copy of Running into Myself, visit Amazon UK, Amazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). Also available to download on Kindle.
“Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”
— Melinda Messenger (TV Presenter)
“This is a story that truly reveals its author. You’ll discover her beliefs, her flaws, her loves, her fears, her mistakes, her drive and her compassion.
And you’ll like her.”
— Rowena Roberts (Writer)