Psychic Rebirthing

“Death is now the Phoenix’ nest.”

—William Shakespeare

Real birth is a messy affair. There is pain, screaming, danger, and blood. Birth is a departure from a matrix, the “womb-veil” that protects and nurtures us until we are ready to depart the dark and enter the bright. Birth is deranging, as all true rituals should be. It scatters our persona, our masks of identity, into the wailing winds of the actual and leaves us raw and shaking in the presence of the real. Birth is a death that breaks life open. It is the primal rite, the first passage of becoming, that forces us to emerge or expire. Birth is “skin in the game,” and if we know how to tend to the forces of initiation, it is the portal into the alchemical realm of life that will ever require more from us.

To “rebirth” is to find such a portal again further into life. Though it will appear in a very different form, the principles at play will always be the same: pain, wailing, danger, and sacrifice. We will not want to leave our matrix womb that has fed and held us to this point. But life will convulse, contracting to force our expansion. We will become deranged or de-arranged and watch the pieces of identity we thought were our own crumble like the cast-off cocoon of the caterpillar. We will feel like we are dying, and we will be if we continue to identify with the corpse we are leaving behind. If we are so fortunate as to be held in a wise container of community that brings skillful means to our becoming, we will emerge initiated. But that is rare in our world today. So instead, we emerge abandoned, unfinished, and lost in the process of initiation forces left to their own wild expressions. In such ways, we all live in the unfinished initiations, the unfinished rebirthing processes that our lives have undergone.

The Journey of Psyche

The story of the Goddess Psyche, from whose name we get such words as “psychic,” “soul,” and “butterfly,” is such a tale of dislocated initiation forces and the messy journey of redemption and reconciliation that followed. Psyche’s life had been nothing but turmoil until She found Love in the arms of Her mate. Yet this Love, this embrace, was only found in the darkness, and She yearned for more. When Her yearning grew too strong to resist, She betrayed the darkness to bring in the light, losing everything in so doing. What followed was a path of redemption. Not the redemption of Psyche for Her betrayal of the dark, but the redemption of Psyche, of the soul, which is always a journey of validation.

Psyche’s quest is a wild and complex tale to tell, filled with layers of nuanced meaning that emerge to guide those who can bring their Mythic Mind into attunement with it. In brief, She sets out to make Herself right with the Goddess. In that process, She learns to commune with Her world and thereby finds allies in strange places. The climax of Her path leads Her into the Underworld, where She must “die” to be reborn. Her rebirth is a redemption that endears Her to the equality of the divine and grants Her the reconciliation with Love that She had long sought. She endures profound pain and sorrow. She faces death more than once and moves to sacrifice all that is asked of Her. It is messy, deranging, and annihilating.

Yet at each step of the way, she is guided. We call it redemption because it is a path of reclaiming radical sincerity. Soul redemption is a rebirthing of the life force that has withered from denial. When we muster such raw authenticity as Psyche shows us, the world, the path, and the divine all reveal their intelligence by rising up to guide us. Such guidance is never a bulleted list of what to do and when. It is only ever found at the moment, of the moment, and for the moment. If we hold on, trying to make sense of it all or project beyond the present, we resist the de-arrangement that fosters our reorientation. We cannot cling to the birth canal, or we will perish. We must not only endure the convulsions but learn to let them guide us and dance with them. The pressure is the pulsing guidance of life. Such a dance is the only way a butterfly, or soul, is born.

“Death is now the Phoenix' nest” -William Shakespeare