What is the “underworld”?

The clearest context I can offer is from an ayahuasca ceremony in Peru (for more info on that adventure click here). The underworld is dark, dirty, and shadowy. The characters that hang out there are self-serving brutes without ethics and little morals. It can be downright scary.

It’s like the red light district where dark characters hang out in the shadows, just as a predator in their lair waits for the right prey to happen by. It’s like the predatory creatures in this desert landscape who hang out in the underworld of the earth – snakes, scorpions, and tarantulas.

The underworld is also the home of our shadow – the place within all of us that we don’t like to acknowledge. It’s where we keep suppressed emotions, repressed thoughts, shame, anger, and basically what we don’t like to feel or experience because they feel bad or are painful.

And yet this week, the message from the trees, in this case from a large palm tree on the shore of the Colorado River, was clearly:

“You are taking a trip into the Underworld”.

I’ve been receiving and reporting almost weekly “Messages from the Trees” for about a year now. This one felt quite a bit different. I’m in a different environment around different species of trees. Maybe that explains the shift in messaging. And maybe it’s something else.

This isn’t a negative message, but it did feel like a shift. It felt like an assignment. The follow up was:

“You have what you need. Keep your wits about you. Be aware. Trust. But go.”

Honestly, this excited me. It felt like a challenge, and I’ve never backed down from one of those. I trusted I could handle it.

In my experience with ayahuasca, I was taken to the darkest parts of my psyche (underworld) and it pretty much sucked. It felt beyond icky! But after experiencing my own dark underworld and making it to the other side, I now can take others’ with a grain of salt.

A trip to the underworld seems ripe with possibilities. Perhaps there’s someone stuck down there and I can throw them a rope. Maybe there’s someone spreading darkness, and I can demonstrate that I’m not buying what they’re selling. And maybe, just maybe, I need to be reminded that there’s nothing to fear in my own underworld.

All it took was a weekend, a beach, and a couple of bars, and two of those three possibilities came to be. What really seems most important from the whole experience is this observation:

We seem to resist the shadow.

We don’t even want to acknowledge it’s there. Thus it remains a shadow, lurking behind us, dwelling in the underworld, festering.

The Wild One within me was something I suppressed for the last several years. What I learned by taking the assignment in the underworld is that even when the Wild One comes out, she doesn’t take over anymore. I stay connected to my Self. My Self is still present and observing, and the Wild One gets silly, laughs, and socializes.

The Wild One may even attract an underworld figure, but with my Self intact, it’s so clear to me that I’m NOT buying what he is selling! It is so empowering knowing I don’t have to fight my Shadow anymore. She’s a part of me, but only a part, and she doesn’t get the drivers seat. My Self has point.

The festering caused by repressing the shadow can cause all sorts of disruptions in the psyche and in the body. We are seeing it at epidemic proportions – Chronic and acute pain, syndromes, ailments, addiction, and in the most extreme cases, destructive and heinous acts.

This trend can and must be changed!

We simply must be willing to acknowledge our individual and collective shadow. In so doing, we may take trips to the underworld.

What can a tree teach us about the underworld and the shadow?

The roots of a tree grow in the underworld. It’s only when they aren’t allowed to grow, or they remain in a toxic environment that they fester.

The tree does not hide from its shadow nor does it try to control it. It simply stands its ground, allowing its shadow to shift through the day as the light makes its way across the sky.

  • Let your Self stand your ground.
  • Allow your roots to expand into healthy soil.
  • Acknowledge your shadow, but do not hide from it.
  • Let the light take it from one side to the other.