Last September 11th, I was on a delayed flight home from a weekend at grad school (NOT like Bernie’s, by the way…). I was thinking about the lecture we’d had on the Night Sea Journey which, through a Jungian lens, is the descent into some sort of oblivion, whether through dreams, symbolic death, or otherwise. This journey is found in nearly every myth as the hero descends into the belly of a whale, a labyrinth, or crucifixion. The journey derives from the perceived behavior of the sun as it descends to its death every December equinox.
The good news is the sun is reborn three days later, which means there is hope for the hero. For those that go down can always ascend, or resurrect, so to speak.
While the lady seated next to me on the flight complained about the impatient man in front of us, I watched our plane ascend into the night sky. I instinctively looked up to see if I could see any stars peek through the clouds, but I found none. What I did see was the reflection of the millions of “stars” shining on the ground.
A long time ago, our ancestors looked to the sky to gaze upon the constellations. Now we flood our heavens with so much light that we must ascend to the skies in order to gaze upon the city stars. And we call that magical.
I often wonder what our ancestors saw when they looked to the sky as they felt the earth under their bodies. Which gods were dancing among the stars and which were staging a battle, throwing light across the galaxy. It saddens me to think we can never experience the skies as they were meant to be. That our children will only know the plastic version of nature we have created. It makes me jealous that our pre-Industrial Revolution relatives knew the gods in the sky better than we ever will.
We have overcome nature so much that we must create an alternate landscape to fulfill our craving to be connected with the earth. We build squares and fill them with filtered oxygen. We shield our feet from the grass and our bodies from the elements. Then we wonder why we feel so disconnected.
I think the trick is to invite Nyx, the goddess of the night, to guide us on our own Night Sea Journey. help us bond with that which makes us feel connected to our universe, no matter what size it may be.
There’s definitely magic in that.