July 9, 2011

at the roots

It's slowly occurred to me over the past days and weeks that I've gone "underground," as in the archetypal stories of Persephone, Alice, and Dorothy, to name a few. As that realization began to coalesce, I went searching for more information, and found this:

From Girls Underground:

A young girl, who is orphaned or has distant parents, enters the Otherworld/Underworld, often because of a foolish mistake or wish, most notably resulting from dissatisfaction with her life. She is initially aided or guided by a creature from that world. She usually acquires (or brings along) more than one companion, often otherworldly beings or animals, and together they navigate a strange path of labyrinthine nature. They are thwarted along the way by an adversary and the adversary’s minions (a sort of complement to her companions)... During the journey, the girl is sometimes drugged, and/or spends some time forgetting herself. She interacts with people or things that are somehow connected to her ‘normal’ life at home, or briefly returns home in the middle of the journey. There is often an issue of time running out, or time behaves strangely. When she nears her goal (the rescue of a loved one, returning to her home, saving the world, or occasionally a personal transformation), she is separated from her companions for awhile, culminating in a one-on-one showdown with the adversary, which frequently involves exposing a fraud (and sometimes resisting his attempts at seducing her to his side). In the end, she is changed irrevocably.(Italics mine)

Of course, not every example follows this to the letter, but it is remarkable how many do. There are some further details not always present but still notable in their frequency....The “otherworld” can often be contained entirely within a house or palace. Her companions are most often male, be they human, animal or magical creature. Sometimes there is a feint regarding who is the real adversary, and/or a betrayal from one of her companions...The girl must solve riddles to keep going. Most of the time, she goes home in the end...Occasionally, it is revealed that she was originally from that otherworld, and/or that she has always been greater than she thought.


In the wee hours of the night I walk through the pitch black yard with my dogs at my side, or drift in the dark pool and watch the stars wheel overhead. I feel both highly aware of - and strangely detached from - my "real" life. I feed tadpoles, and birds, and shoo moths and spiders out the door. I've fallen in love with a dead old tree in the front yard, and let part of the lawn go wild.

I think I'm in the middle part of this journey, the part where I become complacent and comfortable underground. Don't worry, it won't last.

“It is the going underground that gives them
this battered look — dark crescent moons beneath
the eyes, lips swollen and split at the corners.
Dirt in their scalps, at the roots.”
(Stephanie Bolster“Portrait of Alice with Persephone”)

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting! I knew *nothing* about "going underground", but as a theme in literature I'm seeing it's something I am drawn to again and again.
Love your blog, btw, just found it on your G* post...so glad to "meet" you again (I was/am rachie pachie on there... :) xxx


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