I still remember this moment like it was yesterday; my life as I knew it changed forever.

It was 3 a.m. in India, Winter, 2018. I was hunched on the cold tiled floor of my apartment, body trembling, tears of rage and shame streaming down my face. I had just gone through the first serious fight with my new fiancé—it was not pretty.

I thought I was done with the drama and pain that dominated my early twenties. I mean…I had six plus years of intensive therapy and committed spiritual practice under my belt. I even married myself and made a pact with the Goddess that I would never again betray myself by acting out and continuing these harmful patterns in my life.

Yet here I was, thrown into a destructive, deep spiral, mixed with a concoction of self-critical thoughts stifling my breath and ability to see or act clearly. Once again, I was desperately pleading with the Goddess to make my inner turmoil stop, to give me answers to why these old, destructive strategies of mine kept resurfacing.

At some point amidst the insanity, I looked up at the moon shining through my window, finally, there was…a pause.

The moonlight felt like liquid medicine for my aching heart and tired body; I could feel the grip of catharsis softening, the inner chaos began to quiet, and a warm stillness washed over me. A different prayer emerged from deep within, ‘Goddess, please, show me the way. Please, tell me what to do. I surrender.’

Her response was instant, loud and clear, ‘Melina, go to the place you’ve been avoiding. Take my hand. It’s time.’

I exhaled long and slow as I felt my heart beat dissolve in my chest. I knew exactly what place she was talking about.

An inkling of a trauma unbearable to fathom; faint, unclear memories that left me queasy and wobbly at my knees. I had spent most of my life determined NOT to go there. Every time I dared to inch closer, a protector within me always screamed, “NO!” I somehow knew that by turning towards this pain, I would be opening Pandora’s box, everything turned inside out, for better or for worse.

But this time the call had become unyielding. I knew with all of me that if I didn’t turn towards and face what I had been avoiding, the denial itself would eat me up from the inside, and keep sabotaging the most beautiful and real relationship I have ever had. Something in me knew that finally, I was ready.

I took a few deep breaths, whispered, ‘Be gentle with me Ma’ and She took me all-the-way-in…

It’s been two and a half years since that night. The pain I thought would break me turned out to be the portal into everything my heart had been yearning for. To say it has been the most challenging process of my life is an understatement. To say it’s been the most liberating is equally true.

I know this is a journey that will continue for the rest of my life. The lessons endless, the medicine rich and knowing. I stumble and fall, often. Old tracks alluring me with their sticky familiarity and the illusion of control. I may never be fixed or mended completely, but I know now that both beauty and chaos exist together, that resiliency is birthed in times of great unknown, and liberation can be found by turning to face even the smallest of cramps.

Every day, I practice turning my attention to the small, subtle and seemingly insignificant ways of my being. All the things I overlooked trying to get to the ‘big stuff’. I realize that the avoidance itself has been running my life far too long, keeping me busy in drama, numbness and distraction. In slowing down and being present in my body, I can draw upon a harmony that exists in the in-between spaces of my psyche. Instead of grappling with shame and dialoguing with confusion, I practice welcoming compassion and listening to the timeless wisdom sourced in the intelligence of my body.

When I finally surrendered that night in India to the call from the underworld, I feared I would die but was instead initiated into life, into compassion, humility, into being fully here, fully human. A human who knows now in my bones that there is no guarantee of permanent solutions, the only solid ground I trust is the ever widening channel of my heart, where I keep planting seeds of compassion to call upon for when hard times come.

It feels sweet, and a bit scary, to share with you from the intimacy of my messy, beautiful, hard and vulnerable love affair with this incarnation I call me. Maybe parts of my journey, in one way or another, resonate with yours.

In preparing for our upcoming 21 day sadhana with Inanna and her descent to the underworld, I recognize so many phases of my own journey within the archetypal and universal context that the ancient myth offers to us of initiation, of spiritual awakening, and becoming a human rooted in Her.

I’d love to walk side by side with you, and Inanna, into the richness of the deep this October. Perhaps you are curious what gifts this Goddess will reveal to you. Perhaps you too have heard her calling to you, saying, ‘Come, take my hand, it’s time.’

With reverence to Her,