The elder brothers and sisters in so many tales don’t make it past Trust and Mistrust. The list of “virtues” on the left describes classic characteristics of the Hero/Heroine. They trust, refuse shame and doubt, take initiative, work hard, know who they are, accept being part of the web of life, generate solutions, and stay vitally involved. Some people stop growing at one of the stages, and remain the same person the rest of their lives, perhaps caught up year after year in emotional states on the right side of the Ericksons’ chart. Some go back through the Gate In and pretend they never took a journey at all. The goal of developmental journeys is maturation of character. Each journey hones the soul for its work in the world and its life after the last passage of the body.
This year I’ve been using Madeline Miller’s brilliant book Circe to illustrate the Nigredo because the main character goes through multiple transformations in the same book. In exploring Circe, we ask next, When does the transformation happen? and What is being left behind?