by Karen Clark At the twilight hour on the Fall Equinox, when daylight gives way to the dark, settle into an open, meditative state in a private corner of your home. Close your eyes and place your hands on your belly. Breathe in and out, in and out, focusing your awareness on the movement of your belly with breath, rounding outward and flattening inward, slow, rhythmic, entrancing. Feel your whole body soften and relax with every inhale and exhale. Draw your awareness inward, like turning all the lights out in your home and using a single candle to find your way in the darkness. Quiet your mind. Quiet the outside noises of the everyday world. Pay attention instead to the movements and sounds of your breath, slow in, slow out, slow in, slow out. Turn your attention to the changing season outside your doorstep. Visualize the quality of the light and darkness, and the altered appearance of the trees and plants. Smell the fall scents in the air and feel the change in temperature on your skin. Sense the presence of the descending darkness, calling the natural realm to retreat inward to stillness and rest. Breathe these seasonal shifts into your body and inner landscape. Imagine them calling forth your own shifting seasons from the hidden places inside of you. Sense them drawing up the deep mysteries and hungers within you, and the parts of you longing for your conscious engagement. Every new cycle begins here, in the powerful embrace of the sacred dark. Like Persephone, you must forsake the sunlit world of what you know and descend into the Underworld, in search of the new cycle awakening within you. The guidance and answers you seek on your journey of soul await you there. Take a few moments to check in with your emotions before you begin this journey. Whatever arises, acknowledge it and then let it pass through you. If you experience fear or resistance, take a few slow, full breathes and set the intention to only engage the pathwork that is right for you at this moment, and then let these emotions slip away as well. Focus your awareness inward and call forth the part of you that knows the ways of Persephone and the sacred dark. Open to your profound hunger to experience and become more, and to seek out the lost pieces of your Deep Self and authentic humanity; here you will find your inner Persephone. Let this part of you lead the way, taking you to the outer edge of your known world to a portal that opens into the dark mysteries of the Underworld. As you make your way to this portal, feel your feet solid on the ground and your breath and awareness centered within your core. Empty your mind, leaving behind any preconceived ideas or expectations you may have. You are traveling beyond what you know into the wondrous realm of what else is true and possible. When you reach the portal, take in your surroundings and the powerful draw of the energies emerging from the opening before you. Breathe deep of the magic of the Underworld. Be clear in your intention to do your pathwork in service of your greater becoming and in alignment with your highest good at this time. Then summon up your courage and determination to follow in Persephone’s footsteps, and say to the sacred darkness, “Show me what I need to know at this turning of the Fall Equinox. Show me where my journey of soul will take me next.” Someone appears on the steps below you, a magical messenger come to guide your journey of soul. Take whatever time you need to connect, heart to heart and center to center, with this being who has especially shown up to support your pathwork. Speak your name and anything else that comes to you to share. Then reach for this messenger’s hand and follow her/him into the Underworld. As you descend the stairs, stay with your hunger and curiosity, empty and receptive; you can’t discover anything new if you are too full of what you already know. When you reach the bottom, surrender yourself to your magical messenger and your own intuition and instincts, and see what comes to you. Let whatever shows ups — images, insights, memories, directives and energies — flow through you. Grab or cling to nothing, just be with your messenger, be with yourself, be with the dark. When your work together feels complete, let your messenger guide you back to the foot of the stairs. Say your goodbyes and be sure to express your heartfelt gratitude. Feel the rightness and goodness of the energy that flows between you, and know that you are mending and deepening your relationship with the sacred dark. Ask your messenger for his/her continued support as you embark on this new cycle of your journey of soul. When you ascend the stairs, feel your experiences in the Underworld settle into your flesh and bones. Let them re-arrange your inner landscape in alignment with the profound roots of this new cycle awakening within you. Don’t rush to solidify any of this into words or plans of action. The mysteries of the dark need time to percolate in your psyche. As you step over the portal’s threshold, you have returned to the sunlit realm of the world that you know. Feel this shift in energy from the dark back into the light. Let it register in your inner knowing and physical body so you will remember the embrace of the sacred dark when you encounter it again. Then bow to the Underworld, honor its beauty and place in your life and our world, and share your appreciation and gratitude. It is time to return to waking consciousness. Drink in everything you have experienced. Let the connections you have made strengthen and anchor you in the mysteries of Persephone and the sacred dark. Then use your breath to ground in your physical body and bring you back to everyday reality. Gently tap your body. Say your name out loud. Open your eyes and connect with the darkness that has descended during your meditation. Know that your Underworld travels can be the beginning of a brave new adventure of healing your soul and transforming your life. Let these experiences and insights guide you in the months to come. Profound, lasting change finds its source in the mysteries of the dark and leads you home to your greater becoming and the beauty and power of your Deep Self.