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Descending into the underworld is the stuff of powerful myths, where demons and monsters dwell in the shadows. But whether myths and monsters are real or not, they serve a profound purpose, to make meaning of the human experience, to explain what isn’t easily understood, and to help humans across time, space and place to find threads of connection in the unknown. Myths stand the test of time, still highly relevant to us in the modern era, as much as to ancient peoples, providing a map and compass for each generation to navigate the depths of the psyche through initiations, travails, dark nights of the soul, and transformations.

Todays guest Carly Mountain @carly_mountain knows myth and what’s involved to descend into the depths of the underworld where we face our darkest shadows and tallest hurdles, having discovered and recognised her and many others own life stories mirroring the great ancient myth of Inanna, Queen of heaven and earth who descended to the underworld to meet her sister Ereskigal, Queen of the Underworld after sacrificing all that she knew about herself and the world she inhabited, only to be struck dead immediately by her sister.

By working with this incredible myth and exploring the power, healing and liberation that becomes available to us when we recognise our own calls to surrender what’s ready to die in our own lives, Carly maps out in her new book Descend and Rising how we can follow Inanna’s story to make meaning of our own descents and initiations, and to powerfully rise into our power and truest selves.

tune in to hear:

  • What a descent is, what it looks and feels like in real life, and how we might recognise when we are in a descent cycle of our own.
  • How to work with the seven gates as path into the proverbial underworld, that reside energetically in our body, and why rooting down into our body and the earth is the embodied way to heal rather than to transcend to enlightenment,
  • How we can reckon with our internalised Patriarchy, and release stories, traumas, old conditioning that stops us from growth and healing,
  • The Dark feminine that lives within us: who she is; why she exists, and what she can teach us about ourselves and the world around us,
  • The split between the Masculine and Feminine, and how to reconcile it,
  • How each and every menstrual cycle and menopause are a descent and rising in its own right,
  • What it takes to rise, what needs to be left behind in the Underworld to heal and emerge back into our power, and how healing is not linear.
  • and much more… it was a rich, deep and important conversation that I’m sure will provide you with illumination of what you’ve been through before, and will probably encounter again on your next descent and rising.

meet Carly

Carly Mountain is a psychotherapist, women’s initiatory guide, breathworker and the author of Descent & Rising: Women’s Stories & the Embodiment of the Inanna Myth. Her work has evolved over twenty years of working with sacred practice and space holding. She lives in Sheffield, England with her husband and two daughters.

Connect with Carly on IG at www.instagram.com/carly_mountain and discover her book ‘Descent and Rising: women’s stories and embodiment of the Inanna myth’ and the Descent and Rising online retreat at https://linktr.ee/carly_mountain

[00:00] Carly: When their whole world is being shook right down to the roots. And I think to begin with, we can think that we’re in just a series of unexpected changes and we don’t know what’s going on. But actually the more it continues, the more that we might begin to realize, oh gosh, hang on, where am I? And what’s going on? And I think that that’s why myth can be so helpful. Because for me, I went through a series of those changes and was sort of struggling down in the dark, but it had no framework for it. And when I discovered the Anana myth, it was like all the lights switched on inside of me and I was like, this is what I’ve been going through. How come I haven’t known this story? Why didn’t someone tell me this story as a child? And there I was going, wow, here’s a story that is well over 4000 years old. An archetypal rite of passage that I’ve been going through and I had no clue.

[01:03] Charlotte: Welcome to Wild Flow Podcast with me, Charlotte Pointeaux. I’m an internationally award winning menstrual cycle and embodiment coach, Cycle Mysteries guide and founder of the first Moon Circle School of Menstrual Education for children. Tune in for deep, heartfelt conversations with wisdom keepers, embodied leaders and change makers on themes from cyclical living in flow with your menstrual cycle embodies wisdom, reclaiming rites of passages to normalize period positivity for you and the next generation and exploring our embodied experiences, soulful transformations and intuitive wisdom guiding you to express and embody your full power in the change you want to see in the world. Are you ready?

[01:54] Charlotte: Descending into the underworld is the stuff of powerful myths where demons and monsters dwell in the shadows. But whether myths and monsters are real or not, they serve a profound purpose to help us make meaning of the human experience so we can explain what isn’t easily understood. Helping humans across time, space and place to find threads of connection in the unknown, myths stand the test of time.

[02:18] Charlotte: They’re still highly relevant to us in.

[02:20] Charlotte: The modern era as much as they were to ancient peoples. They provide a map and compass for each generation to navigate the depths of the psyche through initiations, travails, dark nights of the soul and transformations. Today’s guest, Carly Mountain knows myth and what’s involved when we descend into the depths of the underworld to face our darkest shadows and tallest hurdles. Having discovered and recognized her and many others’own, life stories that mirror the great ancient myth of Inanna Queen of heaven and earth, who descended to the underworld to meet her sister Areeshkigal, queen of the underworld, after sacrificing all that she knew about herself and the world she inhabited, only to be struck dead immediately by her sister. By working with this incredible myth and exploring the power, the healing, and the liberation that can become available to us when we recognize our own calls to the underworld, where we’re asked to surrender what’s ready to die in our own lives. Carly helps us to map out this journey in her new book, descend and rising, and helps us to follow and make sense of our own underworld journeys by following Inanna’s story so we can understand our own descents and initiations, so we can powerfully rise into our power and truest selves. After working with the Inanna myth myself for some time, I’ve loved reading Carly’s book and I’m thrilled to have been able to chat to Carly for wildflow.


In this episode, we mused on what a descent is, what it looks and feels like in real life, and how we might recognize when we’re in a descent cycle of our own, how to work with the seven gates as a path into the proverbial underworld that reside energetically in our body, and why rooting down into our body and the earth is the embodied way to heal rather than the transcendent seat in search of enlightenment. How we can reckon with our own internalized patriarchy and release stories, traumas and old conditioning that stop us from growing and healing the dark feminine that lives within us, who she is, why she exists, and what she can teach us about ourselves and the world around us, the split between the inner masculine and feminine and how to reconcile that, how each and every menstrual cycle a menopause is a descent and rising in its own right. What it takes to rise, what needs to be left behind in the underworld to heal and emerge back into our power, and how healing is not linear, and much more. This was a seriously potent, juicy conversation, a deeply important one as well, that I’m sure will provide you with some illumination as to what you have been through before and what you might be experiencing right now, and what you’ll probably encounter again on your next descent into the underworld.

[05:23] Charlotte: Hey, welcome Carly Mountain to Wildflow podcast. How are you today?

[05:29] Carly: I’m really well, thank you, and I’m delighted to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

[05:34] Charlotte: Thanks so much, Carly, I’m so excited to chat with you and to dive into your incredible book. But let’s begin, as always, on this podcast with the cycle check in and just an invitation for us and anyone listening as well to just drop into our bodies and connect with where we are at at this moment in our seasons and cycles, inwards and outwards. And so I’ll go first and then invite you to share yours, Carly, if that’s okay. So I was just trying to work out where I am in my cycle too, because I didn’t ovulate the cycle I thought I had, but I got sick and so it didn’t happen. So I’m mid 30s, sort of 30. I think it’s about day 36 now in this current cycle. And I’m feeling okay with that, actually, when this has happened before, I felt really exhausted. But I’m just trying to really nourish myself and take it gently, just keep my energy sustained, because who knows how long it will be until I get that natural reprieve of having a period. And so I’m feeling, whereas I’ve been thinking, I’ve been feeling really premenstrual. That sort of energy passed. And now I just feel quite steady, actually, which is interesting. It’s like a bit like no man’s land at the minute. I’m not sure where I am and what’s coming, but just taking it a step at a time. So that’s really me in my cycle. And here in Australia, we’re in the absolute depths of winter. And where I live, it’s very cold. We’ve had some minus temps and big frosts, and we’ve just started school holidays as well. So just deep in that cocoon of winter, really kind of feeling like everyone just needs a big rest. Everyone’s very tired over here and in this house. So that’s where we are. And with the moon, we share the same moon, and that’ll influence us differently, perhaps with the hemispheres as well. But we are just past first quarter. So that waxing energy, like the spring of the menstrual cycle or the seasons, and that growing energy. So whatever seeds were sown at new moon will be coming a bit more to life now. So I think for me, that’s rest and maybe that’s different for you. So I’d love to share, invite you to share your cycle. Check in, Carly, if you have a menstrual cycle, where you are in that cycle and how it feels for you, and if not, or if you resonate with any of the cycles, just how you’re feeling in relation to that today.

[08:50] Carly: Thank you.

[08:51] Charlotte: Yes.

[08:52] Carly: So I feel like I’m on the opposite polarity, perhaps, to where you are. I’m day 14 and just about to ovulate, and it’s also summer here in the UK, so the sun is shining today. I’ve been out with the dog this morning and my energy is up. So I’ve been running a bit this week and my yoga practice feels really lovely and warming. And, yeah, I’m in that really enjoying that sort of summer kind of feeling, both on the inner and the outer at the moment, which is lovely. And, yeah, my bones get so cold in the winter. As he was speaking, I was really feeling that bone cold kind of feeling that I sometimes get in the winter. I was being reminded of that and feeling the warmth in my bones at the moment feels really pleasurable to me. So, yeah, enjoying that sort of sunny energy, really, while it’s here, because it doesn’t last long here in the UK, as you know. It’s true.

[10:06] Charlotte: Yeah. And I do feel a bit of Envy, actually, as you was just describing the warmth in your bones and thinking, oh, yes, that is such a joy to be just warm and carefree and just to luxuriate in the warm air of your skin and have to worry about getting all the coats on and all of that kind of stuff. But we have to appreciate the depths of winter while we’re in it so we can appreciate the heights of summer. I have to keep reminding myself, this cycle wisdom is there and it can be really helpful for people who struggle with winter. So, yeah, I’m glad that you’re enjoying it and what a joy to be inwards and outwardly summer at the same time.

[10:58] Carly: Well, it seems really appropriate for this conversation because there’s that Inanna Ereshka girl, that sort of upper world underworld thing being held in each of us, it seems like so seems like a lovely place to start our conversation today.

[11:17] Charlotte: Love that. Yeah. Okay, so let’s dive in then to what is just an incredible topic, something that’s absolutely fascinating to me, something that I see that we are all experiencing at different times in our lives, but most often without awareness, and that is the descent into the underworld, an inner journey, and then rising on the other side of that. So Carly’s just written and released an incredible book called Descent and rising and I am just so happy to have her here to ask her all about it. Having read it, I’ve just found it absolutely incredible and been telling everybody about it. And so, Carly, just to bring us all into a place of common understanding, for some people, this might be language that they’re learning about or familiar with, and others maybe not having a clue what we’re talking about. Could you start it off us off by sharing? What is a descent, and why do descents happen? What purpose do they have?

[12:42] Carly: So, for me, I talk about the descent being a descent into our embodied subconscious. So what I mean by that is literally something, usually a catalyst in our outer life that pulls us down into the depths of our being, into parts of ourselves that have been in exile, or perhaps that we have had to suppress to survive trauma or difficulty. And what happens when we descend is we are plummeted down into those debts. It could be through loss of a loved one, displacement from your home, loss of money, bankruptcy another way, menopause, all sorts of the different kinds of things that life unexpectedly throws at us, that plummet us down into grief and into. I guess, a lack of control is a massive part of it. It’s a place where we have to submit to what’s happening in life. And when we have to do that, it tends to bring up not only the things that are coming up in the current life situation, but also tends to evoke things from the past that perhaps we haven’t fully tended to. So the descent is, as it sounds, something that pulls us downwards and it pulls us down out of what Ian Mackenzie said to me the other day, the citadel of our mind. I like that. This space where we can sometimes live, the citadel, the place above where we’re in control, where we know what’s going on. It does the opposite of that. It pulls us down through our body, through our lives, through our emotional selves, right down into the depths of our being, where we have less control and often less conscious understanding, at least at first, of what’s going on. So it’s very bewildering, and I use that word quite intentionally, as in be wildering, because it takes us into a wild landscape of our somatic experience, of our emotions, of that which we can’t control in life. And I think this does happen on some level to most people. But for some reason, it seems to be heightened for certain people, and I’m not quite sure why that is, but some people seem to go down into this stripping of self in a very potent way. And often I find that with the kinds of people that I’ve been speaking to and connecting through for my work for many years, it seems to be something life calls us towards when we really need to transform where we’re at now into somewhere else. So it’s a real shift of creative energy, actually, even though it can feel like and definitely does include death. It really moves us towards life ultimately. So it’s about coming back into the cyclical wisdom, back into seasonal wisdom, back into relationship with the depths, as well as the heights, which I think culturally, certainly in western culture, we are estranged from that way of being. We are much more prone to wanting to be on a linear, constantly productive upward trajectory. And so for me, in this time, I feel like the descent is essential to bring us back down to earth in the collective and in the personal.

[16:50] Charlotte: That’s really interesting what you said there about that this can happen to many people, but not everybody experiences it in that deep way. And I’m curious now you’ve mentioned it about what it is that brings us down, whereas others don’t descend as much. It’s just something to ponder on, I think. And I’m curious then, what is it about your experiences, perhaps, or what is it that called you to write this book? Why is it that we need this guidance on a descent, and how do we even know if we’re in one?

[17:45] Carly: Yeah, it’s a good question. So what called me to write the book was that I’d been working with this and I’d been working with women in it and in my own descent for a few years. And then Covid happened, and I was looking around at what was going on, and I was like, we’re in a collective descent, but nobody’s talking about it, nobody’s recognizing it. Our leaders were talking about fighting it, getting over it, dominating. It was the same old kind of heroes journey trajectory upwards and domination and all of the things that our culture tends to go towards. And I just thought, I need to write about this because why are we not talking about the descent? Why are we not looking at the deeper lessons that this descent of COVID is bringing to us? Why are we not looking at the relational teachings inside of it? And I was really frustrated by that. But I also just saw so many people suffering from the losses that they were experiencing because there was so much death, wasn’t there? And so much loss of social contact, loss of freedoms, loss of how we had lived. And it just felt so profound to me. It was like all the work I’d been doing in women’s circles, in my own life, and in the more personal way over years, it was like, wow, here we are. So that was what the catalyst was, and it also created the space for me to write it. I think the way that we know that we’re in the descent is because it is usually a series of changes, one after the other in succession. So in the book, I describe it as like an earthquake where the epicenter is the initial thing, and then it ripples out and changes the landscape of our lives. So it tends to move through all of our relationships, through our work, through our sense of self, through our spirituality, through our, you name it, it touches it. So the way I know that someone is in the descent is when they’re saying, when their whole world is being shook right down to the roots. And I think to begin with, we can think that we’re in just a series of unexpected changes, and we don’t know what’s going on. But actually, the more it continues.

[20:21] Charlotte: The.

[20:21] Carly: More that we might begin to realize, oh, gosh, hang on. Where am I? And what’s going on? And I think that that’s why myth can be so helpful, because for me, I went through a series of those changes and was sort of struggling down in the dark, but it had no framework for it. And when I discovered the Anana myth in a book by Linda Hartley called Servants of the Sacred Dream, it was like all the lights switched on inside of me, and I was like, this is what I’ve been going through. How come I haven’t known this story? Why didn’t someone tell me this story as a child? Because I’d never heard it before. And there I was in the dark going, wow, here’s a story that is well over 4000 years old. This is an archetypal thing, an archetypal rite of passage that I’ve been going through. And I had no clue. So I guess for anyone listening to this, who’s going, oh, wow, that feels like where I’m at. It’s like, yeah, this is actually, though, the particular shapes of our individual descents are very much personally shaped. This is a universal path and one that people have been walking for thousands and thousands of years, probably as long as it is that humanity has existed, really. And for me, this medicine in knowing that it brings the sacred rooting of our descents and risings closer to me by knowing that somehow.

[22:12] Charlotte: I share your feelings about, why haven’t we heard the story before? And the first time I heard this myth, I thought, oh, my gosh, is that what it was?

[22:29] Charlotte: Yes.

[22:30] Charlotte: And it was like this meaning was made of something I had been through in a big way and at the time didn’t understand it myself, didn’t even really understand so much on the other side of it. And nobody around me could understand or witness or hold. And I think that hold me in that process. And I think that it’s so disorienting to completely have the world as you know it crumble and you as you know it as part of that world to crumble. And then to get to that point of, well, what’s this all about then? There’s got to be some greater purpose here or some like, I just don’t know anymore. And then the way that we get put back together on the other side and to come out of it when we don’t have that language and that understanding, and that’s what the myth gives us, is this. Like you say, it’s a blueprint almost. It’s like a path that has been walked before. If we were more literate in these things, we’d be able to have that quicker understanding. Like you said, I’m doing this, or maybe you’re doing that. And I’d wonder if we had a world or a culture where more of us were able to be aware and to have that support to go through it as well. Whether more of us would feel safer to descend. Curious whether it would be quicker and any easier.

[24:29] Carly: Probably not.

[24:31] Charlotte: But also whether we would really get the gifts out of the process more easily if we had that guide. And one of the characters in the story, Ninshabur, is the witness, the inanna’s witness. How would you describe Ninja, burr?

[25:01] Carly: Yeah, exactly what you say. She is the witness. So she’s the witness on the inner and the outer. So she’s our internal witness. And in terms of, like, modern day knowledge, she could be thought of as our prefrontal cortex. So that’s the part that is obviously social communication, social part of our brain and the part of our brain that can witness and understand what’s going on around us. And actually, when we experience trauma or we go into survival instinct, as you probably know, and others listening, that is the part that actually goes offline. And the more survival instinct, the other parts of the brain light up to help us respond to threat. But that part. So ninjaba is that part that has that witnessing element. And then externally, it could be a sacred spaceholder, an elder therapist, a trusted other, basically, who does have the wisdom and capacity to see us in our descent. And I think that that takes a certain amount of life experience and also courage to hold others inside of that. And I think that the collective holding in our cultural narratives don’t really do that. Our cultural narratives are more about fixing, generally speaking, or patching people up enough that they can go back to work and be productive and contribute inadvertent commas. And so even within therapy, in my experience, not all therapists hold in this particular way because it requires on the therapist’s part or the witnesses part, Ninshaba, that she trusts the dissent. She trusts that stripping. And she is the part of us that stays above ground, whilst another part of us is deeply in subconscious, being utterly dismantled and dissolved in the underworld. So she is the aspect of us that allows us, a, to stay sane, but b, allows us to stay in life. So a lot of women who I’ve spoken to through the launch of the book and afterwards have said, I’m a mother, but I feel like I’m in the underworld. Is that okay? And I’m like, yes, motherhood can be a major catalyst for the dissent. And I think often that’s framed as, oh my Gosh, how I must be being a terrible parent because I’m going through all this stuff and I’m being a mother to my child. Well, I don’t think that’s actually true. The ninja ba part is allowing you to stay with your child and do the day to day stuff of taking care of yourself and probably them. Meanwhile, there’s another part of you that’s deeply in the underworld. So she is the one that helps us bridge that space between subconscious and conscious, and also life and death, I guess, in a way. Like, what is dying in us is going to ground, and what’s alive in us is the ninja ba part that stays above ground and somehow holds the hope and potential for the new life that is being birthed, if you like. Because I think often our culture would frame the descent as us failing. And actually, when people think they’re failing, often I find they’re birthing. And there’s a distinct mistrust of that deep, feminine, cyclical life death life process in our western culture. And we mistrust birth, both in the literal sense and in this metaphorical sense, in terms of our life, death and know.

[29:08] Charlotte: Yeah, I agree. Oh, thank you. So on that note, I’m really drawn to ask you then, in the book, you’ve described Inanna’s descent, or our descent, us as Inanna, where in the myth, she chooses to go to the underworld, and she’s guided through these seven gates that she must pass. And in order to pass each one, she has to leave items, treasures, status, symbols of hers that represent her status and her power and her identity on earth. And she has to take them off one by one, unequivocally, absolutely not up for discussion whatsoever. If she wants to pass. This is what’s happening. And you’ve described it in the book as these gates are a match for layers. And if you’re familiar with chakras, the chakra points, these places in our bodies, these energy centers. And you’ve described it as a descent from our crown being the first gate, right the way down to our root, at our base as the last gate, and this descent down into our bodies. And I’m fascinated by that because I always hear in yoga, for example, and other places that I’ve heard it mentioned, everything’s about this rising upwards and this kind of search for enlightenment and to access this higher consciousness above. And I just absolutely felt like, yes, when I was reading your book, and it was about this descent back down. This embodied aspect really speaks to me. And you said in the book you wrote, all the gates teach us how to unconditionally listen to the body, because the body remembers. And it was like this feeling of like, oh, yes. And so I’d love to explore this with you, why we need to be embodied and reclaim our body and descend back into the body as women, as mothers, as spaceholders, leaders, whatever we’re doing, all realms of our lives, and how the body holds power and wisdom, and how we can reconnect with that, whether it’s been lost or taken from us, through this descent back down. And I’m just really curious about this process, this descent process back into our body. So what is it about this descending into the body process that can really help us find ourselves again and let die what needs to die, essentially.

[32:22] Carly: So I feel like that quote that you’ve just pulled out of the book really encapsulated it in the sense of the body remembers. So even the things that we consciously don’t recall are held inside of the body. And we live in a really dissociative culture, our technological focus, we’re on our screens a lot. We are very busy in many ways. We’re taught to override the body in order to get things done. And in order to deal with trauma, we dissociate from the body to an extent. So I think that dissociation is a really natural and useful survival strategy, one that we need. So I’m not shaming dissociation, but what I am saying is that if we live our life in a dissociative state, then we are only living again in that citadel of the mind. And what is going on underneath that, and particularly for women, in fact, all beings. But because of our menstrual cycles and because for those women who choose to give birth to babies and all of that stuff, women have a really inherently embodied life cycle that we live through. And we’re even taught to override that in this culture by suppressing it with hormones or blah, blah, blah, and are taught that that’s good for us. So a lot of our cultural stories and structures are geared towards, as you say, the upward trajectory. And what can often get lost inside of that is the remembering of ourselves, our bodies, our needs, our pleasure, our connection with the earth, our cyclical wisdom and that deeper knowing that exists inside the layers of our, what I call embodied subconscious. So, yeah, those seven gates provide a structure for understanding, but I certainly find that it’s not a linear process. So when we descend down through the seven gates, it’s not like we go literally down the head, the third eye, the throat, the heart, the solar plexus, the womb, the root. That’s not how it goes, right? But by looking at those seven gates and inquiring about what each one represents, how energetically it feels, what might have been suppressed in there, what might want to be expressed in there, all of that stuff, we get to know ourselves in a different way and we return to the wisdom of the body. And I feel like inanna, as a goddess of sexuality, really holds keys for us about our sensual, sexual, animal, somatic aliveness that brings us home, brings us home to the things that need tending to inside of us, and therefore our life, because we are embodied creatures. So whether we’re suppressing our body and our embodied wisdom or not, the body is going with us every single place that we go and is experiencing what’s going on with it. We can’t escape the body. The only way to get out of it is to die, right? But most of us want to stay in the body, ultimately. So for me, I love working in an embodied way because, well, for me, there’s just only so far you can get with your mind, and then you’ll bump into your body, and then you’ll go back to the mind again, and then you’ll bump into the body again. It’s like, well, I’m going to bump into my body again, even if it’s just I need to sleep now or I need to eat now. Your body is going to demand certain things of you. So, yeah, going down through those seven gates, as you say, it’s not a choice. And the phrase that Anana meets with each of the gatekeeper as she goes through each of the gates and something else is taken from her she says, what is this? And the reply that comes is, the ways of the underworld are perfect. They may not be questioned. And this for me, is the natural laws, the laws that we are mortal and we will die, that the body will get sick. And ultimately, yes, we’ve got great healing modalities, but we are all going to experience some kind of incapacitation at some point in life. The natural laws of the earth, that we need the earth for food. We have to be in relationship with the earth for water. We are part of her. We’re part of the ecosystem. All of these things are partnership, relational laws that cannot be questioned ultimately. And I feel like the descent brings us right up to that reality. However it does, it.

[38:03] Charlotte: Tingles that expression. The ways of the underworld are perfect and may not be questioned. There’s no looking away from it. And that’s what it’s. Yeah, that’s what it’s about. I was really moved in the book where you wrote this paragraph, and I just would love to read it, because I think everyone listening would really join me in desiring such a world. Imagine what we would feel like if every Sunday we went to a goddess temple, where the holy water held in a vulvalicious chalice, openly symbolized the life giving water of the womb and *****. That the isle of the temple was the vaginal canal, its red carpet, the Menzies. And the altar, the seat of the ***** that we ritually drank wine as a symbol of woman’s life giving, regenerative menstrual blood, which has been scientifically proven to hold healing stem cells instead of the blood of a dead man. Notice what you feel in your body as you read or hear this. The symbols adopted by Christianity are rooted in female anatomy and symbology that were taken under the control of male story writers for male domination. And to me, that just. It’s such a contrast between how I believe we all started off in this honoring of the life giving power of the female body and womb, and where we’re at now, in this corruption, in this taking for male domination. And I think that more and more people are really here to reclaim our bodies and what’s inside us, all of our power and our sexuality, and to really listen to what we need and to bring back that reverence for ourselves. And I’m struck as well by how once we do start to tap into our cycle wisdom, our body, our menstrual cycle, particularly as we start to reframe or change our relationship with this part of ourselves that we’ve grown up being really miseducated about, shamed about, very disconnected from when we learn about our menstrual cycle. Right at the start, you said about how we’re at different poles of the seasons and cycles, and our bodies have this innate descent and rising rhythm this cycle, every single menstrual cycle. And I just would love to hear from you as to whether you’ve found working with your menstrual cycle is like practicing, almost practicing being with this descent and rising cycle, this transformation cycle that happens within us. And whether you see that when we come into understanding and relationship with that cycle, it can help us potentially with these greater initiations that happen, whether it is cultural or work or bankruptcy, like you said, or whether it is, and you mentioned menopause, for example, or childbirth, becoming a mother, these very powerful rites of passages that are built into our bodies. Yeah, I think that’s my question. Whether that working with your cycle can help you to tap into or feel more literate, I guess, in that transformation cycle.

[42:18] Carly: Absolutely.

[42:19] Charlotte: Yeah.

[42:20] Carly: And apart from anything else, I think it’s about having a relationship with our body, because I feel like this myth ultimately teaches us about relationship, and I feel like the menstrual cycle teaches us about relationship with those natural laws. And I really love it. In Wild Power, Alexandra Pope and Shani Hugo Willitz’s book, when they speak to the natural limits of the menstrual cycle. And this idea that actually the natural limits aren’t a problem, they actually teach us to look after ourselves better, but we’re told by society that they’re a problem because we should be able to keep going all the way through the month the same way. And I really bought into that without even knowing it was a problem. And I remember when I started teaching yoga in London, I was, like, 22 years old. I’d been on the pill since I was about 15, so I’d hardly started my menstrual cycle and went straight on the pill. And when I came off the pill, I didn’t have a bleed for 18 months. And I was like, wow, what’s going on? And my ankle was really aching. It was right around the ovary part of my ankle. And I would just massage instinctively again, the body having its own wisdom. I would massage this part of my ankle because it would ache and ache and ache. And eventually, through yoga practice, coming off the pill, osteopathy, and just paying attention. My cycle came back, and that’s when I started paying more attention to it. But it astonishes me, really, looking back and working with all of the women that I’ve worked with. How many of us have stories like that, of the suppression that it wasn’t even a question of. It was just a good thing to go on the pill. There was no other narrative. There was no question in me. It was like, this is what we do. This will protect me from becoming pregnant. And actually, I don’t really have to have a proper period. So great. I can carry on through the months all the time on one plane. And what I tend to hear from women as they choose to come off the pill or what have you. Some women that I’ve worked with and friends have extremely emotional experiences after that, as they start to come back off this plateau and into that cycle again, and they’ll say things to me like, I think I’m going mad, or my partner thinks I’ve gone mad, or, this is really hard. And then all the way through to, wow, I’m really feeling my feelings again. God, I’m feeling this and this and this, and life’s taking me in this direction. And it’s amazing what is unleashed with those natural rhythms. And that is so, for me, a microcosm of what happens in our big life. Rites of passage in descent and rising. As you say. It’s a practicing of adhering to those natural laws that we should not really question, that we should abide by more. Because actually, rather than limiting us or dominating us, I feel like, really, when we attune with them, they support us. They support us to rest, they support us to move with our erotic energy when it rises, they support us to follow our pleasure. When our body is going yum, we can go in that direction and everything in between. For me, that is the essence of descent and rising. It’s being with what’s here rather than what we would prefer to have here.

[46:30] Charlotte: I love that. Yeah. Questioning the natural laws the way that we do with our bodies. And I have, you know, like you say, similar story as 16, and it’s just what you did and came off the pill many years later, over a decade later, and it’s like, what is this? Yeah, how am I going mad and all of that? I really relate to that. And then, like you say, landing in this body that suddenly has a cycle and, oh, what’s that? I don’t think I’ve ever felt that sexuality rising with ovulation before that Eros just coming through and this pleasure in my body and in the world, it’s like we’re robbed of that experience. It’s completely switched off from us. Isn’t it, like you say, at such a young age before we can even experience it for the first time. And that just speaks so much to control and the submission of women. But all people really under patriarchy. I think that the more we can, like you say, accommodate our cyclical selves and all of the changes that we go through in life, it does support us. I completely agree. That’s a really powerful way of putting it. These natural laws that shouldn’t be questioned, but yet we do because of the convenience fitting in.

[48:14] Carly: And I feel like that ripples out to our bigger processes, like the way that we farm. We don’t allow that fallow. Collectively, we don’t allow for the fallow. And I feel like when Covid happened, my nervous system relaxed in a way that I don’t think it ever had, with the stopping of the traffic and the closing of the shops and the closing. And yes, I’m in a privileged position that I wasn’t financially struggling. So I know a lot of people went into survival, and I’m not negating that. But I’m saying, as someone who was financially held and in a safe enough space in their home, though I was concerned about what was going on. There was another nervous system down regulation that happened for me in the quiet and the relinquishing of that grind culture tempo that we are in. It’s the air we’re breathing, isn’t it? It’s like, even if I’m practicing my cyclical wisdom, when I go out into the world, the speed and the tempo of the water I’m swimming in is dominated by that very masculine, constantly linear, productive energy, and it impacts all of us.

[49:38] Charlotte: I so hear you on that. I feel that so much. I felt that with COVID too. And it reminds me, actually, in a way, we’ve just stepped into school holidays here, and we have three weeks. And I used to think, oh, I don’t want to have children who are at school, at school age, because that means holidays, and that means how am I going to juggle it all? Whereas I’ve learned through a lot of careful planning and preparation and boundaries that I can take that time to let the rhythm and the hustle and the needing to get up early in the morning and everyone’s shouting, where’s the bags, where’s the shoes? All of that trying to get somewhere and just get through the day and drop into this fallow period, this time of the holidays, to just stay home and let it all go. And there’s been a real. I think that’s a really surface level example, but I think it’s one that we can so easily override. And yet there are opportunities all around us to give ourselves this nervous system rest. And I felt it this morning when I didn’t have to rush to school, and it was this chance for a deeper exhale that felt really welcome. So I think that we really need to resist that inbuilt patriarchy, really, that inbuilt need that we have to fit in and to, you know, it’s. You know, for a lot of us, it. It is a requirement to keep jobs, to keep earning, to keep whatever we need to keep going. But it takes a real resistance to say no to continuing in that ever present, ever spinning hamster wheel and choose a cyclical way instead.

[51:56] Carly: I’m really.

[52:00] Charlotte: It’s just frozen. Oh, has it? Yeah. There. We have got you back. Yeah.

[52:07] Carly: Sorry.

[52:08] Charlotte: No, that’s okay. Don’t know what happened, but I didn’t hear anything you said. Yeah, just at that point.

[52:17] Carly: Okay. I was saying, I think that’s what Ereshka girl brings at the depths of the descent. So Ereshka girl, being Inanna’s dark sister, who is the queen of the underworld, that when she stakes us, she incapacitates us. It’s like it is that unequivocal submission to not being able to do the things that we’ve been doing, whatever they are, it is that place where we have to stop and hang on that hook and see who we are. Then who am I if I can no longer do all the things that life has been asking me to do, possibly forever, who am I if I can no longer keep all of that going? And what has to die there?

[53:21] Charlotte: Powerful questions. And I wanted to ask you about Areeshka girl. I’m glad that you brought her. So she, as you mentioned, Anana, gets down to the underworld to meet her, and this is her sister. And I’m not sure quite what she was expecting when she saw Areeshka girl, but Areeshka girl instantly condemns her, doesn’t she? And she kills her, and she hangs her as a piece of meat on a hook and leaves her to die. And it’s so visceral and intense and barbaric. It’s quite shocking to read, know this is her sister. Who would do that to her. And in the book, you said that this is Inanna being initiated by a woman, by her sister. And I just would love to ask you, why does she need to meet submission and death in this way? At the hands of her sister. What’s that a representation for that we could learn from.

[54:36] Carly: So in the more well known telling of this myth, which is the Persephone myth, she is taken to the underworld by Hades, who rapes her. So that’s the form of penetration that happens in that patriarchal retelling of the anonymous. What I enjoy about the Anonymous is the fact that she chooses to descend and that it’s Ereshkagal that penetrates Inanna. So it’s that Yang feminine, which for me, as a female feels so much more empowering because it’s something about the masculine and feminine energy inside of me coming into a new relationship. And so for me, that stake, that hook that Ereshkagal impales Inanna on, is that penetrative masculine yang energy that exists inside all human beings, whatever gender we identify as. And it’s described by many writers, and I describe it in the book as a death marriage. And why the death? Well, because something in us has to die. The separation between these two and the relationship that they’ve, the relational dynamic they’ve been in up to that point, which is separation, exile, domination, and being oppressed, that has to die. It can’t carry on like that. It has to end. And so in that assertion of Eresh KAgal’s rage, and, yeah, complete rage isn’t, it’s like, no, no way. In that assertion of those darker energies, something dies. And I think that it’s really interesting that with, say, a PTSD, that big outbursts of rage are really common, a really common part of post traumatic stress disorder. It’s like this rage kind of flies up and then will come back down again, and they’ll fly up and come back down again. And it’s actually a way. It’s a way that the body calls us towards our pain and our trauma and our woundedness. And in a sense, EreshkAgal embodies that. She embodies the wounded part of us, but she also embodies the assertive, rageful, the life force inside of that dark energy. So it’s both. So there’s so much in that, and as you say, there’s sort of a barbaric, very animalistic kind of. It is really visceral, isn’t it? It is that sort of instinctive action that all human beings are capable of, that we are often really deeply uncomfortable with. And she asks us to go towards those parts of ourselves and get to know them better, which is quite scary.

[58:01] Charlotte: Yeah.

[58:02] Carly: But also has gifts inside of it. I was going to say, yeah.

[58:09] Charlotte: As you were speaking there, I had this phrase popped into my head that I heard as a child, and I haven’t really heard it said since. And it’s, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And I just thought, oh, that to me is like such a shaming phrase about the power of an angry woman. It’s one thing to not be can. To be beautiful, perhaps, or, you know, that’s. That’s something that we can strive to be. To fit in and to not be perceived as beautiful is one thing, but to be perceived as angry feels worse. It’s like the ultimate. That is the unacceptable woman. And I just had it in my head, as you were. It came up into my head when you were talking about Areshkigal’s rage, about how fearful and unacceptable it is to express that anger. But as you say, it does have gifts. It does need expressing to be expressed. It can be healed. Otherwise, it’s just held down.

[59:32] Carly: And it’s so much a part of our menstruality, isn’t it? The prebleed time that Durga energy. And this is what I love about those goddesses say, like Durga, the indian goddesses, where she’s riding a wild tiger with these, wielding these weapons. There’s a ferocity inside of that aspect of the feminine that is not passive, that is not beautiful. Inadvertent commas in that sort of pleasing kind of way. It’s ferocious and might bear her teeth or spit at you or put you on a meat hook. We have these parts, and we deny them, I think, as women, because they’re not socially acceptable, particularly in women, to our detriment. To our detriment. Because if we don’t have ereshkagal, if we don’t have Durga, if we don’t have those energies as part of us and as a known part of us, we can’t bring in those boundaries that we need. We can’t protect ourselves. We can’t assert ourselves. We can’t look after ourselves properly. So I feel like Ereshkagal and the way that she is exiled holds so much truth and so much potency she’s holding down there in the underworld that we need to reclaim. And for those of us who fight has been our survival strategy. What happens next is Eresh Gagal. After she’s staked in Anna, she starts to birth and feel the pain in her body. And I think, again, this is where the myth holds such cyclical wisdom for us in that it shows what happens after the rage has been expressed, the tenderness that’s lying underneath, the pain that’s lying underneath. So for some women that I’ve worked with, they say, oh, but that’s not my experience of anger. It’s easy for me to be angry. And then as we dig a bit deeper, what’s often the case for those women is that the vulnerability is often the thing that’s unexpressed. And Ereshka girl holds that, too. That’s the next part of the cycle in the myth is this feeling her pain, feeling her tenderness, and actually the parts that need empathy and connection. So I feel like rage is such an important part of the cycle and then comes something else after we’ve expressed it.

[01:02:08] Charlotte: I’m really glad you said that. I think this is something that, as you say, the premenstrual rage, for example, can be so shamed and so feared. And on the other side of that is the vulnerability of being emotional or weak or not being able to hold it all together. And actually, we’re not meant to hold it all together. Our body is inviting us to let go of what’s not working, to let something within us die so that we can go into that birthing of what’s new, that new cycle, our new selves in the next menstrual cycle. And I think that’s also what I really love about this myth, is it just feels like you said 4000 years old. Did you say it’s old? This is so old. And yet it just shows how long people have lived in right relationship with their body, the earth, the cycles, the seasons. And it’s only recently really in time, a snapshot, a small snapshot in the grand scheme of things, where we’ve forgotten all of this and it’s time for us to just remember and to bring it back. There’s so much more to the myth, Carly, isn’t there, with just, we’ve really just covered the descent half and after that is the rising half and all that it takes to move through that. And I feel like we could have another episode, another conversation about that because there’s so much to be said, there’s so much that your book shares about what it takes to not dwell in the underworld because I think it’s easy to get stuck there if we don’t know what’s being asked of us. And I think that in order for that transformation to continue and complete, there’s processes to go through. And you’ve outlined beautiful explanations and tools and brought to life the characters in the story in this ascent part that really bring us practical ways and invitations and prompts to look at what within us that we need to let go and leave in the underworld so that we can rise.

[01:04:47] Carly: And.

[01:04:50] Charlotte: I just wonder whether you would like to share anything briefly on the ascending part. I don’t want to keep you too long, that it’s such a juicy part to go into. Yeah. What would you like to say about that part?

[01:05:09] Carly: Well, I feel like then when we rise, it’s when our erotic energy starts to rise again. So, like, when the SAP starts to come up through the trees in spring and summer, coming back to that cyclical wisdom again. But as you say, it requires sacrifice. So I guess for anyone listening to this, that’s the key for me, is that it requires us to let go of our old coping strategies, to an extent, to start to forage for a new voice, a voice that can say no when she means no and yes when she means yes. And it’s also not linear, just as we go through the descent and those seven gates are there as a structure, but they’re not experienced in that linear way. Rising isn’t linear either. And I think sometimes there can be a misconception of, oh, I’m off the hook now, I’m rising. It’s going to be easy and straightforward. It’s really not that. If anything, it’s equally as vulnerable, because there are lots of concentric cycles inside the bigger cycle. There’s lots of two steps forwards, three steps back. Oh, gosh, I’ve landed in that old pattern again. How on earth do I do it differently? I feel like that’s such a big question for rising. And in a sense, the nakedness of Anana continues above ground in that way, because it’s the time when we start to reweave our relationships and ask for something different, start to use the voices that we haven’t dared or been able to use before, start to make different choices so that we can be more resourced, as in connected to source in those decisions. So it’s rising rooted. It’s rising rooted in the depths, in the wisdom that we’ve gleaned. And how on earth do we walk that in this culture, in this time? It’s a massive question, because what we’ve done is stepped outside of the mainstream. And as we try and step back into that mainstream on some level, because we are all interconnected, we have to live in this world. How do we do that and remain rooted? And it’s a huge question, and it’s one that I’m constantly asking myself and will be constantly asking myself, I think we just continue to learn. And the final part of rising is compassion. And so I feel like that is really key, is the compassion for ourselves when we notice we’ve fallen back into an old pattern. The compassion for ourselves when we’re finding it hard, the compassion for ourselves when we’re a bit scared to use that voice, and then we do it. And the compassion for when we have to descend again on some level, because it’s not just one descent, I think it’s many descents. So, yeah, what needs to be sacrificed? What do you need to be compassionate to? And how do you dare to have the courage to rise and call in support and people with like minds around you as much as possible to help support your rising?

[01:08:37] Charlotte: Incredible. And I just want to speak one thing to that, is that as I was reading the part about Damuzi as well, and who’s Inanna’s husband, and this part of the sacrifice, one thing that comes up for me in my rising is when I’m being true to my path and my values and who I am, and when there’s someone near to me who doesn’t get it, who doesn’t understand and who wishes I wasn’t trying to break away, I would just conform and just be easy and just fit in. And there is this choice to make in that moment, to sacrifice or abandon myself and what I know to be true, to just be easy and to just make the peace or to stand strong. And that’s where the compassion I can see as well comes in. To hold that other person, who.

[01:09:47] Carly: I.

[01:09:47] Charlotte: Was going to say is almost trying to oppress you back again into this more compliant version, to just choose. To choose to keep walking forwards and to be you and to do it that way. And I was just really struck when I was reading that section, I thought, wow, it doesn’t end, does it? Like you say, this rising long time after coming out of the underworld, for me, it’s still that choice, that, that process of navigating, how to keep going, how to keep rising rooted. As you said, that’s a beautiful metaphor. It’s an incredible gift, this book, that just keeps on giving, and it gives so much understanding along the way. And I hope that everyone listening gets a copy and reads it, because I think there’s just so much support and guidance and understanding and awareness and that feeling of being like, oh, it’s not just me, I’m not alone here. This is something that we can navigate collectively. I just think it’s something that the people who will be listening to this podcast will be really drawn to hearing more of. So please do get yourself a copy. And if I may, I just want to read. There’s a closing section in your book, Carly, that is just beautiful. I think you might have written this. You’ll have to let me know. But you wrote descent and rising. The dark cocoon of heartbreak is vital ground. Through that devastated shipwreck appear the wings of spirit, the second birth canal whose rivers deliver us back to the heart of it all. In the ruthless light of day one bridge burns and we are no longer our father’s daughters. The stretcher we wake up on carries us through the thickets of the soul towards a new, beyond heartbreak, for one becomes a grieving for the whole world. Our embryonic heartbeats compel us to build new bridges. Bridges that song we remember. And our footsteps touch the ground tenderly in their authority. The bridge to the goddess is built through a sincere heart, and no heart is more sincere than that of the unwitting warrior who has found her. Yes. Who cannot possibly remain folded. That one who, through being broken into, is delivered back into one with everything. It’s exquisite. Makes me feel quite emotional. What a beautiful way to end your.

[01:12:50] Charlotte: Book and to end our conversation.

[01:12:53] Charlotte: Thank you so much, Carly.

[01:12:57] Carly: Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation and it’s so beautiful to hear that poem read back to me. So that was a real gift.

[01:13:04] Charlotte: Thank you. You’re so welcome. So anyone listening, where can they find you and the book?

[01:13:16] Carly: So you can find me at my website, carlymountain.com. And I’m also on Instagram Carlymountain and on my website. When we launched the book, I held a free online retreat, and that’s still a resource that is available for free. You just need to sign up to my mailing list and you’ll automatically get access to that. And those conversations are also continuing monthly. So each month I have a new guest and we’re talking about the themes around descent and rising. So hopefully that’s a resource that can really support people with the book and the book itself. You can get signed copies direct from my publisher, Womancraft Publishing, who are a great independent publisher of women’s books and women’s voices. But if you want to get it elsewhere online, you can get it from Amazon or wherever you buy your books from online. And yeah, please do get in touch and let me know how you go with the book, because I just love to hear how it’s landing with people. So thank you.

[01:14:28] Charlotte: Thanks so much, Carly. It’s just so beautiful to be with you and to speak with you and wish you all the very best with the book and with your work.

[01:14:39] Carly: Thank you so much.

[01:14:44] Charlotte: Thanks so much for listening to wildflow. I love having you here. If you’re loving this podcast, please show your love by leaving a review and a rating, and share your favourite episodes with those you think would love to listen to. To help share this passion project of mine with the world far and wide, to take the next step and learn how to live, love and lead and flow with your cyclical nature. Or for deep guidance and support in your cycle embodiment journey, discover my freebies online journeys, trainings and coaching on my website.

[01:15:19] Charlotte: Until next time, go well with the Flow of your body’s cyclic nature.

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meet your host

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Charlotte Pointeaux

Charlotte Pointeaux is an Internationally Award-Winning triple-Certified Coach, Youth Mentor, Host of Wild Flow Podcast, a sought-after guest menstrual educator and speaker. She is a Shamanic Womancrafter, a Priestess of the Cycle Mysteries.

Charlotte’s work as a Wild Feminine Cycle Coach weaves together shamanic womb healing and rite of passage work with menstrual cycle awareness and feminine embodiment tools, to guide women through their transformational journey of reclaiming their wild feminine cyclic powers to expressing their big magick as a sacred leader.

Charlotte founded First Moon Circles®, a renowned facilitator training program, to train new menstrual educators to prepare, honour and celebrate children and their care-givers at menarche (their first period). To date, she has trained almost 100 facilitators across 5 continents and is on a mission to infuse families, friendships, classrooms and communities with period positivity and menstrually inclusive practices.

Download your free menstrual magick guide by subscribing to my newsletter, and discover my coaching, courses and short classes at www.charlottepointeaux.com/coaching.

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