Most heroic journeys involve going through a dark place -- through mountain caverns, the underworld, or labyrinthine passages to emerge, finally, into the light. Or they may involve travelling through a desolate wasteland or desert to a green land. This journey is analogous to passing through a depression. In the myths as in life, the traveller needs to keep on moving, to keep on functioning, to do what has to be done, to stay in touch with her companions or manage alone, to not stop and give up (even when she feels lost), to maintain hope in the darkness.
The darkness may represent those dark, repressed feelings (of anger, despair, resentment, blame, vengeance, betrayal, fear and guilt) through which people must pass if that are to get out of a depression. It is a dark night of the soul, when in the absence of light or love life seems meaningless, a cosmic joke. Grieving and forgiving is usually the way out. Thereafter, vitality and light may return.
It helps to realise that death and rebirth, in myth and dreams, are metaphors for loss, depression, and recovery. In retrospect, many such dark periods turn out to be rites of passage, a time of suffering through which a woman has learned something of value, and has grown. Or she may have been, for a while [...] a temporary captive who later becomes a guide for others.
When the heroine-choicemaker finds herself in an unclear situation, where every route or choice seems potentially disastrous, or at best a dead-end, the first trial she faces is to stay herself. In every crisis, a woman is tempted to become the victim instead of staying the heroine. If she stays true to the heroine in herself, she knows that she is in a hard place and may be defeated, but she holds on to the possibility that something may change.
Where in myth or in life, when a heroine is in a dilemma, all she can do is be herself, true to her principles and loyalties, until something unexpectedly comes to her aid. To stay with the situation, with the expectation that the answer will come, sets the inner stage for what Jung called "the transcendent function".
These something-will-come-to-the-rescue plots are archetypal situations. The theme of rescue speaks to a human truth, which a woman as heroine needs to heed. When she is in an inner crisis and doesn't know what to do, she must not give up or act out of fear. To hold the dilemma in consciousness, wait for a new insight or changed circumstance, and meditate or pray for clarity all invite a solution from the unconscious that can transcend the impasse.
Jean Shinoda Bolen
Goddesses in Everywoman:
Powerful archetypes in Women's Lives