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At some point we all experience nothingness. All that we thought was real and what we wanted, and would bet everything on, falls into a void. All our ambition and inspiration seem stagnant—unworthy even of compost. Limbo, despite its discomfort, is also a place of hope, redemption, and transformation; a psycho-spiritual space I refer to as the voluptuous unknowing. But before that however let us explore the concept of limbo.
The word limbo derives from medieval Latin, meaning hem, edge, or border¹. In Christian belief it refers to a place on the edge of hell, that is reserved for those who may be purged or redeemed of their sins (see also purgatory) and go to heaven. Unbaptized babies, those awaiting sainthood, and those who need a little soul scrubbing after death. The word limbo is associated with the concepts of oblivion, nonexistence, or the void – the place where we are neither in heaven (getting all we want) nor in hell (complete annihilation and hopeless suffering). Also, as noted above, limbo refers to concepts of being yet incomplete, unfinished, in transformation, in hope.
In alchemy the first stage of spiritual transformation is the nigredo; the blackened decomposing, putrefied flesh of the situation, materia, or idea. It is primary and necessary. The state of nigredo is terrifying to our ego, who, against all peril, seeks to hold onto its sense of beingness; all that it has accomplished and with which it is identified. It kicks and fights against limbo-ness because it has no faith in transformation, no faith in anything but its own machinations. And therein lies the challenge.
So, what if we can calm down our ego, invite it to surrender into transformation; educate it in how to let go of all its brilliant ideas and doings; to allow for that which it does not know or have power over to influence its beingness. What if our ego can sit in the voluptuous unknowing and information that will renew hope, faith, and love? In The World’s Geography of Love I deepen into an understanding of the purpose of dwelling in the voluptuous unknowing, explore the value of being in limbo. There are many spiritual traditions that teach us how to make our ego state permeable to the voluptuous unknowing or we may call it cosmic intelligence, grace, divine wisdom, Whatever we come to know it as, it is our soul’s nourishment when we are cast by life into a sense of emptiness and meaninglessness. Meaningfulness, love, life, joy, and peace are ours if we surrender to the intelligence of the voluptuous unknowing.