Redeeming Your Underworld

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Redeeming Your Underworld
February 15, 2017 Clinton Callahan

Do you own your underworld? Or does your underworld own you? The question can put a chill down your spine. Redeeming your underworld involves becoming conscious of the purpose behind incidents and accidents of your life across three worlds – not mental gymnastics, and definitely not a discussion of morality. In the end, all you get is a choice.

“The opposite of stupid is not smart, but awake.”

– Marilyn Ferguson, Aquarius Now



The purpose of this article is for you to gain the possibility of creating a future for yourself that is different from the one that two thousand years of Western civilization has produced for you. Since it appears that we are about to duplicate the exit act of the Easter Islanders, that we are on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, immediate new directions are in order.

If you take me seriously then you might be considering your apparent lack of power. What can one individual do to redirect the momentum of an entire civilization? How can a powerless good person influence the powerful bad people who are bringing Homo sapiens relentlessly towards the condition of Game Over?

A different set of questions can shine a different light on this subject. Start with: Who actually takes each next nano-step to move Western civilization in any particular direction? Answer that question first.

Then continue with these: Rather than trying to influence other people, what if you discovered what influences you? Of all the choices that you could make during your day, what influences the choices you do make? How many of your daily actions give positive feedback to propel Western civilization further along its present course? How many create a different course? What causes you to select only from a menu of actions provided by Western civilization? What prevents you from choosing what is not on the menu? Or making your own menu? Why are you still letting yourself be personally influenced in any way whatsoever by Western civilization? What if you ignored Western civilization entirely? If you were already part of a sustainable, satisfying and challenging future what actions would you refuse to take? What actions would form an intimate part of your daily life? How much are you interacting with individuals and groups in ways that are true to your soul’s desire rather than following in the suction-wind of Western civilization? Are you willing to let Western civilization be replaced by something else? How can you remember the power in each choice and action you make to create, sustain or evaporate culture?



There are no good people in this world. There are no bad people. You may violently disagree, but that does not matter. You have no enemies. The life of every human being is and always has been absolutely sacrificed to evolution. Even you reading this article is evolution happening.

There is a great struggle going on – the ancient and archetypal struggle between unconsciousness and consciousness, between shadow and light. Regardless of whether or not you are aware of the struggle you participate in it. All problems, delights, pains, interactions, breakdowns and transformations are the struggle between unconsciousness and consciousness. The outcome is not achieving some future goal but rather the evolution that occurs along the way. Evolution allows us to hold more consciousness. Consciousness creates freedom.



Spatial cartographics means making maps of spaces. Five-hundred years ago Western thinkers mapped our space in the universe as a flat world. As we gradually replaced flat-world maps with round-world maps we obtained valuable new options, perspectives, and possibilities. It is interesting to note that even though new maps gave us new possibilities, the planet itself did not change. We do not interact with the world as it is. We got new possibilities because we interact with our maps of the world. When we adopt a new map, we enter a new world!

Modern culture’s present map of the world includes only one world, the ordinary, physical, material world. We are taught to conform our perceptions and our experiences to fit within the limitations of modern culture’s map. This way we can confidently believe that we are using the one true map of the world.

But maps are not true or false. Like myths, maps are fictional representations. Maps are either accurate or inaccurate, useful or not useful. Believing that we have the one true map of the world makes anomalies invisible to us – until the anomalies get so big they knock us up side the head. That point has been reached. Modern culture is beginning to feel consequences of the inaccuracies in its map of the world. It may be too late, but with climate change, species extinction, rising sea level, dwindling resources, and booming populations, we are beginning to ask ourselves, “How could this be happening to us when we have such good intentions?” Perhaps it is time to upgrade our map of the world…



Clearly, the world is made of rocks, seas, earth and trees. But as mentioned above, human beings do not interact with the world as it is. We interact through our maps of the world. Since we are crashing into unexpected (and potentially lethal) results with our one-world map, let us try replacing it with a map that includes the three worlds of archetypal legend: upperworld, middleworld, and underworld. How would this work?

In a three-world map, a single physical space such as your dining room could inhabit any of the three energetic spaces. For example, your dining room could be in the middleworld during informational mealtime conversations about what happened during your day, plans for tonight or tomorrow, and so on. The same dining room could be in the upperworld when people interact with joyful delight or share bright insights and heartfelt communion. And it could be in the underworld when you or others are in depression, despair, aggression or terror. The physical space remains unchanged but the energetic space can journey all over the map. All day long each day we voyage in and out of the three worlds. (See Map of Three Worlds.) Whereas most people shift worlds to serve unconscious purposes, you can learn to navigate the three worlds to serve conscious purposes. Start by learning to detect which world you are in through sensing the quality of the mood in the energetic space. Then the term underworld loses negative or evil connotations and simply becomes a navigational aid that says, “You are here.”



Notice on the Map of Three Worlds how the positioning is counterintuitive. The middleworld is on the bottom. The underworld is between the middleworld and the upperworld. This positioning makes practical sense. For example, you may have made the assumption that your task in life is to bring the middleworld into the upperworld. Bringing the middleworld into the upperworld turns out to be a new age fantasy, similar to thinking that if you are talking it is making sense, that if you want something you should have it without paying, or that if you think “positively” enough everything will be fine. The middleworld won’t change into the upperworld for two reasons. First, the harmony, peace, joy and love in the upperworld are perfect and permanent. The middleworld could never tolerate that. The middleworld is about getting the kids to school on time, paying the bills, shopping, cooking, and washing up – very loose, very practical, and always in flux, neither perfect nor permanent.

Map excerpted from the book Radiant Joy Brilliant Love by Clinton Callahan, published by Hohm Press, 2007.

The second reason the middleworld won’t change into the upperworld is this: Try it… See what happens. In the moment you sincerely try to sustain kindness, generosity, or communion, what predictably erupts in either yourself or in others is resistance, procrastination, fear, and disruptive behavior. The response to making disciplined conscious efforts shows you where the underworld really is: it is in us.

Each of us is a walking Map of Three Worlds. We have three distinct senses of identity. It’s like the classic cartoon: an ordinary man hears his angel-self suggesting responsible deeds in his right ear and his devil-self encouraging irresponsible deeds in his left ear. That poor man is us, except that whichever voice is speaking usually takes over completely so we forget that any other voice exists.


Many levels of clarity can be unfolded from the Map of Three Worlds. In this short article, I would like to focus on one particular idea: that each of us has an upperworld and an underworld within us that is neither good nor bad. If we do not consciously commit to being the space through which our upperworld principles can do their work in the world then other things fill up that space. If we do not consciously own our underworld then it owns us.

Unless we live and breathe in the awareness that our underworld can direct us to take small-minded actions then we may do a magnificent job serving our company, our culture or our country but we will go extinct because we forgot to serve a sustainable bright future on planet earth. If a corporate manager is responsible to the profit motive of his organization but simultaneously pollutes the air and water, consumes nonrenewable resources, and betrays the trust of his fellow employees, he may be surprised at the end results. This could well be how we got to where we are today, on the brink of extinguishing humanity, serving our underworld while thinking we are taking care of business.

To determine if an action serves upperworld or underworld purposes, all we need do is look at the results. If we have a nine o’clock appointment and we arrive ten minutes late, no matter how much authority we give to the circumstances, it is our underworld purposes of disrespect, arrogance, self-hatred or revenge that get served. No matter your good intentions, the results do not lie. Ask mother earth.

Becoming conscious of your upperworld and underworld purposes can involve painful insights, best done during special initiatory processes in a safely held space. One woman recognized her underworld purpose as being a righteous, authority-hating perfectionist who sweetly manipulates to intrude on others, exploding whenever she’s hindered. One man attracts others with kindness then brutally ignores or torments them to change so he can remain his perfect, arrogant, holy self.

How does redeeming your underworld pay off? What do you get with all this work? You get a choice. You get to choose between being a slave of your underworld or a servant of your upperworld. Slave or servant: that is the choice you get. It is a choice worth struggling for.


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