The idea of Ascension—or rising—has served as a way of mapping the spiritual journey for eons.

Ascending Ladder
Ascending Ladder in and out at Lava Beds National Monument in Tulelake, California.

The Christian New Testament Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus ascended or was “taken up” (in Greek: anaphero—which means to cause to move from lower to higher) WHILE he was still blessing (eulogeo) those who were gathered (Luke 24). The Apostles Creed also cryptically notes that Jesus “descended into hell” to do redemptive work there. The Hebrew Bible tells stories of Jewish Patriarch Jacob falling asleep and glimpsing a ladder to heaven with Angelic beings traveling up and down (Genesis 28); and of Ezekiel being “lifted up” into Heaven (Ezekiel 3).  Ezekiel “ascends” and is transformed into Archangel Metatron in the Intertestamental Period Apocryphal Book of III Enoch.  The Essenes believed they could ascend to the angelic realms, and that the angelic realms could descend to them, so they could be in community with angelic beings. The Cathari believed holy embodiment was a prerequisite to ascension in the ritual of consolamentum (ritual of purification). And the modern New Age movement acknowledges that ascension allows us (and Mother Earth) access to higher frequency energies and dimensions that allow us to be more embodied and powerful movers and kin-dom-builders in this present moment.

I don’t like to think of Ascension as a continuous journey upward.

We ascend, and then descend and spiral down into the basement to retrieve parts of ourselves and clear energies there before spiraling back up to the present so we can embody higher frequency energies. Jung spoke of the gold that we “bury” in the shadow, and I believe it is an important part of our journey to mine and retrieve it. Remi Thivierge and Jill Miller of Quantum Union talk about the ugly and incredibly transformative work of cleaning out our “emotional basements.”  As a queer Spiritual Navigator, I also compare this work to “coming out of and cleaning out our closets” so we can retrieve the power and parts of ourselves we have stashed in there and integrate them into our present moment. The (oh-so-tempting) desire to spiritually bypass the basement and closets by grasping upward is an ever-present danger on the spiritual journey. But spiritual bypassing never works out well in the long run. We must be willing to descend and rummage in the low-level shadow rooms to retrieve the lost parts of ourselves and our collective, or we will eventually get tossed headlong into the abyss. Then, we must be willing to ascend with our best hiking boots on—fully laced up and walking firmly on the ground here and now.

Ladder and Light
Ladder and Light at Lava Beds National Monument in Tulelake, California

If you haven’t seen Lil Nas-X’s “Montero: Call Me By My Name” video, I invite you to google it and take note when (about mid-way through) Lil Nas-X is drifting into the angelic realms and then suddenly slides down a stripper pole into the fiery reds and oranges of the lower chakras/hell/basement for a fascinating dance with the Devil (basement energies). The video ends with Nas-X dispensing with the Devil, stealing his horns to wear on his own head, and regaining his power and his wings.  This is all work we are called to do as we become masters of our own basement energies. The video is a uniquely black-queered, creative, and powerful depiction of the spiritual descent that comes before ascent is possible. (Also, you might want to google “Icarus” for the Greek mythological take on spiritual bypassing.)

Descend and Pivot
Descend and Pivot at Lava Beds National Monument in Tulelake, California

I have come to believe there is a “raising of frequency” that constantly occurs over time as we grow spiritually.

And as we ascend in frequency—and clear emotional basement energy we have repressed—we remember more about who we are and where we have come from. This process gets ratcheted up drastically if we are triggered into Ascension (Twin Flame or otherwise), or if we experience descension purging (such as a “Dark Night of the Soul”) as part of the journey. Ultimately, however, all of us—and our planet—are meant to be in a process of ascension.

David Hawkins has attempted to measure the ascension frequency of various emotional energies in his “Hawkins Scale.” We can also map our ascension journey by noticing the deeper peace, joy, and lack of worry we feel overall—even if we are cleaning emotional closets or going through something very challenging.

Descending into Shadow
Descending into Shadow at Lava Beds, National Monument in Tulelake, California

As a photographer out and about in my travels doing Blueprinter/Earth Energy work, I am unconsciously/consciously drawn to taking photos of things that are archetypally important to the spiritual journey (thresholds, roads, water, caves, ascents, descents). Here are a group of ascension/descension images from Lava Beds National Monument near Tulelake, CA, that I took during an extraordinary day of exploring, crawling, dodging bats, and entering and exiting lava tube caves. Where are you on your ascension journey? Are you avoiding the basement caverns? Or maybe you are stuck there? Send me a message, I’d love to hear your story and help you navigate your way in, out, down, sideways, and up.  

Seeker Descending
Seeker Descending at Lava Beds National Monument in Tulelake, California