In mid October 2010, as a worldwide audience of over a billion watched in fascination, 33 miners, after spending a record 68 and 69 days trapped in the darkness, were rescued from the ruins of a collapsed mine almost half a mile beneath the desolate Acapana desert of Chile. The operation went off without a hitch and the triumphant result was hailed everywhere as one of the most inspiring stories in memory. In fact, the saga of Chile’s rescued miners seemed virtually miraculous to all, prompting some to speculate that higher powers must have intervened.
Indeed, for all but the most cynical, the case for cosmic design was hard to resist. And for those who believe that the universe speaks to us in the language of archetypes, there seemed plenty of room for excitement.
Here you had innocent miners, trapped in the darkness of the underworld heroically redeemed by representatives from the higher realms of light, restored to life—resurrected—after passage through a long dark tunnel something like a birth canal to be—in a sense, reborn. Factor in that there were 33 miners, harkening to the masonic notion of initiation preceding and including crucifixion and resurrection. The universal hero, or Christ, in each of us, it has been said by mystics, ascends the “33 steps” of the spinal ladder to the “place of the Skull” where the “Christ is crucified between the two thieves of the anterior and posterior lobes” of the brain (today we make that left and right hemispheres).
The universal tale of the hero’s journey, writer Joseph Campbell believed, is the story of us all challenging the confinements and entrapments of circumstances in order to establish a better life in a new and higher world, the promised land, if you will. The journey is the great adventure of life, filled with trials as well as wonder and discovery; and it leads us toward the light along an ancient yet narrow and obscure pathway. The solitary journey is carried out again and again in history’s slow march to the future, and without it there would be no progress and no hope for the larger tribe of humanity.
Though the process is understood at a deep, usually unconscious, level by each of us, we need reminders, it seems, or we lose focus and become more deeply entangled in the webs of darkness which surround us. Fortunately, an occasional public drama helps to remind us what it is exactly that we are supposed to be about.
Recently, in another mine located in Mexico, researchers located, in what they call the “Cave of Crystals,” the largest natural crystals in the world—translucent beams of gypsum as long as 36 feet. The area is full of crystal caves with many amazing formations unlike any seen before anywhere. At this time it is uncertain if the mining company will preserve these astounding formations or flood them, never to be seen again. Could, once again, some higher order be reminding of what happens when light is lost to darkness?