When Humanity Emerges from the Unknown


With this global pandemic, and its decree to ‘stay at home,’ we have all been given a rare opportunity to experience together a collective time of retreat and withdrawal. We did not ask for this, we may not want it, but this is being given to us for a good reason.

The wording we use to describe what we are experiencing determines the way we experience it. Thinking ‘lock down,’ even ’stay at home,’ gives us a fearful, anxious view of what is happening, while thinking in terms of the archetypal experience this whole thing represents gives us a much more holistic and hopeful way of understanding its purpose for us.

Running throughout world mythology, where deep truths reside, is a pattern of transformation made up of many archetypes — types of experiences necessary to complete this recurring pattern. Each archetype in this pattern has its own time and purpose. One of those timeless, universal archetypes, known variously as The Night Sea Journey, Joseph in the Well, the Temple Interior, and Jonah in the Belly of the Whale, comes into our lives to swallow us into the unknown whenever there is a need for us to slow down, leave the familiar behind, retreat from whatever we’re doing, turn inward, reassess everything we thought we knew, and refocus. It’s not just a matter of waiting out whatever storm it happens to be; it is much more a time of reevaluation and reappraisal. This is meant to be a time of quickening, of going inward for renewal, and for reminding us who we really are.

Experiencing this archetype together, as one human family facing the exact same challenge in the same way at the same time, is indeed rare. It may never have happened before in recorded history, the way it is happening globally now. The threshold guardians, gargoyles, and dragons that normally block the entrance to this realm have disappeared so we can all experience the higher silences within, together, all at once. That’s how late it is.

Entering this unknown realm carries with it an impending metamorphosis. It is time for us all to shed our outer character, die to the limitations of time, and prepare to return, committed to building the world anew. Having us turn inward and focus on where we are going and what is needed to get there, is the universe’s way of ensuring that the collective transformation already underway will be completed, and that the evolutionary impulse is consciously carried out.

Humanity is becoming more aware now of our collective responsibility to use this time of reflection to our mutual benefit. The urgency of taking action now, before it is too late, is more apparent than ever.

Experiencing this archetype of retreat into the unknown together as one human family has come at this time to demonstrate that fear does not help, all things do pass, and the Imperishable remains. This common experience is taking us one step closer to the new world we envision. It is giving us deeper insight into our inherent interdependence.

Collectively slowing down and turning inward, we’re seeing more now than we thought we ever knew. When humanity finally emerges from this retreat into the unknown, we’ll come out knowing for sure that:

· We are living in transformative times;

· We can feel more empathy and compassion toward others;

· We can appreciate more the things we have, and give of them more freely;

· We are not only more connected than we thought, we are inseparable;

· Our collective strength is dependent upon our unified action;

· We can trust — and live more by — our collective wisdom;

· We can nurture a spirit of common endeavor;

· We can place the sanctity of existence above all else; and,

· We can foster a spiritual consciousness that embraces all humanity.

Add your own insights and realizations to this list; what are you learning from this experience of turning inward at this time? What will you know for sure from having been thrust into the unknown during this global pandemic?


Robert Atkinson

Robert Atkinson, Ph.D., author, educator, developmental psychologist; www.robertatkinson.net

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