Water in tunnel

The feral in the tunnel

In Insight and Experience, Metaphysics, Philosophy and Traditional Wisdom by marlyse.caroollLeave a Comment


Gabrielle remembers an unusual experience of getting in touch with a powerful and fearless archetypal animal. Not a story she ever planned on telling, mind you, but here it is anyway! It was fun too!


It had been the middle of summer, when Gabrielle had been running an enlightenment workshop in an old monastery situated in an inner suburb of Adelaide, and had enjoyed spending her mid-day breaks exploring the large grounds surrounding the few buildings they were renting. No religious community lived there any longer, just an elderly caretaker. Hectares of gardens had gone back to a natural state of exuberant vegetation.

One day there, as Gabrielle was following the bed of a dry creek, she discovered the entrance of a drain that disappeared straight under the main road next to the monastery. It was a large concrete pipe about one and a half metres in diameter.

Bending down, Gabrielle entered the drain and, on impulse, followed it. To start with it was totally dry and she could see where she was going. After about 50 metres, the drain took a sharp turn to the right, and the amount of light diminished. She kept walking, more and more slowly as it became darker. It then turned left and everything became pitch black.

She was aware that underground drains aren’t meant for tourists, and somehow started to feel excited about her adventure. Although she realised it could be dangerous to do something like this on her own, without a torch, and no-one knowing where she was, she continued.

After a while the pipe became smaller and she had to bend down more. It also started to head slightly downwards. By now it was totally black – not a speck of light visible anywhere. It smelled very musky and she could hear the sound of water trickling in the distance.

She was now advancing slowly, in a darkness such as she had never experienced, testing the ground with each foot before taking the next step, to make sure she wouldn’t suddenly drop straight down another drain. She also ran her left hand along the side so she would find her way back in case the drain divided.

She kept walking, deeper and deeper under the City of Adelaide. After a while she lost her sense of time and had no idea for how long she had been going. She started to feel like someone else, not the reasonable Gabrielle she thought she was, the workshop facilitator who took good care of herself and others.

It was as if a mysterious force were calling her underground, in the dark. She noticed she was now walking in mud, rather than in dust. And she enjoyed this feeling. She kept going, amongst the patter-patter of little creatures scattering past her. Rats most likely, she thought. They didn’t worry her.

“How bizarre”, she thought, “I don’t know where I am, what’s there, where I’m going, what I might encounter, and I’m enjoying it…” She decided to keep going. She could hear the sound of water trickling and had no idea how far away it might be. “I wonder if I’m under the river?”, she thought.

She suddenly realised she had an incredible urge to urinate. Not a physiological need, but rather an instinct to mark her territory. She resisted for a while, and then gave in. “Why not?” she thought. Squatting in the dark, she noticed she did what animals do – just a little squirt. And then she got up again, slowly walked another five metres in darkness, and gave another little squirt – and again and again.

She felt totally fearless, as if she were announcing to the world, “This is my place. Just watch out. Here I come. Get out.” “Wow”, she thought, “I’m turning into some mighty territorial underground creature…”

She also felt a bit crazy, peeing in the dark every five metres!

She certainly wasn’t planning on ever telling the story. And then she had the urge to make a sound. She went down on all fours and snorted, like a wild pig. To her surprise, the sound came back to her tenfold, repeated over and again from every direction. So she roared until the sound became almost deafening. This drain was the most extraordinary echo chamber. She then started to bark, to howl, to meow, to cackle, to chirp, until all sounds overlapped each other, creating the animal concert of a lifetime.

She eventually stopped and whispered, “I love you, you Mighty Beast!” And it came back ten times so she laughed. And her laughter made her laugh some more. As if she was part of a huge party where everyone laughed at a very funny joke.

“Let it all out”, she silently said to herself. So she shouted, “I am mad… Do you know that I am mad?” Mad mad mad mad mad mad mad bounced back towards her…

“No, not mad, just having a ball!” Ball ball ball ball ball ball ball ball echoed for a while.

Then Gabrielle thought. “Hey, I could try some Gregorian chanting!”

So she allowed herself to sing, first of all tentatively, and then louder. After a while she sang as she had never sung before. It sounded so beautiful to her, she felt as if she was in a cathedral. An underground cathedral that spread under a whole city, with her in the middle of an invisible choir, kneeling in mud, singing her soul song to the Universe…

She didn’t want to stop. She didn’t want to go back to civilisation. Yet, she eventually did. The reasonable Gabrielle took control of the situation again. She walked back, more confidently this time because she trusted there were no hidden dangers along the way. As she emerged from the drain, it took her eyes a while to readjust to the light. She was glad to stretch to her full height. She realised she had been away for over an hour. No one had missed her. She just had time for a quick shower before starting the afternoon session, feeling peacefully blissful, her soul song still echoing in her heart.

Her underground experience left Gabrielle with a new feeling of freedom. The freedom to be more than the person she had perceived herself to be. Having integrated a powerful archetype, she had a great sense of expansion from within.

It was as if she could now say to herself and to the world “I can be anything I choose to be, even a wild pig or a dragon. I can be an amazing singer with an audience of one, me! I can be an adventurer doing something daring and a bit crazy. I can even be a drain rat walking amongst other drain rats. I can do and I can be anything…”

This realisation freed a part of her psyche, which had, until then, been attached to only reasonable identities. She also noticed that her courage and energy levels had risen to new heights.

And yes, at times Gabrielle can be feral, with or without a tunnel, and she loves it!

Marlyse Carroll (alias Gabrielle) is a principal of the Inner Peace Institute for Wellbeing in Melbourne. This story appears in her latest book: ‘Am I Going Mad?’ which is now available in all good bookstores. 

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