Hell is a concretization of your life experiences, a place where you’re stuck, the wasteland. In hell, you are so bound to yourself that grace cannot enter. The problem with hell is that the fire doesn’t consume you. The fires of transformation do. Fire is symbolic of the night sea journey, the upcoming of shadow – repressed biography, history and traumas – and the burning of the imps of malice. Purgatory is a place where that fire is turned into a purging fire that burns out the fear system, burns out the blockage so that it will open.
If hell is a wasteland, then purgatory would be the journey where you leave the place of pain. You are still in pain, but you’re in quest with a sense of possible realization. There is no longer despair. You really do not have a sacred place, a rescue land, until you can find some little field of action, or place to be, where it’s not a wasteland, where there is a little spring of ambrosia. It’s a joy that comes from inside. It is not something that puts the joy in you, but a place that lets you so experience your own will, your own intention, and your own wish that, in small, the joy is there. The sin against the Holy Ghost, I think is despair. The Holy Ghost is that which inspires you to realization, and despair is the feeling that nothing can come. That is absolute hell.
Find a place where there’s joy,
and the joy will burn out the pain.
– Joseph Campbell