Are You Afraid of the Dark?

In the Jivamukti focus of the month for November, Martyna Eder writes a story of a dialogue between the Moon and Shiva, the Destroyer. The conversation takes place under the light of the moon in the present age. The Moon laments the current state of the world. She has a heavy heart and wonders whether Shiva has finally decided to destroy planet Earth.

This is a question I think the shadows in us are constantly posing in different contexts: is this really the state of the world? Why do these things – war, genocide racism, spiecism to name a few – happen in a world that is supposedly beautiful and joyously meaningful? And how can I – a very fortunate and, frankly, privileged young, able-bodied female – rest with ease knowing that my existence has had some effect toward such calamities? Why here, and not there? Why them and not me? Why me and not them? Why this and why that? And on and on and on.

It wouldn’t be right to argue that cynicism, carrying the ‘weight of the world,’ or self-judgment is necessary in the healing of the planet. That’s not what I’m trying to suggest here at all. What it simply comes down to, at least in my mind, is that the darkness of our soul, that energy in us that destroys and acknowledges transformation and suffering, often asks such questions. And questions like these are precisely what we need to welcome transformation on any level. Transformation is, after all, a wild and wildly uncomfortable, courageous, faithful and, sometimes, ugly happening. Whenever I feel the pain of the suffering of others, it serves as a blessed reminder that ultimately we are all One; our lives are interwoven in an unfathomably beautiful and profound way.

Mother Nature endures her own dark night of the soul. We call it winter. Mother Winter asks us: are we afraid of the dark? And if so, why? What is it about the things we cannot see or don’t want to face that we find so terrorizing, so paralyzing? Metaphoric and literal darkness often lead to a desire to be able to see something, but agony at the fact that we can’t see – and we don’t know what it is we are even trying to see. Other times, we simply don’t want to know what’s hiding in the dark. We know it must be something (and we have a hunch as to what that something is) but we’d rather not see it face to face. We willfully turn off the lights but we know it exists nonetheless somewhere deep within us. That unconscious knowing haunts us and even colours our present moment experience. Winter has a mysterious way of summoning an awareness of those otherwise unconscious and uncomfortable aspects of our psyche.

Reclaiming our wildness involves getting comfortable with and not resisting the dark. This includes finally facing – with eyes wide open – those thoughts, be they memories, present emotions or future anxieties, that we assume are going to be very uncomfortable to face. And they are, but they ultimately cannot break our true inner strength; something we will never realize unless we are willing to look. On the other hand, we are being called to learn to breathe into the idea of not knowing and perhaps not ever fully ‘knowing’ in this lifetime and being in acceptance of that. These are two existentially significant experiences of being a human being. We may not always fully understand the implications of this yearning to see in the dark, but it’s a part of our collective experience nonetheless.

After all, we can only know how bright we really are held up to the contrast of our darkest depths. The beauty of darkness is that it makes light so apparent and vibrant to us. Who, or what, we feel is a source of light in our lives becomes increasingly obvious the more we embrace the dark.

So, as Mother Nature transitions through her own dark night of the soul, the death and hibernation of winter, we too are being called to slow down, gaze inward, shed the skin, destroy that identity…and honour the sources of light within and around us.

What are you ready to be rid of? Which parts of your shadow-self are you willing to courageously look at and strive to fully embrace? In what ways has the darkness of this time helped to illuminate (shed light on) areas of your personality, belief systems, or any other aspect of your inner world? And, perhaps most importantly, are you afraid of the dark? And if so, why?

Keep in mind that, no matter how dark, intense and uncomfortable this season of transition might be for you, these (sometimes scary) shadows of the psyche and unconscious realms have not and cannot alter your Soul; in the same way that the shadows cast by sunlight and object interference speak not of the Sun’s radiance and power, but only of its position in the sky. Honesty, transparency and a willingness to be in the uncertainty are what we need most at this time.

Come December 21, we will feel a shift in the collective energy as Mother Nature begins to move out of the darkness and towards the light yet again. So for now, embrace the darkness, the mystery and the unconscious while you can…and heed the messages you hear. Be still, so that you may better observe. These visions, insights and microcosmic deaths will provide the very fodder we need for new growth come spring. And when you feel especially dark and lonesome, remember that you are only being planted, and fear not. Allow the quiet stillness of winter to hold you.

Like the Moon lamenting with Shiva about the state of the world, it is natural and very necessary for us to lament and take a look at our own inner darkness for the sake of personal and collective transformation. All of life is driven by the force of love; even those aspects of ourselves we find ugly, shameful and regrettable are there in our experience to awaken us to love and open us up to further evolve.

May you embrace the darkness and be a source of light unto yourself and unto all this season. May you embrace all aspects of yourself with a gentleness that nourishes your natural capacities for compassion and understanding. May you brave the dark, the cold and the mystery with the quiet mind of one who sees with the heart.

With love,
Jaylyn Bernachi

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