Walk with Grace Through the Dark Night of Your Soul.
The mother, with her wrinkled hands, I watched her.
“Can’t you just hold me?” I begged her, screaming. Some nights I would simply pound on the floor, pound on the pillows, drop my body repeatedly until I was tired enough to close my eyes, and maybe, if I was lucky, to sleep.
My goal was always to sleep through the visions, the visitations, the voices, my ancestors swirling in a wreath above my head. Sometimes I would curse them. Sometimes I would laugh.
The lessons, they wove through people, I tasted them.
There was the one who hit me until I was bleeding, then left me on a bed with my arms still bound.
There was the one who, in the midst of a vision of sheer terror, told me he didn’t know what love was unless he was penetrating.
There was the one who, despite my own desire to grow and thrive, insisted on my worthlessness. The same one who taught me that if you love someone, you let them hurt you. You protect them. They need you. You mean nothing. You only have yourself, and even that is questionable.
There was the one who, when handing back an exam, told me, “I’d never know how smart you are by the way you dress.”
There was the one who, sitting on the stoop of a brownstone in Boston, said to me, “Grad school, huh? No one will ever take you seriously, you’re young and pretty.”
I met all of them repeatedly, in my dreams, in my body.
The surfacing would not stop. Sometimes, all I had energy for was falling to my knees and weeping. I would look upward, and I would insist that there was more. My sense of adventure would refuse to wave a white flag. I would not go down without trying.
I looked to the mother. For the first time, I understood that she does not cradle so that you can forfeit. She requires that you walk, although she is right there, behind you, both hands out.
If transformation is a fire, and the deepest depths of your soul are the shadow of the light, the indescribable heat and the unbearable burning that are endured in the crucible of transformation and rebirth can be compared to nothing short of being burnt alive.
Of being burnt at the stake.
This time, for me, the millionth time. This time, at least, my tongue would not be cut out.
The Dark Night of the Soul is a journey into the trenches. It is the time of life where we sense no reprieve is near. There is joy, in fleeting glimmers, but there is an onslaught of intensity which does not cease. It is not an astrological omen. It is not a karmic pattern. It is a cleansing. It is an ascension. It is an integration.
It is not something that we can classify so easily with our limited human language. It is beyond description, because it is of the Great Mystery, but is worthy of trying to describe, because we often find each other at the bottom, where we also find ourselves, sometimes in pieces.
It is often the first time we will finally admit that we cannot do life alone.
It is often the first time we will finally admit to ourselves that it is okay to not be okay, because our state of existence is somewhere between floating and falling on the daily. There is no solid ground. We may beg for it. We may scream for it. But on this leg of the journey, we are asked to chart our course in the air. In the ether. In the space in between.
It is an initiation in the dance between worlds. In order to reach full consciousness, we must understand both the underworld and the world of appearances, or the tangible, physical, 3D, that most of us view as reality. When most people think of the shaman, they think of the one who is able to seamlessly dance between planes, and to guide others on this same swim through the great beyond.
What is imperative in our coming into full integration, or our total sovereignty as the divine truth of who we are, is to journey into the deepest depths of the Self, often without surfacing for air for extended periods of time. Diving lessons.
We have the enormous opportunity to get very intimate with the ego during this time. We get to witness our patterns of self-victimization, and how low we hold the bar for our strength. We also get to witness our fears of being vulnerable, our fears of asking for help, and our sometimes indestructible belief that we should suffer in silence.
The Dark Night of the Soul is the great breaking open. It is the doorway. If we do not walk through it when it presents itself, and fully immerse ourselves in the teachings, they will only come back to haunt us. We may wish to dull the sharp sensation of being grated clean, but if we numb ourselves to it, we only prolong the experience.
During this time, it’s quite common for people to renegotiate their relationship to substances of all kinds, because we are activated into a hypersensitivity to what is not serving us, what needs to be healed, and where we need to clear or create boundaries. We need full presence, and to witness our own penchant for running away from feeling, something we have learned from society, not a wish of the soul.
Women who menstruate have a similar experience each month during the moon cycle — the cleansing energy and psychic amplification of this portal can show us similar lessons while we are bleeding or preparing to. Just as this can be a sometimes painful experience, it is a small death compared to the larger one we go through in dying to be reborn through the soul path.
We experience many deaths throughout life, orgasm being one of them, the end of each day being another. We die into greater understanding, and an awareness of the vastness of energy, as compared to our more limited understanding of the material body and experience.
For those of us who have disconnected from a sense of sacredness, this will sound totally foreign. Yet, all of life comes back to the basic cycle of being born, and eventually, passing on. It is cyclical. It is a journey. And we will experience subtler iterations of this great transition throughout the entirety of our time on the planet. We are always dying into higher versions of ourselves.
The Dark Night of the Soul is simply the time when our great death takes place, to initiate us into the truth of our experience on earth.
This doorway that offers itself to us is a means for alchemy. We are not meant to simply wade through the molasses-like sensation of being asked to swim in our depths. We are not meant to simply tread water. We are meant to take strokes, to survey the landscape, to write down the stories, and to allow them to settle into our inner cauldron.
Through the process of witnessing without turning away, allowing our story to be reclaimed, and making the changes that are required of us, as we come into greater alignment with where and whom we are meant to be, an alchemical process takes place.
It is the power of internal alchemy, whereby we are able to take past experience as a substance, and to transmute that information into the motivation to move forward and to open. We alchemize truth, which is more precious than gold.
Many of us may find that simply moving through each day during this time feels challenging. Do not give up. The labors of the underworld provide fruits of experience and blessing that are far beyond what we can conceive of with the conscious mind.
We are meant to move through this crucible with grace and a bit of surrender, but also with a clear and keen understanding that we have more than what it takes to triumph. We must continue, for the others need to witness our light, and to hear our stories, as they too move through on their own.
We are in a time of tremendous ascension on the planet, and lower energies of anxiety, depression, and fear are hyperactivated. Those who have not already gone on their underworld journey will sense a great deal of this beginning now.
It is important for us to be able to go fearlessly into the inner workings of our own mysteries in order to develop a deeply collaborative union with the unexplainable forces which are ever willing us forward. In short, you have work to do, lives to touch, and an impact to make… simply by existing and sharing your stories.
This is a walk we all must take, and it is a rite of passage into clear awareness and an ability to make your mark in the way you are truly meant to. Do not make more of your journey into the depths than needs to be made. Allow yourself the release of emotions of all kinds. Move them. Access your inner animal, letting your primal states be liberated and heard.
Approach these experiences with compassion, and you will find that the emotions we wish to hurl at others are typically the ones we are used to hurling at ourselves. Do not perpetually seek the exit sign. Let life wash over you, and wash life back, with your new waves of understanding. Continue to show up, and you will be rewarded.
The most important practice we can undertake during this time is to listen. Rather than trying to control life, as we are most often trying to do, if we can find enough stillness to listen and receive what is being asked of us, we will find the ability to transmute what appears to be lead into gold.
There are great messages in the depths. There is also a tremendous sense of being carried, despite a sometimes sense of isolation. We are never truly alone, as we know. All things work in direct relationship, yin and yang, and it is only by plunging into our greatest darkness that we may be able to see, feel, and embody our most tremendous light.