Sunday, May 1, 2016

Light into Darkness

I have at times found myself fascinated by the attitudes of others to ‘darkness’. So often it seems to be linked to something sinister, even evil, and I wondered why this might be so. 

In most contemporary spiritual and New Age thinking it is light which truly matters, and consideration for darkness in any form might meet only with head-shaking disapproval. Darkness is thought of as being something to be banished, even to be conquered. Light, on the contrary, is something to ‘go towards’, to be sought after, to be ‘worked with’. Within Christian doctrine the emphasis is also upon the desire for light and the striving to ‘ascend’. 

But in Greek myth it is the story of Icarus, who flew with his strapped-on wings too close to the sun only to plummet to earth, which warns us of a too-eager pursuit towards the source of heavenly light and the folly of the ego in its fixation to attain this bliss. His wiser father Daedalus flew the middle way, between darkness and light, and so landed safely back on earth. It is a simple truth that the farther we go in the direction of the light, the longer and larger the shadows become that we cast behind us.

This simple truth has long been known to the mystics, who valued both darkness and light in equal measure. Darkness was itself viewed as a powerful spiritual instrument, perhaps even fuller of creative potential than light itself. In the light we see exactly what is in front of us. But what darkness might contain is limited only by what we can imagine that it contains. It can be full of unknown worlds awaiting discovery – and perhaps it is. In our universe it actually is visible light that is only a fraction of the whole, and darkness easily predominates. At first we might imagine that the universe itself is ‘out of balance’, for should not darkness and light be in equal amounts? 

Eastern tradition speaks of the Paramatma light: that divine light invisible to matter which permeates all things. Surely this invisible light is what provides the balance, for not all things in the universe which provide this perfect cosmic balance need be apparent to our limited senses. Spiritual seekers from many ancient traditions - Celtic, Eastern, Indian, Tibetan and African - have treated the darkness as an instrument for spiritual enlightenment. The literal definition of the word shaman is 'he or she who sees in the dark'. The shaman would say that there is no such thing as darkness: only an incapacity to truly ‘see’.

Western mystics also recognized the importance and the power of darkness. The Gnostics referred to the creator as ‘Dazzling Darkness’, (see my post: Dazzling Darkness) and John of the Cross spoke of "the dark light". The idea of balance is always what lies behind these ideas: neither to concentrate on light at the expense of darkness, nor to become preoccupied with darkness at the expense of light. Spiritually, both are of equal value, and wise Daedalus shows us the course that we should follow. 

Painting: Balance is the Key by Aleister Gray


  1. tis our great imbalance that pits one against the other.. I think of this also sometimes, of what moment in our creation song first struck fear in our hearts and bid us to walk this path of imbalance... so many of us wanted to come on this grand adventure and walk a path with 3d bodies... I always think it happened once we separated the light and darkness into the polarities and submerged ourselves deep enough into solid bodies so that we could no longer hear the animals speak with the same voice as us, it seems to me that when alls we could hear the darkness was the howling voices of the animal kingdom we became afraid and seeded our journey to be lead by fear...

    In my journey with Lakota I have been sharing my dream journal with her.. back in the beginning of my dream journey I did a series of exercises from instructions I was given in a book. In the book it spoke of the great abyss one had to cross to obtain full consciousness in the dream state. It said there was, like the Toll Man of Old, how we we had to pay the price for passage across the abyss of the unknowns worlds and how this would show up as the nightmare that plagued each of us. It said we would have to push ourselves all the way through the nightmare to discover what it really was, that then we we made it all the way across the Abyss of the Unknown, the dream would transform into what it truly was about all along..

    (ps, when I got to the other side of my great nightmare, the man who had been chasing me opened up a scroll and read a poem over me in which by the time he got to the end I realized I was being told I had overcome prejudice.. Obviously it is something I needed to pass through to help me on my journey for this age I am at now, I could not have arrived at this place with Lakota if I had still been holding onto prejudice)

    As a person who can see through time, who can see the gloriousness of what is coming in this next circle, it enables me to see that this way we had to come..

    1. " seems to me that when alls we could hear the darkness was the howling voices of the animal kingdom we became afraid and seeded our journey to be lead by fear..." Yes, this speaks to me, Destiny. Thank you so much for shining your light!

  2. Indeed! The Black Madonna is such a poignant example of this fear of darkness. I am always reminded that Plato is the one who called God 'Good' and the intellect just loves that idea :D

    1. The Black Madonna is a perfect example indeed! Thank you, Hettienne.