Dark Night of the Soul
The Dark Night of the Soul by Thomas Moore came out in 2004. It is based upon the ideas of St John of the Cross who was a Spanish Mystic and Poet. His approach, as Thomas Moore’s approach, is more spiritual than psychological. Moore addresses the world of emotions in a minor key, focusing on the darkness in life and how it can help us.
Sometimes it feels like the darkness is never ending, like being on the sea at night. We are being carried somewhere, but we don’t know where. Poetic language is well suited for this night see journey. Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens and Ralph Waldo Emerson understand this. Many poets have created their best works in their states of emotional darkness.
Our inner guide can have a temper. The Greeks called it our diamon. This untamed spirit has an effect on people. Living with this diamon in our unconscious can be dangerous if we don’t understand it. It is like junk food. It is an easy way to go through life, but it doesn’t give you the nourishment you need. You need to follow the advice “Know thy self.”
In life we go through rites of passage. Among them are: Separation, Liminality, Reincorporation or Death, Threshold and Rebirth. If we live our lives bottled up as if in a jar our soul will rot and putrefy. We need change! We need to go through the process of catharsis and purge or emotions either by crying or throwing up or whatever. Truly cathartic is meditation and tranquility though. Oscar Wilde once said, “The sea washes away the stains and wounds of the world.”
Sometimes we are De-worlded. Our world has ended and is forever changed. Emotional floods and fires can purge out the old and allow room for new growth and this is good. What helps with this transition? Writing in journals, going to therapy, talking to friends, learning photography or doing art.
Angels can be dark. We can identify with the beauty and terror in the night. Identifying with the Greek Goddess Persephone or Hecate can be a good thing as well. Hecate’s symbols are the key, the whip, the dagger and the torch. These are keys to the underworld. The whip represents being overwhelmed with pain. The dagger gives her the power to discover her own strength. The torch is literally a light in the darkness. These are all things we need to get through our own dark nights—emotionally speaking.
What are the signs that we have descended into our own underworld? Loss of meaning in our lives, disconnection from self and other and a sense of emptiness. There is a difference between depression and an existential emptying of ourselves. Life is full of ironies, so it is important to see them and keep a sense of humor even during dark times. And we shouldn’t mistake cynicism for wit. There is a difference. All emotional negativity is not necessarily depression. Some negativity is healthy, but it shouldn’t overwhelm the positive. You can learn to be smart and have fun acting stupid at the same time. When you can laugh at yourself, you know that you have succumbed to depression and descended into the underworld.
People can go through tough times when they are stuck in a love triangle. Triangles aren’t all bad though. The love triangle forces you out of couple-ism and reminds you that you are an individual. Your identity isn’t solely based in the relationship you are in. The third person in the triangle represents the soul. This person is out of reach and this soul figure keeps you in a perpetual state of wonder. You might not want new love, but this person forces you to savor the presence of this wonderfully impossible love. Through the very difficulty this triangle presents you become a person of enlarged understanding.
It is important to see that marriage too is a sort of madness. Marriage is a sacrifice of self. It is a journey like Persephone’s journey. If you get wrong you end up sacrificing your partner and that can cause untold heartache. Know marriage for its all its beauty and pleasure—but know it also has a dark side. Like turning water into wine, marriage is a process of transmuting. When you get married you will have to plan on going through a transformation.
Sex is more like a ritual. It is our own private opus. It is our process of becoming a human being. The search for the right partner can create a deep longing. Sometimes our quest can even bring us to discover the darker side of sex. There can be pain and danger involved, but sex is really not a big deal so long as it is not in excess or extreme.
Artists are thought to be born under the planet Saturn and their creativity is often thought to be at the root of their suffering. Why? Well it could be because they take rejection so personally. Maybe they are dissatisfied without being a star. They live lives of quiet desperation. The assembly line, the many anonymous and low paying jobs, the enormous financial and political power of the elite—these qualities of a stratified society leave the ordinary person frustrated. We long for a feeling or sense of worth. We imagine winning the lottery or something to take us out of our ordinary lives. In any case, to create means to be created.
Anger is a call to action and helps you confront a situation. Anger is a source of strength to help you tap into that inner power. But beware that passivity can be a form of control. Passive-Aggressiveness can also be trouble as well. A passive-aggressive person will be silent and uninvolved and makes the relationship insincere.
What is insight? It is discovering the madness in an apparently reasonable situation. Practical intelligence about your life is important to have. Intelligence is often a matter of attitude than schooling. Knowing that the soul is healed more by poetic than heroics is important. Surrender to life, but not to pain. Accept what you cannot change and learn to live as simply as possible
Your dark night can help you find your luminance and let your light shine.