Turning Towards the Dark
We live in a light-centric culture. All that is dark and mysterious is feared, devalued and artificially brightened.
Our fixation on light, both literally and figuratively, has created a culture afraid of the dark. As solar masculine consciousness began to dominate, lunar wisdom became suspect. Feminine wisdom repressed. The gifts of the night and the dark became lost to us. Yet without these gifts, our days while bright, will never be luminous.
And with the invention and spread of electricity, we could easily live entire lives without touching darkness. Without giving space and intention to the night, the other, lesser known half of our existence.
Not only does this bias towards light wreck havoc on our ecosystems and our own immediate physical health - leading millions of newborn turtles away from the full moon and towards death, disorienting the migration of our dwindling bird populations, and confusing our own circadian rhythms - but it also leads us away from ourselves and our own natural wisdom.
Prior to our rejection of the dark, night was a time of reverence, stillness and quiet. The wisdom of being was celebrated there under the ebony sky, after our days of doing ceased. And although we cannot see in the dark, some truths we can see so much more clearly.
Night is a time of communion with a vast and great mystery. Looking at a star-filled sky reminds us of something greater of which we are a part, of which we all belong. We are reminded of just how insignificant, and therefore significant, we truly are. Without the wonders of the night sky, now so difficult to view covered by the glow of neon light, we struggle to connect to all that came before us and all that will remain after we are gone.
Night is also a time to be with ourselves and the magic of our inner worlds. There in the dark we cannot rely on our usual distractions. When the world around us becomes hidden, it is harder to hide from ourselves. Is it any wonder then, that insomnia is rampant? Having neglected our bodies, our fears, our wounds, our dreams, our memories and longings, during the hustle of day - we cannot help but be haunted by them in the stillness of night. Not knowing how to be with the night, we do not know how to be with ourselves. And not knowing how to be with ourselves, we do not know how to be with the night.
The night is a time for praying, imagining, dreaming, dancing, story-telling, making love. Our eye-sight diminished. Our other senses heightened. The boundaries between self and other, soul and body, psyche and cosmos, this world and that world open, and a sensual, spellbinding dialogue takes place. It is no surprise that 4 a.m. is referred to as the mystic hour, when monks and sages would rouse from their sleep to sit in that space where the dreaming and waking minds dance together, and God appears.
Night too is a time when we must feel and intuit our way through the inner and outer worlds. Learning how to see in the dark in such a way, helps us learn how to see ourselves through life's darkest and most obscure passages.
And realizing it cannot rely on its usual ways of knowing, controlling or defending, the ego too must surrender in some small way to the night. The night is, after all, a time of vulnerability and humility. In the darkness we are wrapped in a blanket of uncertainty, of not knowing. The secret softness of chaos smooths our edges, and order eludes us. But if honored, the creative loosening of night can lead to a reordering of the dawn. The cycle of death and rebirth pronounces itself, gives itself to us each day and each night, to join with or to resist.
Light is necessary, there is no doubt. This is not a plea to return to how things were so many years ago. Rather, it is a plea to unify the gifts of both day and night. To use the light of consciousness to intimately know and honor the wisdom of the dark. To remember that we can bring nothing to light, that isn't first found in the dark.
So when the night arrives, be with her. Let her show you what you could never see in the light of day.
Art | Adriana Hristova