Tuesday, 26 July 2011
The Dark Night of the Soul
The Dark Night of the Soul...we've all been there at some point in our lives, and they aren't the best of times to actually live through, but they are one of the most necessary processes that we need to go through in order to grow and progress in our paths. If we never experience the Dark Night, or as many witches know it, The Fog, then we really aren't properly living at all. We will probably experience several or even many Dark Nights in our lifetimes.
It's not just a simple depression (ha, quickly skirting around the fact that depression isn't at all simple!) it can't be treated with medicines and tablets, it can't be cured, if just has to be waited out and worked through. The Dark Night is that loss of contact that we get with our spiritualness. It can be sparked off by all sorts of things, and it is more likely to happen if we are stressed and under a lot of strain in our every day "mundane" lives. We lose that connection to deity, can even doubt the very existence of Spirit, we are very, very alone. It is hard.
But it's not meant to be easy! It's a test, and a blooming big one. It is supposed to be challenging, as it is only by being challenged, almost to our very limits, that we can grow and learn and progress. If things came to us easily, we'd not value them.
Recognising that we are experiencing the Fog is a test in itself, it's not always obvious, there are often very many other factors distracting us from the fact that we haven't felt that divine connection for a while. Health, money, family, careers, the Universe will throw many a distraction at us. But what do we do once we realise what it is that we are experiencing?
That is a good question, and as usual, there are no easy answers. But the biggest help I have found is communication. Talking to people, to others who may have had similar experiences. It doesn't even have to be about spiritual matters, just find a friend for a bit of a natter, even better with chocolate. Go out into the world and make contact with real people, and for a little while, put aside all those worries and stresses.
Secondly, stop pushing yourself. If something isn't working, then leave it be awhile, then come back to it another time when you are more relaxed. How many times have I watched my husband get uptight, frustrated and angry because he couldn't do some fiddly task or tricky mental problem? The more he keeps trying, the more stressed he becomes, the more obsessed with his failure, and the less he is able to complete his task. When he actually listens to me to put it down for a little while, when he goes back to it, he completes the task in next to no time!
It's not easy to stop worrying at a problem and leave it be, we all have that urge to prod and poke about, but we usually end up making things worse. It is a matter of being patient - and that is something we're not good at.
The Fog, the Dark Night, is a process that we must go through, it is a period of time for reflection, not action. We need to assimilate what we have experienced, what we have learned, and what's more - we must understand what we have learned - not just know the mechanical facts, but understand deep down within our souls. Sometimes, this just takes a little more time than we expect in our fast-paced living styles.
The Dark Night is our time to slow down and to rest up a little. The more we push ourselves, if we move far more quickly than is good for us spiritually, then we will be hit harder and faster with some forced downtime. I'm sure many of us have been hit with illness when we have pushed ourselves too quickly physically, we get ill so that we are forced to slow down and rest.
If you are experiencing the Fog, try to do one small thing a day. Baby steps. Ease yourself back into a magical routine, be gentle with yourself. Get back out into Nature, feel the trees and earth, the wind and the rain and the sun. Listen to the birds and insects. Taste the pure water of a spring or ripe berry. Sit or lie on the ground and Connect.
Finally, and this is perhaps the hardest concept of all to accept. Look upon the Dark Night as a gift. The fact that it has come into your life signifies that you are about to experience enlightenment. That your rewards for working through the Fog will be a huge spurt of spiritual growth, like a snake shedding its skin, you will experience the pain of the Dark Night, and emerge renewed, stronger and shining.
But the most important thing of all is - you are not alone.