Quite late I know, but as I said, I’m going to participate very “freely” to the Pagan Blog Project.
I have found a marvelous article that revists the meaning of “dark” and “darkness”, giving great quotes as it goes. I thank this person for having written it. I was very astonished, because it indulges into paths that really do not correspond to my own (goddess spirituality, or at least a very sexually feminine oriented view of things), but it still provides much food for thought. I found there hints at what my most intense experiences of the last 2 years were. I advise you to read it, because it really was my starting point, and it has an important frame of reference (feminine spirituality). The following diverges from it, and gets out of a feminine paradigm entirely.
Just a short example, this movement is what called to me :
In the book Meditation Secrets for Women, Camille Maurine writes about the idea of descent and “going down” into one’s own dark places: “There are times in a woman’s life when the call downward is a transformative journey, a summons to the depths of the soul. People tend to think of spirituality as rising upward into the sky. In the traditional (male) teachings, enlightenment is often described as a flight from the lower centers of the body, the instinctive and sexual places, to the upper centers in the head and then out. By contrast, a woman’s spiritual quest at some point leads to a soulful sinking down into herself. Everyone fears this descent, this sinking down. Yet sinking down connects us with the earth, with our personal ground, with our foundation. There is a secret in ‘endarkenment.’” [p. 210, emphasis mine]
But I do not share the *”sexist” view which it contains (*view regarding sex). The division it evokes does not exist in my personal frame, and regarding traditions in general, I’m not sure it does too… But anyway, my point is as follows. First, I think we all emerge from the same place of darkness, and that anyone should experience this downward movement no matter what their sex/gender is (maybe it could even be a way of bringing us all together). Second, the problem she describes is even wider to me : in our modern revival of the spiritualities, everyone is “taught” (or thinks wrongly?) that they should strive towards the spiritual, thus dropping the body and all.
So, here comes my brooding.
Darkness is not only a place of chaos and destruction. Here is another great quote from the article :
The Dark Goddess need not automatically associate or translate into “bad” or “suffering” or “negative” or “shadow side.” I think of the darkness as a cocoon. I think of the womb. I think of germination. I think of a place to rest, to wait, to be still, and to transform. Emergence. Deepness. Rich earthiness.
I have to skip goddess, dark goddess, and womb, because it does not speak to me, but it works. Darkness is the Void which contains all possibility (rather than the matrix of the womb then). It is the Void of the Norse culture, which surrounds the Worlds and Life (and Death too!), the Void where Wyrd springs from. It is the Night before Creation, where the primordial isle springs from (and here you have a part of my work with Ptah and Nefertum). It is like the darkness of the cave, where mushrooms proliferate ; the darkness of the undergrowth of the wood where mosses run wild… Where small life swarms. It is a very place of fear, because it is the ambiguous place where life and death meet. A place where life springs from the humus from death and decay and rot. She quotes a woman who puts it very nicely :
In the same book, Maurine describes the soul in very different terms than in classic Christian conceptions: “The realm of the soul is not light and airy, but more like mud: messy, wet, and fertile. Soul processes go on down there with the moss and worms, down there with the decaying leaves, down there where death turns into life.
It is a place of generation and regeneration. That is what primal mean to me. It’s full of senses, smells, touch, colors, textures… It is full of wild life, insects, animals, … It where I met the primal Spirits and the primal Gods – where I re-discovered myself, when I get back on track with my whole being, body and soul.
This is what I meant by “diving”. I think doing what we call “shadow work” is not only the Jungian study of our repressed emotions, our fears, etc. It’s not (only) about anger and such. “Shadow work” in my own path, my UPG (maybe I should stop calling it shadow work?) is “primal work” : it’s about getting to the floor, getting to the mud. Understanding the power of creation in the widder sense. The Creation of the Cosmos, the creation of beings, birth, … Understanding the place where you came from, and how you came to be. Understanding that the power that was put to create you can be channeled, and re-created, at will. This work is about diving into the depth of your own being were your most inner mysteries unfold. Into your mud ; into your body ; your raw emotions ; your animal core ; etc.
Dionysos was the first to lead me there. He was very efficient, and guided me through very painful soul fragment reintegrations. He may have been very happy too, because he passed me to the hands of other primal Gods, like Jormungandr, who made me dive even deeper. The Descent is not always to Hell, diving into the Dark maybe diving into the unknown, but in fact it is known for it is ourselves, our cores, that we just refuse to acknowledge. The “know thyself” I took in this sense. Diving into your darkness and the darkness of Creation. But as a fellow literary student said to me very bluntly (I just love my literature seminar!) : the Dionysian paradigm is two-folded ; it takes you back to the body, to very earthy thing ; but only for a time, because it then transforms them, and makes them unearthly. And that doesn’t only means weird, that means literally not from the earth, but transcended. It is diving into the bottom of the sea, and tapping to get back to the surface and beyond.