Can we acknowledge the importance of darkness in our journey towards consciousness and spiritual awakening? And stop seeing darkness as a problem but more as an opportunity? To finally understand that without that darkness, none of this world we see would exist?
I am always fascinated and troubled by the stereotype of darkness as inherently sinister in modern cultures. Cultures globally have long venerated the light as an ideal of goodness and purity while unfairly banishing darkness to the realm of malevolence and fear. Yet, from a shamanic and ancient perspective, to truly understand the nature of existence, we must dive into inquiries both into light and darkness, seen and unseen, conscious and unconscious, uncovering the intrinsic beauty and wisdom contained therein.
It is fair to assume that our ancestors, observing the ceaseless interchange of day and night, sought comfort in the sun's embrace and mistrusted that which they couldn't see at night and where prey animals and dangers were more present. Fear was an intuitive response to perceived threats that loomed unseen. But the realm of darkness offers far more than the fear of the unknown. Once we move past inherited fears and societal constructs, we can begin to perceive this realm's profound wisdom.
It is clear that we are fascinated by the fire that we domesticated, yet experience an even more profound awe for the dark, starry night skies. At least for me, I feel way more connected and close to the Great Mystery in the dark forest at night, even if my fear arises strongly, than when I am watching a beautiful summer day sky.
Also, is it not evident that we are designed to sleep, going into "nothingness" daily, to heal, restore, rest, and rebirth? Biology needs that darkness and invisible realms to keep us alive. Trees need the hidden life in the dark soil to thrive. Babies need nine precious months in the dark womb to be created. The universe from which we are born contains 85% of dark matter, meaning only 15% of all matter is "normal matter." Indeed, we are designed similarly, with the subconscious processing 27,500 times more data than the Conscious Mind. To say it another way, the brain takes in 11 million bits of data per second, but the conscious mind can only process around 400 of those bits.
So yes, darkness is shrouded in mystery - where unseen, unprocessed emotions and forgotten memories reside, expressions of the human condition that remain hidden in the subconscious. Often, these are those painful traumas, frozen and well protected, becoming invisible burdens we carry and generating the defense and aggressive patterns of division, aggression, hate, anger, and wars.
For anyone who has gone through deep healing, you know it requires a courageous plunge into this darkness, for enlightenment demands that we cast light onto the unseen, the shadowy, and the overlooked. It means making the unconscious conscious and exploring the depths of our psyche to understand and process these hidden emotions and memories.
In shamanic language, we refer to this healing journey as entering the UkuPacha, a realm in Andean cosmology associated with Mother Earth, represented by the snake and the color red, which symbolizes the Earth's blood and ours. Here, we confront our unseen traumas and unprocessed emotions, momentarily living the paradox of being both the subject and object of our healing. We are both the troubled and the healer, birthing a transformative process - much like a snake, reborn and invigorated, having shed its old, restrictive skin.
Embedded within these nocturnal narratives of the universe, a seed's journey beneath the soil, a fetus developing in the nurturing darkness of the womb, is a profound lesson: darkness is integral to creation and growth. It is a metaphorical realm wherein we encounter and reconcile our buried traumas. Ancestors' wisdom echoes - our healing and transformation begin in the encompassing embrace of darkness, opening the path to awakening.
Whenever I contemplated my relationship with darkness and the unseen, challenged inherited stereotypes, and disrupted learned fears, I started to recognize its pivotal role in creation, new beginnings, and, most critically, healing.
Darkness will always reveal profound truths if we dare to journey into its depths, not just on an individual level but also as a collective.
When we see troubled individuals, systems, or collective behaviors, when we hit internal pain, there is always an important question to ask: What unseen legacies, hidden within our own individual and collective subconscious, await our courageous dive into the darkness, and how might our life and societies transform if we embarked on the path of making the unconscious conscious, of trying to explore where those root of darkness started?
The ancient always quested in that direction. It is time we remember where to find the answers and new ways we need more than ever to awaken from this broken dream. Angell Deer